In recovery, we learn to take a serious look at ourselves…
One time, back in my drinking and using days, I left my car running in an alley while I ran into a store to do an errand. When I got back to my car, I found a meter maid writing me a ticket. I asked her to give me a break, and when she firmly declined I told her I was going to push her little meter-maid cart over. She told me to go right ahead and she finished writing my ticket.
Now, any sane person would go, “What were you thinking? That’s ridiculous.” But the fact is, I wasn’t thinking, I was just reacting. And after 20 years of reacting with my alcoholic mind, I wound up in the sick, sad, and sorry state that would be my final bottom.
In recovery, we hear a lot of stories like this. It doesn’t need to be 20 years of drinking—we can do a lot of damage in just a few. But a tremendous amount of the damage we do—to ourselves and to others—is the result of failing to reflect before responding. Of course, if we don’t have some recovery under our belts, and some sense of principle and the fact that we live in a world based on cooperation, then no amount of reflection is going to bring about a better response. This is because when I’m only concerned with my own wants and needs, when I’m angry and feel justified in my anger, then pausing to reflect will only reinforce my skewed tendency toward inappropriate behavior: “I was only gone for two minutes; this wannabe cop has no right to give me a goddam ticket.” I will justify and rationalize my behavior right up until I have handcuffs on, and then watch my cry foul!
In recovery, we learn to take a serious look at ourselves—our motives, our fears, our wants and expectations, and the ways in which we harmed other people. We realise that our self-centeredness caused most of our problems, and that drinking and drugging, though they might have numbed us to the effects of those problems, continually made them worse. We learn a set of principles to respond from, and once those are in place in our inner being, they are our guides when facing life challenges. Reflecting before responding puts us in touch with these principles and guarantees a better outcome for all involved.