Wednesday, December 14, 2011

If I had a hammer

The fundamental cornerstone of the ACA program is the 12 Steps.  But the steps themselves don't contain what I will call the Tools of ACA. The primary tools we use to move from where we were to where we'd like to be are:
  • Sharing ESH (Experience, Strength, and Hope)
  • Actively applying the Serenity Prayer
  • Reparenting
  • Fellowship / community
Reading other people's ESH shows us how we're not alone. It shows us how behaviors we never before considered related to our FOO (family of origin) are really rooted in our pasts. And it gives us ideas on how to handle certain situations specifically when we hear from people further down the path than we are. But it is also important to share our own ESH. Later in the program your ESH will serve the above purpose. But at the start, sharing your ESH will get you in touch with feelings, memories, and issues you may have found yourself disconnected from. It was only through expressing my own ESH that I discovered that I have a relationship addiction, that I fully connected to and understood the origins of my abandonment feelings and unlovability perspective. You learn from others, but you also teach yourself.

Another tool is the active execution of the Serenity Prayer. You have to identify what you can truly change and what you cannot. You make it a point to examine things under that lens. You learn that you can empathize with a co-worker, but you cannot get her to change her destructive drama that she talks to you about all the time. What you can change is whether you participate, whether you encourage the behavior.

You learn the limits of you and the true power of yourself. We tend to believe we're powerless over things we actually can change. We tend to believe we can (or should) change things that are not our affair. Actively applying the Serenity Prayer helps us out. It inverts this. Also, as part of the active application of the Serenity Prayer, we hand things we cannot control off to the Higher Power. This frees us.

Possibly our most powerful tool is reparenting. As ACoA, we often react to things as if we were still a child. We still have that raw, childhood emotion. And we need even as adults that parent to love us in the way our actual parent failed us. When we have a set back, we have to encourage ourselves instead of call us condemning labels. When we get scared, we have to tell ourselves that it will be okay, even without knowing that this will be the case. Because if we tell ourselves it will be okay, it tends to be okay in the end. As we take on the reparenting role, we turn down the voices in our heads. We begin to actively become what we have always had the potential of being.

As to fellowship and community, we tend to be isolationist. We do things by ourselves. We're not social. But there are times where the love of others, just knowing someone else cares about us and wants good for us, makes us feel better. It has no specific result. It just makes us feel better. It's like hanging with really good friends, or if you are lucky your family (because family is not always a positive place for us.)

So by actively sharing and receiving sharing, by active application of the Serenity Prayer, by reparenting, and by just hanging out with other ACoAs, you will begin to modify your behaviors and achieve results.

Meanwhile, at the Hammer of Justice...

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