Don't Live in the Problem, Live in the Solution.
We've been bringing important ideas and posts from Dov on the REAL secret to breaking free of this addiction. It seems that the over-all goal of the 12-Steps - and what makes it so successful to millions of people, is that the steps teach us how to "focus outward" instead of living a self-centered / "ME ME" existence. Previously, we discussed various strategies and exercises that we can do to strengthen our "outward-focus" muscles. Before we continue with this idea, I just want to repeat one paragraph from the previous section because it is such a big Yesod:
As the Mesillas Yeshorim writes, there are some midos that lend themselves to knocking down a bazillion bad middos all in one fell swoop. For an addict, "outward focus" is one of the big ones that do that. Try it. Don't think about it. And don't talk about it much, c"v, either. Thinking differently - even really hard - will not generally get us to be any different on the inside. We live in "Olam Ha'asiyah - the World of Deeds". Doing changes us, and it even changes the way we think and are on the inside. That is why Hashem gave us so many mitzvos to do (as the RaMBa"M writes).
Uri Responds to Dov on the forum:
Wow, thank you so much Dov. I'm honored to have you post on my thread. The advice you give is gold. I've tried this before, "growing outward", but it proved too difficult at the time. I was feeling very depressed and had no strength for others. Now I'm gonna try to make it my top priority again iy'h. Yasher Koyach.
Dov Responds to Uri:
Dear Uri - About going outward:
We obviously can't do it alone, and we often can't do it very comfortably either. So we need extra help from Hashem with this. We also can't succeed at this if we are doing it with "an expectation" of getting something in return.
You write that you have tried it before and mentioned the challenges you had then. Thanks. Here's a big yesod (for me) in recovery that may help you with this too:
We start doing things for others simply - and mainly - because we have faith that we need to, in order to stay sober. We do it because we believe it is the only way to get us to be unselfish - and hence, "mentally OK" people. In a sort of paradoxical way, it's selfish! And that's great! Because it makes it much more palatable to us (at least subconsciously) in the beginning weeks, months or years (whatever!). It really works that way. Weird? Nu, so what's so bad about a little more weirdness? (That's also a big yesod for me, BTW...)
So "am I doing the favor for my mother in order to help her out / to be "nice" / or because it's Kibud Av vo'Eim?" Not necessarily, in the beginning. I may be doing it because it is the only way for me to recover and to stay sober. But that's Ok. I can think of no better "mitoch shelo lishma bah lishma" than this, actually.
Again though, no matter how you slice it, we always need Hashem's help to do it right.
And here's another amazing post from Dov (to someone else) on this topic:
We generally do things for our own sake. When Chazal tell us that Hashem wants us to serve Him Lishma (for His sake), it means that Hashem wants us to start getting used to moving toward doing things for the sake of others first, and then move on toward doing for Him.
He gives us parents to learn what it means to be dependent on someone else and to be responsible; he gives us friends to learn what it means to be connected and faithful; a spouse to learn what it means to be devoted and in love; children to learn what it means to give up stuff and help someone grow into life, while our own lives fade into the background. And He asks us to make for ourselves a Rav (Aseh Lecha Rav) whom we will obey without question and learn self-nullification.
Maybe then we'll be ready to finally be more dependent, responsible, connected, faithful, devoted, in love, obedient, humble and sacrificing to Him, Yisborach.
This never "occurs", it's a process called "the life of a yid". Yep, His system is genius, nothing short of it.
But how the heck is an addict, or a person who is compulsively looking at "whatever", supposed to be part of this process? Getting free from addiction is the only way for an addict to participate in this genius plan, and - miracle of miracles - it is actually simple, because the recovery itself forms and guides the whole journey!
One last post from Dov on this important idea of "focusing outward":
The way to do it is certainly: slowly and in very little steps. You will still feel selfish along the way, because we compare our behavior with our goal. Nu, that's a mistake, but we do need to keep the goal in mind all along the way somehow, so what do we expect? We are not geniuses and get confused sometimes. The main thing for progress is to hang onto faith that these little tiny (still mostly selfish) steps will, in fact, lead us straight to that goal.
As they always say in the 12-Step groups: "Easy, does it".
Try it. Don't think about it. And don't talk about it much, c"v, either. Thinking differently - even really hard - will not generally get us to be any different on the inside. We live in "Olam Ha'asiyah - the World of Deeds". Doing changes us, and it even changes the way we think and are on the inside. That is why Hashem gave us so many mitzvos to do (as the RaMBa"M writes).
After we do this for a while, our lives become wildly interesting and less predictable, too! (It is actually rather boring to think about myself all the time, you know!) We can also get sober and stay sober more easily this way.
Love! ...and that's an order.