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Monday, April 9, 2012

Fear and Expectations

Fear - primarily fear that we will lose something we have, or will fail to get something we desire - is "the chief activator" of all our defects of character. Yet, there is nothing objective that we need fear. It is entirely an inner, subjective phenomenon. That is, we are the manufacturers of our own anxieties, oftentimes needless worries that are fueled by the expectations we have about how we, the world, and the people that surround us will perform.

"We expect what we have known," a learned psychiatrist once told me. "And, then, we turn around and fear what we expect." In this way we forge a seemingly hostile world from the potential beauty that surrounds us.

Steps Four through Step Nine are designed to let us look objectively at what has shaped us, at the resentments, fears and sex experiences that have warped our perceptions of the world and its denizens, at the expectations we have formed about how life will necessarily unfold based upon our past experiences, and at how acute self-consciousness and unwarranted fears have crippled us. Armed with insights into what we have thought and done in response to our perceived resentments, fears and sex conduct we are enabled to walk through life on a new basis, correcting our wrongs as they arise when we inevitably fall short of our ideals.

The 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous (at page 75) highlights the experiential change we witness in our attitudes and in our being as our existential fears subside upon completion of the Fifth Step, and as we move forward in our task of clearing away the past's wreckage and drawing nearer to the God of our own understanding:
" . . . (W)e are delighted. We can look the world in the eye. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator. We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience. (Emphasis added.)
No longer, I might add, need we be ruled by the fearful expectations we have built up over time based upon our past lives, particularly our lives in active addiction. Rather, we become inspired by the possibilities inherent in our new lives.

"The great fact," after completing the Steps, "is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God's universe. 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 commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves."
- Alcoholics Anonymous, page 25.

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