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How to Recover from Lust without really trying.

Erik Bohlin, M.A.

Remember the movie, "How to Succeed in a Business without really trying?"  J. Pierrepont Finch, a window washer climbs his way to the top of a company in a manner of a week using charm, relationships and basically faking his way through.  This 1961 musical of course has a happy ending where the problem is solved with everyone dancing and sing "the Brotherhood of Man."  Well, I am not talking about faking anything, nor am I talking about an easy path.  But I want to talk about the words, "without really trying."  Addicts try really hard not to act out.  The have tried too hard.   It is not that they have too little will power, oftentimes, they have too much.  They just can surrender.  They try to will all kinds of things into being.  They try to make everyone happy at times, try to be near temptation and and try not to act out while they are near it. 

Trying is a function of will power.  Will power doesn't work for addiction.  Trying or struggling is not a program of recovery.  Surrendering one's will is.  So what is the secret?  The secret is that for one to recover from lust, there is work, there are steps, there is a program to follow, but it does not involve trying.  "Trying" is problematic.  It is like "trying" to sit down in a chair.  You either sit in it or you don't.  You can't try, unless you have a capability issue, say like a physical disability.  But here is the scoop.  Even the person who wonders whether they can do something or not, eventually learns that they can or they can't.  If one says they can't stop lusting or acting out in their own strength, they surrender.  They stop trying.  They accept that it is stronger than them.  By doing this we attract God's grace.  By attracting God's grace we not only get sober, but we stay sober.  We learn that by letting go, we are able to hold onto to sobriety.  I apologize if this sounds like mumbo jumbo or word games, but let's consider this.  Have you heard the opposite lately?                                                    

What if I said, "I am going to try to go to a meeting" or "I am going to try to work these steps."  At worst, we might say, "I am going to try real hard to get sober."  We apologize to our sponsors as if we could control it, we slip and we feel the shame of what is wrong with us?  This is not admitting powerlessness and it causes a lot of grief, hardship and confusion.  We wonder, why aren't we sober when I am working so hard?  I am reading the books, calling program members, calling a sponsor and writing till I think my hand will fall over.  WHY AM I NOT SOBER!  WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!

We have to admit that lust is stronger than I.  I can't try real hard.  So does "without really trying" mean that we are lazy, we don't do the work or participate in the process and we don't have to do anything?  No, but it doesn't mean that we can strain ourselves either into sobriety.  Addicts aren't comfortable with middle ground.  It is all or nothing. 

Helpful recovery is looking to what I can do rather than doing things that are beyond us.  In some ways it is about going easy on ourselves.  I remember my mom teaching me as a little boy to put frosting on a cake.  I think it might have been for her and I was really upset because as I was putting it on like wall putty and the harder I pushed the more the cake started rolling up and making a mess.  She said that I needed to use a lighter touch and had to work with it gently.  Remember the slogan, "Easy does it."  Certainly this means we go easy with ourselves, our thoughts, our program.  We do it, but consistently, not strenuously.  Straining will lead to sprains.  If we go to the gym and workout after years of inactivity we are going to hurt ourselves.  Does this mean that workout is bad?  No.  We ease into the program.  We ease into the pain that we have ignored and buried.  We ease into following the suggestions of our sponsors and ease into applying to steps to our lives.

Acting out is all about, "I want comfort."  I want to feel better.  I need a break today.  I am not feeling well now,  I want to feel better. 

Maybe instead of trying, we need to "let things happen."  Let myself go to meetings and see what happens.  Let myself do an inventory, that is work step 4 of the Alcoholics Anonymous program where we discover what our character defects are.  Let myself. . .let go of them and surrender them.  Let go of my will and ask for God's will to be done.  You might discover that is easier than you thought.  It is all the self-will, pride, "have to be perfect," "have to avoid feeling," "have to fix everything myself" that makes "recovery" burdensome.  Jesus Christ said, that "my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  If this is too hard for you, it might be just that--too hard.  So lighten up.  Do what you can.  Take the medicine of the 12 steps the best you can and let it start to work.  Many people who have been sober for years, say that it is easy now.  It was hard them at first but easy now for them to stay sober.  What happened?  They surrendered.  The allowed recovery into their lives without really trying.











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