Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Character defects & monkey mind (150.4)

I have so much going on in my head, it’s hard to know what to write today. So I’m just going to type & see what comes out.

Last night at my OA meeting, the discussion was on step 6.
Steps 4 & 5 lead up to step 6.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

We had a great discussion at the meeting.  People shared their thoughts of what step 6 meant to them (I am no where near step 6, so I got a lot out of this).  Thoughts included: self acceptance; letting go of self hatred; becoming the person we were meant to be, with our character defects removed; the most painful part of change is in the resistance to it; this step moves us away from our selfishness and self-centeredness.

This step simultaneously excites me and terrifies me.  Excites me because this step is one of the key milestones in deep, lasting, positive change.  Terrifies me because, while I know I have many character defects, admitting to them and letting them go will be difficult. 

Why do I think this will be difficult?  Probably because I've lived with my character defects for so long, I don't know how I'll live without them.

What are my character defects?  I haven't officially defined them yet.  But mostly, at this point, I feel like I am one big ball of character defects.  Procrastination, selfishness, laziness, monkey mind, self hatred, easily distracted, fearful to the point of paralysis, anger, self importance, arrogance, impatience, being controlling.  I'm sure there are more that I'll discover as I work these steps.

I am hard on myself.  I often feel like what I do isn't good enough. That *I'm* not enough.  That if only I would be this or that, instead of who I am now, I'd be happier and be a better person.  I often live my life out of selfishness and laziness--as in, I don't want to do what I don't want to do. 

I routinely "should" myself.  I should get up earlier. I should go to bed earlier.  I should workout in the morning.  I should workout at night.  I should eat better.  I should feed my kids better. I should spend more play time with my kids. I should manage my money better.  I should manage my household better.  I should meditate, be more spiritual, take yoga classes, be more generous, volunteer more, be nicer to my husband, be more patient with my kids, be a better parent.  And on and on and on.

My monkey mind processes these kinds of thoughts all day long. Not only these thoughts, but thoughts of how I failed in the past, or how others failed me in the past.

I get in a loop, and the loop goes round and round until it crowds out all else.

Some days are better than others. Some days the monkey mind is quieter and doesn't beat me up as much as other days.  Some days, I feel like I've done some things right--like get up early enough to not be crazy in the morning, handle a parenting situation well, or have a cleanly abstinent day.

This leads me to think of step 7, which is "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings." 

Like removing my compulsive overeating, I need my higher power to remove my shortcomings.

Self knowledge and knowledge of the how's and why's of self hatred aren't enough for *me.*  They may be enough for others. For an addict like me, self knowledge doesn't make me change.

I need divine intervention to help me change and to learn to accept myself.

Does that mean I can't do anything for myself?  No.  I am called to action.  I am called to work the steps.  I am called to have an Action Plan which helps guide my day, to make it the best day I am able to. I am called to read and learn and listen. 

I am called to not rely on my way, to not rely on my strength alone, and to give my cares to my higher power to work through them for me. (Being the control freak that I am, this one is really hard.)

Getting out of the rut of "shoulds" is hard work. Changing bad habits & unproductive routines is hard work.  Selfish & self centered--I don't want to do what I don't want to do--makes this challenging, as well. 

Many days, I don't want to have the best day.  I just want to coast, to be numb, to not feel all my shortcomings.  I no longer numb myself with food.  But there are other ways I escape.  Right now it's reading.  It has also been shopping or movies or TV shows.

I don't write all this as if I'm a helpless case.  I am making changes.  I do have better days.  I see improvements.  I am hopeful for the present and the future. 

The best thing I can do for myself is focus on one day at a time.  One choice at a time.  To do what's necessary at this moment, and then do what's necessary the next moment. 

Monkey mind often makes my moments get mixed up. I'm doing one thing, I think of something else I need to do, and skip to that something else.  I often have to force myself to stay on task, to resist the urge to follow every thought that flits through my brain.  It's hard work.

Sunday I spent a lot of time outside working on the yard and the landscaping.  When we did the back yard two weeks ago, we didn't have time for the front.  Sunday, after I saw the accomplishments of four hours work, I felt good. It was therapeutic to breathe fresh air, work the ground, beautify my home and get rid of the "pile" of weeds and unattractiveness of our neglected (for years) landscaping. 

That kind of thing--working when I'd rather have been lazy and reading--is one kind of positive change I am happy about. 

What is remarkable to me, is that now that I am out of the food fog, now that food is a "minor" issue (I will always be an addict, the addiction is not minor, but I have been freed from compulsive overeating), I can finally pay attention to deeper issues of my life.

The food fog hid these issues by burying them. Now they are rising to the surface, and I can't (won't) ignore them.  Shining the light on them is the first step to healing.  


Vickie said...

I will keep rereading this and leaving comments as I think.

I am not sure if this applies to you. But in weight loss (actually it is usually not actually loosing weight) blog land, when I see what I think of as the "rebel thing", it looks like self sabotage from the outside.

I think it was a pattern of behavior that started when these gals were young.

They rebelled against all reason and self interest.

They saw it as wanting to control and not be controlled (I think).

So, an opposite sides of the fence thing with their parents (I would guess).

They truly seem they would cut off their nose to spite their face, even now, as adults, because that is so firmly set in them.

This might not apply to you. But your line -

"Selfish & self centered--I don't want to do what I don't want to do--makes this challenging, as well."

made me think of it.

Laura N said...

thank you for your thoughtful response, as always. :)

I have definitely been rebellious. I was not rebellious in the traditional sense as a teenager. Very straight laced, no trouble to my parents. The rebelliousness must have come out in other ways. I was rebellious when I was over 180 pounds and thought my husband had no right to be unhappy to be married to a fat wife. For years, I think I didn't want to lose weight b/c I wanted to make him love me no matter what. Rebellious.

I think it is also a sense of entitlement. I heard in an online sermon this morning about a book about narcissim, and one of the "7 deadly sins of narcissim" is a sense of entitlement. I also suffer from an "above the rules or the rules don't apply to me" issue.

This also applies to weight issues. As in, I should be able to eat whatever I want and still be thin. In OA - it's explained as we pray that God will make us thin, and we're upset when he doesn't, but what we're really asking him is to let us eat whatever junk we want and still make us thin.

Vickie said...

Diagnostic criteria for 301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder

(cautionary statement)
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

(3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

(4) requires excessive admiration

(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Vickie said...

I just looked up the criteria for actual narcissism for someone else. Thought you might like to see it. My husband's mother and my father are both 9 out of 9. Was the book you were referencing talking about actual narcissists or using the term loosely?

Vickie said...

My quote from the universe this morning -

There's always a deeper reason, Friend, for the emotions you feel, the doubts you have, the questions you raise, and the fears you entertain.

It's called "wanting it all."

What a system, huh?

The Universe