Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Irrationals Anonymous *grin*

Irrationals Anonymous

©2010 Rodger Garrett

The Preamble

Irrationals Anonymous is a 12-Step and 12-Tradition program of women and men who grew up affected by the lack of truth in our confusing culture. We meet with each other in a mutually respectful, safe environment to acknowledge our common experiences of confusion and recovery therefrom. We discover how our culture’s distortions of reality affected us in the past and influence us in the present. By practicing the 12 Steps, by focusing on the way things are and not the way they are not, and insisting upon evidence, we find personal freedom regardless of what we have been led to believe in the past.

The 12 Steps

1. We admitted that we had been powerless over the ideas we had acquired from our culture, and that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that direct contact with reality could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to acceptance of and interaction with the way things are and not the way they are not.

4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of our core beliefs, values, idea(l)s, assumptions, convictions and attitudes.

5. Admitted to the way things are and not the way they are not, to ourselves, and to another person, the exact nature of our mistaken appraisals, evaluations, assessments, interpretations, analyses and attributions of meaning.

6. Were entirely ready to align our will and our lives to the way things are and not the way they are not.

7. Humbly submitted our beliefs, values, idea(l)s, assumptions, convictions and attitudes to the test of empirical proof.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed with our beliefs, values, idea(l)s, assumptions, convictions and attitudes, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when our beliefs, values, idea(l)s, assumptions, convictions and attitudes were wrong, promptly admitted it.

11. Sought to improve our conscious contact with the way things are and not the way they are not, asking only for the knowledge of what is actually so and the power to act in accordance with it.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we make the message available to other irrationals without forcing it upon them, and practice the principles we have learned in our own affairs.

The 12 Traditions

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon IA unity and individual integrity.

2. For our group purpose there is no ultimate authority, but there is an agreement among us to submit group issues to group conscience. We have no leaders nor governance; only trusted servants.

3. The only requirement for IA membership is a desire to seek the truth.

4. Each IA group is autonomous except in matters affecting other IA groups or IA as a whole.

5. Each IA group has but one primary purpose: To facilitate the discovery of what is so and not what is not.

6. An IA group ought never endorse, finance nor lend the IA name to any other concern of any kind, lest problems of money, property, prestige or imperative other than truth-seeking divert us from our primary purpose.

7. Every IA group is fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

8. Irrationals Anonymous will remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

9. Irrationals Anonymous ought never to be organized, but may create service boards or committees direct responsible to those they serve.

10. Irrationals Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the IA name ought never to be drawn into public controversy.

11. Our public relations policy is one of attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity with the public media.

12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Our Dilemma

Many of us found that we had numerous characteristics in common as a result of living unconsciously in an authoritarian society where dominance and submission, rather than love and tolerance, are too often the norm.

We had come to feel uneasy with other people, especially authority figures. To function in our culture, we had become people pleasers, even though we lost our identities in the process. Fearing isolation from the supposed protection of others, we had come to view harsh personal criticism as deserved and acceptable.

To manage our unadmitted feelings, many of us became addicts of one type or another, married them, or both. We surrounded ourselves with other compulsive personalities, such as alcoholics, sex addicts, drama queens, exercise freaks and workaholics, to meet our acquired need for distraction from our true feelings.

Because we knew nothing different, we played the roles of rescuer, persecutor and victim. Having an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. We lived in a never-ending cycle of excitement-seeking, over-stimulation, guilt, shame, worry, remorse and regret. Caving in again to our culture’s all-or-nothing values, we let others tell us how to think and became unthinking reactors rather than conscious actors.

Though we said otherwise, we were dependent personalities, terrified of both abuse and abandonment. We were willing to do almost anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to be abandoned emotionally, yet we often abandoned others when we discovered their attempts to control or abuse us. We kept choosing insecure relationships because they matched our childhood relationships with dysfunctional parents and playmates.

