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snail, november

Changing the Rules

Today's reading in my book of affirmations got me thinking.

June 2: Rules
I Can Change the Rules
Today I see that I can safely examine the rules I live by and that I have the power to change them, if I want to promote my recovery.

Am I still living unconsciously by rules that no longer fit me? In my alcoholic family, there were many rules that were incongruent and unrealistic.

Today I will look at my rules about love, money, friends, sex, decisions, and emotions. Which rules are my choices, which rules have I unconsciously adopted?

I have the ability to decide which rules work for me and discard those that do not.


In my family of origin there were a lot of funny rules. One of them was about unemployment. I'm between contracts now so it has come up repeatedly lately. The rule says that if a person is unemployed, they should feel guilty. When questioned, the reason given was that they are living off society or the other people in their unemployment insurance without working. But then again there were a lot of negative things said about people who didn't work who didn't receive any benefits from the authorities or an unemployment insurance either. Things like "never did an honest day's of work". So I think it's really about people not working, people having "too much" time on their hands. The assumption is that people who have a lot of leisure time are bad and that they could and should do something about it, i.e. get a job.

Part of the reason is probably that people who don't work in or outside the home are seen as not contributing to society. On the other hand, people who work for cash in hand, effectively avoiding contributing to things like schools, roads and hospitals, aren't seen as bad as those who don't work but still pay taxes. Again, this points toward work in itself being a good thing to do and people who don't work are bad.

When I think about it deeper it has to do with some of the issues around pleasure and relaxation that have been coming up for me lately. Pleasure and relaxation open up a whole can of worms and I'm not really getting a grip on them. To begin with it seems that they have to be earned. If you've worked hard, you can put your feet up, let your hair down and have a beer. If you haven't worked, you should be frantically running around and serve those who have "proper jobs".

There's also this whole idea that pleasure and relaxation automatically leads to sloth, alcoholism and/or overindulging in sex. Oh my, what a mess! I feel like I have to defend myself against the accusation that I spend my days downloading porn from the internet and drinking beer after beer. My old tapes seem to say that even though I may not be doing that right now, I probably will soon enough and I should definitely do something about it before it happens. The more I look at these rules, the worse I feel. But I think it's important that I examine them in the light of day. They tend to be unrealistic, inconsistent and alarmist. Not to mention crazy-making!

The truth is that I am trying to find a job but in my very specialised niche, there just aren't any right now. I'm doing what I can! I am powerless over my employment status. That's something I need to keep firmly in mind. I am powerless over whether there are any jobs suitable for me and if anybody wants to hire me. I can do the footwork but after that it's up to my Higher Power. I'm getting the impression that the Goddess really wants me to look at the issues around pleasure and relaxation that I have. There seem to be so many assumptions around those issues. They're really classic for people who grew up in alcoholic homes. The fact that my father died from his alcoholism before he turned 40 certainly doesn't help. OK, I've just added "Write about pleasure and relaxation in the light of the first three steps." to my to do list for this month. Wish me luck!

Update, October 20, 2011: I'm making this entry public, so maybe I should point out that I don't even like beer and that I'm not into porn either.
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