As I was creating another piece to publish, I looked at it and realized it was just another idealistic opinion piece. There is no shortage of those these days, those looks at the thickness of society, the people, and their plights. I should know, I am one who creates that stuff too. High in generalities, and full of lofty visions and tepid insights. I am beginning to believe that it is very poignant that 2020 is easily associated with vision, clarity, and our ability to see things. I am certainly aware that we as a society seemingly have the same mannerisms as those that suffer from addictions, the same maladies of character, the same delirium tremens… Generality, lofty visions, tepid insight… whoops, there it is again…
In practicing the practicing that comes with recovery, the continual looking, and deciphering the thought processes left me with a concept that kept repeating itself. The pattern I saw was enticing enough to continue with the thought. What germinated was an examination of the word, and concepts of conflict. This was not something that recovery speaks to, or about in such language, but it is there. Dilema, unmanageable, demoralization, those are just some of the words chosen by the Bill Wilson and the editors of edition number one. Looking into my own experiences, what appeared next in my minds eye was a graphic representation of what I was trying to find. It was an upside down triangle, with myself being at the bottom, the point of the triangle. That is where conflict begins, the types of conflicts that arise is that first line on the triangle. The managing, manipulating, or ignorance of the conflict is the middle section. The last section begins when the acceptance, or willingness to find a resolution, an answer. Leading back to the starting point, which is of course, myself.
Conflict in all its forms has been in my thoughts these last few months. Brought forth not only from the ravages of a world out of tilt, but also by the inside ones that hide amongst everyday actions and thoughts. Recovery is a constant process, and examining your thinking is a part of that life education that appeared when the willingness did. The self destructive, the less than productive, and those thoughts that set me up for failure before I start were on the agenda well before these recent events. They just pushed the necessity for more clarity to sooner, rather than later. Examining thinking processes, and adjusting them is called cognitive restructuring in the psychotherapeutic practices. It is a way that professionals help treat cognitive distortions, those irrational and maladaptive thoughts that bring about undue stress, depression, and anxiety. They are the thoughts that become the all or nothing, the overgeneralizations, and the magnifications that at times consume, and controls, behaviors that we undertake. Often abbreviated as (CR) it is in essence the very tool that recovery practices teach. So there is no surprise that I discovered the professional definition by practicing the work that the program suggests.
Conflict in and of itself is something we constantly face. It is usually handled in microseconds with solutions readily available. The phone rings, you answer it, you have a need for something, you buy it, you don’t remember something, you search for the answer. The solutions are there already, you have accepted that you needed to answer the phone… Those are the everyday aspects of conflict, the outward ones without the middle section of the triangle, the managing of it was not introduced in my examples. What if you didn’t answer the phone? What if you deliberated your need for something far longer before you bought it? What if you didn’t look for the answer? Believing that not knowing was okay? Or that you already knew something you actually didn’t?… All a pattern, a triangle. The types of conflict that we experience are subjective, and in ways universal, some will be more affected by this or that, but still affected by a conflict. The type of conflict that has been camping out in my thinking has been of the internal kind. The kind that doesn’t have an answer yet, or the ones that claim to, the kind that is still gelatinous, the kind that hides right behind the various thinking patterns I use. The internal conflicts that haven’t been challenged, managed, or possibly never discovered? The recent civil unrest has brought attention to the overt, and covert nature of thoughts and actions, a good example of the thinking that lies just behind, or underneath everyday edges.
Racism, at its core, is not something that is wholly owned by any one race, or nationality. It doesn’t matter if the colors are the same, the matters of differences become the subject of disdain. The need for discernment came about through our hunter gatherer ancestors, the desire to classify things as either good or bad though is entirely a later human condition. We humans tend to do that with things we don’t understand, we can’t picture, when we don’t get it?… Our willingness to allow another viewpoint is quantitative to the “weight” of the the work involved. Thoughts on race, and other deep inner personal thoughts, willingness, fear, are heavy subjects, the work immense, and the addiction to instant answers, old cliches, and stereotypes, is too much for many to part ways with. This is our cultural empire, not our political one, this is the combination of all the people, and their lives we have assembled together. But this is not some Marxian sociological observance, this insight is more along the lines of let’s say… Horton Hears a Who?
