I was at a meeting today and was reminded of a great saying in AA (and likely other 12-step programs): “You’re not responsible for the first thought.” The second part of the saying varies. I’ve heard it finished as “…you’re only responsible for your first action.” Or “…you’re only responsible for the second thought.”
I like to say:
“You’re not responsible for the first thought…only the response.”
I didn’t feel like going to a meeting today, but I knew I needed to. I needed to be around other people like me. The rest of the meeting wasn’t that great. But that comment from a woman stuck with me the rest of the day and gives me great comfort.
It’s also something Eckhart Tolle would likely agree with. His philosophy is to “watch the thinker” and through that process gain the awareness to realize that you are not your mind.
I know my thinking is flawed…but I am not responsible for it. It was a combination of genetics and conditioning and now I need to have the courage and serenity to deal with it. So what is my response to that first thought now (that in the past would said me into a tizzy of worry and cause me to use)? My response is to say the Serenity Prayer, to be thankful for my life right now… and do the next right thing.