Take two people for example: one person studies the Big Book of AA on a regular basis, striving to extract every last bit of knowledge from it like it is their only salvation. The other person reads quickly skims the book, but actually lives the principles in it every day.
Which person do you think has a more successful recovery?
Of course the person who actually applies the knowledge is the real winner here, not the Big Book scholar.
It’s not that there is anything wrong with studying the Big Book or other recovery texts – just understand that doing so doesn’t actually keep anyone sober or even lead to any sort of knowledge of how to go about living sober. At best, what you read about recovery can only guide you in a general direction. So much of your recovery is going to depend on your own action.
Basically, you have to find your own path.
Finding your path
The reason you have to find your own path in recovery is because we are all so different. People talk about a program of recovery and they want for it to be very objective and spelled out in very specific terms that anyone can apply in the same way. It doesn’t work this way.
Our lives and our personalities and our situations can be so different that we each have to take recovery principles and strategies and use what works. In fact, they have a saying around traditional recovery tables: “Take what works and leave the rest.” Good advice, and this saying rings true because everyone who has found a successful life in recovery can look back at their progression and realize that they did just that: they discarded a whole bunch of advice that just didn’t apply to them.
Traditional recovery is filled with suggestions, tactics, and strategies for how to stay clean and sober. It’s sort of a mish-mash of recovery advice that just gets dumped on the newcomer as a big lump, and it’s up to the newcomer to sort it all out. They can’t possibly apply all of the advice because there is simply too much of it.
So whether you want the task or not, you really have no choice but to find your own path in recovery. What you thought was a task of learning is really a task of doing. You must apply the new knowledge and decipher what works for you. This requires action. Once you start living the creative life in recovery you can start refining your strategy and discarding the stuff that doesn’t seem to be helping you.
A lifetime of learning
It’s not so much about learning as it is about action. Or rather, you won’t really be learning things on a deep level unless you get out there and apply the knowledge to see what actually works for you.
For example, consider the idea of “networking.” This is one of the key strategies in recovery – that we need other people to help us on our journey. Traditional recovery might seem to suggest meetings as the networking solution. But there are other strategies that someone might follow in order to connect with others. For example:
– Attending weekend NA and AA conventions
– Forming friendships with others in recovery
– Attending group therapy on a regular basis
– Sponsoring several newcomers in recovery
– Working with recovering addicts in a professional setting
– Volunteering with others in recovery
The point here is that reading about these ideas does very little, but if someone was to try one of these methods and found that it really helped them in their recovery, then that is applied knowledge that is actually useful. They had to get out there and try something and see if it clicked for them or not. The learning came through the application; through doing. This is how we live in recovery and it’s also how we can create a new life with purpose. Start trying new things and explore different options and strategies.
Traditional recovery attempts to confine learning into a very small box and that is not necessarily the best path for everyone to be on. Sometimes you have to find your own path in recovery and to do so you’re going to have to create something through action. The creative theory is about applying knowledge. It’s about action. Learn what you can as you go along and continuously refine your approach. Thus you become more effective in your life and in your recovery efforts.