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A Higher Power

Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction— that our lives had become unmanageable.

Take a look at the world around you. You get in your car, which is run by a computer. You watch TV, which is run by computers. You own a smartphone, which in itself, is a computer. Any world you perceive that doesn't involve electronics is naive. 

Sure, you're free to manufacture a reality to suit your delusions if you'd like. What difference does that make at all? Because, if that's your choice, then you inevitably become irrelevant. You cease to exist in any meaningful way, except as extremely low-hanging fruit.

This is a broader spectrum of what you learn in AA meetings that help you come to grips with the fact that the world changes, and you must either bend to its truth or live a lie. It is not what we are addicted to that is poisonous, but our behavior that is tainted and toxic.

One of the 12 steps in AA recovery is honestly telling someone you trust how fucked you really are. Not because you seek pity, not because you seek solutions, but purely and solely because there's power in community, and there's even more power in loving someone in spite of their defective character, not despite it.

Step 2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

There are two things you should know here:

1) AA meetings aren't solely for alcoholics. If it's not "a" for alcohol, it's the other "A" - addiction.

2) "Higher power" doesn't necessarily mean god. It just means something bigger than oneself. For example, AA can be seen as a higher power in and of itself because it is a collection of people in a meeting, fighting the good fight, sharing stories, and helping one another heal.

Our struggles lie in thinking that we control everything. Believing in a higher power greater than ourselves allows us to look beyond the scope of everything we know so that we may gain insights into the things we don't. Because, sooner or later, we start to see things only from the prescription of our lenses. Our metaphorical glasses will eventually need a change in prescription, allowing us to see things in a clearer, newer way.

Teamwork is dream work. Always.

So, you've discovered a lot of fucked up patterns. How do you react?

In the past, relapses wouldn't have bothered me. When I first started going to AA, I would get really upset. Now? I move on and try harder the next day. The point isn't the method, it's the potential. Getting caught up only keeps you in the past, so "Play It Forward" is generally a good coping method for when your urgency hits. 

  • You understand what is in the moment now (peace).
  • Temptation strikes, impulses rising, your peace is gone.
  • You "Play it forward" by imagining what picking up that drink or impulse-indulging may lead to. One always leads to another.

Ex: Tommy was watching a TV show when suddenly, an impulse was triggered. Instead of indulging, he plays the entire day out in his mind, as if he had given in to his addiction. He then snaps out of it, as if he were in Final Destination, living through an event before it happens. "Well, that ends badly. I have to change what I do." He calms himself down by doing something else; attending a meeting, taking a walk, listening to music, writing, working out, etc., and ends up avoiding the impulse. Success!

It might seem like a very basic notion, "think before you speak", but it's a lot harder for addicts than it would be for the average person. There's a whole Jekyll & Hyde thing going on for many of us, even if we don't always realize it.

A pain in the leg means ‘don’t put pressure on this leg’; a pain in the mind means ‘change the way you live’.

Friedrich Nietzsche said, "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how." While a variation of this statement may hold true for most things in life, AA is not one of them. It's not really important to justify your addiction, only to find unique and creative ways away from the unhealthy habits.

Addiction is when natural biological imperatives, like the need for food, sex, relaxation, or status, become prioritized to the point of destructiveness.

"Change the way you live" is really one of the most important rules in the Big Book, for addicts and alcoholics.

Greed, envy, dishonesty, lust, anger, frustration, etc. These are vices that corrode society and us as individuals. It all springs from one source. Selfishness. Following the 12 steps leads us from an empty, selfish life to a life of purpose.

"But isn't that human nature?"

Sure it is, but we have all the resources at our disposal to modify our behavior to become valuable members of society that live to serve, not to indulge.

Watson, Pavlov, Thorndike, Skinner...

Behaviorism Theory states that human behavior can only really be understood and modified by conditioning. Just read up on Stimulus-Response Learning.

Anyway, we live in a world that breeds selfishness and rewards such immature, juvenile behavior. From sponsoring half-naked teens on Instagram that leads them on the road to Body Dysmorphia and eating disorders, to constantly being advertised to. We are all seemingly connected, but so disconnected from humanity. It's why we must live by the 4 principles for a fulfilling life.

  1. Be selfless, not selfish. Don't think about yourself or seek pleasure for its own sake. Have your eye on your community and have their best interest at heart.
  2. Openness. Secrets and lies, mishaps, and screwups. These breed discord. Brutal honesty, always. Live by Radical Candor to your friends, family, and co-workers. Once amends is made, the downfall is already forgiven.
  3. Security: We are our best selves when we know that others are watching and relying on us. There is security in the power of a community that only has love and support to give.
  4. Understand that we are not human, but spiritual beings living a temporary human experience. Desire and craving are just two of the many downfalls of human nature. We are not contained within the limits of humanity. Our humanity, rather, is contained in a limitless realm of the undefined Universe. We need to condition ourselves to be unconditioned by our human experience, that we control everything we let go of.

At the end of the day, life, and AA, is about your willingness to let go of everything you've known so you can become someone else. Something else, something entirely new. You will become reborn.

“I believe that what the 12 Steps and their encompassing philosophy, which I will lay out for you in these pages, will provide is nothing less than a solution to the dissatisfaction of living, and dying, to anyone with the balls to do the work. And it is work. Indeed it is a personal rebirth and the journey entails all manner of uncomfortable confrontations with who you truly are.”

* * *

“Consumerism and materialism are creating a culture of addiction. We are all on the scale somewhere because we are kept there by the age we live in.”

* * *

“Making a decision to ‘turn your life and your will over’ means you have acknowledged that your previous attempts to run your own life have failed. That you have had to resort to addictive behaviour to cope and now you cannot stop on your own steam. In making a decision we are conceding mentally and, hopefully, spiritually that we cannot do this alone anymore. That for me was the beginning of humility. To say ‘I need help’ is not an easy thing for many people, we’d prefer to manipulate people into meeting our needs or struggle along without them.”

* * *

“It is commonly understood that the opposite of addiction is connection. That in our addictive behaviours we are trying to achieve the connection. Think of it: the bliss of a hit or a drink or of sex or of gambling or eating, all legitimate drives gone awry, all a reach across the abyss, the separateness of ‘self’, all an attempt to redress this disconnect.”

* * *

“Porn is a clear example of how our culture is feeding the disease of addiction. The natural impulse to have sex becomes a compulsion to masturbate. The attraction to connect is culturally translated by pornography into a numb and lonely staring strum at broken digital ghosts. The most physically creative thing we have, reduced to a dumb shuffle that’d embarrass a monkey.”

~ Russel Brand

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