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Judging people by their actions: recovery related

Old 11-20-2014, 07:53 AM
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Judging people by their actions: recovery related

Anvil's post brought up a topic that has been bugging me specifically for the past few days. I have learned to watch what people do, not what they say after a few years of program and time on SR, but I find that I still can confuse myself when I only look at a small window of time.

Many of us come here saying, "Well, but look, he's changed. He hasn't drank in 2 weeks. He's going to AA. She picked the kids up this week on time every day. He helped with the laundry all month long. She didn't pick a fight for the last 2 months even though I know she's not in recovery.....etc etc etc".

Over time, I finally have come to realize that it's not just their actions today, last week, this morning, or on Sunday that matter. It's the pattern of behaviors and actions that someone is taking that help me make better judgements over whether this person is a safe person. I can't just look at what my AH did over the past week or so because, quite frankly, he's been down right pleasant and easy to be around. I have to look at the patterns and I have to decide for myself whether I can take down a wall, whether this is something I can talk to face to face with him about or whether it's best left to email, whether I can discern if we're in a place where we can be civil or whether something will lead to his passive aggressive behavior or my defensiveness, etc.

Recovery, for me, has been a place where I have learned discernment, better judgement skills, and has given me a place to comprehend what a boundary really is and what it means in reality TO ME. None of this has come easy. I didn't have boundaries. I was a people pleasing doormat and if you said jump, I'd ask how high and I wouldn't even consider the cost to myself. I do now. I think and discern and use wisdom before I take action, especially action that puts me in a position where I sacrifice my dignity or myself in some way for someone else.

That is what recovery has done for me. What has recovery done for you when it comes to judging others and looking out for your own best interest?
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Old 11-20-2014, 07:58 AM
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Amen, Liz! This is a wonderful post.

I try really, really hard not to judge others, but I have gotten so much better at making quick assessments (I find that if I agonize over what someone's actions MEAN, it triggers a big codie relapse for me). I can assess someone's actions and behavior, and decide quickly how (or even whether) I can maintain my serenity in the fact of those actions and behaviors. And if someone who is usually a trigger for me is behaving kindly, I am better at accepting it for what it is in that moment, without assigning a lot of "greater meaning" to it.
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Old 11-20-2014, 08:00 AM
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Boundaries, what are those? Before my recovery work I was like an amoeba, engulfing everything and everyone in my path. Everything was personal. People didn't just do something, they did it TO ME.
I can be grateful for and enjoy one nice gesture, but not overlook a long term pattern of bad behavior because of it.
Thinking before I act (or react) has also been a huge step for me. I can do what's in my power to influence a situation then let go of the rest.
Good post. I've just been thinking what a tremendous advantage I have in certain situations because of my recovery.
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Old 11-20-2014, 08:04 AM
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Ha -- great minds and all that. I just made a post about how recovery has taught me to handle dysfunction in the workplace better.

I really like this:
Recovery, for me, has been a place where I have learned discernment, better judgement skills, and has given me a place to comprehend what a boundary really is and what it means in reality TO ME. None of this has come easy. I didn't have boundaries. I was a people pleasing doormat and if you said jump, I'd ask how high and I wouldn't even consider the cost to myself. I do now. I think and discern and use wisdom before I take action, especially action that puts me in a position where I sacrifice my dignity or myself in some way for someone else.
Recovery has taught me so much, but one of the most important lessons I've learned is to draw boundaries between what's my feelings and what is other people's feelings. For most of my life, I would take on the "atmosphere" of whoever was the strongest emoter in the room and react to it. If someone was mad, I'd cower. If someone was sad, I'd be sad. I think recovery has given me the freedom to stop being a chameleon and actually being who I am -- regardless of who everyone else around me is.

Recovery has also taught me -- just as important -- that I can't change other people. I accept them as they are, and then I determine whether I want them in my life. I don't agonize over a friendship with a person who goes hot and cold, who one day acts like my best friend and the other day doesn't speak to me -- I simply determine "that person's behavior is not something I want in my life."

Serenity is not a level you achieve and then stay at. But being able to find pockets of serenity in my life has made me a calmer, more joyful person on a very deep level.
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Old 11-20-2014, 08:15 AM
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I absolutely agree Liz, it's about the behaviors building patterns that become habits & commitments... not the isolated incidents.

I've learned a lot about staying in the Now & not future-tripping/Assuming all over myself as well. It occurred to me that sometimes those assumptions are really based in pre-meditated judgment.

I've also learned to better recognize when someone close to me is maybe in need of recovery of some sort but not quite ready for it yet. (Not always related to addiction) I see that they have a lack of awareness about themselves & how they live their lives ruled by fear to some extent, by the things that they say & share with me. I have empathy for them being locked outside of themselves like that.... but also know I can't make them see it either, it is purely observation on my part. And even better, knowing that no matter what *I* THINK I see, I only know the half of it because we never know someone else's path as clearly as we think we do.

I've learned not to take everything personally & to sometimes recognize when other perceive MY actions or words to be personal against them.

I think I communicate better all around because I've learned the importance of being clear with my words so that my meaning is conveyed, leaving less up to interpretation.
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Old 11-20-2014, 08:18 AM
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I'm going to go out on a limb here & add one more:

I think I've learned more about what IS worth judging another person by - looking at their actions, the realities & knowing that sometimes what sounds like a Judgment is really A Truth.

And that those truths only matter when they impact me/our relationship.
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Old 11-20-2014, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by FireSprite View Post
I'm going to go out on a limb here & add one more:

I think I've learned more about what IS worth judging another person by - looking at their actions, the realities & knowing that sometimes what sounds like a Judgment is really A Truth.