In trying to achieve better thinking, to alleviate anxieties and fears, and to be loyal to my
lazy efficient nature, I am trying to find the root thoughts. Those ignition points of information, experience, and ideas, that begin to build my thought processes. The overall motivation being a clearer mindset, a better personage for the outer world. The other side of that equation is a clearer inside, an efficiency that appeals to my sloth like nature, or vice versa? This is done because I have a predisposition for searching for those parts of life, those bits of mind that go unnoticed. Those beliefs that are built on someone else’s thinking instead of a compilation of my own. That is why the picture of conflict that amassed one day has been so persistent. To understand those base synapses that fire off, I had to understand conflict beyond the reach of that I had grasped.
If I had any higher education in writing, I probably would have been taught about the six conflicts found in literature. Man vs Self, Man vs Man, Man vs Society, Man vs Nature, Man vs Technology, Man vs Fate/Supernatural. In all of these examples though the impetus of beliefs/understandings in thought patterns paints the conflict even before we engage in critical thought patterns meant to alleviate said conflicts. In other words, our beliefs carry with them inherent conflicts that preinstall thinking that we may not know we are engaging in. How could I have conflict when there doesn’t seem to be a problem? When I wrote out those words, I thought it sounded just like those addicts and alcoholics that insisted that they didn’t have a problem. Many of them soon to be found in the rooms of recovery, the prisons, or cemeteries. It didn’t answer my question about conflict, but it did provide a bigger understanding of what we as a country and society are going through. Because when I got down to that point of thought inception, it became an increasingly finite point between the conscious mind and the inner conscious minds. I say that because as much as we have our subconscious thinking, we also have our unconscious thinking. There are many beliefs and theories about consciousness, I am just using the three above for clarity.
To understand that first moment of thought building, I got the fact it started with my subconscious mind. But it didn’t begin with the accumulation of everything that I had learned, or believed, as I would like to think it does. It started with an either subconscious or unconscious belief, experience, understanding, and went from there. Right, wrong, or indifferent, That is where the conflict originated in my experiences, in my testing and prying away at the minutiae of random inputs and outputs. This understanding of conflict made me acutely aware that I didn’t really know the difference between the subconscious and unconscious mind. What our minds do with information, how we process that input, and how we manipulate and mangle that throughput would amaze most folks. We do not necessarily forget unpleasant things as much as change it, suppress it, make it into something else. In doing so we often miss the point of conflict, the “weight” of the thinking too much to lift. It’s often ugly, it is mostly painful, and it is utterly necessary to see where conflicts may reside in our innermost selves.
It requires the opening of the boxes on the shelf that have been sealed against the ravages of the world, unaired to the revelations of a new way of life. I held many of my beliefs well before I began my recovery, I have been busy at the job of trying to change my thinking, to better myself, to be a better steward for this world I share with others. I can work on changing my conscious thinking, even help alleviate my subconscious road blocks, and stresses. Yet, just like alcohol, if I don’t know there is a problem, then what is my ability to solve said problem? Over the years that I have been actively placing my thinking arrangement under the microscopes and macroscopes I have found plenty of aspects, thoughts, beliefs, and disbeliefs, that I would never have suspected were there. In finding them my thinking and outward life changed in mostly positive and productive ways. In my experiences it is like finding a very rare treasure, a new door opens up somewhere inside and the world is not as big and scary as before. That doesn’t mean that what I discovered was pleasing, was agreeable, or cause for celebration, mostly the other way around. But I found those maladies, and truths, those little sentences that would shock your conscious self. In doing so I was given power over them to change, some were easy, some are still hard, and some will simply require a lifetime of effort.
Over the last few months much has changed in this world, and sadly much still remains the same. There is more to conflict than just the obvious, there is more to understanding those unconscious and subconscious mechanisms that continue a cycle of conflict, management, and resolution. I started off looking for why it is I think people don’t care for me at all. It lead into conflict, into thought patterns, and into the same areas of thinking that belie even the best of self help recipes. If I take anything from this it is the understanding that I don’t always know what I am thinking, as scary as that sounds. It also shows me that in any crisis, conflict, or situation, that place in the conflict triangle is important to recognize, not only in yourself, but others. I can’t write about racism, or the state of society in upheaval, I can though try to understand those things I may do that I don’t consciously know about, that I don’t associate with conflict, or don’t see as in ways that others may. It is all about better thinking, a better life, and as heard in the rooms many times before, a willingness to be willing. A point of reality to dispel conflict’s illusion.
Note: I have been trying to encapsulate what has been in the forefront of my personal thinking. During these times it is difficult to stay on point, and this is one that just needs to be cleared out for the rest of the creativity to work. I will be revisiting this at a later date when more pieces have been made apparent to me.