You think you know the truth. The truth is you know nothing.”
– Harlan Coben
With enough humility, you are teachable; without it, you’re stuck and you cannot grow. Of all the virtues that helped me achieve emotional sobriety, humility is at the top of my list. I have come to understand how it is the ultimate of the ultimate when it comes to recovery. Over a period of four years now, I’ve noticed how my friends and I have advanced in our sobriety – or didn’t – due to our humility or our arrogance.
Consider some of these true stories:
Charlene was and still is my best sober support friend. She’s the woman I met on my first day of detox. I’ve remained sober – much thanks to her. Yet, she continues to relapse every few to several months. She attends half of a meeting every day, but has never gotten a sponsor, never shared at a meeting, never got involved in any service work and never learned the 12 steps. She simply refuses to do the work.
Carol is a highly successful CEO of a fortune 500 company. She’s the intellectual type, very smart and has always been an over achiever. Still, she hasn’t been able to stay sober for more than a few days at home after rehab. She’s been in and out of over a dozen treatment centers in the last two years. And, she wants nothing to do with a Twelve Step Program. She prefers only a scientific, non-spiritual approach. She hops from treatment center to treatment center making no progress. She won’t connect with other sober support friends.
She wants to achieve sobriety her own way – which means alone. So far, it hasn’t worked.
Brad has 20 years of rock solid sobriety. I see three things that sustain his sober life. Attending and sharing at meetings regularly, sponsoring others and making a point to extend himself to newcomers; helping them to feel welcome and connecting them to others. Not being engulfed in himself, he is able to care about helping others.
Miguel went to my home group meeting every day, got a sponsor and learned the first three steps. But he refused to do the work on step four. He seemed to have a chip on his shoulder and his shares were filled with anger and resistance. When he finally began working on step four, I noticed a big difference in him. The main theme in his shares changed from bitterness and frustration to acceptance and gratitude. I could see he developed an ease and grace from the humility gained in the step four work.
Scott is an old timer with over 40 years of sobriety. He is filled with the wisdom of the ages. He still attends meetings frequently, has sponsored a lot of men and I always gain something new from his shares. One thing I’ve noticed with the old timers is that they are deeply humble. You can tell they’ve grown beyond an ego-consciousness.
For me, being humble is the opposite of being a closed-minded “know-it-all”. Humility dissolved the sense of superiority I didn’t know I had.
This in no way implies a lack of self-esteem either. It has kept me open, flexible and compassionate in my response to life and in my relationships as well. Spiritual growth is a process that’s never really over, so I strive to stay in a place of humility. That tends to cover my bases.
I have seen many people develop freedom from their addiction – true emotional sobriety. It was humility that enabled them to open their hearts and connect with others.
It is with humility that I thank you for joining me through my journey into sobriety. It has been the most humbling experience of my life. It has also been the most enriching. I can’t take all the credit for my sobriety though. And, for the sake of my humility, that’s a good thing.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
– C.S. Lewis