Self Will vs Will Power

by Ella @justmesober.com

The good news is we alcoholics have an overabundance of both. I know, I know…rumor has it that a lack of will-power is our problem. But let’s be honest, since when do we really listen to the “normal” people in our life anyway?


Think about it for a few. We could consume extraordinary amounts of alcohol, black out, (all the while doing absurd, humiliating things that others would have to tell us about later) and pass out (with or without clothing). Only to be jolted back to semi-consciousness by screaming alarms or yelling people (people we knew or all too often… didn’t) just so we could repeat the whole ugly cycle over…and over…and over.

Now tell me that it didn’t require immense reserves of will power to get out of bed to face all that again and again. Seriously…

So what is it? How is it done? (…“Don’t leave me hanging here mama! Give me the scoop!”)

Understanding self-will is more than extremely important…. It is vital.

Self-will, as defined in Alcoholics Anonymous, is “a stubborn adherence to one’s own will.”

The most important word in that definition is “stubborn”. We stubbornly continue to do the same thing over and over (and over and over) again expecting a different result. (…which just so happens to be Einstein’s definition of insanity… Are you picking up on the theme here?)

Self-will kills us. But not right away.

First our self-will kills our relationships, our health, and our finances, sometimes even other people at our hands (in a drunk-driving incident perhaps) but it leaves us stubbornly adhering to our own ideas, thoughts and solutions. Only after it destroys everything else in our lives does it take ours.

This is what must be overcome: This idea that our solutions work; that we can fix ourselves by just understanding ourselves better. All of those things will eventually work for us but we must surrender first. We must give up our old ideas, our old solutions and our old way of thinking. We must relearn everything and start anew.

How can that possibly be done alone?

I needed a sponsor. A group of people that understood what I was doing to myself. People that knew how my mind worked and knew it wasn’t a matter of trying to quit or change or apply will-power. These people, these fellow alcoholics, understood me before I could understand myself. They were there to call me out on my bullshit. And they could dodge the bullshit I threw at them because they were masters themselves in the art of manipulation and fast-talk. These people saved my life. They loved me when I was unlovable. And they loved me enough to tell me the truth….especially when it hurt

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