Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Examined Life and Recovery from Addiction

Yesterday I wrote about the examined life and about recovery, how self examination, self awareness is needed and that this has been noted by philosophers who lived over 2,000 years ago. Jacob Needleman, a professor at San Francisco State University has written a marvelous book, Why Can't We Be Good, which very forcefully makes the point that despite our best efforts we consistently fail to live up to the standards of right and wrong that we all know to be true. He argues that this consistent failure of all of us leads to genuine harm and destructive actions to others, much of which we are unaware. In his search for some solution to this problem he ends up with the idea that only continued self examination, self awareness of our faults, weaknesses, and motivations can allow us to change. He also makes the point that with this self awareness we are then open to a power greater than ourselves which can then allow us to better live lives of integrity and goodness.

I believe that Needleman is right. I believe all of us have this difficulty regardless of addiction to chemical substances or not. Self examination and self awareness of the need for a power greater than ouselves is a requirement for us to be the kind of people who can bring more good than harm out of our time here on earth.

Thought for the day

"For what I am doing, I do not understand, for I am not practicing what I would like to do but I an doing the very thing I hate. For the good that I want, I do not do, but practice the very evil that I do not want. Who will set me free?".

St. Paul


  1. What a great blog! Until I got sober, and for some time after I got sober, I felt at odds with myself and my own actions. I had always "wanted" to be good but my actions didn't always mirror that desire. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't out committing crimes. Instead I was not following my OWN internalized code of right and wrong. It has been through working the 12-steps and becoming open to a power greater than myself that my actions began to match my intentions and I began to live comfortably in my own skin. And that is a huge part of what has allowed me to stay sober one day at a time. Thanks for the great topic!

  2. I am glad. For me living comfortably in my own skin is a daily process.


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