A Disease of Perception

Howard B. shares how recovery has changed his perception on how he once viewed his life, those in it and  situations that took place which he took little accountability for.

One the biggest changes that has taken place in my recovery was the perspective shift that happened to me somewhere around 90 days sober, while working the steps. Up until this point, I could not see how any of the negative things happening in my life had anything to do with me. I was able to systematically break down how every single scenario – from the court case I was dealing with, to the empty bank account, to my failing out of college – was someone else’s fault. It wasn’t until I began to take responsibility for my own life and actions though, that things in my external world started to fall into place.

Pointing the finger at others is as natural to a practicing drug addict as swimming is to a fish. Throughout my using, I had perfected the art of blaming other people for how I felt and for all the negative things that kept happening in my life. By saying that the reason I had gotten a felony was because the police were unfairly singling me out, I didn’t have to stop doing illegal things. By complaining that my job didn’t pay enough, or my parents weren’t giving me enough money, I didn’t have to take a look at the fact that I was lazy. Every time something happened that I didn’t like, I quickly created a reason, a response and an excuse. Nothing was ever my fault. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it left me at the mercy of everything around me. The world became my enemy, and I was just a poor, helpless, victim of circumstance.

It wasn’t until I started looking at how I had a part in every single one of these situations that things started changing. In fact, starting to take responsibility for my actions empowered me. The problem with being a victim of circumstance is that it leaves me in a position of helplessness – if everything is your fault, I can’t do anything about it anyway. When I begin to recognize that my attitude and my actions have placed me exactly where I am today, I gain the ability to affect positive change in my own life. All of a sudden I have the power to do something different – if I don’t want to get in anymore legal trouble, I should stop breaking the law. If I want to do better in school, I should start studying harder. If I want my boss to give me a raise, I need to look at what kind of attitude and work ethic I am bringing into the workplace. For me, this change in thinking came through working my 4th and 5th steps, and has created an enormous difference in my life as a whole. By looking first and foremost at my faults in any given situation, I don’t feel like I’m in constant conflict with the world around me anymore. I came face to face with the reality that anytime I don’t like the way I feel, it is a result of my own attitude and my own actions. Once I understood this, I was able to start doing things differently.

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  • Debbie O-A
    Posted at 10:01h, 23 May Reply

    Thank you for sharing Howard. Beautifully written and right to the point. Many addicts and parents can gain insight from your post.

  • Mardi
    Posted at 13:16h, 23 May Reply

    Thanks, Howard, for this thought provoking way to look at the world around us. Addict or not, we can all make subtle changes in the way we look at our lives and reframe our perceptions so that we are taking responsibility for the next indicated step. It is empowering to throw off the victim blanket we hide under.

  • [email protected]
    Posted at 07:45h, 24 May Reply

    Me too I thank you for reminding us how easy is to blame others for our faults, if we stop to think why we do this we find that is much easier to do that, is the maturity that allows us to change our behaviors and learn to deal with whatever life throws in our paths. Keep up the work and never give up the outcome is much better, also keep up the faith in your Higher Power God Bless.

  • Phil
    Posted at 09:16h, 08 July Reply

    Thank you for this Howard. I see so much of my own behavior in your post that I am slightly ashamed of myself and now I’m questioning how much of the situations I have found myself in were actually my fault instead of the person I blamed.

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