The Game-Changing Term I Learned in Recovery: “Info, Not Ammo”

Issue 26. June 9, 2023 ✨ Higher Power Coaching & Consulting

One of the most important concepts I learned in recovery is “info, not ammo.” That is, when you learn something negative about yourself, don’t use it as ammunition to beat yourself up, use it as information to learn, incorporate and grow from.

This notion is especially helpful when you’re going through any change process, like boundaries coaching or 12-step recovery. During such changes processes, we learn what we’ve been doing that’s been creating chaos and dysfunction. Many of us use that as ammo and beat the shit out of ourselves. Doing so will likely make it impossible to learn and grow from the info, so you might as well not even have learned it!

Even though I had high self-esteem and always liked myself, in recovery I realized I’d always been “scanning the horizon” for reasons to beat myself up. So when I learned this notion “info, not ammo” it was super helpful to me.

Here’s the thing – if you could beat yourself up into a better version of yourself, you would have done it by now! When you beat yourself up, you end up battered and bruised. That is not a state that lends itself to healthy growth and change.

Here’s an example in my life of applying this notion of “info, not ammo.”
When I learned that I was a people pleaser, and that people-pleasing is dishonest and manipulative, I was like, “Oh my God! I’m a horrible person!” But using my new perspective I was like, “Whoa! Hold on… this is info, not ammo. It’s information for me to understand about myself.”

I realized it’s dishonest because I told people yes when I wanted to say no and I did things I didn’t want to do, etc. So I asked myself why I was doing that. This led me to see that it was because I wanted people to approve of me. I had no idea I’d been operating like that. This ultimately led to the pivotal experience of coming to care more what *I* think of me than what others do, which is the foundation of what enabled to build and enforce boundaries.

I also saw that people-pleasing was manipulative because I had an outcome in mind – that people would be pleased with me. That is, I’d been trying to manipulate them into thinking certain things of me. I now know that dishonesty and manipulation are patterns of survival I learned from growing up in a dysfunctional family. And I also learned to stop them. I could never have done that had I used the knowledge that I’m a people-pleaser as ammo, instead of info.

I told the truth, even though I felt like it was going to kill me when I first started doing it in situations where I used to people-please by lying. Here I am, still standing. It didn’t kill me.

I communicated directly with people and said things like, “This is not OK with me” or “I’d rather not” instead of trying to manipulate them into approving of me by acting like things were okay with me that weren’t.

If you truly want to change, then be sure to look at those negative things you learn about yourself as info, not ammo. It’s a game-changer!

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