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Look outside of yourself for the truth about yourself.

By Ron Alexander


AA got it wrong. NA didn’t get it all right. I got it all wrong.


All of my life, particularly in recovery, I’ve been taught that my truth of myself is inside of me and that my source of spirituality lies within me.


We are all guilty of advising someone in crisis to lean on their inner strengths. All that we are and can be resides inside inside of us.


For years, I have worked in behavioral health, where I pressed people struggling with substance abuse to “Suck it up. Get over it. Look inside of yourself for strength.”

On the surface, drawing upon inner strengths makes sense. Those of us working in human services, addiction, and mental illness are told to encourage our clients to find inner strength from within. Reliance on inner strengths should be a key component of treatment plans, which is good therapeutic advice.


AA and NA say recovery is an “Inside Job.” Working on oneself requires looking within for inspiration, purpose, and meaning.


But what happens when the inner self is empty of purpose and meaning? What happens when the inner self is void? What does one do when there isn’t any inner strength to draw from?


I recently was given a passage to read in a Bible study class that inspired within me a new way of filling my  inner void:

“We do not find strength by looking within ourselves, nor is it the product of our thinking, feelings, emotions, and experiences. It is not invented by meditation. Truth must be revealed to us. It must be brought to us from a source outside ourselves. We cannot be our own authority, nor can we be our own source of strength.”


In other words, finding inner strength must come from an outside source, a power greater than ourselves, an unbiased, independent resource separate from our human frailties, prejudices, shortcomings, and character defects.


God is my outside source.


For you or your clients, that source could be parents, community, family, or friends.

 AA and NA describe it as having a Higher Power.


Buddhists say, Budda.


Others might say Confucianism.


The point here is that a genuine source of truth is not invented by ourselves but by a power or influence that exists whether we do or not. Imagine how chaotic it would be if we invented the truths in our lives.


Human weaknesses or experiences cannot tarnish absolute, divine truth.


After thirty years of recovery, I am only learning now that the truth I am seeking is not within me but outside of me, that the truth of myself I seek comes outside myself and internalizes within my inner self.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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