Acceptance is the Key

More language of the heart from Paul Ohliger  – Some excerpts on acceptance from a classic of recovery literature – “Acceptance was the Answer/Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict”

“It helped me a great deal to become convinced that alcoholism was a disease, not a moral issue; that I had been drinking as a result of a compulsion, even though I had not been aware of the compulsion at the time; and that sobriety was not a matter of willpower.

The people of A.A. had something that looked much better than what I had, but I was afraid to let go of what I had in order to try something new; there was a certain sense of security in the familiar.

At last, acceptance proved to be the key to my drinking problem. After I had been around A.A. for seven months, tapering off alcohol and pills, not finding the program working very well, I was finally able to say, “Okay, God. It is true that I—of all people, strange as it may seem, and even though I didn’t give my permission—really, really am an alcoholic of sorts. And it’s all right with me. Now, what am I going to do about it?”

When I stopped living in the problem and began living in the answer, the problem went away. From that moment on, I have not had a single compulsion to drink. And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

Perhaps the best thing of all for me is to remember that my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations of…and other people are, the lower is my serenity. I can watch my serenity level rise when I discard my expectations. But then my “rights” try to move in, and they too can force my serenity level down. I have to discard my “rights,” as well as my expectations, by asking myself, How important is it, really?

I must keep my magic magnifying mind on my acceptance and off my expectations, for my serenity is directly proportional to my level of acceptance. When I remember this, I can see I’ve never had it so good.”


Those Others

Honesty is one the most important things in recovery for me – even if the truth can hurt – which it can often do.

When struggling for an idea of a Higher Power that did not involve a Christian God, I saw a video, in treatment, once by a recovering alcoholic who happened to be a Catholic priest, I think it was Father Ralph Pfau, who effectively said don’t sweat it, just be honest.

That’s it, just be honest?

Yeah, because Honesty, he said,  comes from the Greek  to be in God.

So just be honest, that’s all.

And that is how it started, the journey I most wanted never to take.

This help from outside was and is fundamental and essential for my recovery.

When I rely solely on my own self perception it often takes months to realise how distorted it has become.

Back in AA this self deception rarely happens for long. Why? I see myself in others, in their struggles, in their humanity, in their program, in their delusions, in their defects, I see what I am doing right and what I could be doing more right.

We see ourselves only with the help of others sometimes so thank God for those others!

God wants me to be the real me. The honest me.


“The image that concerns most people is the reflection they see in other people’s minds.”
Edward de Bono