This is an excerpt from Melody Beatie’s book “The Language of Letting Go”:
Substance over Form
I’m learning that for a variety of reasons, I’ve spent much of my life focusing on form rather than substance. My focus has been on having my hair done perfectly, wearing the right clothes, having my car always neat and clean, living in the right place, furnishing it with the right furniture, working at the right job, and having the right friends and partners. Form, rather than substance, has controlled my behavior in many areas of my life. Now, I’m finally getting to the truth. It’ substance that counts.
There is nothing wrong in wanting to look our best. Whether we are striving to create a self, a relationship, or a life, we need to have some solid ideas about what we want that to look like.
Form gives us a place to begin. But for many of us, form has been a substitute for substance. We may have focused on form to compensate for feeling afraid or feeling inferior. We may have focused on form because we didn’t know how to focus on substance.
Form is the outline: substance is what fills it in. We fell in the outline of ourselves by being authentic: we fill in the outline of our life by showing up for life and participating to the best of our ability.
Now, in recovery, we’re learning to pay attention to how things work and feel, not just to what they look like.
Today, I can focus on substance in my life. I will concentrate on the substance of my relationships, rather than what they look like. I will focus on the real workings of my life, instead of the trappings.