Self-Sufficiency — the Opposite Is Dependence

We swiftly and skillfully identify faulty dependence… In other people.

We see it and sneer. We gossip.

What about ourselves? Are we willing to take a look in the dark corners of our characters and see where we are still weak and vulnerable?

“For the type of alcoholic who is able and willing to get well, little charity, in the ordinary sense of the word, is needed OR WANTED. The men who cry for money and shelter before conquering alcohol are on the wrong track.” (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 98)

“Hell, yeah. That’s right!” we may be tempted to cry.

But ask yourself what it is you are asking for, or relying on others for, that you are not entitled to or deserving of.

How does the principle apply?

What are you demanding or crying about that you don’t really need? Who are you still using a crutch?

Let’s look at the spiritual principles of independence and self-sufficiency — how they relate to the life of a recovered soul.

Self-Sufficiency — the Little Things

Let’s start small.

Are you asking for rides to work and the store when there’s a perfectly good bus out there? Have you considered buying a bicycle?

Or is that too much trouble?

Are you constantly asking your friends for help when you could get the job done yourself?

Or, you could easily do without?

Are you still handing mom and dad a lump sum of money and they’re doing all the work of divvying up the money on time to see that the electricity doesn’t get turned off?

Are they still doing your laundry?

Wives, do you know how to get the mortgage or rent paid? How about the car payment?

Husbands, do you know what time the kids need to be at piano lessons, at karate class, or what time they need to be on the bus?

Forgive me for being stereotypical. I am simply trying to provide easy-to-grasp examples of how dependency can creep into our lives.

Actually… No. I’m not going to apologize there. Let’s dig a bit.

Are you using, “He’s the man of the house,” as an excuse for not being self-sufficient?

Or, are you saying, “Yep, that’s the woman’s role,” as validating laziness?

Most damaging, “That’s what parents are for.”

We have these fixed notions, and we exploit them, which is alcoholic and addict behavior. These dependencies are symptoms of being “dry.”

“Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.” (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 58)

Life changes, things get hard… Parents pass away. Divorce happens. Death of a spouse, perhaps. Or, somebody just gets sick.

Are you self-sufficient?

Can you see how, if you are not ready to stand on your own feet when life takes a serious left turn on you, it can quickly turn into victim thinking?

Victims don’t stay sober.

For God’s sake… Do your own laundry, pay your own bills, get yourself to work, hunt down your own food, pay your own way, and get it done yourself.

At least be willing and prepared to sort things out.

GTS, folks! Freedom!

There is power in being independent! Or, at least actively resisting dependence.

The Promises are coming true as God sees fit for our lives, and yet we clamour for more. How entitled are we?

Self-Sufficiency — the Curveball

How’s your credit card activity? Spending money you don’t have is not independent or self-sufficient.

The pressure it can put on a person is decidedly spiritually unhealthy.

Making promises about repayment we may not be able to keep is dipping our toe in the quicksand of dishonesty.

Why are we trading our self-sufficiency and spiritual independence for cool shoes? Why are we willing to sell our spiritual health for approval?

Self-Sufficiency — the Heavy Stuff

Right. Let’s talk about approval seeking. This is a harmful secret many of us are keeping.

Do you still need somebody to tell you that you’re right in order to feel OK? Do you need somebody to tell you you’re pretty?

We mean beyond the support and companionship naturally associated with family and close friends, of course. No one is expected to go without meeting the human need of companionship. Instead, we are talking about extremes.

Do you seek out friends or romantic partners who will already agree with everything you do or say? Do you need somebody to cosign your faults or dishonesty?

Do you need someone to tell you what to do?

Are you comfortable among people with different views, opinions, or lifestyles? Or, do you seek out the people who will validate you?

Can you take a gracious stand? Can you walk away when pressured to compromise your spiritual principles?

It’s easy to say we’re self-sufficient and independent… But let’s get real with ourselves.

Self-Sufficiency — Get Honest and Free

Ask the questions:

  • If I’m the hostage, who’s standing behind me with the knife?
  • If I’m being blackmailed, who’s got the goods on me?
  • Who could ruin my life today?
  • Wouldn’t I like to be free of those chains? Free of the guilt and shame of dependence?

Then, I recommend you call your sponsor.

Dependencies can kill you. They are the seeds of deep resentment.

“It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worthwhile… We have found that it is fatal… We shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die.” (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 66)

Many relapses occur when a dependent relationship goes south — friend, partner, or parent.

Dependence to victimhood.

Victimhood to resentment.

Resentment to drinking or getting high.

The End.

Self-Sufficiency — the Test

In Step 9, we made amends for our dishonest and dependent behavior. Why would we do it again if we truly regretted it? Or, have we already forgotten? Did we miss the point?

How about this?

Can we truly rely on what we get from prayer and meditation to take action?


Faith without works is dead, indeed.

Are we asking the tough questions, and trusting the answers we hear? Or, do we have to shop the answers around amongst our friends and family, looking for the answer we want to hear?

Which relationships are we relying on?

Self-Sufficiency — the Contract

Have you forgotten the deal you cut?

“We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed if we kept close to Him and performed His work well.” (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 63)

So, it seems to me, this is the only dependency we’re allowed.

We work.

He provides.

And, as my sponsor reminded me on Day 1, what I need and what I want are probably not going to be the same thing.

We ask God daily for the strength to meet today’s challenges.

We go out to do the best we can.

We ask for help only when truly needed.

We do not mortgage our spirituality for the petty conveniences.

We feel the healthy freedom of independence and self-sufficiency from drugs and alcohol, and also from dependence on people and things.

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.