Many, if not most, addicts have fallen prey to various superstitions. By that, I mean that we have adopted ideas about our relationships with the world that have only a passing acquaintance with reality.
For example, we may imagine that if we keep on doing the same things, fate will eventually provide us with different results — in the face of massive evidence to the contrary (a lottery win at 14 million to one odds is not a retirement plan). Continuing to seek out partners that are our “soul mates” will rarely yield anything new if our previous soul mates have turned out to be abusive, and changing from whiskey to beer isn’t going to cure our tendency to over-indulge (we’ll just pee more).
These are all instances of denial, and we can find them discussed in just about any 12-step meeting of the appropriate variety. But there’s another superstition that is less obvious and seldom discussed: the conviction that the world is against us, and that nothing (or very little) in life goes in our favor. We interpret the world as hostile, and convince ourselves that we are victims of some lesser god whose job it is to make us miserable.
While it’s perfectly understandable that some folks’ backgrounds predispose them to conclude otherwise, it isn’t true. The universe doesn’t play favorites, and generally speaking we make our own “luck.”
It’s easier to blame fate for our problems than to confront our basic lack of confidence in ourselves. Developing self-confidence isn’t the subject of this little essay, but realizing that our addict’s notion of self is usually inflated with hot air is a step in the right direction. What will help our superstition regarding an unfriendly world is for us simply to make an effort to notice — for a change — the things that are going right in our lives.
It’s amazing how easy it is to change these perceptions. All that’s necessary is to keep a list. Not a gratitude list — we may not be grateful at all — but just things that fall on the “plus” side of the equation. If we’re honest, we’ll likely discover that life is treating us pretty okay, and that the areas where it doesn’t seem to be doing so just could be due to other issues — like maybe our failure to step up to the plate and take a swing at the pitch. That’s something else that we can change.