3rd pause on the audiobook in 20 mins. I hesitate to press play. I am triggered. Reactive. Annoyed.
The author has perspectives I do not align with. Their moralistic judgments, opinions, voice even, are making me gag a little.
Ok…ok, I say to myself, don’t forgot why you are here. Regardless of their personal beliefs this person has a lot of experience and knowledge on one particular subject that I am interested in.
And have I learned anything from them so far? I ask myself.
Yes, I have to admit, I have.
A couple of things I’ve taken away so far, have been astoundingly useful. Shifts in perspective, tips, and practices that will help me accomplish my goals. Not everything applies to me but what does, really does . And for that I am grateful.
I think to myself, “Take what you can use and leave the rest.”—I press play again.
The first time I heard the phrase “take what you can use and leave the rest,” I was sitting in a semicircle with a group of complete strangers in a church basement—One of my first Al-anon meetings.
Incase you aren’t familiar with Al-anon. It is a recovery program affiliated with AA (Alcoholics Anonymous.) People who are looking for resources to help them live with the affects of someone else’s addiction go to Al-anon for support, hope, and personal empowerment.
People from all walks of life, political and religious views, cultural backgrounds, economic classes, and genders gather together and share their experience, strength, and hope. Their pain and humanity, are at times some of their only commonalities.
In al-anon no one is in charge. No one is above another, and no one may give advice or respond directly to any comments made by others. It is an atmosphere of listening, sharing, allowing, vulnerability, and hearing what you need to hear.
Most keep coming back to receive a gift. Something personal and very different from the person sitting next to them.
When you’re in a recovery meeting not every single line of the inspirational reading or sharings from other members may apply to you. But one sentence may. One quote, one perspective, one shift in thinking, or one reminder may seep into your heart and calm an anxiety. One morsel may soothe a wound that you’ve been limping around with.
These meetings are where I learned the true meaning of listening. The gifts of suspending judgmental thought patterns and remaining open.
At the beginning and end of every meeting a few simple reminders are repeated. One of my favorites is this:
“The opinions expressed here were strictly those of the person who gave them. Take what you can use… and leave the rest.”
This suggestion was an eye opener for me, a heart opener really. It has become one of my personal mantras. Whenever I find myself in a room, conversation, social situation, etc…with a myriad of opinions and personal paradigms I aim to remember, “take what you can use and leave the rest.”
The reminder continues to have profound effects on my life. I’ve stayed longer, listened longer, and thought longer on many occasions in which I was uncomfortable or triggered. And in doing so I’ve been gifted a million morsels of wisdom, guidance, and opportunities that I otherwise would have missed had I let my first impressions determine my reactions.
Everything we need to learn in order to accomplish our beautiful goals and live our most delicious lives finds and surrounds us daily. Our only job is to stay open. And not leave without our morsel.