Reinhold Niebuhr is known for ideas that were highly influential in Christian theological debate during the early 20th Century, but as far as alcoholics and other addicts are concerned, his restating of a basic philosophical truth in the Serenity Prayer is a life preserver in the roiling sea of life.
Too many recovering people give only lip service to the prayer. In most of our fellowships, if we attend meetings regularly, we recite it at least a few times a week. The question is, do we listen to what we’re saying? Continue reading →
Addicts are attracted to chaos. Although we crave stability, many of us find it extremely uncomfortable. Despite what we believe to be the case, we find chaos and lack of control normal, because it reflects the conditions in which we grew up: lack of autonomy, capricious decisions and behavior by others, and no stable foundations for our lives.
Who’s running the show?
Whether we came from dysfunctional families where complete chaos was the norm or equally dysfunctional roots where all the reins were held by others, the effects are the same. As kids and in adulthood we continually tried/try to gain control of our lives by controlling others or by acting out. By attempting to control others we unconsciously create the familiar conditions of our childhood in an adult setting. By acting out, we stifle our lack of control beneath drugs, eating, sex, shopping or what have you. In either case — usually, both — we are attempting to control feelings and/or situations that we find uncomfortable or intolerable.
Addicts (and many others) seem to be convinced that we know The Way Things Ought To Be, and we become annoyed when others don’t see things our way. “If he’d just done it the way I said, it would have worked out better!” “Why in hell is she so stubborn?” “If I were running that company….”
If we expect others to follow our suggestions all the time, it’s a good bet that we’re going to end up frustrated and usually angry. The belief that we have the right answers may be accurate often enough to allow us to feel superior, but the fact is that regardless of how right they may be for us, they aren’t necessarily right for other people. When we begin to feel that overpowering need to control what someone else is doing, or the way they’re doing it, we need to step back and take a look at ourselves. Continue reading →