The HALT Rule

Photo by Giulia May on Unsplash

I’m not an alcoholic. But I have lots of friends who are.

And as a minister, and what’s more, as the sort of minister who has lots of friends who are alcoholics, I have been to lots of AA meetings with people who needed some support. So. Many. Meetings.

I don’t mind. It’s good stuff, and while it doesn’t always work for everyone, the ones it works for, it really, really works. And besides – nothing always works for everybody.

But one thing I like about AA is that it’s a methodology and not a dogma, which is why the basic method has been adopted by lots of 12 step groups. I’m pretty sure it is true that every time I have ever been to an AA meeting, I have picked up something useful. It has a better batting average for me that way than church does, to be honest.

One thing I picked up “in the rooms” was the H.A.L.T. rule. The basic premise is that you shouldn’t make serious decisions when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Get it? Hungry Angry Lonely Tired. H.A.L.T.

It’s really good advice. It has served me well. Very few decisions can’t wait until after you have eaten something, calmed down, called someone, or had a nap. The idea is that nobody makes good decisions when they are in a temporary state of chaos, and so you should sort that out before making a serious decision.

But then 2020 happened, and it seems like I am either hungry, angry, lonely, or tired all the damn time. Those are no longer temporary statuses. They are my reality now, and that is true for a lot of us.

And so, what has been a really useful strategy for decision-making now just seems like avoidance, and I find myself hesitating to make any decisions. Like, literally any decision. The value of a holding pattern is that it is temporary. But the pandemic seems to be going nowhere, and the vaccine roll out could take most of 2021, and so “temporary” seems like a less than accurate way to describe our current situation.

No real resolution or solutions here, I’m afraid, and no neat way to wrap this up with a bow on it. It’s just something that occurred to me today, when I was resisting making yet another large decision.