29 Aug Acceptance through Powerlessness
“God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Alcoholism is a disease that is centered in the brain that manifests itself through an inability to develop rational perception on specific life issues or events. This fact, coupled with an oversensitivity to life situations can sometimes leave an alcoholic (in recovery or not) crippled with fear and an overwhelming desire to react to circumstances in an unhealthy manner. It is vital to ones recovery to pick up particular guidelines to live their lives by in order to counter these emotions with positive solutions. The ideal of acceptance, or an understanding that people, places, and things are often outside of an individual’s control is imperative to moving through life with a stable mindset.
Acceptance plays a vital role in recovery, even from the earliest stages. Until an individual is ready to accept their alcoholism, they will remain unable to receive help. During active-addiction, an individual tends to look at their problems from a perspective of blame, or victimization. However, in recovery, it is essential that the recovering addict looks inward for a tangible solution. Unless an individual is ready to accept accountability for their behaviorisms and actions; he or she will never be able to change. Over the years of my using, it was extremely difficult for me to take a look at the things I was doing as toxic, or unhealthy. Countless times I would put blame on external circumstances as a justification for my actions. I would get arrested for crimes I unmistakably committed and rather than identify my part, blame it on circumstance such as time and place. Nothing was MY fault. Thus, I could never take ownership of the nature of my disease and therefore, I could not put in any action towards changing my lifestyle.
Moving forward in our recovery, alcoholics have to apply this concept to every aspect of life. Living life on life’s terms is no easy task, but the one thing that we all have control of at any given moment, is our attitudes and actions. Whenever a person, place, thing, or situation presents itself in daily life, one must pause, and think of how they can contribute to the solution rather than the problem. If one can look at negative conditions logically, rather than based off of emotion, it is remarkable how much more effectively and efficiently they can handle problems. Take traffic for an example. Every time I get stuck in traffic (which is A LOT considering I live in Los Angeles), I have two decisions I can make. I can get angry and frustrated, which will eventually lead me into meaningless anxiety and discomfort; OR, I can accept the traffic as a standard for the area I live in and humbly relax and exploit the extra time for a quick meditation or to handle business phone calls.
It’s not always easy to have an immediate flip in perception. The practice of having true acceptance towards unanticipated problems takes time and repetition. Nevertheless, the ability to do so will yield tremendous results in serenity and well-being.
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation some fact of my life unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment” (Page 417 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous).