Some Thoughts on Willingness
Willingness is an interesting concept. It’s an important one, too. In fact, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous extolled it one of the highest virtues. He even said you could sum up the cornerstone of “recovery” from addiction in a single word. And as you might guess, that word is willingness. (See also: pp. 216-217 in Character Disturbance.)
To be willing is to be open. And to be truly open you must first lay down all pre-conceived notions and defenses. Then you have to be willing to embrace a whole new operating principle. As 12-step afficionados will often tell you, such openness doesn’t happen easily. In fact, most often it happens only after everything you have been doing stops working. Life becomes unmanageable. You hit the proverbial “bottom.” Then, you have a choice. You can give up altogether, or find reason for hope. Paradoxically, the way the steps work, giving up and finding new hope are part of the same process. And, ultimately, the key is your willingess to submit to the process.
A Life and a Will Surrendered
12-step group afficionados will tell you that the 3rd step is pivotal. It requires a crucial decision that is both daunting and counterintuitive. That’s the decision to turn both your life and your will over to something bigger. No longer can life be about what you think will make you happy or help you survive. Rather, it has to be about letting a higher operating principle take charge. In the process, you transcend living life strictly on the pleasure principle. And, as you might expect, the willingness to do this is a monumental decision.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be having more to say on this and related topics on several of the new Character Matters podcasts. We’re going to be exploring just what it takes to transcend our primal programming and evolve in character. So I hope you’ll tune in. You can access today’s edition of Character Matters here.
Character Matters Goes Live Again