You may have heard thousands of times that admitting you have a problem is the first step. Well I couldn’t disagree more. Admitting the problem is nothing. You can admit to anything, especially when being pressured or confronted with the dreaded “choice” question. I can’t tell you how many stories of recovery I have heard that have started with this line: “Well, I was given a choice…” Typically that’s followed by “…to go live on the streets, homeless with no support or to ‘admit’ I had a problem and agree to check into treatment.”
While lives can be changed in this situation, the admission of the inherent problem is not a step in the actual “recovery” process—it’s just a public acknowledgement of what the rest of the world has witnessed for years.
The first step, the most important step, and yes, the most difficult step for most people, is initial acceptance of the problem and continual acceptance every day from that point forward. The difference may sound subtle to you, but it’s not.
Think about it. Admitting you have a problem can easily be lip service, done to appease family, the justice system, a boss, or a spouse who’s had enough. But true daily acceptance of your addiction, your problem, your life harming habit, requires you to get up each morning and choose to surrender. As one of my other counselors in treatment would say: choose to live in the solution, not the problem.
“Why is this so important?” you may be thinking. Well because for many people—even after experiencing time in a treatment center or working through the steps with a great sponsor or finding recovery from codependency—have a mind with a strong propensity to work against us. It fills us with scary thoughts like these:
- I made it. I stayed clean longer than I ever thought I would.
- What’s a couple of beers gonna hurt?
- I can hang out with those people; I’m strong enough now.
- No more drug tests, I’m in the clear now.
- I got a job and my legal issues are over; why not see if I’m really addicted?
- Alright, the wife trusts me again. Let’s have some fun.
- I can smoke a little weed. It’s not gonna hurt me.
- I was never really an alcoholic anyway.
- I’ll give them a little money now, they seem to be doing great.
- I’ll just call them one more time.
Some of you have already had these thoughts—and many more just like them. That is why a choice to surrender must be your first step every day. Each morning should start out with a purposeful action to live in the solution, not the problem. A mental, emotional, and yes, even a physical surrender to your addiction or plight.
By doing this each morning, you set the tone for how you will address the problems, questions, issues, successes, temptations, and triggers you will face the rest of your day.
So what results are you looking for? What type of life are you choosing to live? Are you willing to surrender? Are you willing to do whatever it takes or do you still want to fight? Are you ready to finally begin to see some progress?
As the big book says, “acceptance is the answer to all your problems today…”