The shit stops here!
On a recent episode of sober.coffee, Karen joined us in the coffee shop to talk about the principle of honesty and how self-responsibility fuels better sobriety. It was great to have Karen with us, and the episode is worth a double listen as it is full of golden recovery nuggets.
What follows is a bit of a recap, not all-inclusive, while expounding on some of the conversations:
The blame game
We read the copy under the headline that asked who was to blame for the event. Our car breaks down, and we blame the manufacturer. We lose a job, and we blame the boss. The relationship is stressed, and we blame the other. Our cost of living goes up, and we place the sole blame on inflation—Blame; assigning responsibility for a fault or wrong.
It seems that it is human nature to find fault elsewhere. Are we inherently programmed defensively as we instantly go to blame? We don't consider the complexities of situations and tend to look outward for the cause.
Victimhood is a real thing. WebMD acknowledges that “People with a victim mentality have often suffered through trauma or hard times but haven't developed a healthier way to cope. As a result, they develop a negative view of life, where they feel they don't have any control over what happens to them”.
This syndrome or mentality puts us in a tough spot as we don’t have the power to control others. We only have the means to control ourselves.
We instinctively discount that we didn't put oil in our car, drank on the job, neglected to invest in the relationship, and overspent on luxury items.
Through the recovery process, we have concluded that this is unhealthy and that this mindset can negatively affect our capability to live a serene and sober life. We have come to believe that the same old thinking person becomes the same old drinking person.
True confession, however, reveals that sometimes we like sitting in our shit as it is warm and comfortable. But shit, it is.
This deficiency seemed to grip us before we were introduced to the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.
First and foremost, many problems go away when we take away the drink. But new issues emerge as life deals life. An important thing we have found is to take responsibility for that life as it unfolds.
While we look outside for cause, we almost always find our role in this scenario if we are honest, and honesty is a pivotal tenet by which we live by today. We have come to believe that the problem is in the mirror, and so is the solution.
“I am the solution to the difficulties I face” It doesn't matter who, if anybody, caused the problem as it is my problem now, and only I can do something about it.
How does one move toward personal responsibility? We think it boils down to fundamental changes in how we think and act. Taking responsibility involves:
1. Understanding that you control your life - not the other guy.
2. Prioritizing yourself and building healthy self-respect.
3. Avoiding getting sucked into the blame game (referenced above)
4. Making time for self-reflection
5. Learning the value and practicing accountability
6. Understanding and avoiding judgment
7. Practicing compassion towards yourself and others
8. Being mindful of excuses
9. Avoiding toxic situations
10. Eradicating negative self-talk.
Thanks to "declutterthemind" for the list
The bottom line, as Karen pointed out, is that we need to own our shit. Our actions of yesterday caused most of the scenarios that played out today, and our efforts today will determine the settings of tomorrow.
Words of wisdom from the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous
Our roots of recovery are found and the 12-step recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Through that program, we have come to realize that the blame game was rooted in our self-centeredness, and then through working the steps, we can live life from a new vantage.
Reflective of Karen’s commitment to 12-step recovery, she referenced page 62 of the big book, and it is such a powerful excerpt that we wanted to share it word for word:
Selfishness - self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows, and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past, we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.
So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!
Our synopsis of the above big book reference: “it's your fault, asswipe.”
When we realized that our troubles were basically of our own making, we began the process of healing and growing physically, mentally, and spiritually. Life took on a deeper level of fulfillment as we lost the self-delusion that the big book spoke of.
We have found that the answer lies in personal accountability. We find we are asking the question:: Are we wallowing, or are we rebuilding?
We have learned to pause, check the mirror, and then proceed. That it is us who have complete control and that we have zero control over “the other guy”
It is time to stand up and own our shit, and only I am responsible for I.
And most importantly: When we can honestly own our own lives, we can truly recover.
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a bonus drop sober.coffee podcast titled “#109 Karen - own your shit” The podcast dropped on 04/26/2023. Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.