Being Gentle with Ourselves
During Times of Grief
The process of adapting to change and loss takes energy. Grief is draining, sometimes exhausting. Some people need to "cocoon for transformation," in Pat Carnes's words, while going through grief.
We may feel more tired than usual. Our ability to function well in other areas of our life may be reduced, temporarily. We may want to hide out in the safety of our bedroom.
Grief is heavy. It can wear us down.
It's okay to be gentle with ourselves when we're gong through change and grief. Yes, we want to maintain the disciplines of recovery. But we can be compassionate with ourselves. We do not have to expect more from ourselves than we can deliver during this time. We do not even have to expect as much from ourselves as we would normally and reasonably expect.
We may need more rest, more sleep, more comfort. We may be more needy and have less to give. It is okay to accept ourselves, and our changed needs, during times of grief, stress, and change.
It is okay to allow ourselves to cocoon during times of transformation. We can surrender to the process, and trust that a new, exciting energy is being created within us.
Substance over Form
I'm learning that for a variety of reasons, I've spent much of my life focusing on form rather than substance. My focus has been on having my hair done perfectly, wearing the right clothes, having my makeup applied perfectly, living in the right place, furnishing it with the right furniture, working at the right job, and having the right man. Form, rather than substance, has controlled my behavior in many areas of my life. Now, I'm finally getting to the truth. It's substance that counts.
There is nothing wrong in wanting to look our best. Whether we are striving to create a self, a relationship, or a life, we need to have some solid ideas about what we want that to look like.
Form gives us a place to begin. But for many of us, form has been a substitute for substance. We may have focused on form to compensate for feeling afraid or feeling inferior. We may have focused on form because we didn't know how to focus on substance.
Form is the outline; substance is what fills it in. We fill in the outline of ourselves by being authentic; we fill in the outline of our life by showing up for life and participating to the best of our ability.
Now, in recovery, we're learning to pay attention to how things work and feel, not just to what they look like.
Today, I will focus on substance in my life. I will fill in the lines of myself with a real person - me. I will concentrate on the substance of my relationships, rather than what they look like. I will focus on the real working of my life, instead of the trappings
As we work the OA program, we find that we cannot be rigorously honest about what we are eating unless we are rigorously honest about our other actions as well. Once our Higher Power takes charge of our lives, a general housecleaning occurs. Gradually, we see that the attitudes and activities, which undermine our integrity, have to go.
The housecleaning process can be painful. It involves facing aspects of ourselves, which we would prefer to remain hidden - our dependency, pride, selfishness, and avarice. Sex and money are often areas where our attitudes and practices need revision. What we are doing is shifting from an ego-centered to a God-centered orientation, and the shift is not always smooth.
Rigorous honesty shows up harmful relationships for what they are. It illumines our motives, which are not always the best. The love and care of our Higher Power support us as our weaknesses are exposed. Through His healing power, we are strengthened and made whole.
Grant me the ability to practice rigorous honesty in all areas of my life.
Letting Go of Chaos
No good work comes from unrest.
Unrest, fear, anger, or sadness may motivate us. These feelings are sometimes intended to compel action. But our best work emerges after these feelings have been replaced by peace.
We will not accomplish our task any sooner, or any better, by performing it out of a sense of urgency, fear, anger, or sadness.
Let go of unrest. Let peace fill the void. We do not have to forfeit our power, our God given personal power - or our peace - to do the work as we are called upon to do today. We will be given all the power we need to do what we are meant to do, when it is time.
Let peace come first. Then proceed. The task will get done, naturally and on time.
Today, I will get peaceful first, and let my work and life emerge from that base.
REFLECTION FOR TODAY
The slogan, "Know thyself - be honest, " makes me aware of how often I ignore my feelings or try to rationalize them away. If I am to know myself, I must acknowledge my emotions just as they are. It may be I am letting a past experience creep in to distort my reaction to a situation. Or perhaps I am allowing old inferior feelings to cause me pain. I may be holding back feelings related directly to a present situation because it is easier (or so it seems) than having to confront, express, or risk rejection.
MEDITATION FOR TODAY
Help me to work at honestly knowing myself, day by day, minute by minute.
Detaching with Love
Sometimes people we love do things we don't like or approve of. We react. They react. Before long, we're all reacting to each other, and the problem escalates.
When do we detach? When we're hooked into a reaction of anger, fear, guilt, or shame. When we get hooked into a power play - an attempt to control or force others to do something they don't want to do. When the way we're reacting isn't helping the other person or solving the problem. When the way we're reacting is hurting us.
Often, it's time to detach when detachment appears to be the least likely, or possible, thing to do.
The first step toward detachment is understanding that reacting and controlling don't help. The next step is getting peaceful - getting centered and restoring our balance.
Take a walk. Leave the room. Go to a meeting. Take a long, hot bath. Call a friend. Call on God. Breathe deeply. Find peace. From that place of peace and centering will emerge an answer, a solution.
Today, I will surrender and trust that the answer is near.