Humility involves accepting that we are only human; we know only a little and our conclusions may be flawed. Be like the bamboo: the higher it grows, the deeper it bows.
“Ego is the sworn enemy of our ability to learn and grow.”
~ Zeno (334-262 BCE)
It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.
Epictetus (55-135 C.E.)
Tomorrow is Easter, and the third day of Passover. Many of us will be visiting with relatives, or we may be living at home. There will probably be some pressure to attend church, or temple during the coming week, and many of us have developed aversions to the religious practices of our families, for a variety of reasons that aren’t worth delving into here.
However, those of us who are involved in 12-step programs are in the process of making, or preparing to make, amends. Even though we may have our reservations, wouldn’t it be a wonderful surprise for our families if we tried to participate in the celebrations?
It wouldn’t cost us anything, really. Our “principles” were formed in our addictions, and such an endeavor will give us a chance to reevaluate them in the light of sobriety and clear thinking. We can tighten it up and “act as if” for a couple of hours.
And it would mean so much to them.
Humility, not hubris, is the key to sobriety.
The Two Steps:
1. We admitted we powerless over our addictions — that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. We tried to carry this message to addicts (alcoholics, overeaters, gamblers…whatever).
All of us who have been around the rooms for awhile have seen the Two-Steppers, and some of us (myself included) even survived the experience ourselves. These folks are easily recognized by two traits: Their zeal for fixing others, and their lack of (or lack of use of) sponsors and the other encumberances of newcomers. Rather than collecting phone numbers, talking to old-timers, getting sponsors and becoming involved in their program of recovery, they jump from the first step to the 12th and set out to save the world — with or without its consent. As I mentioned, I’ve been there and I have the ratty old t-shirt to prove it.
Continue reading “The Two Steps”
Willpower, the idea that we can do things just because we want to, is magical thinking and has no place in recovery. No one is in a better position to understand that than an addict in early sobriety, and yet most of us were highly resistant to the idea. We are so accustomed to thinking in terms of having power over other people, places and things (even though it hasn’t been working for us) that it’s unnerving to be told that it isn’t true.
I tried to control my various addictions with “willpower” for years. It didn’t work. My will was singularly unsuccessful in its half-hearted efforts to affect my body chemistry and my unconscious mind. That’s hardly surprising, since the part of the brain concerned with will can’t even communicate with the other sections that are involved in addiction. The interesting thing is that one can know even that, and still fall into the trap of “self-will run riot.”
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, especially in recovery. Blank slates have more room for useful information.
Turning our will over to a higher power doesn’t mean becoming some kind of religious nut. What it does mean is that we at least accept (if not really believe) that our inability to get and remain sober is directly connected with our obsession for doing things our way, even in the face of massive consequences. It’s thinking, not in terms of God Will Fix Me, but in terms of I Can’t Fix Me. Whether or not we believe there is a metaphysical God, we must come to terms with the fact that we aren’t he, she or it.
We need to learn to lean on others, learn from others who have been successful at remaining sober, and stop thinking that the principles that have worked for millions of people don’t apply to us. THAT is self-will run riot, and it will get us killed!
I was at a meeting last night where the subject was defiance. I don’t recall ever having heard that suggested as a topic before, but it’s certainly a good one! Defiance is the earmark of many a newcomer’s early program, and I have exhibited a bit myself from time to time
It’s perfectly natural when you think about it. Addicts don’t like to be told what to do, especially when it threatens the deep-seated need to use that we have in early recovery. We haven’t yet replaced the “comfort” of our addiction with the relief of recovery, and while our conscious mind is telling us that we want to quit, the rest of it is saying “Help! We need our drug!” Put the two together and you’re likely to find a certain…ah…resistance in the average newcomer when a bunch of relative strangers start making suggestions.
Continue reading “Defiance”