Thursday, 01 December 2011

Self-Knowledge vs. Self-Honesty

by Dov (See all authors)

The 12-Steps typically shy away from engaging much in deep analysis of what our deep motivations are in our acting out. To me, such study is likely to be mental 'self pleasuring' (sorry for being crass) and often just another righteous attempt at being independent of G-d, again... just like we were while were acting out. During early recovery I believe it is particularly silly and even toxic. Over the years, I have seen many people give up recovery completely just to satisfy their desire/need to hang onto (what I believe their pride considers) "their right to do only what they understand," and to be able to take credit for their recovery. As far as I am concerned, the various 'self-help routines' promoted out there might work fine for many people - but not for me. So that's what I share. And I see the work behind the 2nd and 4th steps as very different than such analysis. As Bill wrote in AA (where he introduces the steps), "we discovered that self-knowledge was not the key to recovery" (I paraphrase) - rather, it is self-acceptance and self-honesty that we needed. And the depth of the knowledge is irrelevant. It is the simple acceptance of the unadulterated truth about ourselves that is the only thing that matters, for it helps us give up and become dependent upon Hashem, for a change. So why the self-analysis in step 2 and 4? Because it is not analysis and understanding that we are after, it is honesty and facts. While it may seem semantics to some, it works for me, while the old way did not. In the 'good old days' my 24/7 inner occupation was self-understanding - learning maseches "me" - so that I could beat this thing... really so that I could finally control it rather than to be truly rid of it. It was always supposed to have been my buddy. I always craved having the power to use it without it using me. That was my true goal. When you boil it down, I still just wanted to lust - but without paying the price. Like my many attempts at enjoying masturbation - without actually spilling seed, 'chalilah'. Oops! Too far... That way never ever worked. It was all about finally figuring it all out. It was playing a game and lying to myself. It was just another sick part of my addiction, nothing more. Nowadays, rather than trying to figure everything out, I need to simply face facts about myself and about reality. I am told by recovery people that admitting the truth about myself and my situation will open the door to getting better. I am a sick person getting better. We need to accept that there are sick values, attitudes, and thought processes that are driving our addictive behaviors. Everyone I have met who is in successful recovery, admits more and more that they are sick - meaning that they come to see that their thinking and attitudes are perverted. Addiction demystified. OK, maybe it must remain a bit mysterious - we do not really gain control over ourselves just because we understand how sick we are. Rather, accepting the true extent and manifestations of our own ill-ness helps us do one precious thing: give up on our own ability to beat it. To rely totally on Hashem to enable us to succeed. Much as we are supposed to in parnossah. As long as it was just an aveiro that we did, it was a 'pet project' of ours - and we failed miserably. But once it became a disease, we saw that we were the problem, not the girls in skimpy dresses, nor the yetzer hara, nor anything else. We need fixing, and we need it badly. We had - and have work to do.