15 May Patience in Recovery
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” – (Aristotle). We are all familiar with the proverbial phrase: “Patience is a virtue.” Yet how does this phrase translate into the life of an addict/ alcoholic? Before recovery, Patience is anathema to any addict/alcoholic. Because for them, the every purpose of alcohol and drugs is to produce an immediate impact, to drown and erase the pain in their soul. Such attitudes of immediacy are inherently carried over into the other areas of their lives — into their work ethic, relationships, and internal growth where only the moment counts, irrespective of damage to the future. In recovery, however, Patience is a fundamental principle and a true gift that the addict/ alcoholic must give to themselves. For the addict/ alcoholic in recovery, the principle of Patience allows them the capacity to pause, endure or come terms with the suffering in their lives without suffering an emotional crisis requiring immediate relapse to alcohol or drugs. This beautiful principle is seen in all of our affairs, and directly relates to the remaining spiritual tools laid out in 12 step programs.
We can see the same impacts in the workplace. The alcoholic’s sense of immediacy upon becoming employed can inspire such thoughts as: I should be able to climb the company walls within a week, become CEO in a month! And it is reasonable to “cut corners” to get to the top because I am entitled to “wealth without work.” However, by acquiring Patience in recovery, an alcoholic recognized the need for consistency, integrity and honesty in the work place. By having Patience for oneself, the alcoholic is willing to learn new tasks and become more efficient. By having Patience for others at work, the alcoholic will learn a new habit of collaboration, working with other employees and customers. Patience redirects thoughts towards others and engenders a sense of service within work. The function of service can inspire a proper sense self-esteem that is neither too high nor too low and is usually reflected in the reactions of fellow employees and customers. Patience requires attention to the little things like showing up to work on time and doing the little things they are asked to do on the job. In this way, Patience and service coincide to directly combat the core character defects of selfishness and self-centeredness endemic to the addict/alcoholic. Patience is now becoming a part of a new found spiritual condition that can be applied in all their affairs.
The addict/alcoholic is governed by habits of selfishness and self-centeredness. The action of Patience simply requires the alcoholic to pause and think of others. Patience allows an alcoholic to move from a life fearful of others and the outside world into a loving and open relationship with all they encounter. It allows a person to be present and listen while another is speaking. It allows time alone with our intuition before we react. It allows healthy communication and appropriate action. It promotes acceptance for what a person is presently, not what expectations would have them be. It enables a continued support of growth. It helps a person to see other people as human beings and not put them on pedestals or trash their right to exist. Truly a person’s patience with themselves corresponds with their patience of others. This is why patience with oneself is crucial.
Recovery requires Patience for oneself and one’s progress. It is more than just moving through the 12 step process to a spiritual awakening, and you’re done. It takes spiritual growth into a life filled with service and commitment to help force the physical cravings and mental obsession of addiction to become less and less dominant. Awakening is built into the work and commitment put into the process, step by step with no corners cut. This process is dependent on Patience to take each step, to evaluate step taken and recognize that it is “spiritual progress” not “spiritual perfection” that is the goal. Essentially the Alcoholic must earnestly check their motives, find the issue that holds them back then change their course of action while progressing without dwelling. Patience makes this process a thoughtful one; one that allows the alcoholic to have experiences rather than rely on old thinking patterns. It allows an alcoholic to follow a simple outline; go through a self-appraisal, straighten out their past and endeavor to be of service to those suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction.
Patience in recovery is paramount. As a result of the 12 steps, alcoholics move into a place of tolerance and patience, not just in recovery, but in all of their affairs. It changes their attitudes and outlooks on life, and is the biggest change they will experience. When you learn Patience, you can learn acceptance and then move into resolution. It is a gift of spiritual principle in recovery that alcoholics must give to themselves – no one can hand it to them.