by Robert Burney, M.A.
Perspective is a key to recovery. I had to change and enlarge my perspectives of myself and my own emotions, of other people, of God and of this life business. Our perspective of life dictates our relationship with life.
It is kind of like the old joke about three blind men describing an elephant by touch. Each one of them is telling his own Truth, they just have a lousy perspective. [Addiction] is all about having a lousy relationship with life, with being human, because we have a lousy perspective on life as a human.
The path to empowerment and freedom from the past lies in owning that we have choices about our belief systems. Our mental attitudes, beliefs, and definitions dictate our emotional reactions and control our relationships. If we are living our life in reaction to the past, in reaction to our childhood wounds, then we are not making choices – we are not free.
This is true whether we are trying to conform to the old tapes or we are rebelling against them. Either way, we are giving the past power over how we live our lives today.
One of the most vital prerequisites of healing and recovery, of being open to growth, is a willingness to be open to looking at anything, and everything, from a different perspective. As long as we are stuck in a rigid perspective on any issue, we are like the blind man who thinks the elephant is a snake because all he can feel is the trunk.
The reason that we have rigid perspectives is because we are reacting to emotional wounds. When I was first introduced to twelve-step recovery, I thought the people were a bunch of religious fanatics because they talked about God. I did not want anything to do with God because of the shame-based religion I grew up in. I had been tremendously wounded by that religion and rejected the concept of God because the one I was taught about was an abusive father.
When I got into twelve step recovery, I was emotionally beaten and bloody – I was wishing for, and courting, death because life was so painful. I had to choose to be open to some new ideas in order to change my life. Owning that I had a choice to change was what opened up a whole new life for me.
What I have discovered in recovery is that I need to be willing to look at any attitude or belief in order to keep growing. Any issue that I am not willing to look at is tied to emotional wounds that I have not healed. And anytime I am allowing old wounds and old tapes to dictate my life, I am not capable of making informed choices – which sets me up to be the victim of my own blindness.
When I am in reaction, then I am not capable of discernment. Then I am not able to pick the baby out of the dirty bath water – I either accept it all or throw it all out. Blindly accepting religious teaching and blindly rejecting any kind of a concept of a Higher Power are the same thing – a reaction to old wounds and old tapes.
Each and every one of us has the absolute right to make our own choices in regards to what we believe to be Truth. No one has a right to dictate to anyone else that their concept is the only one that is right.
Our concepts of the meaning and purpose of life, of who we are and why we are here, are what dictate the quality of our relationship with life. Each and every one of us needs to find a concept of the meaning and purpose of life that works for us individually. You have an absolute right to believe that life has no meaning or purpose – or that the purpose of life is suffering and penance for some mythical sin of mankind – whatever you choose to believe.
But if we reject even looking at any alternative perspectives, then what we are empowering is ignorance. The person we hurt the most in doing this is our self. In blindly rejecting other perspectives without even considering the possibility that there might be some grains of Truth in them, in being rigid and choosing to be blind to alternative points of view, we are limiting ourselves. By closing our minds to any new input, we are giving power to the past – we are letting old wounds and old tapes dictate how we live our life today.
Paradigm shifts are very important for growth and learning. Paradigm shifts occur when we change our perspective, when we modify our attitudes, definitions, and beliefs. What we do in recovery is share some different perspectives on the concept of spirituality for you to consider.
If you can find the willingness to be open to some alternative views, perhaps something that is shared can be a catalyst for a paradigm shift for you. I would just ask that you be open to seeing if any of it resonates with you.
There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.
~ Herbert Spencer