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Discussion:
Selfishness
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The AA program says selfishness and self centeredness is the root of our problem (Big Book page 62).

It's difficult to admit to ourselves that we're selfish, and if we do our ego justifies it.

I have come to realize the big book might be right. Even though I don't use people, or steal, or push people out of my way to get what I want, I do think only about myself and what I want 99.999% of the time. This obsession with my own needs and desires almost always leads into negative thoughts, which causes emotional pain and a desire to relieve the pain with alcohol.

Step 12 is the solution to this. By dedicating myself to the service of others, I get out of my bubble world where I'm talking to myself about myself, and I start thinking about how I can improve the life of someone else.
Posted on 05/25/11, 04:01 am
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Reply #1 - 05/25/11  5:21am
" "Unfortunately, many of us have a hard time getting over selfishness even long after we have stopped drinking. The least adversity, or failure in expectation will bring selfishness out. Selfishness shows itself time and again among us when we see someone else being preferred to us, in our work or in our social activity. It shows itself when we insist on doing things our own way, regardless of how others feel about it, and when we take as a personal affront any suggestion for doing things differently than we had planned." AA CB Editorial, Cleveland, OH Jan, 1944

I can relate to 1944. My list on selfishness was endless. I'd also be in a bar full of people and think I was the most generous person there, but in reality, was enabling others SO I could keep on drinking. Didn't care who it was, or if they had a family, job or car to drive. Hell half the time I didn't know who they were. Just an example, one of many. The 12th step is where the journey turns towards others is a nice cycle to be a part of. No expectation, or demands, just gifts. :} "
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Reply #2 - 05/25/11  6:17am
" Being selfish is such a strong trait of the addict. It's something we have to change, BUT in getting sober we must remain selfish to a point in that sobriety is priority - we work to get away from the all about me life but we have to maintain it to a certain point until we learn and have the skills and tools to maintain sobriety.

Peace! "
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Reply #3 - 05/25/11  6:19am
" Thanks for the post.

I am only starting to realise what a selfish shit I am and was. I am working on it though and starting small. I am just wondering when exactly I stopped asking people how they are? with sincerity. Quite some time ago.

Thanks again! "
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Reply #4 - 05/25/11  12:55pm
" Selfishness is often really hard to recognize, even when we are looking for it. I just went through my 4th step with my sponsor. At the root of alott of my resentments is a self centered attitude, even when I thought I was being kind, doing the right thing, etc. If I really took a step back and sought out my motives, it comes back to self seeking.
UGH.
Lots of work for this alcoholic addict to do.
I love that doing things for others, even small things like making coffee or giving someone a ride, can temporarily relieve self centeredness. So I'll keep working and keep tring......

thanks for the reminder!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "
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Reply #5 - 05/25/11  1:24pm
" Nice post, cendres - this fit me exactly and it was a painful, shocking admission when I hit reality head-on during Steps 4 and 5.

The spiritual principles we learn in AA are not exclusive to AA - they are a timeless recipe for serenity and purposefulness that have been around forever. What AA has done for us is to put them into a step-by-step antidote for the alcoholic.

As I am typing this I am thinking that Step 12 is so little mentioned and discussed on these boards, partly I suppose, because the majority of those here are still actively drinking or have recently stopped. So many cheer each other on, providing what support they can according to the quality of their own sobriety and the limitations of this medium.

But so much more is required, massive changes in the psyche and the way we see the world if the alcoholic is to stay sober long term and build bridges.

Those who have had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Steps are best placed (if you are in AA of course) to really help the still suffering alcohol.

Therein lies the beauty of the paradox "You have to give it away to keep it." It is a great solution to the selfishness problem and in turn really helps to ensure the alcoholic's long term happiness in sobriety.

I know that Step 12 is a vital part of my every day, along with everything else that has been passed on to me, I would never have guessed any of this by myself or by my own means. But I would probably have drunk myself to death while I carried on trying to stop. "
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Reply #6 - 05/25/11  2:30pm
" Selfishness is probably epidemic among all people, and animals. The difference for an addict, from my own experience, is that it completely consumes my thoughts to the point of madness.

If I am late paying my rent, for example, there is a clear solution. I know when I'll have the money, and I'll pay it late, and that's it. But without something else to think about, I'll think about this until it makes me sick. This is a mild example of self centeredness, where my thoughts are focused on myself, for hours and hours. It took me until now (a year and a half) to realize that obsessive thought wasn't the real problem, it's self centeredness.

I have heard speakers say that they're able to do step 12 with normal people, when an alcoholic isn't available. They basically chit chat about spirituality. Taking their mind off themselves, and giving themselves a memory of the conversation that can last for a while after.

Another way to look at it is looking at my actions. How often do I do anything for anyone else? How often do I call someone to hear how they're doing, instead of calling to talk about myself? Then the picture starts to get clearer.

I used to think that the AA program focused on selfishness and service to others because of Christian influence, but now I don't see it that way. Now I see it as behavior therapy, not philosophy. "
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Reply #7 - 05/25/11  2:54pm
" Absolutely - I believe in applying spiritual principles in all areas of my life. I am paraphrasing here - don't have my BB to hand but it says "Our real purpose is to be of maximum service to God and the people around us." so that would fit in nicely with this.

It is about a COMPLETE new way of being, I find it would not work if I just changed things directly associated with alcohol, alcoholism and the still-suffering alcoholic.

Now whether you interpret God or even the principles of behaviour therapy as your Higher Power is up to the individual but it has to be all-embracing and growing to keep on an even keel.

I have learned that I cannot backslide on this path and if those adverse character traits that have always dogged me are not addressed promptly,my next drink is probably just around the corner. "
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Reply #8 - 05/25/11  3:02pm
" I think our need to make sure our needs are met comes from fear - a fear that they won't be met that was cultivated a very long time ago.

Keeping that armor of self-centeredness up around us - I think makes us feel safer somehow. But you're right it generally dovetails into negative stuff. "

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