“We admitted we were powerless over drugs and alcohol; that our lives had become unmanageable”
12 Step Spiritual Recovery – Step Number One
Perhaps you’re not new to Spiritual Recovery Principles and like me, you find yourself wondering about why so much of your life seems still out of your control; that you cannot direct it, even with having released your will and life’s direction to your understanding of the universe or personal notion of a higher power. May I suggest adopting the notion of progress vs. perfection? Steady now,………..
As we face the end of January, moving on to our Second Step in February, let’s take one more look at powerlessness and unmanageability — over ourselves.
Just as we found ourselves unable to control our alcoholism, drug or behavioral addictions, we’ve concluded that all had an underlying anabolic condition: ” a lack of self control”. It wasn’t that we were lazy or didn’t try; it wasn’t that we weren’t willing; it was that we found we couldn’t direct our will to change by ourselves. So far, we simply lacked the power to do it!
Like Pavlov’s dog salivating at the dinner bell, we kept instinctively doing the same thing over and over. That change we sought didn’t happen as miraculously as we’d anticipated. Sure, we prayed and gave a stab at meditation, living in the now, but we still suffered from what we thought was chronic depression, a feeling of helpless and hopelessness creeping into our overall perspective, no matter how many times we rattled through a slot machine approach of the Serenity Prayer — to the point of bewilderment. We wanted change within ourselves,……….. and we wanted it now!
Time for a little motivational music from the 1970’s Folk/Rock Band Clan: Crosby, Stills and Nash: Helplessly Hoping
It’s one thing to admit we haven’t the power to redirect our path – keeping from repetitive behavior that is nothing more than the same old thing – try as we may, but what is the point of talking about powerlessness without a plan to change or compensate for it? We might be powerless over ourselves, but we refused to accept being hopeless or helpless. What were we then to do?
“Bing”! Then it occurred to us, as the psychoanalysts Freud and Jung did, we would have to develop our own psycho-spiritual therapy. And no, it didn’t hurt for us to ask for spiritual guidance along the way to doing so! We’d have to have a plan, and no doubt repetition had to be a part of it. But, it had to have a direction, a purpose. Throwing the arm on the slot machine hoping the right number would come up just wasn’t going to work. The lottery approach had been far to long on successful scenarios! We needed to find a way to go “all-in”.
What then was the process of change which would bring us results?
- We would start with a conscious desire, naming our needs in daily – sometimes hourly or in the moment reminders – reaffirmations that we were headed towards a new way of living – that it was possible. Others had done it for themselves through spiritual help and we could as well. Those old habits and attitudes had been deeply implanted; regular practices in our daily lives over decades, in spite of our lack of knowing they stood in the way of our progress.
- We would need to gather virtuous attitudes. Acquiring Patience and Tolerance with ourselves had to be a part of the process. These would replace our pessimism, cynicism, bitterness and doubt. After all, we weren’t on anyone’s schedule and the fretting and counting of time had been one of our biggest impediments – our enemy all along. Just like our friend the White Rabbit, we were always feeling behind.
- Resetting our Default response was going to be required. We’d need to anticipate when our old behavior patterns were about to occur and stop to remind ourselves beforehand – “we wanted to change”.
- There were specific attitudes and emotions that choked us up: Fear, Anger and Self-Pitying Sadness – these were our ingrained emotional responses. They stood in the way of our contentment, especially when they were irrational. In review, we discovered they just didn’t make any sense. Fear disabled us, riddling our confidence with doubt. Anger – especially at the level of Rage and Frenzy – was insanity. It time shifted our emotional state to a Neanderthal Cro-Magnon, “cave-man” level. But above all those was the dangerous vortex, the black hole of self-pity – “feeling sorry for ourselves” – as if we were being unfairly persecuted by some cosmic muffin, when in fact we were simply often at the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes, things do happen for no reason. It was clear that as to these emotional states, we would have to develop new habits of responses versus reactions. These were patterns in our lives, if not emotional instincts – that would require our continued effort to change.
- We were going to need to keep our new attitudes and responses alive by being willing to persevere, to try repeatedly, reminding ourselves that in acquiring new levels of patience and tolerance with ourselves, we could succeed. We could do it. We loved ourselves enough to go at it over and over, and that tenacity was our cornerstone.
- We needed counsel. We would talk with our spiritual advisers or attend fellowship meetings to share and listen to others who were trying to accomplish these same goals of change. This was one of our best fortifications towards success.
- If we wanted change, having made the choice to diminish powerlessness over ourselves; we were going to have to be willing to be uncomfortable for a bit during the process.
- We had to learn to adapt. No matter what circumstances life rolled our way, if we accepted that contentment was most easily achieved by having an attitude of accommodation as opposed to flight, fright or fight, it would go much easier for us. Reality was not Disneyland and although we were sure to have a serendipitous moment or to, more often we would have to be prepared to make lemons into lemonade. We could try to manifest a feast of joy, but needed to be prepared to make the best of things. That was just the way life was and the sooner we accepted it the better.
Got some ideas of your own? That’s why I give you a chance to add your comments at the bottom. This is a meeting in print and I can definitely use the benefits of your experience and thinking or the spiritual guidance’s that you have come to rely upon.
Now, lets close with the summary reading from my awarded book:
What It Was Like
One day, we found we had lost control of our drugging and drinking and as a result,… our lives. “Oh”! How difficult we found it in earnestly assessing the situation: we were powerless over alcohol and addictions and our lives had become unmanageable.
We learned we had acquired an illness of the mind and body: an
obsession and compulsion. In the realization that we were physically
allergic, we found that our bodies were drowning. Many of us were
so addicted or alcoholic that we might die without medical care during withdrawal. Incarceration, death, and destruction were what lay ahead if we continued living with addiction or drinking.
From our rock bottom, we stood at a turning point. It was suggested
that we soberly admit to ourselves and our fellows that we needed
help and could not go it alone. Humbly, we complied. The sting of
humiliation in our admittance tempered our earnest beginning in a
path of humility. We finally knew who and what we were by applying
the fundamental principle of our First Step.
With 100 percent sincerity (for none less would do) we vowed to
recite our condition and what it was like every day. Sobriety and Recovery would become our foremost quest and purpose.