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Monday, April 7, 2014

Youth, Self-Confidence, and a Lying Head

It seems that just about every situation I've had to deal with in the past week has been 'younger folks,' both in and out of recovery, who are supremely self-confident that the ideas that pop into their heads are worth acting out on.  Perhaps it is all that talk about 'self-esteem' that goes on these days in modern schools and colleges.

It is frustrating, because they seem to have very little in the way of self-doubt.  They do experience 'confusion,' but even then there is an unwavering commitment to thinking their way out of problems that their thinking got them into.

It was not just one or two contacts, but it was virtually all of them.

I have long ago accepted the fact that most of what pops into my head is pure garbage and hardly worth considering.  Before I accept an idea, I usually run it past a few who are smarter than me.

It was something I learned after years of heartache: my head lies to me.  That's just the way it is.  before I act, I need to have a lot more than ideas, opinions, and thoughts to move me to action.  The disadvantage of youth today is that your parents are automatically 'dumber' than you are.

That's the message, from the education system that extends from Kindergarten to Post-Grad studies.  Don't even think of asking your grandparents... they are just plain ole senile.

So, when I get into the picture, I find that most people are not looking for advice as much as 'confirmation.'  They want me to approve of the messages they have gotten.  When I don't agree, then the battle is on.

Sometimes I just shut down when I run across the overly self-confident.  Other times, I even find myself purposefully disagreeing with otherwise innocuous statements just to see how deep the disease runs.  Sometimes, when the person is overly demanding of my acquiescence to their demands for agreement, it takes everything within me to not feel sick.  I know what it is they are doing to themselves... I've done it to.  It is tragic.

So, how do we handle these folks, who seem advice-proof?  Simple answer: I don't know.

There is no sure-fire way to wake people up, and I am not even sure that we should want to have that kind of control over others.  After all, if we start thinking that we can wake someone up, then we are indeed controlling their behavior.

Since I am lousy at controlling my own behavior, I found it improbable that I can control anyone else.

So, after such fun interactions, I try to review my own reactions, paying close attention to why I experienced the emotions that I did, and making sure I don't get vested in the idea of 'success' or 'failure' in the work that I do.  God and that other person are what is important, not my 'performance.' 

I have learned a long time ago that sometimes my job is to fail.  That's what God needs from me: my failures.  I can look back at the blessings I have now and realize that they come as much from my successes as my failures.  So, if I 'fail' to convince these people that they are on the wrong track, all I can do is accept that as a fact and move along.  This is just another part of God's plan.

It goes without saying that God's plans are often intensely frustrating for people like me with no patience.  I still have not entirely grown up myself.

However, it is much easier to deal with a lying head when you don't take yourself so seriously.  It becomes a source of joy when you come to realize how many people God has put in your life to deal with those lying thoughts.

In the end, I am grateful to God for the gift of today, even if it comes by means of frustrations.

1 comment:

  1. "I don't know" -- I'm learning to become OK with this about a far greater range of issues than usual (usual = no unknowing allowed, ever). What you say about the nonexistence of a surefire way to wake people up resonates strongly with me. It's a message I would not have been prepared to accept without sobriety. Now that I have a little, I realize that there was nothing anybody could have told me that would have made me want to clean up my act -- I had to get to that point myself.

    This is why I really agree with your earlier posts expressing ambivalence about the word "addiction." I'm with Peter Hitchens on this. When the word "addiction" is used to describe a condition resolving the afflicted of culpability for their actions, well, I'm against addiction. And this definition seems to be winning out.

    But the truth is that people are culpable for their actions, which is proven by the fact that there is nothing anybody else can do to *make* them want to get sober. Consequently, everybody who has gotten (and stayed) sober did it ultimately because they wanted to -- which means they are able to decide to become sober, which means they are culpable for deciding to *not* become sober.

    Granted, it's not a straight line from acting out to sobriety, but somebody can genuinely commit to truly walking that path at any point in time, assuming they really desire to. With that desire, outside assistance is useful. Without that desire, outside assistance is useless. At least that's how it's coming to appear to me.

    But then, I've also learned not to trust my own head, so what do I know, really...