Many of us go through life on automatic pilot. We may be so conditioned from an early age to pursue what our parents or authority figures have suggested through modeling, teaching and insidious messages from entertainment and media outlets, that we are unaware that our daily lives are cobbled together acting out someone else’s idea of what the ideal life looks like. This may sound crazy at first, but if you take the time to do a fearless inventory of your life and then stand back and look at the patterns - you can see where you’ve fallen short in your own choices and take note of what might have been a better way to handle life’s biggest decisions.
In the recovery process from any sort of addiction, the 12 steps of AA are designed to help you see how you have been operating on the fumes of others’ opinions. Never really stopping along the way to assess how your perceptions and responses may be blocking you from discovering your true self, you stay on the hamster wheel and like Dori says in Nemo, “just keep swimming”. We are conditioned from our childhood experiences and role models to believe certain unpleasant experiences were a direct reflection of who we are. From birth we are 100% dependent on our family to meet our every need as we are helpless and need constant attention. Being born naturally selfish, as we grow up, we are less dependent on a parent’s constant attention as we learn how to handle our bodily functions and to feed ourselves. However, the selfishness doesn’t leave as soon as we learn those basic life skills. We still are the star of our movie, and as we think we are the center, everything that happens to us we perceive as our own doing. That seems to be the catch of childhood. That transition to becoming an individual in our own right doesn’t necessarily bring with it any awareness of how our reactions to others has much to do with our circumstances good or bad. Putting that together as human beings doesn’t seem to come naturally to most of us.
Therapy is very helpful for many and if done methodically can bring true insights into oneself. In the case of alcoholics and addicts, there is a solution in Alcoholics Anonymous through working with a sponsor in the Big Book of AA and doing the 12 steps. The process of finding a God of your understanding will be crucial as part of your recovery. For many this is a problem at first, due to any sort of preconceived ideas about religion in general. The good news about AA is, this God we speak of can be whatever you imagine it to be. It just can’t be YOU. Finding a sponsor who you feel has a spark of hope and experience working the 12 steps will be key to your journey of self-discovery.
The steps contain everything you need to become conscious. The beauty of AA is, it’s free, there is no agenda beyond one alcoholic passing on what they learned to the next. Inside the process of writing your inventory those you have harmed etc., what unfolds is a new pair of glasses as far as you see the world. It’s almost as if you were blind and now the fog is lifted. Addicts and alcoholics are often riddled with self-delusion. The steps allow you to see yourself in terms of how others may see you, through examination of your behavior. Seeing your part in the drama of your life allows you to make amends wherever possible - and then forgive yourself.