Our first objective will be the development of self-restraint. This carries a top priority rating. When we speak or act hastily or rashly, the ability to be fair-minded and tolerant evaporates on the spot. One unkind tirade or one willful snap judgement can ruin our relation with another person for a whole day, or maybe a while year. Nothing pays off like restraint of tongue and pen.
Restraint of tongue and pen are some more of the most important words of the program for me. This was an extremely valuable lesson for me to learn.
There’s an AA saying that goes First Thought Wrong. It speaks to the fact that so many of us have dysfunctional ways of dealing with people and situations, and that we often react quickly and in a way that is, well, wrong. I believe this has to do with the reason for my drinking. Or my drinking followed the dysfunction. It doesn’t matter. My first thoughts and first reactions were and often still are wrong. Today we’d more accurately need restraint of tongue and keyboard, since the time it takes to write something out with a pen could cool us down.
In the regular world, which is mostly the working world for me, I try to “sleep on it” if at possible when I have a troubling decision to make or when I feel someone has done me wrong. I try to always bring to mind that I can’t know another person’s motivation. I’ve had enough experience hearing two sides of the story. Just today, two co-workers had a disagreement, and my partner and I heard both sides. Each got the other’s motivation wrong, probably, and each accused the other of doing the same thing. It’s sort of like a certain style of interpreting literature that I was taught. I can’t know the “author’s intentions,” ever, even if the author tries to tell me straight out. I can’t be sure. So much of our own minds and thoughts and feelings are hidden from ourselves and from each other. To go off about “he meant to do this” or “she tried to do that” is a waste of energy.
Sleeping on things and letting time pass without a doubt cools my anger. I still regret (now regret) any time I showed real anger to my children, especially when they were young. I wasn’t perfect and I wasn’t awful but those times are still painful to me.
As it is with any and everything, close, personal relationships are tougher. I fear I can to to extremes with both sides of it, reacting too much or restraining myself too much. Or both. Within a few minutes of each other.