These symptoms of the cultural disease of all-or-nothing, authoritarian thinking made us helpless victims, even though we tried to see ourselves as powerful rescuers and persecutors. We had learned to bury our feelings as children and keep them buried as adults. As a result of this conditioning, we confused love with rescue, tending to love those we could covertly control. Even more self-harming, we had become addicted to excitement, preferring constant upset to workable solutions.

Living in Recovery

As Irrationals Anonymous becomes a safe place for us, we find freedom to express all the hurts and fears that we have keep inside and to free ourselves from the shame and blame that are considered “normal” in our society. We become increasingly clear-headed adults imprisoned no longer by society’s sometimes irrational mandates. We recover the real person within us, learning to love and accept everyone who has been affected by our cultural distortions… including ourselves.

The healing begins when we risk moving out of our cultural comfort zone. Awareness of our cultural programming and feelings about how it happened will surface. But by gradually acquiring the skills of critical thinking and questioning of our automatic thoughts, as well as identifying, accepting and processing our emotions, we move more and more into the light. We learn to accept ourselves and our culture with ever-increasing understanding, humor, respect and forgiveness.

This process allows us to see our authoritarian culture as the instrument of our sometimes irrational core beliefs, values, idea(l)s, assumptions, convictions and attitudes. It allows us to identify, question and either reject or revise our beliefs and values to fit what is actually so in the world, rather than someone else’sbeliefs and values.

This is the action and work that heals us: We use the Steps; we use the meetings; we use the telephone; we use the Internet. We share our discoveries, experience, strength, and hope with each other. We learn to revise and restructure our old dogmatic thinking one day at a time.

When we release our culture from responsibility for our actions today, we become free to make healthful decisions as mindful actors, not mindless reactors. We progress from confusion, to awareness, to competence. We awaken to a sense of wholeness we never knew was possible.

By attending these meetings on a regular basis, we come to see societal dogma and dysfunction for what it is: a source of inaccurate appraisal, evaluation and interpretation of the world around us we acquired as children and continue to depend upon as adults. We learn to keep the focus on ourselves in the here and now. We take responsibility for our own lives and acquire accurate and functional beliefs, values, idea(l)s and attitudes.

We can do this alone. But in IA, we meet others who know how we feel and who have committed to their own paths of discovering what it so and not what is not. We love and encourage each other no matter what. We ask that you accept us just as we accept you.

Irrationals Anonymous is a spiritual program based on action coming from love. We take no position on organized religion, on politics, on business, on world affairs... or on people, places and things other than ourselves and our own “stinking thinking.”

The Book List

Beck, A.: Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders, New York: Penguin-Meridian, 1976.

Beck, A.; Freeman, A.: Cognitive Theory of the Personality Disorders, New York: Guilford Press, 1990.

Beck, A.; Wright, F.; Newman, C.; Liese, B.: Cognitive Therapy of Substance Abuse, New York: The Guilford Press, 1993.

Beck, A.: Prisoners Of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence, New York: Harper-Collins, 1999.

Burns, D.: Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated, New York: Harper, 1999.

Dyer, W.: Your Erroneous Zones, New York: Avon Books, 1977, 1993.

Ellis, A.; Harper, R.: A Guide to Rational Living, North Hollywood, CA: Melvin Powers, 1961.

Ellis, A.; Dryden, W.: The Practice of Rational Emotive Therapy, New York: Springer Publishing Company, 1987.

Ellis, A.: Overcoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and Behaviors: New Directions for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, New York: Promethius Books, 2001.

Seligman, M.: Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, New York: Knopf, 1990.

Simon, S.; Howe, L.; Kisrchenbaum, H.: Values Clarification: The Classic Guide to Discovering your Truest Feelings, Beliefs and Goals, New York: Warner Books, 1972, 1978, 1995.

Wessler, R.; Hankin, S., Stern, J.: Succeeding with Difficult Clients: Applications of Cognitive Appraisal Therapy, San Diego: Academic Press, 2001.

Young, J.: Cognitive Therapy for the Personality Disorders: A Schema-Focused Approach, 3rd Ed., Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Press, 1999.

© 2010 Rodger Garrett