By David S.
Wisdom: The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.
Well, we didn’t have much of that in our former lives, did we?
We ran our lives on selfishness and self-will.
We went after what we wanted, everyone else be damned.
Those decisions often didn’t work out and they carried consequences.
They damaged relationships and hurt the people who cared about us most.
They destroyed our careers and opportunities for something better.
Not very wise.
But what had we to guide our decisions but our own selfish desires?
Knowledge Is Not Wisdom
Above all, he believed he had acquired such a profound knowledge of the inner workings of his mind and its hidden springs that relapse was unthinkable. Nevertheless, he was drunk in a short time. More baffling still, he could give himself no satisfactory explanation for his fall. — Alcoholics Anonymous p. 26
We all have had similar experiences.
We knew we could not drink, yet we drank.
Using once would lead to full-blown relapse, but we did it again.
These observations would be academic and pointless if our friend never took the first drink, thereby setting the terrible cycle in motion. Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than his body. — Alcoholics Anonymous p. 23
Anybody try to intellectualize themselves out of drinking or getting high? How did that work for you?
Anybody in love with their highlighter? Studying all the literature about alcoholism, even Alcoholics Anonymous until the pages glow yellow?
I did… With a degree in psychology.
But I kept drinking.
Experience proves we cannot outsmart alcoholism or addiction.
How are we going to use our warped mind to heal our warped mind?
Logic Is Not Wisdom
Yet we try that very thing — to cure an illness of the mind alone.
If you ask him why he started on that last bender, the chances are he will give you any one of a hundred alibis. Sometimes these excuses have a certain plausibility, but none of them really makes sense in the light of the havoc an alcoholic’s drinking bout creates. They sound like the philosophy of a man who, having a headache, beats himself on the head with a hammer so that he can’t feel the ache. If you draw this fallacious reasoning to the attention of an alcoholic, he will laugh it off, or become irritated and refuse to talk. — Alcoholics Anonymous p. 23
We don’t do those things very well, obviously.
So… What are we going to do?
Philosophy and Moral Codes Are Not Wisdom
A new philosophical code!
Or motivational memes on Facebook!
That’ll fix it.
But it didn’t, did it?
You are not alone.
If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried. We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could wish those things with all of our might, but the needed power wasn’t there. — Alcoholics Anonymous p. 45
Wisdom Is Experience
But we had no experience to rely on that wasn’t negative.
All we knew was we drank or got high and that turned our lives into dumpster fires.
We had no wisdom when it came to living a sane life of sobriety.
So, we looked to those who do.
We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. — Forward to the First Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, xiii
A bunch of people who have already made the journey to sanity and safety are offering to lend us theirs.
Here are thousands of men and women, worldly indeed. They flatly declare that since they have come to believe in a Power greater than themselves, to take a certain attitude toward that Power, and to do certain simple things, there has been a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking.
Think about that for a minute.
In the face of collapse and despair, in the face of the total failure of their human resources, they found that a new power, peace, happiness, and sense of direction flowed into them. This happened soon after they whole-heartedly met a few simple requirements… They show how the change came over them.
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.
Experience Leads to Wisdom
That means they know this.
Not because they studied it or somebody explained it to them.
They experienced it.
It happened to them, and is undeniable fact.
Their experience shows that if they can rely on it for something so critical as sobriety and survival, then they can surely continue to use this solution on the tiny inconveniences, setbacks, and drama of daily life.
To know that there is a solution…
To be utterly and completely sure…
The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commended to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves. — Alcoholics Anonymous p. 25
That Is Wisdom
Only by walking the Spiritual Journey that is the 12 Steps, by putting them into real-life action, can we gain that type of wisdom.
We cannot borrow the wisdom of others forever.
It must become our own — a part of who we are.
We must take the actions to truly know they work.
We realize we are alcoholics and addicts and that we are in danger of losing our freedom and our very lives.
We make a decision to place our lives in the care of a Power greater than ourselves.
We learn we are very flawed individuals, and pray for those things which are causing our destruction to be removed.
We rely on that Power as we go out to our family, friends, former spouses and partners, and former employers to make things right.
And we find that Power does not fail us.
We come to base our very lives, day in and day out, on Its guidance and grace.
Quite as important was the discovery that spiritual principles would solve all of my problems. I have since been brought into a way of living infinitely more satisfying and, I hope, more useful than the life I had lived before. — Alcoholics Anonymous p. 43
We begin to understand this is the way to live life successfully.
The presence of our Creator and a sense of His will for our lives becomes our guide that we can rely upon absolutely.
There is nothing intellectual about that.
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.