Four Pillars to Balance

Self-Awareness

The Four Pillars to Balance
The Four Pillars to Balance: Visual Guide

Self-Awareness is a conscious and accurate knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.  Psychologist Daniel Goleman’s defined it as, “knowing one’s internal states, preference, resources and intuitions”. In other words Self-Awareness can be seen as a tool for self control.  Developing it is imperative for an addict because it teaches us acceptance. Always remember, healthy Self-Awareness is nonjudgmental! For some of us, we lost our Self-Awareness in active addiction because it causes pain (I know you’ve told yourself, “I shouldn’t have used”) while others started using before it even had a chance to truly develop.  Poor Self-Awareness contributes to the paradox of relapse and helps fuel the insanity of addiction! We feel bad about what we’ve done in our addiction, for our use, and we use to escape from this pain. Proper Self-Awareness allows us to accept the human condition and life on life’s terms.

Outward Mindset

“The Outward Mindset” is a book written by the Arbinger Institute geared towards making companies more mindful thereby making them more efficient.  The Arbinger Institute defines an Outward Mindset as, “Others-focused, caring about their needs, challenges, and objectives, and about collective results,” on the other hand, an Inward Mindset is, “self-focused, attuned only to one’s own needs, challenges, objectives, and results”.  The main difference between the two is learning to see beyond ourselves. Developing an Outward Mindset requires a fundamental change in the way we see and value our connections with and obligations to others. In addiction we are focused on an Inward Mindset, we don’t view others as people so much as we view them as vehicles to achieve our wants and needs.  In doing this we value other people’s failures because they provide an excuse for us to not help or listen. We value our personal failures because they give evidence that others have done us wrong.  With an Inward Mindset we are primarily concerned with others impact on us rather than our impact on others.

Ending Rationalization

Rationalization is ascribing (one’s acts, opinions, etc.) to causes that superficially seem reasonable and valid but that actually are unrelated to the true, possibly unconscious, and often less credible or agreeable root.  Personally this was the most difficult Pillar for me to comprehend.  The great Sigmund Freud called it a defense mechanism. The problem with rationalization for me was I had been doing it for so long, even prior to the drugs, that I couldn’t separate the insincere and the genuine in myself.  Freud said it best, defense mechanisms are automatic in nature. Never forget that when we rationalize we are telling ourselves “rational lies”. This is particularly important when drugs become an issue because it’s often used to justify an initial relapse. Missing out on the gym for a “skip day” that turns into a week is a good analogy. The issue arises in that coming off a week long bender is far more difficult than getting back on a treadmill.  Always remember you have more to learn than you have to teach.

Find Greater Purpose

Human beings are social creatures and since the beginning of humanity we have sought out that which is bigger than ourselves.  Over the course of history this has shown to be evident through religion, politics, and war. We are constantly seeking something collectively greater than the individual.  Our Greater Purpose is how we find meaning in our lives, by contributing or being part of something that is bigger than ourselves. “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition because it asks too little of yourself.  It’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.” -Barack Obama. Part of happiness is finding Greater Purpose because it gives us something to strive for that is bigger than just us. Neither sobriety nor happiness can be obtained through pleasure seeking or self-gratification, they are obtained through a commitment to a noble cause.  Have you ever felt your life is a daily mundane routine, that you’re not on the right path, run down and depleted. There is one solution to this insanity and that is finding Greater Purpose.

This is only the introduction my friends.  Welcome to the Movement!

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