Monday, August 2, 2010

Breaking the Chains

It is difficult for me to maintain my peace of mind when I am in the presence of negative people.  How do I stay sane in the midst of chaos?  "Detach with love" is a phrase I learned in meetings.  I think it means that my emotional state is not dependent on the emotions and behaviors of others.  Easier said than done!  I can't seem to do this unless I physically remove my person from these people.  I guess you could call it my "out of sight, out of mind" plan.

This has been working for a while, but lately I have noticed the more I rely on this plan, the more isolated I become.  Let's face it, negative, crabby, unhealthy, whiny, demanding, unhappy people are EVERYWHERE!  So, at a low spot in my weekend, I grabbed a notebook and a pen and wrote out a thorough 4th Step.  Without fail, working this step revealed where I had been selfish, dishonest, self seeking, and frightened.  Here's the crux of it all:

I offer solutions to people who complain when they don't necessarily ask for any. 

I was taught look at my motives for doing what I do.  My motive for giving others suggestions as they complain about people and situations in their life is to make them stop complaining.  I want negative people to be positive so that my emotional balance isn't upset.  My motive for being over-involved in my kids' fights, whining, self-care activities, and leisure activities is to rid myself of the guilt I feel when they are mad, bored, or don't get their way and the pain I feel when they are unhappy.  My motive, pure and simple, is to try and change THEM so that I don't feel uncomfortable. 

(Sorry, folks, you can say you do things out of the goodness of your heart and for completely selfless reasons but the fact is, for every action I take there lies in part a selfish motive.  It's just human nature.) 

Ok, back to the basics, Marie.  You know, like:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I know in my head that I can't change other people, but darn it, if my heart would only stop forgetting this fact.  Each time I offer solutions to those who don't ask for it, I am trying to change them.  In doing this, I also invest myself emotionally in their "stuff" and thus, attach with selfish motives rather than detach with love. 

When I attach with selfish motives this means my serenity is dependent on their actions and attitudes.  So, of course, I try to control those actions and attitudes so that I feel happy.  And of course, I can't control these things so I end up feeling insane!

Detaching with love means I can listen to them and love them right where there are without trying to change their attitudes or behaviors into something that will make me happy.  After all, I am not their Higher Power.  What do I know about what they need to do?  I don't even know what I need to do for me half of the time!

At this point, Steps 1, 2 and 3 came into play for me this weekend as well.  Specifically:

Step 1:  After admitting my powerlessness over others and my inability to manage their lives or my own,
Step 2:  I was humbled by my lack of power and became open minded enough to see that I don't know what is best for everyone, thus God restored my sanity as
Step 3:  I turned it all over to Him.

In other words, I was able to experience some of God's peace because I was no longer taking on the responsibility of fixing others, which I can't do anyway, which is why I go insane!  What a vicious cycle!

I am so grateful for my Higher Power and for the ability to find solutions to the problems I create in my life today by working the 12 Steps.

It really does work!  I hope it does for you, too.


  1. The older I get the more I am realizing that the 12 step program is really something that any one who is alive and breathing should do. Thank you for sharing...your blog is such an inspiration to me. Thank you Marie!

  2. Yes, it's been said before that everyone could use the 12 steps, alcoholic or not. It is a great blueprint for living. Thanks for reading.

  3. Detachment is a powerful tool. I would not have the peace of mind that I do without being able to simply detach.


Thank you for sharing!