First guiding principle: Powerlessness
The thought of ‘getting what you really want’ has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Makes you feel empowered, right? And isn’t that what you want – to feel empowered?
I spent many years feeling insecure. Do you know what it’s like to feel this way? Do you wake up in the morning excited about the new day? Can you hardly wait to get out of bed and get started? Or do you wake up dreading what’s in store for you? When you hate waking up, that’s insecurity. When you can’t face the day because you don’t think there’s anything to look forward to – that’s insecurity.
If your palms sweat and your breathing is shallow because you have to attend a social gathering and meet new people – that’s insecurity. Avoiding questions about yourself or your life for fear of being judged – that’s insecurity.
What I’m really referring to is shame. Feeling worthless. Feeling unworthy. Unable to look other people in the eye and know that you are their equal. Insecurity is a vague sense that you’re a little better than pond scum – at most, just a maggot on the dung hill of life.
In order to survive this feeling of inferiority, I chose to ‘use’ things, people and places in order to alter my mood. These attachments and addictions gave me a sense of relief from my shame and my insecurity for a short while only. And then I would have to ‘use’ again. And again, and again.
Before long, I became so addicted that I really had no idea why I kept acting out. The reason I continued to ‘use’ wasn’t the same reason when I first began. And the good feelings that I got from ‘using’ started to feel more like panic and chaos.
As we embark on this journey to find out what we really want, let’s begin by taking an honest look at where we are right now. This chapter may seem a little counter intuitive because we are going to examine our powerlessness. This is the first principle of the freedom of desire and also the first step in 12 step recovery:
“We admitted that we were powerless over (our addiction) and our lives had become unmanageable.”
Yesterday, I listed a few of my own personal attachments and addictions; but I left one out. I neglected to include it because it represents the entire list combined; the one that gives motive to my grasp and grip on the things to which I became hopelessly attached. It was my reason for all of my obsessive and compulsive actions.
I’m talking about control.
‘Control’ is related to power; and I desperately needed to feel like I was in control of the world around me. Acting out compulsively gave me a sense of control, and a feeling of empowerment. But instead of getting what I really wanted, I settled for a substitute.
Those of us already in recovery took a very long time to get here because admitting defeat is not something we do well. Even when we’re whipped, beaten, and crushed we still think we can fix ourselves. The alcoholic must hit bottom first before realizing that the addiction is more powerful than he/she cares to admit. It’s only out of desperation that the addict walks through the door of a room full of ‘losers’ – people in recovery.
Powerlessness is hardly a condition for some, and not others. Don’t think that you are any different from anyone else; this condition of attachment and addiction is universal. How do I know this? Because everyone suffers inwardly from trying to fill their God-shaped hole with things that don’t satisfy. I see it everywhere: Grasping, gripping and holding on to specific things, ideas and places for dear life! Trying to find the perfect someone to love; finding the perfect job; finding the perfect boss; finding the perfect life. And getting frustrated in the process.
This may sound like a lot of ‘bad news’ – and it is! But for every problem there is a solution. And tomorrow you will find out what that is; so, I will see you tomorrow.