Why a Sponsor in AA Can Only Help Your Recovery so Much

Why a Sponsor in AA Can Only Help Your Recovery so Much

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Can having a sponsor in AA help your recovery? Sure.

But there is a limit to how much it will help you.

Based on my experience, there are a number of people in the fellowships of AA and NA who put too much emphasis on sponsorship. Why do I believe this? Because I see sponsorship fail so many people, in so many ways.

It’s not that I’m against sponsorship. I have a sponsor myself. But what I’m cautioning against is the priority level; the involvement that some people think is so critical for success in recovery.

A successful recovery requires a great deal of introspection and getting honest with yourself. This is important so that you can customize your recovery process. In other words, you need to get honest with yourself in recovery and figure out what issues you need to tackle in order to maintain a healthy state of mind.

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Now it is true that having a sponsor might benefit you in this area–if the person happens to be a psychological guru and master therapist. Then they might be able to help you to get honest with yourself. But more often than not, a sponsor will share their experience with you, and show you what worked for them. The message of teaching becomes “this is how I got sober” or “this is how I stay clean.” In some cases this will work. In other cases it will not….it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. What worked for your sponsor might not work for you.

A sponsor is a great guide for early recovery

If you are truly growing in recovery, then your ability to analyze your own life and take corrective action should be steadily improving.

As Morpheus said to Neo in the Matrix: “I can only show you the door. You’re the one who has to walk through it.”

Haven’t all the great teachers on our planet pointed to finding your own spiritual truth? They have all said not to take their word for it….but to look within for the answers….”seek and ye shall find.”

Trust me, I’m not knocking sponsorship. I think it can be important for newcomers in recovery. But it baffles me when I see people with multiple years of sobriety who seem almost dependent on their sponsor. To me this is unhealthy, and not indicative of real growth.

Now does this mean that we should not have a sponsor if we have significant clean time? Of course not. What I’m saying is that the balance should shift: if you have one week clean and your sponsor is telling you what to do, that might be OK. But after a few years clean? They should merely make helpful suggestions, not plan out your whole week for you.

Sponsorship should not be a crutch. The sponsor is merely a guide.

Find your own recovery. Others may help you, but you’ve got to find your own path (stay true to yourself).

What do you think? Is it possible to depend too heavily on sponsorship?

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