As an addict, I tend to have black and white thinking. There is a right way and a wrong way … and my way is the right way. As a person in recovery, I cannot afford to think that way. That is why gray is the color of recovery to me. 🙂
Even regarding my marriage, gray thinking in recovery has strengthened our relationship and reduced the bickering, not to mention the all-out nuclear wars. For instance, I used to go nuts when I saw how he worked on his computer. He takes five steps to my one. In the past, we would have huge, escalating fights about such nonsense because I couldn’t stand for him to do it the “wrong” way.
But the fact is, he accomplishes his tasks as well as I do. Who says my way is better because it is faster? We are talking about seconds, not minutes. And in the process, by keeping my mouth shut, I am not diminishing my husband or criticizing, two character defects that are quite destructive. In addition, I am working on staying in “fit spiritual condition” for another few minutes, which makes it easier to stay abstinent with money.
As the Big Book says on page 417 (4th Edition, 449 in previous editions), “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems for today.” Further on in that story, the husband says that he was told that he has the lenses in his glasses backwards, and continues, “‘…the courage to change’ in the Serenity Prayer meant not that I should change my marriage, but rather that I should change myself and learn to accept my spouse as she was. A.A. has given me a new pair of glasses. I can again focus on my wife’s good qualities and watch them grow and grow.”
There’s another saying I’ve heard – “You can be right or you can be happy.” Ah, wouldn’t it be great if we could be both?! But usually, I have to pick. My addict self really wants to be right. But when I get into even a little bit of fit spiritual condition, I know with absolute certainty on almost every occasion that I need to keep my mouth shut. The feelings will pass. And when they do, I’ll be happier in the end.
This relates to delayed gratification with my spending as well. When I am in that painful place where I want want want something and feel like I’ll explode or die if I don’t get it right then, it’s really the same feeling I have when my husband does something “wrong” and I feel I MUST correct him.
In both cases, not proceeding with the spending or the fixing leads to peace.
Sometimes, I am able to later talk to him about the issue if it stays important to me. Most often, I forget after a few minutes what the fuss was all about. It’s no different than with that spending obsession. When I don’t give in during the peak of it, and wait until the drama subsides, I may come to see that I don’t want the item anymore! This has often been the case. Even if I do still want it, the fever pitch is gone when I finally make the purchase.
As someone with a chronic illness, I have learned that stress is a monstrous force. And I have learned that I can choose to work myself up or not, regardless of the external situation. So, for instance, if there is a flood in the house, I can either panic and unleash that toxic adrenaline into my body, which will really do me in, or I can pray and calmly do the next right action, whether it is getting a mop and bucket or calling a service to help.
Never forget, it’s not what happens to us that is the determining factor in our peace of mind, but how we react to it. You can definitely change how you receive, perceive, and react to life.
Try practicing on something small, like someone cutting you off in traffic or having to stop at that long red light. If you put your mind to it, you can definitely put yourself into fit spiritual condition with just a little effort when you are conscious and take that moment to pause. And that little effort, I believe, is what they mean by conscious contact with our Higher Power.