And that those truths only matter when they impact me/our relationship.
Sooooo true, FS! You said this very well.

I was such a Judgey McJudgerton for so long (even though I liked to believe that my bleeding heart liberal self loved and accepted everybody exactly as they were). Recovery has helped me see how judgmental I was about stuff that wasn't TRUTH, and has helped me see TRUTH for what it is.
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Old 11-20-2014, 10:21 AM
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I too agree. I know it scares people to hear it, but my X relapsed after over a year sober. It is actions over the course of a very very long time. I have found that unless a person is working a serious recovery system, with hard time and work spent on it, I stand by this, "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior."

It may sound glum, but it proves true a big majority of the time.
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Old 11-20-2014, 09:03 PM
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even though I liked to believe that my bleeding heart liberal self loved and accepted everybody exactly as they were
Ha!! I had to comment on this because this is sooooo me!! I'm on liberal about social issues BUT it really gives me a good platform to call out fellow judgmental people. "You're wrong and let me tell you why you're wrong for telling other people that they're wrong!"

Now I (mostly) keep my opinions to myself. Voting and being active in my community with like minded people is a healthier way to initiate change.
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Old 11-21-2014, 11:18 AM
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actions definitely need to be observed over a long period of time in order to truly see what are patterns and what are merely momentary, short-lived abberations. we often hear recommendations about a YEAR's time....usually in conjunction with sobriety - or about not making any major changes when embarking on personal recovery. a year - 12 months - 4 seasons - which will include for the individual one birthday, anniversaries of some sort be that marriage or work or the death of a loved one - one Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Tax day, open enrollment period for insurance....etc etc.

when Jane Goodall went to study and observe chimpanzee behavior in Africa, she didn't go for a couple weeks. or a couple months. she lived almost full time in Gombe from 1960 to 1975, fifteen YEARS. i'm not saying we need to OBSERVE behavior for 15 years to begin to understand, but i do believe we see what we WANT to see, even the slightest indication of "change" based on some very convulute and rationalized hopes!
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Old 11-21-2014, 12:32 PM
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I have learned not to be such an open book and assume that everyone has my best interests at heart. I have learned that I don't have to be everyone's best friend. I have learned that it is insulting and degrading to think that I have all of the answers to another adult's life's issues. I have learned that I am a control freak, even though I hate being controlled, and that being a control freak is a lesson in futility.
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Old 11-21-2014, 12:54 PM
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I used to follow a belief that others existed, not to be loved, but to be worshipped- a very subtle form of idolatry.

It feels very good now to be able to say "no," and realize that I don't have to do whatever somebody else wants me to.

Isn't there a funny cartoon character who wanders around asking, "are YOU my Daddy?" That was me....
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Old 11-21-2014, 12:55 PM
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I used to follow a belief that others existed, not to be loved, but to be worshipped- a very subtle form of idolatry.

It feels very good now to be able to say "no," and realize that I don't have to do whatever somebody else wants me to.

Isn't there a funny cartoon character who wanders around asking, "are YOU my Daddy?" That was me....
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Old 11-22-2014, 07:31 AM
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For me judgement has always been a bad thing.

I am starting to realize though that as I RESPECT my own feelings, thoughts and well-being that judgement is an extension of boundaries for me.

How do I feel about what just happened? How do I feel about what was just said, done, commented on? Is it safe for me to be around?

Judgment for me in the past has been my head and heart often screaming at me that something about a person, situation etc was not safe. Now I am more willing to acknowledge reality, call a spade a spade and name how it impacts me. I don't have as much judgement because I am willing to listen to the still small voice within that says this is NOT OKAY for me. That to me is not judgement it is finally self-care.
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Old 11-22-2014, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by AnvilheadII View Post
actions definitely need to be observed over a long period of time in order to truly see what are patterns and what are merely momentary, short-lived abberations. we often hear recommendations about a YEAR's time....usually in conjunction with sobriety - or about not making any major changes when embarking on personal recovery. a year - 12 months - 4 seasons - which will include for the individual one birthday, anniversaries of some sort be that marriage or work or the death of a loved one - one Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Tax day, open enrollment period for insurance....etc etc.

when Jane Goodall went to study and observe chimpanzee behavior in Africa, she didn't go for a couple weeks. or a couple months. she lived almost full time in Gombe from 1960 to 1975, fifteen YEARS. i'm not saying we need to OBSERVE behavior for 15 years to begin to understand, but i do believe we see what we WANT to see, even the slightest indication of "change" based on some very convulute and rationalized hopes!
I don't know how to highlight specific sentences from a post so I just took the whole thing, LOL! The part Anvil wrote about convoluted and rationalized hopes rings so true to me.

My AH has been putting his best foot forward. According to him, he's trying very hard to NOT be so melancholy (his word). It lasted about 10 days and last night I saw it again. No smiling, hiding in the bedroom, grunting and one word answers to simple questions. He seems to think that he can force himself to be happy or to enjoy life, etc.

Today, I know that I am not responsible for his happiness and that I can live my own life peacefully and find my own happiness. Looking at those slight (10 day) changes, don't send me for a loop anymore. I used to think, "Oh look, he's changing! YAY! Now things can get better....." The reason I created this thread was to remind myself that change takes time and that the patterns of behavior will tell a story that is easier to discern over time than the quick fix placating behaviors I see over and over again.

When will people ever learn that you can't force yourself to be happy? Yeah, you can fake it for a night or for a few days, but deep down, the sadness, guilt, self doubt, and fears are still there. Until these things are addressed, the heart and soul fixes we all search for, then true happiness will always be just outside our grasp.
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