In life, we all have choices to make. Drugs and alcohol can rob us of the freedom of choice. Too many get sucked into the void of addiction, and free will is over taken by the obsession to use. Unfortunately, some will never make it. This is because addiction is so powerful, that without help, it leads to a self imploding of the body and mind.
It is a common misconception that addiction is purely physical. Make no mistake, there is a physical element about addiction. Once you are hooked, your body will do things that demand attention and often lead to more drug use. But the core of the addiction, the reason behind it many times is found in the mind and more importantly, the spirit.
Opening Your Mind
When you make the decision to open your mind to a new way of life, a process begins to take place. You begin to acquire tools that help you to get through the process of recovery. In the rooms of many 12 step programs, this is called “The Spiritual Toolkit.” The more we learn and the more tools we have, the better off we are in defending ourselves against the first drug or drink. However, in order to acquire such tools, one must be open minded, and willing to accept the tools when they are given.
The Big Book Speaks very directly about being open minded towards recovery and other spiritual concepts.
“Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial. We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of (our spiritual) recovery. But these are indispensable.”
- Big Book, Appendix II – “The Spiritual Experience.”
We find it is common for people first coming into recovery to have a difficult time with this simple concept. New comers often confuse open mindedness with conformity. Being open minded does not mean accepting and believing everything you are told. It simply means giving ideas a chance until over time, you can reflect on all the information you have been given, and decide what you believe for yourself.
Don’t Forget Where You Came From
After a period of time, a person may begin to feel as if they have learned all there is to know about recovery. We stop listening. This is the process of the mind closing. Suggestions may seem more like commands, and advice feels more like someone is telling us what to do. The truth is, that this is a side effect of losing open mindedness. When we shut ourselves off from other ideas and suggestions, we start to think that we know better. This is a dangerous place to be.
It is easy for us to think “we have it figured it.” This is again a mindset that has lead countless addicts and alcoholics to relapse. There is always more to learn. The truth is, no one will ever have it all figured out. Even after we have found some clarity, it is important to continue to be open minded towards recovery. If you are not open minded, you could be missing an opportunity to learn something new, to share a new experience, or to meet a new person who could impact your life.
Knowing the Difference
It is very easy to confuse open mindedness with blind acceptance. Conformity can be a very scary thing for addicts and alcoholics. Without generalizing, it is a fair statement to say that many addicts have big egos and think they know the best way to do things. We see that this is really a form of fear. Nevertheless, it can be very uncomfortable to learn about ideas that we are skeptical about.
The beauty about recovery is that it gives you a chance to find what you believe in for yourself. You don’t need to bend to other peoples ideas. The difference is that an open minded person will probably listen to someone else’s view point. They may give it a chance. They may even find some things about a differing view point that they agree with or at least understand. But this doesn’t mean you lose your own identity. In fact it is quite the opposite. The more open minded you are, the more able you are to let new ideas and information come to you. At that point, you are better equipped to find what it is you believe in, and what it is that makes you happy.