Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
I recently admitted to being an alcoholic and I have reached out for help. But all I get is this “higher power” bullshit! I do not believe in god! Can’t anyone help me without forcing religion down my throat? Can’t I stay sober without god? Can’t I just take a pill?
Owen My Own
Quite frankly, in my opinion, NO! The god of AA is not some guy sitting in a chair judging your good deeds from your bad. That’s Santa Clause. The god of AA (higher power) is really a metaphor for intention and action- the intention being sobriety, and the action being the work to get there.
All that you know, and all that you are, is solidified as your EGO. So far, your ego has directed you to be an alcoholic. Unless you turn your ego off, you will never gain control of your life. You will just be a puppet of your own faulty programming, and a puppet of alcohol.
Here’s a metaphor: let’s say that at some point in your life, someone hacked into your brain and introduced a virus. This virus has been feeding you false information ever since. You can’t discriminate between what’s real and what’s viral programming. The only way to ever regain control is completely wipe your brain clean, re-boot the system, and start from scratch.
For you, as an alcoholic, wrongful thinking is the virus that was planted, and your ego is the brain that needs to be wiped clean.
The first step is to admit that you have no control and your programming is faulty. You can’t tell what is real and what is not. The twelve steps is a re-programming manual but it can’t, on its own, override your ego. This is where the concept of higher power comes in handy.
Here’s a useful way of thinking which comes from a Buddhist meditation practice. The person you wish to become already exists in the future. Your future self wants your present self to be successful in growing and changing. The very life of your future self depends on the success of your present self. So, that is where your help and guidance will come from. You can converse with and trust in this future self and if you lie, cheat, or stray, you will only lie, cheat, and steal from reaching your own potential.
The importance of higher power lies in its concept of intent and action. It makes no difference which religion or path you choose, as long as you connect to a group that has intent and action. The dervishes cut off their ego through spinning; the Buddhists cut their ego through meditation; and AA does it through humility, admitting helplessness, and asking for help.
Good luck in your sobriety but remember that any rehabilitation, mental or physical, relies on the support and help of other people. You need to learn new habits and thinking, and it will take time and practice. Don’t try to go it alone; this problem is bigger than you are.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny concurs; she added her two cents when she edited Dr. Brilliant’s reply!
One additional comment- if you think that you can take a pill to achieve sobriety, you’re on your way to substituting drugs for alcohol. The fact that you are thinking this way is a further illustration that you don’t have the ability to deal with alcoholism on your own. You may not believe in a higher power… but I think it’s time to admit that YOU are not a higher power. Get some help.