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How Stinkin' Thinkin' Kept Me Giving Unsolicited Advice to My Ex-Husband and Others

By Phyllis Stein
October 24, 2010



Stinkin' Thinkin' is the seductive voice of the wounded self that keeps us doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.



             I have always been struck by Stinkin' Thinkin,' a concept from AA.  Stinkin' Thinkin' is the seductive voice of the wounded self when it gives an alcholic a reason to take another drink.  I am now recognizing that I too have a Stinkin' Thinkin' voice and that it has fueled a very different addiction for me. 

            When we were married, my husband and I went thru endless cycles of the same thing.  I would try to get him to see that we had a problem that included him, trying to get him to see what he was doing, believing I was making it possible for us to have a better relationship. Inevitably, he would get totally triggered and withdraw for days of agony and blame.  I was totally addicted to doing this even though it got us nowhere.  Margaret valiantly tried to get me to completely take my eyes off him, to stop trying him to get to see anything, but I was so convinced that he also had to change for our lives to work, that I was never completely successful at stopping.  I think I was actually right about the need for change, in the sense that if I could have faced what was really going on between us and that I really had no control over it, I would have had to face the fact that it could never work.  But using my addiction to try to get him to change kept me in it.  Finally, as many of you know, he did me the favor of leaving and in the pain of all that, I experienced a rocket ship period of growth in Inner Bonding.

            Fast forward almost 5 years.  Even though each of us now has our own lives, we have become close and emotionally intimate friends, committed to supporting each other in our growth.  Not being married or even being partners anymore did not turn out to mean that we had to lose our soul mate connection and now there is a deep sweetness between us.  However, it also did not mean that we had to lose our ability to trigger the same issues and that I was not going to continue to learn from them! 

            So, my addiction to giving him unsolicited advice to try to make our relationship or his life better continued, just in a more subtle way.  Even though I had come light years in terms of accepting him just as he is, the addiction was still there.  I was still giving to the temptation of trying to feel okay by giving him information about things I saw in him instead of tuning into my little girl's anxiety and focusing on her.  And when I did this, he would again get totally triggered and again shut down for days.  Recently, we went thru another round of this.  I once again gave him unsolicited advice that came from my anxiety, and we were off to the races for 10 days.  The good news is that I got the lesson at last.

            I finally clearly saw my Stinkin' Thinkin' self in action.  It is not as if I did not know, had not connected multiple times with how this addiction was a way of abandoning myself, and it is not as if I had not realized that this was not a loving way to be (always too late). But it did not keep it from ever happening again because each time, I now know, my Stinkin' Thinkin' voice would seduce me into doing it again.  I had to see exactly how it happened, how it operated, to actually change my behavior.  What the Stinkin' Thinkin' voice said to me each time, without fail, was: "This time it is important.  It will help him if you tell him this.  It is a good thing to say this."  And if was if I went into a trance and that voice overrode anything else.  This tune I saw that it was a trick and a lie and that I was falling for it over and over again.

The truth is that whenever I say something from my wounded self that could remotely be construed as critical when he is not in a place of wanting to know, there is chance he will be triggered, fall into his personal Hell and stay there for days.  It is a gift to me that he is so sensitive to it.  Whether he should take better care of his little boy, whether he should want to know, is absolutely irrelevant.  Whether I can hear this kind of stuff, whether I want to know (which I do) is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that when I listen to my Stinkin' Thinkin' voice, I take the chance of sending him to his inner Hell and that I have done this over and over again for years.  What is relevant is that my wounded thought that saying something will be a good thing is completely off and that he is showing me that in an unmistakable way.  This is not good.  This is not loving.  This is not who I want to be.

I saw too how this same voice had operated in many other situations where I thought I was sharing, thought I was doing something positive because I believed what it said (which is that it was) and it proved not to be true.  Somehow, until now, I just did not see exactly how this happened. I always felt the shock of tripping up, but not the whole process.  No wonder I have always been so struck by the Peanuts cartoons where Lucy holds the football and convinces Linus that this time she will not pull it away, but she always does.  I have been Linus, endlessly tricked and endlessly falling on my butt.

It has not been that long, but so far so good.  The voice has shown up but it is no longer convincing.  It feels like the trick has been revealed and I don't need to fall for this version of Stinkin' Thinkin' anymore.  I am in profound gratitude and awe and eagerly await the next lesson.



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