To me the most liberating Concept in the big book is that my troubles are of my own making. It was not fun to confront that but it was essential to free myself from my victim’s cloak. It taught me to keep my mouth shut and do nothing when something is none of my business. It taught me that I don’t always have to put my opinion out for the world’s benefit. As the other big book says, sufficient unto today are its own troubles. It reinforces my third step decision, that I am no longer in the business of management of my own life. Much less anyone elses. And guess what — my family life, my business life, my social life, all got a lot better without my micro management.
Many of us addicts are taught to believe that accountability and admitting our wrongs promotes shame and low self-worth. New age self-help, pop psychology and hip (faux) spirituality teaches us that there is no such thing as healthy shame, that we are not to be punished or humbled, but rather “self-empowered” as it were. This is another way of saying that we are essentially victims and therefore absconded from our narcissism and from full ownership of our troubles. Today, we are given carte blanche to whine and complain. Today it is all about our feelings. Facts and reality be damned.
We are not addicts because of our genes, because our daddy or grandpa or the guy on the Mayflower was an alcoholic. We are not alcoholics because of the bully in school or because we suffered from depression. We are not alcoholics because of climate change, capitalism, social injustice, micro-aggressions, gender-specific bathrooms, Christmas trees, Dr. Seuss, white, cisgendered men or any other complete and utter bullshit. We are alcoholics because we mutated ourselves into alcoholics. Our lives are a mess because of the way we have chosen to perceive and respond to events. To see events as acting upon us as opposed to us causing or attracting the events to ourselves is a false belief.
“Existence precedes essence.” – Jean Paul Sartre
The truth is quite the opposite – that accountability, as Richard says, in fact liberates us. Taking ownership of our troubles frees us from the anxiety of having to fabricate reason after reason (excuse after excuse) for why we feel the way we do, why bad things happen to us and how our lives have manifested as they have up to this point. Assigning blame for every problem in our lives is a daunting task and requires the constant exertion of self-will. As well, it requires that we remain deluded and dishonest with ourselves, which simply propels us deeper into spiritual agony – anger, depression, fear, jade, cynicism…
Once the belief sets in that it is the outer world and others who are to blame for our troubles, the compulsion to continue blaming cripples us from moving forward, letting go, and allowing the world we create from cracking wide open. There is spirit, peace and endless opportunity found in accountability and honesty, yet there is nothing but brick walls, dead ends and misery to be found in blame and narcissism.
Finally, once we become accountable for everything in our lives, we can forgive. We can forgive ourselves… and when we can forgive ourselves, we can forgive anyone. This is the miracle of accountability.
And this is precisely why the Big Book so wisely asserts and tries to smash into our proud and self-obsessed minds that “our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making.” – Alcoholics Anonymous p.62