Saturday, September 22, 2012

Free Your Mind, and Your Ass Will Follow

I was looking at the box above last night and my gut reaction was to discard it as too dualistic, but the more I stare at it, the more it releases truths. I think I just want to change the last box to rid it of the value judgments good and evil. And change "order" to "peace of mind" and "chaos" to "dissatisfaction." Then it works for me.

Here's what I learned about myself when working Step Four. When I come at things from a place of fear, I automatically limit my own options. ("This won't work"; "that won't work"; "if I try that, this bad thing might happen," etc.) So, I would shut a lot of things out even though I didn't know for a fact that my fear-based predictions would be true. This is the willful ignorance of the chart. Confusion would result when other possibilities or other viewpoints or things not fitting my fear-based interpretation would pop up and throw me off balance.  To get rid of the confusion, I would naturally try to control things around me ("So-and-so can't know this or that about me"; "so-and-so needs to do this or that"; "if I do this, so-and-so's response will be to do that," etc). Ultimately, no one is able to control everything around them, so the result will be dissatisfaction, unmet expectations, feeling manipulated or persecuted--and the result of feeling that way is often acting out in anger and frustration. I would end up feeling even more fear than before, and so I would slowly but surely dig my own hole deeper and deeper over time, as my alcoholism got worse and worse.

So the key to everything is letting go of fear. Get comfortable with standing on the abyss. Sure, sometimes you might fall off and get clocked in the jaw. But you're not dead. Actually, seldom is the result that horrible. It's nowhere near as horrible as being continually dissatisfied. Truth is, more often than not, letting go of fear and stepping off the cliff leads to a pleasant surprise: you fly and didn't know you could. Openness allows you to seek out options and a bigger picture and to try out other possibilities, expanding your world. Self-mastery--continually checking in with yourself, examining your emotions, evaluating your actions in light of the many possibilities available to you--gives you a sense of total freedom. We are empowered to choose. No one is ever entirely in a jail: you always have options and choices. The biggest jail is our own minds. Once I understood that, I stopped even attaching value judgments to my own choices. This is because I check in with myself enough to know that I make educated guesses, act accordingly, and act with consideration towards my fellow human beings. There is no malice behind any of my actions. So I'm always happy with my choices, even if (after the fact) I realize I could have made a better choice. Then it's just a learning opportunity, no big deal. It's really easy nowadays to forgive myself. The result is general contentment and peace of mind, even in the face of the same enormous anxieties that used to drive me to drink.

The great mystery of finding happiness is this: don't look for it outside yourself. No person, no thing, no things, can ever bring you anything but a temporary rush. Happiness is a lasting state of being that has everything to do with what is inside of YOU. 

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