Jars

Many jars for the new year.

The big jar is called the Jar of Joy. It’s a place for us to log positive experiences, large and small, those that brought joy in any form: a feeling of accomplishment (goals set, goals attempted, goals reached), delight (friendship, fun, ease, tickling of funny-bones, satisfaction), adventure (both inner and outer), realizations, epiphanies, & growth. And anything else that I left out.

Someone shared a similar jar on Facebook filled with their activities and experiences from the previous year and it sounded like a wonderful exercise in episodic memory for the whole family. Especially as I’ve soured on 2013 and is that really fair? I know there were good things. There must have been, yes? Yet, my tiny mind is stuck on the friendship that fell apart over the summer, the friend that left this plane this fall, and the experience of dyregulation in our household over the last months that is still swimming in a stew of fear, worry, stress, and marital discord.

The small jars, one for each of us, are to support us in the things we’re working to learn. We’re all trying to work on behavior but really, it’s what’s under or behind the behavior that we’re trying to strengthen.

I’ve always been prickly when it comes to that word–Behavior. I hate when others say in referring to Tito’s struggles, Well, that sounds very behavioral to me. Ah, yeah. It is behavior so it is behavioral but that isn’t a synonym for intentional or manipulative. It reminds me of those people who go on about Choices. That’s not a good choice, Billy, or, I want to see you making good choices. See, the thing is, we all can make good choices, when we can. When we’re in balance enough to go into the brain cabinet and pull up the right files. And when we can’t, we can’t.

How do we change? Grow? Add new files? Is it only from the inside out? Or is it also from the outside in? One of the 12 Step slogans is Act yourself into a different way of thinking. There’s truth in that. But how do we get ourselves to act in a new way without it being about power struggles, or power over, or will power, or even powering through.  And how can we do it without blame? Or shame? That’s what I’m after.

I won’t share what’s on Dave’s or Tito’s jar but here’s mine:

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I nag or go on and on and on or react angrily instead of saying ouch if I feel hurt all when I am triggered and out of balance, when I am afraid and feeling lost and ineffectual and powerless, when the stakes feel very high and I feel ill-equipped.

So, how is this little jar going to help me? I’m not sure. I’m not sure if any of these jars will help any of us. But I know it has to do with intention, with making the intangible, tangible, visible. I see the jar. I know I’m working on something. Just as I am asking Tito to work on some things.