Intentions are important, because they tell us much about ourselves. Am I a needy person who constantly seeks approval? Am I always looking for ways to make myself look important–to improve my image? (In whose eyes?) Is doing good things part of my addict con job, or am I cultivating the humility and good character that come from plodding on without glory, with only the satisfaction that comes from knowing that I’m doing the best I can?
It’s worth thinking about. I’m the only one who can know my true intentions, and so I’m the only one who can make changes. Or not.
Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching.
“Do what is necessary. Get right to it if that is in your power. Do not look around to see if people will know about it. Do not await the perfect time, but be satisfied with even the smallest step forward and regard the outcome as a small thing.”
~ Marcus Aurelius, “Meditations”, 9:29(4)
Definitions are well and good, but when the bag man shows up with 50K and you have kids in school and a mortgage, it’s simpler than that….
Dictionary.com defines integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”
Way back in the ‘80’s during the real Miami Vice days, I knew a Dade County police officer whose beat was along the Miami River. “Jorge” was offered $50,000 to take his lunch break at a particular time — one day, one time. In those days, that was roughly equivalent to a year’s pay for a patrolman. Definitions are well and good, but when the bag man shows up with 50K and you have kids in school and a mortgage, it’s simpler than that: do I do the right thing, despite the cost, or the wrong thing?
Continue reading “Integrity”
We need the courage to look carefully at our motives.
Courage is being afraid but doing it anyway.
Every day we make thousands of decisions: Am I going to shave before or after breakfast; Should I wear this blouse or that one; Latte or mocha; Shall I go to the morning or evening meeting, and so on.
These usually seem like small things, and they often are. But small decisions can lead to big results. I might decide to cross the street, and thus meet the love of my life — or she might walk past on the side of the street I just left. Not all our decisions are so momentous. Nonetheless, we need to be mindful of those that might carry weight.
Generally speaking, good decisions are those that will benefit us, and it’s pretty easy to analyze them: will this further my sobriety, or not; what might be the long-term results, and can I live with those possibilities; am I doing this to help me stuff some feelings, and so forth.
Bad decisions, on the other hand, tend to be focused outwardly: will this please my partner, even though I might get a resentment about it; am I doing that in order to avoid looking at something about my life that I’d rather forget…. These are often more difficult to identify, but if we use the criterion “Will it really benefit me in the long run” we most likely won’t be too far off track.
This may seem selfish, but we need to remember that we can’t take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves! We need to consider our decisions mindfully.
In our addictions we let our minds run free, doing what felt good and avoiding — at all costs — things that made us uncomfortable, or that frightened us. In order to recover, we need to develop the courage that carries us past our fears and our wants, to actions that satisfy our true needs.
And we need to look carefully at what those fears might be, because that’s what doing the “next right thing” is all about.
Sometimes, I admit, I wish I could just turn my face to the wall, fall asleep for three months and wake up to learn how everything turned out. Just let the scene change. This leg of the journey has gone on for far too long already.
Many of us were brought up to think that we must always finish what we started. We were told, verbally and in other ways, that “anything worth doing is worth doing right,” and “practice makes perfect,” and “eat every bite on that plate,” and “no dinner until you finish all that homework,” and on, and on.
The search for completion and perfection in all we do has been the downfall of many an addict.
Continue reading “Progress, Not Perfection”