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Humility is an essential part of addiction recovery because with an attitude of humility we are better able to develop inward serenity. When we live in an ego-based reality, we focus on our own needs which become insatiable. As human beings, if we focus on only our selfish desires we can never feel satisfied. Also, we develop a sense of entitlement as if our needs are more important than everyone else around us. In this self-absorbed reality, we are the star of our own lives but at the expense of being separate from others. We can use martyrdom, resentments, and judgements to keep us separate from people.  Throughout life we can complain that people do not understand us or that no one takes the time to give us what we need. Self-pity can become a friend in our time of need. All of these tactics (martyrdom, forming resentments, using judgements, and feeling self-pity) are the same thought patterns that were familiar in addiction.

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CONNECTING WITH OTHERS IN ADDICTION RECOVERY

One way to break this inner turmoil is to develop humility. In essence, we learn to feel part of this world and not separate from everyone else in this universe. We look for the ways in which we are contributing family members, global citizens, and responsible community members. As a result we connect with groups of people for a higher positive purpose. An important part of the way we connect may be with our AA or NA recovery communities.

When we feel part of a larger experience outside of ourselves, we can then fill up that void of not have meaning in our lives. Also, we can stifle the addictive voice inside that says we are different from everyone else and that through our alcohol or drugs we can create a chemical sense of belonging. Therefore the feeling of being part of something greater without mood-altering substances is an essential component of a healthy recovery program.

Self-test

In your active addiction did you a false sense of belonging through using your alcohol or drugs?

Do you struggle to feel part of something greater than yourself?

What is your plan so that you feel part of and not separate from others?

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REALIZING YOU ARE A WORK IN PROGRESS

Another important aspect of humility is the realization on a personal level that you do not have all the knowledge and do not know everything. If people believe they have learned all there is to know in life and that through their smugness, they think that the rest of the people in the world are stupid then inward serenity may be difficult to maintain.

When individuals open themselves to opportunities to grow and learn, then life can become exciting as well as fulfilling. In the active addiction negativity may have been an important mindset in order to keep the addiction going. Some people in addiction will rationalize that the world is unfair. As a result they feel separate from everyone else. In the meantime, destructing with alcohol and drugs becomes a regular routine for these people with negative mindsets.

When individuals realize that there is much to learn in life, then they open themselves up to growing on deeper emotional levels. Also people can become excited about the new ways in which they are growing and learning. Such individuals can experience opportunities rather than limitations. This type of positive mindset is important for recovery because in a healthy recovery program people never stop growing.

Self-test

In your active addiction did you have a negative mindset about the world? Explain.

Do you sometimes think that you are smarter than everyone else in the world? Is this type of thinking helpful for you and your recovery? Explain.

What are some of the ways that you want to grow and learn on a deeper level in your recovery?

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THE IMPORTANCE OF GRATITUDE IN ADDICTION RECOVERY

Another important part of humility is gratitude. When people feel grateful then they can connect to the experience of having blessings. With gratitude, individuals feel honoured for all that they have in their lives. This is counter-intuitive to many feelings that people experience in active addiction. For example, many individuals feel resentful or wronged throughout their addictions. They can only focus on what was taken away from them, rather than appreciating all the opportunities they have in life. With gratitude, people are attentive to life and are more willing to lend a helping hand because they feel blessed in their own lives. Such individuals live in a mindset of abundance and are not selfishly trying to clutch on to material possessions or opportunities.

Gratitude is an attitude that needs to be cultivated on a daily basis. Some people are far more comfortable living in self-pity and playing the victim role. In active addiction such roles are familiar because if people have been wronged or taken advantage of then they can justify drinking or drugging as much as they want in retaliation. It is difficult to have an attitude of gratitude or inward serenity as well as peace in active addiction. Therefore gratitude is an essential part of a positive recovery program.

Self-test

Do you struggle with feeling grateful for blessings in your life?

What is the role of fostering gratitude in your life and recovery?

Do you believe that the attitude of gratitude is important to your recovery?

Think of ways that you can develop more gratitude.

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CONSIDER REPLACING ANGER WITH CURIOUSITY

Anger is an emotion that often masks other deeper feelings like fear, hurt, or upset etc. Furthermore anger is an emotion that we as people can use so that we feel powerful particularly over situations in which we are ultimately powerless. We may also feel angry when we perceive that we are being criticized. In this way, our egos become fragile.

If we always depend on using anger as our primary feeling, then inward serenity as well as humility can be difficult mindsets to maintain. Instead of becoming angry next time perhaps you may wish to be curious. Ask questions about why someone has a particular attitude? By being curious rather than angry, people have an opportunity to grow as well as learn. Anger and a wounded ego are useful as protection and sometimes we just need to grow or learn valuable learning lessons. Often anger is an emotion that keeps us stuck in staying the way we are in life.

With humility, we can examine other people’s perspectives without feeling threatened. Anger comes from fear and feeling threatened, when really a more helpful stance could be curiosity.

Another benefit of curiosity is that with this attitude people around us do not have to feel threatened and censor their opinions according to whether they feel they are making us angry or not. Instead, when we are curious, people can be relaxed and they are more willing to share what they really think or feel.

Finally, with curiosity we can live in the wonder and mystery of life because we are always growing and learning. We can break out of our own self-absorbed thoughts which are familiar throughout the active phase of addiction and become curious as part of an evolving and healthy recovery.

Self-test

Is anger an issue in your life?

What ways is an attitude of anger helpful and unhelpful?

How can you demonstrate a mindset of curiosity more in your life? What are the advantages?

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