Recovery: Change of Heart, Thought and Attitude
…it should be pointed out that physical treatment is but a small part of the picture. Though you are providing him with the best possible medical attention, he should understand that he must undergo a change of heart. To get over drinking will require a transformation of thought and attitude. We all had to place recovery above everything, for without recovery we would have lost both home and business. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 143)
Recovery is not just about doing things and being able to check the boxes that mean you did each thing. Recovery requires a complete change of:
- Thought &
Recovery requires not only a change in the way you think but a change of why you think the way you think. Many people believe that the way recovery works is to live the rest of your life thinking the same way and simply ignoring the self-destructive thoughts. Others believe that in recovery you will stay basically the same person but your thinking will somehow change in spite of being the same.
If you are going to change your thoughts and attitude you are going to have to change the reasons you have those thoughts and attitudes. What I am getting at is the fact that if you are very advanced in addiction/alcoholism you either change completely or you stay the same. You cannot think the same way and do different things (for very long).
YOU ARE EITHER CHANGED OR YOU ARE THE SAME AND IF YOU ARE THE SAME YOU SHOULD EXPECT THE SAME RESULTS.
Think of those of us at the worst levels of addiction/alcoholism who try to quit on our own. We know that quitting means not doing it again. We decide to quit and are firmly resolved to staying abstinent. Yet suddenly we use again. In some of these instances we tell ourselves some insanely trivial reason why this particular time does not count as relapse even though we know that any use at all means I have no longer quit. The problem is not just what happens after I start using. The bigger problem is my attitudes and thoughts immediately before I use again. What was going on in my mind that made me think it was okay to do something I was firmly resolved not to do? Something that I knew to be so self destructive and so destructive to all of those around me.
So we shall describe some of the mental states that precede a relapse into drinking, for obviously this is the crux of the problem.
What sort of thinking dominates an alcoholic who repeats time after time the desperate experiment of the first drink? (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 35)
But there was always the curious mental phenomenon that parallel with our sound reasoning there inevitably ran some insanely trivial excuse for taking the first drink. Our sound reasoning failed to hold us in check. The insane idea won out. Next day we would ask ourselves, in all earnestness and sincerity, how it could have happened. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 37)
“Our sound reasoning failed to hold us in check. The insane idea won out.” Whatever happens at the moment we decide to use cannot even be called sane and definitely cannot be considered a time when we are in control.
If we do not change the entire basis of why we think the things we think, we will still end up thinking the same thoughts. This change is the basis of recovery and should be the desired result also.
Many of us who frequent Alcoholics Anonymous meetings hear this stated regularly and often miss or ignore this fact. For example, if you are familiar with something called “The Promises” one of them is:
Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 84)
That is a desired result and in the list of promises it is really the summary of some of the results of this change of attitude and outlook.
Why is all of this important? The truth is that if you are going to gain this new footing for your thoughts and attitude to stand on, you will need to be willing to let go of your old footing. To have a change of heart, the old heart has to be removed to allow the change to happen.
A huge goal for your recovery is to not only change who you are, but to change why you are who you are.
If the reasons you do and even think thinks you think have led you to do things that destroy your life and the lives of those around you then those reasons are probably wrong. You probably need new reasons!
IN RECOVERY, IF YOU ARE NOT CHANGED; YOU ARE THE SAME AND CAN EXPECT THE SAME RESULTS.
In the Alcoholics Anonymous book, Carl Jung is quoted as having put it this way:
The doctor said: “You have the mind of a chronic alcoholic. I have never seen one single case recover, where that state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you.” Our friend felt as though the gates of hell had closed on him with a clang.
He said to the doctor, “Is there no exception?”
“Yes,” replied the doctor, “there is. Exceptions to cases such as yours have been occurring since early times. Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences. To me these occurrences are phenomena. They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 27)
Recovery is going to require that you have “huge emotional displacements and rearrangements.” Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of your life have to be cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives must begin to dominate you.
That is the change of:
- Thought &
Are you open to that? That is what recovery must look like if you expect it to work! Being able to say you did this or that will not keep you sober if each these things do not lead to change in your life.
“CHANGE IS A CONSTANT. THOSE WHO REFUSE TO CHANGE TO BE BETTER WILL BE FORCED TO BE CHANGED TO BE WORSE”