I HAVE TO TRAIN MYSELF
to be self-aware!
SITE: “(Not) Keeping the focus on myself” ~Al-Anon podcast
REVIEW: “Keep the focus on yourself!” (KFY)
We hear from many sources that to be mentally & emotionally mature, we need to take responsibility for our own TEAs (thoughts, emotions, actions). This is a big stumbling block to growth for ACoAs, because on the one hand:
— we were taught by our family & religion NOT to think about our own needs, tastes, ideas, values… only on other people – which means we’re not allowed to KFY,
AND on the other hand
— ACoAs take on too much responsibility, both for things which others are doing or have done (abuse, neglect, carelessness, selfishness….), as well as blaming ourselves for imperfections (limitations, lack of knowledge, mistakes, EVEN good things like emotions, ambition, having normal human needs….)
Therefore, no matter how intelligent or accomplished, without Recovery training & practice, many ACoAs actually don’t know what KFY means or how to do it. We’re all familiar with the PP’s poisonous voice whispering: “Who do you think you are?” But that’s exactly the point: In order to KFY, we have to know who & what WE ARE! It requires freedom to be, to express the True Self, & since we didn’t learn that as kids, we have to work on it now – every day. If we persist, eventually it does become more natural & automatic.
NOTE: The most important thing to remember about KFY is that it requires telling the truth about what motivates our thoughts & actions, which never has anything to do with what others are doing or saying – no matter how mean, stupid or crazy.
EXP of not KFY, not speaking from the “I”:
Joey forgot to bring home the milk Sarah asked for. She gets angry & calls him a few choice names. The REAL reason she’s angry is not that they need the milk so badly, but that she feels that Joey doesn’t consider her important. She’s hurt but doesn’t say so – it’s easier to attack than be vulnerable.
KFY is NOT a justification for our narcissism!
• saying things like “I think that you should—–, If I were you I would/wouldn’t —–” & then proceed to tell someone who we think they are, what they should do or think…. instead of finding out who they actually are, what they want, what they’ve already tried….
• expecting / demanding that others fulfill our needs, just because “I want it” – without considering whether they want to help, what state they’re in, if they’re available, what they’re legitimately capable of, what’s appropriate to ask of others….
• an opportunity to attack, dismiss /negate or point a finger at others & then excuse it by saying: “It’s just my opinion”
• manipulating others so we can to get them to take care of us, because we don’t want to do it for ourselves
• doing whatever we feel like (jerking others around, lying, attacking, being insensitive, undependable, withholding,…..), because we’re afraid of being controlled or we want to get back at the whole world for what our family did to us
• convincing someone to go out of their way for us & then changing plans at the very last-minute, just because we have something better to do or just don’t feel like it
• use other people to get what we want, to get ahead, to vent our rage
• trying to get someone to be/do what WE want – so we don’t have to deal with ourselves
ASK yourself – “What drives me to still want to be with someone who is definitely not available, or who can’t love at all, much less love me?”
In Al-Anon’s “Courage to Change”, Today’s Reminder, (pg. 29 ) says:
“I am learning to be honest with myself. I will not use my Recovery as an excuse to justify my efforts to change other people’s thinking. Trying to control other people only gets me in trouble. Instead, I will promptly admit such mistakes and put my energy back where it belongs – by focusing on myself.”
BUT – KFY is also NOT a sign that we are :
— unable to love anyone. As Samantha said on Sex & the City:
“I love you, but I love me more!”
— selfish, because it takes attention away from ‘them’
— arrogant, since we assume we have no rights, & are worthless
— disobedient, because we’re not allowed to think or do for ourselves – only what ‘they’ tell us to do or think…..
KFY may mean FACING things we don’t want to, like that YOU:
— had a traumatic childhood that you’re afraid to admit & dealt with
— don’t like yourself very much, altho you’re ‘supposed to’
— feel like your life is way out of control, but don’t know how to fix it
— hate your job, but afraid to change, holding on until retirement
— hate salads, even though you eat one every day for lunch
— know it’s time to let go of old dreams, but are still hoping
— think your friends only like you because you do so much for them
— want to take risks, but are sure you’ll make mistakes or be rejected
— want a divorce, but are afraid to leave & be alone
— want to change but don’t know how. Your life is a mess.
It could mean that YOU’RE:
— depressed, & have been for decades
— exhausted, even though it doesn’t seem you’ve done much today
— supposed to love parent/mate/child/friend…. but often don’t
— terrified of commitment, but are also terribly lonely
— not getting any younger, & have so many regrets
Adapted from Karen R Koenig
NEXT: KFY (Part 2)