The Value (or not) of Self Will
Before I found recovery from alcoholism in Alcoholics Anonymous I used my self will in a very different way to the way I use it now. As a result of working the twelve steps and following my sponsors guidance, I have been able to exercise my will along much healthier lines which has lead to a more serene, consistent and happier life free from alcohol and the strange world of alcoholism.
As the big book says I was self will run riot which brought untold grief and misery to not only myself, but to all those I came into contact with. I would strive to get things that I thought I wanted or needed, often treading on the toes of my fellows which of course led them to retaliate. I thought of no one else apart from myself and what I could get. I would try to exert my will on situations and people, and if things did not work out to my satisfaction I would be upset, angry, frustrated etc etc. This only led to more drinking and more chaos. The resentment I had by which I felt that the world was wronging me only drove me on stronger and more determined to get what I wanted.
When I came into AA it was explained to me that I would need to do certain things if I were to recover. It required action – stopping drinking was but the first step away from a highly strained, abnormal condition. Sobriety through the teaching and practice of the twelve steps was my goal. In order to do this i used my self will to let my more experienced sponsor guide me through the steps. I freely allowed myself to be shown exactly how to recover. As the big book says I needed to exchange old ideas which did not work for new ones which did. I used my will to make a fearless and thorough personal inventory and shared this with my sponsor. Again I used my will to make a list of all persons I had harmed and then used it to make amends to those I had harmed.
As I have been restored to sanity, the distortion and exaggeration of that strange world of alcoholism has disappeared. This no longer leads to me fighting or striving to get what I think I should have. I am more able to accept life on lifes terms. Situations do not always go as I would want them, and people do not always act as I would like, but today I am able to deal with these things. Each day I need to do certain things to remain in fit spiritual condition, and again this is where I use my will. I need to continue to take personal inventory and look at my part in any situation, I need to continue to try to improve my contact with my higher power, I need to continue to think of others and work with alcoholics. By turning my will and my life over to my higher power I am able to accept things that I cannot change, however this takes effort and use of my self will. I believe this is the proper use of my will and page 85 of the big book confirms this to me.
Ben B, Road To Recovery Group, Plymouth, 2011