When I began recovery from alcoholism, I didn’t realize I would need to let go of old beliefs about life. But learning to let go has actually been one of the biggest benefits of working a 12-step program.
When I got sober, I brought a lifetime of ideas with me, both self-taught and society driven. Every time something did not go the way I thought it should, I believed it was my fault. If I had worked harder, I would have gotten further ahead. If I had been a better friend, the relationship would not have gone sour. “If I” was the first thing I told myself.
But, there are some things in life I simply have no control over. That does not mean I do not have responsibility for my choices. My choices are actually the only thing I can control. What it does mean is that when I put God in charge of my life, no matter what happens, all is good.
Now I can look back and see that those lost job opportunities were merely the stepping stone to something greater. Friendships that fell apart were not healthy for my life in recovery. Hindsight is always 20/20. With those realizations, I can see that letting go of old ideas is critical to who I am today.
I am not the choices I made in my addiction. I am no longer bound by the guilt and shame of my past actions: lying about my drinking, stealing so I could get drunk, manipulating anyone to get what I wanted. That bondage was one of the reasons I lived in the cycle of addiction. I used to blindly go through life doing as I pleased. I am not a bad person who did bad things. I am a person living with a treatable disease who can learn to make better choices for myself and those around me.
I have had to make right the wrongs I have done. I am responsible for what I did. When I was in active addiction, those concepts never entered my mind. True freedom in recovery began when I learned how to own my past behaviors and make better choices.
Letting go of old ideas also benefitted me spiritually.
God is not a force who exists far away and who wants to punish me. His will is for me to seek Him and leave the rest to Him. I do not have to make things happen anymore. I can trust that His love and grace will guide me to what is best for me. When I earnestly try to live in His will, I do not have to worry.
Letting go of old ideas has been a foundation for freedom in sobriety.