Trigger (heh) warning: This is going to be very difficult for certain people to read.
So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!
That excerpt was taken from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (page 62). If you think it’s a bullshit statement, it’s likely because it was written for you. The truth tends to hurt. It did for me the first several times I read it.
The most important line in that paragraph is “So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making”. Victimhood, blaming our troubles on some other outside force, is the root of many problems in the world, and almost everyone engages in this dishonest practice. Rather than simply going on a diatribe about how, ironically, all in life ain’t fair, I offer something better: another way to look at victimhood so that one can have something better than playing Don Quixote against “society”… A solution.
In recovery, we learn something early on that is akin to cheating at life, when it comes to seeking out happiness; That we are powerless over other people, places and things. I can’t change any of the three. What I do have the power to change is me, or more important, the gray matter between my ears. If I wait on others to change before I let go of the hurt that was inflicted on me (real or imagined), I’ll die miserable.
Oh, how I wish this were not the case.
I know many of the excuses to shy away from adhering to the principle laid out above, I’ve uttered quite a few myself, but the story ends the same every time. If I seek to be a victim, I will be miserable because people won’t change just because I think something is unfair – nor should they, necessarily. What if my perception is wrong?
My problems are of my own making… My reaction to external stimulae is what creates trouble in my life. Once one can embrace that their problems are of their own making, they find that there’s actually something that can be done about them.
Do it or don’t. My happiness, thankfully, doesn’t require anyone else’s participation.
As a final point, I should add that we shouldn’t shy away from advocating for fairness, goodness, equality and decency. Ever. When we take that advocacy so far that it negatively affects our lives, though, that’s when we’re doing it wrong. Ultimately, attraction rather than promotion (or worse, coercion) wins the day.