Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Thinking Too Much

What do you mean "I am thinking too much"?

by Dov (See all authors)

Someone on the forum asks:

Dear Dov, you often say, "You are thinking way too much, stop it". First of all, I think this is a very dangerous statement, in and of itself. Second, generally our emotions are controlled by our thinking, if we like it or not, so you may as well say you are "feeling way too much, stop it", I have a feeling of guilt, I need to find out what thinking is causing this and work through it, otherwise how can I get rid of the feeling?

Dov answers:

OK. I'm not one to confidently identify 'addictive' thinking, but though I agree that how we think profoundly affects our emotions, I find it hard to believe that most addicts are really in touch with the way they are thinking nearly as much as they think they are! My butt has been (figuratively) kicked for me enough times by un-blinded people that I have come to admit my own weakness at seeing what is really motivating me. That was a skill I am learning but took time and the rustic, simple honesty of step-work. The main advantage of my program buddies was not their wisdom, rather it was that they are just not me.

I have also met honest, sweet guys who come to their first meeting, (usually give some heartfelt sage counsel to all the regular attendees there!) and finally say, "wow, I have finally found where I belong!" They often come back for one more meeting, maybe, and say they've "got it now"...sometimes coming back in tatters after an arrest or divorce. I am talking about b'nei Torah, here, too. I do not think they are just liars. I believe that like I can be, they are apparently blind to whats cooking with them; to their own motivations and true goals. Perhaps they'd rather remain a bit comfortable and keep their drug. Who knows?

Finally, I have seen that it was my own very best thinking that got me as screwed up as I became. Not anyone else's. Particularly prior to using the first seven steps, I see my own deep thinking and analysis as having been quite harmful to me. In the program we do take a long hard look at what our attitudes are and how misguided our thinking may be. But we generally do it with a sponsor or group. To do this on our own is where the entire problem is in the first place! It's a big pride pill, as far as I am concerned.

So in many many cases, program people I know advocate taking the energy we are expending on trying to pridefully change ourselves by "figuring it all out and then fixing it" (a common lust/preoccupation of most people I know of who are still acting out - especially me, for years) and instead, putting that same energy (and time) into simply taking the actions of love toward our families, communities, and selves. Ultimately, that thinking was yet another self-absorbed and self-centered exercise that only made me more self-absorbed and self-centered. Not a good idea for an addict, who already uses sex-with-self and self-pleasuring as his tool to cope with life's pains! Enough is sometimes enough.

For example, a few years ago (after a year or two in recovery), whenever my wife would surprisingly find me mopping or sweeping the entire house floor, she'd say, "so what are you angry about now, dov?", with a funny smile. She had discovered that when I'd get furious (usually at her), I had learned to react first by doing stuff for her without expectation of any reciprocation from her. Just shut up and give. That would often soften my pride, get a bit healthy, and help me see that our relationship was indeed precious to me. It helped open my heart a bit. I would then be more able to look at what my part in the problem was (working my 4th step with Hashem's help), ask Hashem to save me from the problem (my pride, fear, anger, etc.)(6&7), and then make my amends with the wife (9).

Our relationship is far from perfect, but it is very good. And it isn't because I "worked on myself". If anything it's because I stopped working on myself and started working for (not on!) others, instead. Whew!

You are truly concerned about discouraging thinking. I agree that this may be a dangerous derech if we are in Cuba or a religious cult where someone else is vying for our conscience or to control us. Then I'd say "look out!"

But this secular spiritual group, with no leader, and no profit, asks for no commitment from it's members and presses no religious agenda. It's only purpose is in helping each other get sober - even without using the steps if some choose! If anyone feels endangered by that, let them joyfully go elsewhere!

Hence the emphasis on the not thinking so much. But by all means, if thinking is working for you, go right ahead!