by David S.
Being Oblivious — The Opposite
In our former lives, we ran our affairs based on selfishness and self-will with little thought of reality.
We were unaware of the damage we caused to ourselves and others.
We were often too numb due to the chemicals we pumped into our systems.
Even when dry, we had rarely been constructively introspective or taken a hard look at who we had become. We just bathed in self-pity and called it done.
The phenomenon of craving made getting the next drink or hit paramount to all else, pushing the truly important things we needed to see into the shadows.
We were so selfish we had never considered others’ feelings with anything resembling sincerity.
…we be convinced that any life life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. — Alcoholics Anonymous p. 60
When we did catch a glimpse of reality, or our morals came to mind briefly, we stuffed them down deep inside or drank or got high to once again achieve a manufactured obliviousness.
We lived in the dark, unable to look at things under the harsh lamp of reality.
This state of oblivion, or existence in a state of being oblivious, meant we were blind to who we really were and how we treated others.
Either by choice or out of ignorance.
Working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous brought us out of the dark and put reality in front of us under a glaring spotlight.
In Step 1, we became completely aware of the problem and the hopelessness of our situations.
When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t. What was our choice to be? — Alcoholics Anonymous p. 53
In Step 2 and Step 3, we chose to open ourselves to look for something we had been to ignorant, prideful, self-pitying, or afraid to seek before — a God of our own understanding and a relationship of dependence on Him.
In Steps 4 and 5 we became PAINFULLY AWARE of our true natures and our character defects. We finally had gained some awareness or humility, a picture of what was actually going on and not just how we felt on the inside.
Somewhere along the way, we become aware that our perspectives on life itself are changing, and that simply remaining dry will not achieve happiness.
The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil. We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough. He is like the farmer who came up out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined. To his wife, he remarked, “Don’t see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain’t it grand the wind stopped blowin’?” — Alcoholics Anonymous p. 82
In Steps 8 and 9, during very difficult conversations, other people made us aware of how we had hurt them, how our personal relationships were damaged, and what we would need to do in order to make things right.
Through these actions, we became aware of the power of change, and became still further empowered to continue down this path of spiritual development.
We continued to take action based on the early Steps, further developing our awareness, as Step 10 became a way of life.
Prayer and Meditation
This is where awareness as a spiritual principle truly takes root.
Daily, we seek reality and the help necessary to deal with our situations as they truly are.
We consider at the end of each day, even going so far as to ask our Higher Power, where we have been selfish, self-seeking, frightened, or dishonest.
We ask to have those things removed and to be made aware of what corrective measures we should take.
We ask each morning to be made aware of how we can be helpful, and to be protected from selfish, self-seeking, or dishonest motives. We ask for freedom from fear.
It is in this period of daily examination that awareness grows.
How can we not become more aware if we are doing these things daily?
The Awareness of Our Creator (or Whatever You Believe Him to Be)
How do we pray? How do we meditate?
I asked these questions to my sponsor when I was new in recovery, and I am invariably asked these questions by the men I sponsor.
The answers are so simple that we cannot see them ourselves.
This is my take:
If you know who you believe God is, and you are aware of what He does for you on a daily basis, you will become aware of how you should communicate with Him. It will become second nature.
When I am aware of the things He provides for me, I am filled with gratitude, and I thank Him.
When I am afraid, I trust He will comfort me in some way. I have that trust because I was paying attention when it happened in the past, or became aware of his assistance after reviewing how situations unfolded. I know it will continue to happen.
My awareness of God and his Power continually grow.
When many hundreds of people are able to say that the consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith. — Alcoholics Anonymous p. 51
The word consideration means to think about the welfare of others. It is a form of awareness, manifesting itself in kindness, helpfulness, and generosity.
We have developed a newfound sense of the needs and feelings of others that we never had before. We developed it through the program found in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, which leads us to a spiritual relationship with God and our fellow people (both in and out of our respective recovery fellowships).
Real-Life Examples of Awareness and Consideration
We see when a coworker is down and offer a kind word or lend a hand.
We sense when a fellow addict or alcoholic is struggling, picking up on clues we never would have seen before, and try to find a way to be helpful to them.
We acknowledge someone who offends us is having a bad day and find grace for them. We do not need to take it personally.
We unselfishly congratulate others on their accomplishments and successes.
We Cannot Help But Find Ourselves Living a More Spiritual Way of Life
We claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection. — Alcoholics Anonymous p. 60
By being aware, we dozens of ways to practice all sorts of spiritual principles in so many aspects of our lives.
We find ourselves fulfilling Step 12.
…and practice these principles in all our affairs.
We find ourselves living our lives on entirely different foundations, with results infinitely more satisfying.
We become aware of a more successful way of life.
David S. is an alumnus of the SONTX Residential Program and served as a house manager. He is celebrating sobriety running the streets of Dallas.