WITH SPECIAL GUEST CO-HOST STACY
First Segment - Principle 7 - Courage
THE WORD COURAGE comes from the Latin word cor, which means “heart”—and courage is the heart of recovery. We need courage to say yes. To say no. To say, “I don’t know.” To try. To fail. To bounce back and try again. To tell the truth. To challenge the status quo. To look foolish. To be wrong. To say, “I’m sorry.” To offer amends. To face pain and fear. To risk. To be vulnerable. To live in the unknown. To change. To continue on in the face of resistance.
It took a great deal of courage just to begin recovery. We could have stayed in our addiction until it destroyed us, but we didn’t. Instead, we made the courageous decision to face the wreckage we had created and re-engineer our life.
- Try and remember how you felt at your first meeting, did you feel courageous walking through those doors or did you feel other things? Looking back now do you feel different?
We continue to make courageous decisions day by day as we face our fear and pain. Courage also helps us stay with recovery when we feel like we’re not flying at all, but slogging through mud. We’re frustrated with how difficult the process is, or how long it takes, or how many obstacles are in our way. We’re weary of contending with our shame and sadness and sorrow. In these moments courage reminds us that a life of sanity and serenity is priceless; that we deserve to live such a life; and that, with the help of trustworthy people and our Higher Power, we can create that life.
- Did you always believe you deserve to live a life of sanity and serenity from entering recovery? If not, what made you believe?
When we were enmeshed in our addiction, we made a mess of our life—and, almost certainly, others’ lives as well. Paradoxically, in recovery we summon the courage to make a mess of things again, but in a positive way. We stop following the rules of our dysfunctional family. We refuse to keep other’s secrets (or our own). We end or limit relationships with people who enabled our addiction. We take apart our life, examine every piece of it, and rebuild it from the ground up.
Every time we act courageously, we grow and heal.
- Discuss some of the courageous decisions you have made during your recovery. Do you agree with the last statement that every time we act courageously, we grow and heal? Is that a hard thing for you to realise at the time?
Courage and Risk
There is no courage without risk. When we act courageously, we put ourselves on the line for a greater good and make ourselves vulnerable to loss. Instead of arguing with our partner or stalking off, we stay present and loving in the midst of our conflict. Instead of worrying about what people will think, we challenge our coworker when he or she tells a racist joke. Instead of letting someone force us into quickly making an important decision, we insist on taking the time we need. Instead of looking the other way when we see our neighbor hitting a child, we call the police. Instead of following the family rule to never contradict Uncle Nathan, we calmly tell him that we disagree with him and why.
- What, if anything, stops you from acting courageously? What are you doing to try and improve this?
We addicts are not strangers to risk. When we practiced our addictions, we did many enormously risky things. Most of us put other people at risk as well. This wasn’t because we were brave; we simply ignored or denied the risks.
In recovery, our approach to risk changes completely. We learn to consider our risks instead of following our impulses. We consult our inner observer, then consciously choose which risks to take. One day at a time, we become both more courageous and more discerning. Although courage is a choice, we do not choose it in isolation. We can ask for help and support from people we trust. We can talk with our sponsor, our therapist, wise experts, or trusted friends or family. We can always ask for the help of our Higher Power.
- For all it’s rewards, does sobriety still frighten you in some ways? If so, how and what are you doing to try and allay these fears?
Second Segment - Topic of the Week
- Have I learned to thrive in the middle of life or make peace with mild discomfort? Am I still triggered? Am I an intensity junky? Do I fidget or want things all “shaken, not stirred” when all is quiet?
Third Segment - Quote of the Week
“If you ask people about these problems, you will most likely find they have Faith that somebody intelligent is looking at these things for us. That isn’t a justified Faith. We have to do our thinking for ourselves. We can’t let other people do our thinking for us. Because a lot of people have ulterior motives and they will try to steer us in the wrong direction. A lot of them don’t know what’s going on even though they are in positions of power.” Albert Bartlett, PhD (born 1923)
Our author isn’t anti-serenity, but today’s challenge is to know when it’s time to be assertive. There is a serene spiritualist and a cantankerous malcontent in each of us. If these two personalities of ours are integrated we can be happy and useful. Government, employers and most of those around us would love to see us positive and grateful, mindful of the small things and not too critical. Subversive rattling of the cages challenges the status quo and isn’t the best way to win friends or gain approval.
Every addict has cognitive dissonance. We were sure that everything would be OK when we were out there, blind to how we were affecting ourselves and others. After finding recovery and a noteworthy increase in manageability in our lives, we generally want to hold on to that warm feeling. Isn’t someone else looking after the big issues? Bartlett challenges us to think sanely and soberly about the well-being of the world around us. Why shouldn’t it start with us? In recovery we have unique skills that we have learned from the Steps and the Traditions, which we can share with the outside world. World leaders are seeking out life on other planets—we don’t even know how to sustain life here. Isn’t that a little crazy? When our heads clear from addiction we will see that not all the crazies are inside these rooms. Our time will come to make a stand.
- Even within my program, my family and my home group, disturbing the apple cart can be better than killing people with kindness. Am I sometimes lazy with unjustified Faith that everything will be OK? Serenity, Courage and wisdom are enigmas more than absolutes. Do I see Chaos in the world and turn my head away, leaving it for someone else to solve?