"I learned that even though
there are things that feel like mistakes, that even though life
sometimes feels like punishment, that those feelings are not
the Truth. I learned that my emotional truth was being dictated
by my subconscious
perspectives of life, by the definitions of life that had been imposed
on me as a child, by the subconscious attitudes that I had adopted
of the emotional traumas I had experienced as a child.
Perspective is a key to
I had to change and enlarge my perspectives of myself and my own
of other people, of God and of this life business. Our
of life dictates our relationship with life. We have a
dysfunctional relationship with life because we were taught to have a
dysfunctional perspective of this life business, dysfunctional
definitions of who we are and why
we are here.
It is kind of like the old joke about
three blind men describing an elephant by touch. Each one of them
is telling his own Truth, they just have a lousy perspective.
Codependence is all about having a lousy relationship with life, with
being human, because we have a lousy perspective on life as a human."
(All quotes in this color are
Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)
One of the gifts of the twelve step
recovery process, of learning to apply the Serenity Prayer in our
lives, is that
we start to learn how to take responsibility without blaming - either
self or others. We learn how to take responsibility for the
we do have the power to change - and hold others responsible for their
of the street. This powerful, life changing paradigm shift was in
fact the spark that set off the series of articles I have been writing
for this Suite 101 page since my January article.
" In recovery it is very important to
take responsibility while also learning to stop giving power to the
polarized blame and shame of the disease. Therein lies a
tale." - To Parents of Alcoholics / Addicts January 2002
There are so many facets and levels to
the process of making this paradigm shift that I will probably be
writing articles about it for the rest of the year. It is so
vital because it changes our relationship with self and with life -
which in turns changes how we relate to other people.
When I use the term paradigm shift, I
am talking about changing the context, the framework, in which we view
life. Like the quote above about the 3 blind men from my book, if
we are not looking at a larger picture we are not seeing clearly.
If we are viewing
our self and life out of eyes that are limited by polarized, shame
beliefs, then we are not seeing life clearly - we are not seeing the
Our perspective of anything dictates
our relationship with that thing. And our perspectives are set up
the intellectual paradigm we are empowering - by the attitudes,
and definitions that we are holding, both consciously and
That is why it is so important to
practicing intellectual discernment. To start looking at the
beliefs, and definitions that are dictating our perspectives of
We can change our relationship with life - and with all the components
life - by changing our perspectives.
This includes our perspective of our
emotions. Because we grew up in emotionally dishonest and
dysfunctional cultures, we learned to have a dysfunctional relationship
with our own emotions. It is through learning to have some
intellectual discernment that we can start changing our attitude
towards our own emotions - and then we can also start practicing
I will be talking about some different
aspects of both intellectual and emotional discernment in coming
articles. For this article I want to make a point about how important
this process is by using the example of some basic dysfunctional
beliefs that are at the foundation of our relationship with life.
These are the beliefs that we learned from the fairy tales we heard in
We learned that when we meet our
or Princess we will live happily-ever-after. We got the message
there was a destination to reach in life where we would find a state of
that is happily-ever-after.
That is not true. It is not the
way life works. You know that now. As an adult, you
and intellectually know that there is no happily-ever-after - if you
ever stopped to think about it.
Unfortunately however, that belief is
programmed into our subconscious intellectual paradigm and as such, it
determines our perspective of life, of romance, of our self - and thus
dictates our emotional relationship with those aspects of our human
We are set up to feel like failures in
life, and in romantic relationships, because we do not get to reach
happily-ever-after. We judge and shame ourselves because we
haven't lived up to the fairy tale. We blame ourselves - or we
blame others for this feeling of failure.
This feeling of failure is an illusion
based upon a fairy tale. It is based upon beliefs about life that
are not true - that have never been true. It is part of our
programming and the only way to change it is to change that
programming - and heal the emotional wounds that we have experienced
our dysfunctional relationships with life and romance set us up to feel
We cannot do that without looking
within. We need to become willing to start shining the light of
consciousness into the darkness of our subconscious in order to take
power away from that which is in the dark. Looking outside to
find the answers does not work.
It is only by looking within that we can start healing and recovering
from the false beliefs that we learned in childhood.
It is vital for us to start awakening
to the reality that we have the power to change our beliefs. We
the power to choose a different intellectual paradigm to define our
life. That is what working the twelve steps can do for us - cause
a paradigm shift our relationship with life. The more conscious
we get about how the process works the quicker we can make the
We have the power to change the
attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that are dictating our relationship
with life. We can start practicing discernment - picking the baby
out of the bath water - once we are willing to start looking within
without shame and blame. The key to doing this is to detach from
our own process enough to develop an objective perspective of our
To use the blind men and the elephant
analogy, this means to realize that we aren't really blind - we have
just had our eyes closed, have been living unconsciously. We can
open our eyes and step back to look at the elephant from a better
perspective. We can walk around it and look at it from all
angles. We have a choice to
open our eyes and see more clearly. We do not have to be trapped
the programming from our childhood. We have a choice.
We lived life unconsciously because we
did not know any other way. It is not shameful - not something to
judge ourselves for. Once we get in enough pain we start becoming
willing to look for another way. That is when we can start to
learn and practice discernment. That is when we can begin our