The Power of Honesty

Ever since I first read it, I have been intrigued by the last phrase in step 11:  “…and the power to carry that [the will of God] out.”  I have felt so powerless all my life, and the prospect of gaining power felt almost intoxicating.

It seemed to me that – in some mysterious way – I might be able to gain special powers from on high if I learned to pray and meditate.  Well, the promise of ‘power’ is definitely implied in step 11.  But I doubt that it’s as mysterious as I once thought.

For one thing, I have experienced the power of honesty.  I can truly say I remember the powerlessness of toxic shame and its accompanying behavior: The telling of lies.

When I decided to face the facts about my broken life, and began to tell the truth, I soon felt the power of God take hold of my being – body, soul and spirit.  As I got real and became honest with myself for the first time, I sensed a freedom that I’d left behind many years ago.

Why is there power in honesty?

Because honesty ushers in a whole new order!  My life was out of order when I lived deep in my addiction.  That’s why I felt so out of control.  The more I tried to gain control of my circumstances and other people (by telling lies) the worse things got.  The harder I tried to fix things my way, the more my life spun out of control.  It wasn’t until I did the 12 Steps and got reacquainted with the proper (and natural) order of the universe that I was able to experience first hand the power of God.

By learning to be honest you are saying “goodbye” to fantasy, lies and isolation.  Honesty allows you to say “hello” to reality, truth and 12-Step fellowship.

Prayer and meditation will do you no good at all if you aren’t being honest with yourself.  Prayer and meditation will only help if you are completely honest with yourself and with God.  Honesty with other people will naturally follow.

And so will the power to carry out the will of God.

This Present Reality

There is a reality that is presently with us.  We are surrounded by this present reality… by its power and perfection.  What is this present reality that surrounds us?

It is the “Will of God.”

Unfortunately, many of us are living in a fantasy world, and we are blind to this present reality.  We created our make-believe world because we had to… we needed a coping mechanism in order to survive the lies – the false beliefs – we had about God and the world… lies we believed about ourselves.

“Is it possible to experience this present reality?” you may ask. 

Absolutely!  But if you remain focused on your own desires – allowing your self-will to run riot – you will not be able to see or hear the perfect Will of God… even though it is all around you.

You want to be free, and you have used your “freedom of choice” to try and get there.  But somehow, you can’t seem to create this wonderful freedom for yourself.  No matter how hard you try, it just never seems to materialize.

Here’s the truth:  The more you try to take control and fix things for yourself, the less you will experience this present reality.  Unless, by the grace of God, you are made to see just how powerless you really are – your life (the world in which you live) will continue to spin out of control.

Powerlessness is a gift.  It’s a wake-up call for you to make some radical changes.  Recognizing it is the first step you must take in order to leave behind your compulsive acting-out, and begin making healthy choices that are more in line with this perfect and present reality.

As you let go of your own desires, you will begin to see the power of this present reality – the perfect Will of God for you in this present moment.

The Four C’s: Feeling Confident (Part 2)

There are 2 tools that will help you gain clarity and increase your confidence moment by moment:

  1. Gratitude
  2. Acceptance

When you choose to be grateful for this moment, and accept what is, you will have tapped into the Source of power that is available for everyone – addict and non-addict alike.

Gratitude for things that are unpleasant – unwanted moments and people – is the key to your sobriety.  It is the practice of gratitude that will help you to accept the ‘perfection’ of each and every moment in which you find yourself.

Acceptance is not to be misunderstood with resignation.  To be resigned to a certain circumstance means you have given up, but it does not mean you have come to accept it.  Resignation leads to disappointment, anger and resentment.  Acceptance, on the other hand, leads to serenity because it lets go of what isn’t and makes room for what is.

By using both these tools – gratitude and acceptance – you can empower and enable yourself to clearly identify wholesome and healthy behaviors.  These two powerful attitudes allow you to examine your destructive and addictive patterns and choose healthy patterns that will keep you out of harm’s way.

Here are some examples of healthy behaviors:

  • Journaling
  • Working the 12 Steps
  • Prayer and meditation
  • Calling program members
  • Using positive affirmations
  • Attending 12 Step meetings
  • Going to fellowship after meetings
  • Calling my sponsor before I engage in slippery behavior
  • Taking care of myself – health and cleanliness
  • Getting outside for fresh air and walking
  • Taking a class in something interesting
  • Learning to say ‘No’
  • Eating healthy food
  • Getting lots of sleep
  • Routine exercise
  • A new hobby

Make your own list of healthy behaviors and activities that you know will help you stay on track with your recovery, keeping you focused, motivated and confident.

The Four C’s: Feeling Confident

It has been written:  “Without a vision, the people perish.”

The ability to see ourselves as we really are allows us to experience the power of God – our Higher Power.  Clarity of vision opens the door to possibilities that once seemed beyond our reach.

In other words, clarity about our addiction and what needs to be done – that there is something we can do – fills us with the confidence to face each day courageously.  When we are clear about what can be done, we take each step with confidence.  And with each additional step our confidence increases.

Lose your clarity – your vision – and you will crash and burn.

Your bottom lines will seem impossible to keep without clarity.  It is an open heart and an open mind to Higher Power that makes it possible to even begin the journey.  And it is clarity – singleness of purpose – that keeps you on the path.

Healthy Behaviors

Setting bottom lines is saying ‘no’ to certain activities and addictive behaviors.  But what are you saying ‘yes’ to?

Recovery is built on healthy habits and behaviors.  These healthy behaviors fulfill and nurture us, take the place of addictive behavior, contribute to our spiritual growth and recovery, and bring joy into our lives.

Saying ‘yes’ to healthy habits and behaviors strengthens your resolve to remain sober.  Keeping your bottoms lines doesn’t have to be a negative experience; you can certainly make it more positive by engaging in some healthy behaviors that help you in your recovery.

There are 2 tools that you can use in your recovery that will help you gain clarity and confidence.  Next week we will talk about both these tools, and suggest a short list of healthy behaviors in which you can engage.