By: Marilyn L. Davis
“And here’s the surprising truth: As you gaze at yourself in the mirror held by another, you will see far more than your flaws. You also will see the beauty that is uniquely you; beauty that others see clearly, and you may hardly know it exists. That is also part of the truth about you.” ― Steve Goodier
If I Look, I Won’t Find Anything Good
People in my recovery support meetings said I had to look at myself when that was the last thing I wanted to do. I disliked what I saw in a mirror, let alone go within to discover that I was like the Picture of Dorian Gray, presenting favorably to the world, but full of self-serving, self-centered, unhealthy characteristics inside.
It was difficult to face, that much like Dorian, I had sold my soul to my addiction. There didn’t seem to be any redeeming qualities in my life, so I was sure I’d only find more negativity. Because of those limited beliefs, I chose, for a time, not to look at myself.
At about 10 months in recovery, I met Gray Hawk, a Native American, with 34 years in recovery. This meeting would change my life forever.
One of the first things he told me was, “What you did in your past was right, proper, and justifiable then, because that was all you knew to do. However, recovery will mean that you cannot use those excuses anymore; it will teach you better ways.”
People Look at Us from Their Perspective
Often the people around us will point out a negative aspect of us. We often find these qualities embarrassing and don’t want to acknowledge them. Therefore, when we respond back to these comments, we might come across as arrogant, rude, judgmental, complacent, or a host of other unhealthy characteristics.
When someone asks us to look at some aspect that we find objectionable, we often become defensive, angry, embarrassed, or impolite.
If we’re embarrassed or defensive enough, we might even become hostile to them when they point out our shortcomings.
This hostility and defensiveness is a clue. The immediate question we need to ask is, “What am I defending? Invariably, it will be an aspect of our ego.
Our defensiveness or hostility might be our ego surfacing, or we think that someone may shatter our illusions of what we’ve projected to people all these years, or we still judge particular aspects of our behavior as so “bad” that we absolutely refuse to acknowledge that they are part of us.
Do They Really See That in Me?
The only way to decide if there is truth in what people are saying about you is to quietly, objectively take in their assessment and see if it is true; find the truth or lack of it for yourself about yourself. Click To Tweet
Becoming defensive, argumentative, and combative, will not allow you to look at anything. Part of the responsibility of other people in recovery is to pass along what’s worked for them.
They are seldom judging, although it may feel like they are. If we listen carefully, we’ll often hear them talking about the negative aspects they found in themselves and can see it in someone else.
Criticism And Compliments: Both Helpful
Notice that you are usually eager to hear the statements that you judge as compliments. You like to hear praise for some aspect of yourself. You swell with pride, you feel stroked, and you think you have made some progress in changing.
We don’t take offense when they give us compliments because they can see them, also, but let them seem critical, and we’re irritated.
These people can help you see where you’re denying, justifying, or minimizing. They realize that they will also be, or have been, in a place at some point where someone asked them to look at something that they too might have judged as objectionable.
Look at Yourself and then Change What You Don’t Like
When you learn to take both criticism and compliments as mere comments on aspects of yourself to look at; you will have made great strides in seeing yourself from multiple perspectives. Click To Tweet
There has been much written about our blindsides or blind spots; where we do not pay attention to one aspect of ourselves or another. One reference is the side away, from which one is directing one’s attention. There are times that we would prefer that everyone in the room had their attention directed somewhere other than at us!
Less embarrassing ways to change your thoughts, actions, and behaviors is to study and apply all the information given to you in meetings or treatment and dare to look within to see what needs changing.
When you look at the negative aspects and accept that they were a part of your thoughts, feelings, and actions in your addiction, you can decide if you still want to use them, or adopt Spiritual Principles. One way to make this decision easier is to assess your outcomes.
Better Qualities are Within You
You know that you manipulate people. Are you losing family and friends due to this behavior? If you can answer that you honestly want to change this behavior because you don’t like the costs, then you can learn to accept, “No, I can’t do that now,” from family and friends, and still keep their support. Isn’t that better than manipulating to get them to do something for you?
You might be surprised that admirable qualities and positive aspects are within you. While we seldom used them in our addiction, they are present; nonetheless, we just have to look within to find them.
When you find them, try using them and see if you don’t find yourself smiling when you look in the mirror.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart
If you’ve found ways to improve your recovery, someone needs that information. So, consider a guest post to help those still struggling with their addictions or to shore up their recovery.