I seem to be spending a lot of time recently explaining to people under 5 years of sobriety that just because people have been sober long time doesn’t necessarily mean that they are nice people, or that they are not seriously deluded or deeply unconscious in some way or other. I’m trying to puncture their idealism and bring them back down to earth because I think many of them tend to be idealistic and therefore unrealistic about what can reasonably be expected by embarking upon the steps. Or more to the point, that the vast majority can very often be compromised, or just not try very hard to get well and do a fairly half-baked job of it.
I found this great response to a query about disappointment, and I think it applies equally to AA or to any other institution that purports to contain reputable spiritual seekers of some kind. Basically it applies to any authority in my opinion. Principles before personalities as they say. Do not put any person on a pedestal. I edited the text so that it reads as though it applies to AA.
The reality is that the number of truly exceptional people, whether in AA or Al Anon, is always going to be tiny. This is true even within a tradition as established as AA. So be careful not to take individuals as your refuge. Rather, simply remember that as long as we have the 12 Steps, there will always be a small number of people who realise 12 Step teachings; we just don’t know exactly who they are. Keep your eyes and ears open, keeping asking questions, and you will be able to steer the right course.
Please also remember that conditioning and delusion are very powerful forces. It is possible to be a good AA member or Sponsor, yet be profoundly deluded about certain issues. Anyone who is deluded hurts themselves, or their own cause, more than anyone else. If you remember this, you may be able to feel a sense of compassion instead of getting upset. To avoid conceit, it is also useful to remember that most of us, probably all of us – are deluded in some respect or other. Again, the right response is compassion towards ourselves and others. My point is that although it is important to take a stand on what is right, it is equally important not to get carried away and forget basic AA principles. Let us be careful not to be swamped with negative emotions. If we're not, we lose the benefits of recovery in a much more profound sense.
Anyway I hope you are having lovely weekend. It is sunny and warm, albeit with raised radiation levels due to the continuing meltdown of the Japanese nuclear reactors being carried across Europe in the jet Stream. Oh well. That’s another story as they say.. :)
- An Irish Friend of Bill
- I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Disappointment, Idealism, and why it’s not a good idea to put people on pedestals
Posted by An Irish Friend of Bill
Labels: Choosing a Sponsor
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I have heard that we are sick people getting well. That means to me that I best be discerning about who I trust. I am glad to have found a good sponsor. My intuition is generally spot on. Thanks for also being a mentor here.
I think what you've said here makes a lot of sense. Idealizing people will just set us up for disappointment because no one is perfect 100% of the time. But then again, having someone to look up to is really important as well. I guess you just have to proceed with caution.
Wishing you well,
One of my first sponsors warned me not to put her on a pedestal because I'd soon be looking for a way to "push her off." I never forgot that. Thanks.
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