In the suggested opening for Al-Anon meetings, there's a line that says "In Al-Anon we learned to keep the focus on ourselves." That's a surprisingly hard thing to do--particularly for those of us who've lived with alcoholism.

This past weekend, one of the daily readings from Al-Anon's Courage to Change book was on that topic, and I've decided to copy it and put it up above my desk where I can read it and be reminded of its wisdom every day. And while it's copyrighted material, I think I'm well within the boundaries of Fair Use if I post just that day's reading here.

March 19

I cam to Al-Anon with a compulsion to focus on other people. I had a clear idea of how everyone should behave in every situation and felt very self-righteous when they didn't follow my rules of conduct. When I realized that my own life was being neglected because all my attention was elsewhere, I had to make some major changes.

Today I still have to be vigilant about minding my own business. I know that when my thoughts begin with "He should" or "She shouldn't" I am probably in trouble. I don't have the answers for other people. I don't make the rules for appropriate behavior, good business conduct, driver courtesy, or common sense. I don't know what is best for others because I don't know the lessons their Higher Power is offering them. I only know that if I'm caught up in what they should or should not do, I have lost my humility. I have also ceased to pay attention to myself. Nine times out of ten, I am focusing on someone else to avoid looking at something in my own life.

Today's Reminder
I grow in my ability to relate to others when I allow them to be exactly as they are. The greatest gift I can give to myself is my own attention.

"Clean your finger before you point at my spots." (Ben Franklin)


Thanks for posting this, Liz. It's really applicable to the way my mind (doesn't?) works sometimes.

Thanks for posting this, Liz. I purposefully left my Al-Anon books in Rochester when I moved west - to focus on myself and to try to put the relationship I left behind... well, behind me, I guess.

Still, it's good to be reminded that the wisdom presented can be applicable outside the context of Al-Anon and recovery. Thanks. :)

Amazing words of wisdom... They certainly help put things back in perspective.

Chris, for me, recovery isn't about the other person, or the relationship.

An alcoholic doesn't stop being an alcoholic because they're not drinking anymore. And I don't stop needing the Al-Anon tools when I'm not dealing with an alcoholic. My experiences with alcoholism have shaped my personality, and I need the tools of recovery every day.

It's a lot like keeping your body healthy, I think. I can get healthy by eating right and going to the gym. But as soon as I stop, I slide right back to where I was.

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