Selfishness – Self-centeredness!

Selfishness – Self-centeredness! 

“Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us; we considered its common manifestations.” (BB pg. 64)

This is my experience of this quote out of the Big Book. I have been sober since January 28th 2006, and I completed Steps 1 through to 9 in about 10 months. As a result of the 12 steps, I had a spiritual awakening which has brought about my recovery from alcoholism, and has entered me in to a new way of life.

My life has improved miraculously in all areas, and I have made more progress in the last 6 years, than in the 20 years that went before.

Selfishness- Self- Centeredness that we think is the root of our troubles! Fear, self-delusion, self- pity and self- seeking! My knowledge and understanding of this has grown the longer I’ve been sober, and the more I’ve had to practice the principles of the steps in all my affairs.

My basic problem, as I see it now, was that I was full of SELF, full of Me, Me, Me, Me. How is everything going to affect me, how will I feel, what will I get, what will happen to me if X-Y-Z happens…  I am self-obsessed, and deluded, and that is what I see as my alcoholism. This chronic self-centeredness! This self-centeredness is still very much a part of me today, and that’s why we need to practice the principles in all our affairs – a continuous process.  

I still think I know what I need to make my life perfect. I still fall victim to the delusion that getting the things I want will make me happy. So it is from this process of realisation, that although sober for a few years now, it is still SELF that defeats me, and always will be.

I have always been, and always will be, my biggest problem. And thank-God, through the 12 steps, and the fellowship of AA I have a solution to Me, to my alcoholism – to my fear and self-centeredness. 

What I’ve learned and developed through my step 4 inventory, and my step 10 inventory, is that my character defects are still a part of my makeup today. These basic human emotions like, lust, greed, fear, jealousy, selfishness, dishonesty, intolerance, arrogance, impatience etc are still present in my life today, to a greater or lesser degree, and can still cause me trouble, contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition. If I become lazy with my programme then I suffer, it’s as simple as that.

Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. I must continue to watch for my selfishness, and self-centred ways in all my affairs, a day at a time. “The spiritual life is not a theory we have to live it” (BB pg. 83).

From early in my recovery, I knew that the programme was about God, as I understood Him. And that is the whole concept and purpose of AA and the 12 steps, to return you to God, and to solve all your problems, by a simple reliance upon Him.

I was 100% agnostic, un-educated, and uninformed of spiritual matters, when I arrived in AA – and to my advantage I was easily open-minded to the concept that there may be a God. Objectively it made more sense to me, than the concept that there wasn’t a God. So that was an easy one for me. 

Six years on, I have been through and completed college, and university, and have been in work part-time and full-time since the start of my recovery. I have responsibilities in my life, and I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend for over 2 years. These are achievements I would never have been able to do of my own power.  

A respected old timer in A.A. has said that alcoholism is a disease of perception! This could also mean self-delusion, and I can testify that that is true of my experience. The way I perceive things and the people about me can often be very wrong, and it is that wrong perception that causes my pain and discomfort. My selfish, self–centred view of everything causes me pain, fear and delusion.

I was shown, through working the Steps, what my problem was. It is my defects of character that essentially defeated me. I resented almost everything, and everybody, and resentment and fear brought me misery, and feelings of lowness, loneliness and self-hatred. 

The recovery process from alcoholism is very short compared to the maintenance process, as maintaining sobriety is a lifelong process. Thank God all we need to know and do is contained within the 12 Steps, 12 Traditions and 12 Concepts. The best way to be rid of Self is to think of and try to help others, to carry the message of recovery and hope to still suffering alcoholics.

Steps 10, 11 and 12 give me a way out, and a way of living a happy, peaceful, and joyous life on a daily basis. It really is all contained in our literature, and it has all been passed down. It is our job today to keep giving this away, and to keep growing the Fellowship of recovered alcoholics.

Unity, Service and Recovery, sticking together to carry the message to others is the way for us to live long-term sobriety. I must continue to work my step 10 inventory, develop my relationship with my Higher Power, and help others, and I will be fine. The long-term experience of AA tells me so.    

                                        Jamie, Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth