A common trait shared by many alcoholics or addicts is a want to control. Whether that be their immediate surroundings or the people around them, the alcoholic or addict more so than other people has a seemingly innate draw towards attempting to manage every aspect of their lives. The interesting thing about this is that for many this is not a conscious thought, and this almost pathological need to control seems counterintuitive to how out of control many active addicts and alcoholics lives seem.
Many addicts and alcoholics were attempting to play God. The belief being that if they could only control everything around them everything would be okay. All of this was done in an effort to protect their addiction and allow them to continue drinking or drugging in the manner that they wanted to. Control was used as a sort of defense mechanism against anything that could possibly affect their disease. In time though, the fallacy of this thinking was exposed and the greater the attempt to control everything became, the less control was actually realized.
People and situations that may have been easily controlled in the beginning may become increasingly more difficult to manage. Tempering drinking or drugging may become all but impossible, and in time, wound so tight with a need to control, there is usually an explosion, or what some call hitting bottom. Once this happens the person usually attempts to get sober and with their attempt, they usually realize how tired they are from attempting to supervise the universe.
Imagine if you will for a minute what it is like to wake up in the morning and know on some level that you are going to have to manage other’s perceptions of you throughout the day. You are also going to have to attempt to control your usage, and all this while setting up situations so that you can get what you desire. This is not a particularly enjoyable way of life, but yet once they get sober many addicts and alcoholics find it difficult to change this pattern of behavior and learn what letting go of the need to control is truly about.
Letting Go and Starting Over
Being asked to let go can be one of the most frightening proposals asked of people who are newly sober. They are faced with the need to give up their long time solution of drugs and alcohol and now they are being asked to do things like surrender, or “Let go and let God.” What’s more is that when they get to the Third Step they are asked to perform the ultimate act of letting go, in turning their will and their lives over to the care of God, a God that they may not even necessarily believe in at that point. When many hear these things, their thoughts are usually something like, if I surrender, let go, and give up my will and my life then what will be left of me?
These questions are reasonable to ask, but the problem with them is that they are based on a misunderstanding of what letting go means. To let go in the way that programs like AA or NA ask you does not mean you give away your right to be a human being with choices. It does not mean that you will float through life with no control whatsoever, but it does mean that you will no longer need to control every aspect of your life. It means that you will get your dictates from a higher order and life will not seem as much of an uphill battle.
So how exactly does one go about doing this? How do you go from attempting to manipulate and control everything in your life to surrendering and going with the flow? How do you walk away from everything that you’ve known, in order to start over and go into the unknown? This is not always easy to do, but luckily there are some simple and easy suggestions available in order to make this transition easier.
The first thing to do in order to let go is to arrive at the understanding that you are not the end all be all of the universe. This means that you truly come to realize that while what you want and desire is important, it’s importance does not rest above the wants and desires of others. Understanding this allows the addict or alcoholic to put their needs into a healthier context and in doing so, it makes the act of letting events unfold as they will easier. Part of the need to control during active addiction was the fear that you would not get what you desired, but understanding that you do not need to get everything that you desire reduces the need to control.
Another thing that you can do in order to help you let go is to start to think about other’s needs above your own. This is not something that comes intuitively to many people so in order to do this there usually has to be a conscious effort. When you put the needs of other’s above your own, you no longer feel compelled to control the situation because the outcome is not in your best interest anyway. Paradoxically, putting other’s needs before your own actually does work in your best interest because you can usually derive a sense of peace and happiness from doing this that cannot be achieved through any other means.
Doing these few things, coupled with the humbling of experience of getting sober usually leads to a level of humility that not many people on this planet experience. Humility in a sense is the key to letting go because it allows for a proportional view of the self that is rooted in reality and not delusion. This proportional view is the antidote for a need to control because it allows a person to see who they are, what they need, and how letting things unfold naturally is usually the best game plan.
If you are tired of trying to run the whole show and think you may need help with your addiction or alcoholism then call the professionals at Coastal Detox at 1-866-802-6848 today. We can help with the process of starting over and show you how to attain the life you’ve always wanted.