What the Saying “If I’m Disturbed There’s Something Wrong with Me” Means

Issue 28. June 23, 2023 ✨ Higher Power Coaching & Consulting

photo credit: Mason Wilkes

“It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.” – The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous
When I first read this quote I thought, “fuck that!” As I got farther into my recovery, I realized that it’s really about the Serenity Prayer – acquiring “the wisdom to know the difference between what I can and cannot change.”

What this quote means to me now is that, if I want to be undisturbed, then it’s up to me to make that happen.

That doesn’t mean nobody did anything, or we’re to blame for everything. It just means that if I’m the one who’s disturbed, then I’m the one who’s in charge of un-disturbing myself!

What most of us do before we get into recovery is try to make everything around us be “okay” so we can be okay. We have this mistaken belief that if everything was just the way we wanted it, we’d be fine.

If only ___ would do things your way, everything would be okay. You’d be okay. So we try to make people stop disturbing us by getting them to change. But we can’t change other people! This is a lesson we learn over and over again, especially for those of us in recovery.

That’s what the serenity prayer is all about – the wisdom to know the difference between the things we can and cannot change. Once we get that, then we need courage to change the things we can. And for the things we can’t change, that’s where acceptance comes in. We get to learn how to accept it when others do things we don’t like.

Maybe you’re like I was before recovery and take it personally when things don’t go your way.  The vast majority of the time others’ behavior has nothing to do with you. If you think about yourself, you’re just bopping around in the world doing your thing. You’re not thinking, “Okay, how do I screw up this person’s life?”

Most people are not like that (unless they are sociopaths – but those people are extremely rare). Most people aren’t really thinking about you.

Let me give you a few examples of how I took it into my own hands to get myself undisturbed.

1). I used to get all bent out of shape about what was going on politically in the world. One day I started listening to music instead of the news and realized how much more joyful I felt and how much less disturbed I was. My mental health is much better when I don’t pay attention to the news. At first I was afraid people would think I was ignorant and uninformed so I’d say, “I’m on a hiatus from the news.” Then I also realized: I AM ignorant and uninformed! So judge me if you will, but I’m happy, joyous and free!

2). I used to get annoyed when people would interrupt me by texting me at random times of the day. I realized that I could turn off my phone’s ringer. I also don’t allow notifications on most of my phone’s apps for that same reason.

3). I like Christmas. I like the decorations, traditions (and of course the Hallmark Christmas movies!) However, once my mom died, my brother no longer did anything other than make a traditional Christmas dinner. He just didn’t want to celebrate Christmas the way I did. I realized that didn’t work for me. Instead of trying to control him and get him to do things my way, I hosted Christmas. I had a much more enjoyable time and I didn’t drain my energy trying to get him to do things my way.

What acting will you take to get yourself undisturbed this week? Email me to let me know.

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