Spiritual Self – What Does the Concept Mean for Your Recovery?

Spiritual Self – What Does the Concept Mean for Your Recovery?


Spiritual self is a way to put a label on how we see ourselves.

Photo by Stuck in Customs

Your spiritual self is how you see yourself spiritually. This is an important idea in recovery, because our sense of progress in this area is based almost entirely on self perception.

In other words, we don’t rely on others to validate us when they see us praying or meditating. We do it for ourselves, for our own spiritual growth, not to show off for someone. So the only standards you have to live up to are your own. How you maintain your spiritual self is only between you and your higher power.

Who sets the standard for what is “spiritual?”

You do. That’s the whole point. Your spiritual self need only live up to your own standards. But how do we develop this standard, and where does it come from? What is guiding us when we decide that we have been “spiritual enough” to sustain a proper recovery?

1) You probably have ideas about what is “spiritual” that date back all the way to early childhood. Of course there are some of us who went to church. A lot of this background stuff in your head will dictate what you think of as being “spiritual.”

2) Other people around you in recovery will have some level of effect on your perceptions of what is “spiritual.” For example, maybe there are people at an AA meeting who talk about meditating each day, and how beneficial that is for them in their recovery. Now whether you meditate or not, just hearing their experience with this might affect how you feel about your own spirituality, and what you should or could be doing to better pursue spiritual growth.

3) If you have a sponsor in recovery, then their guidance, input, and advice can help to shape our perceptions of our spiritual self.

How can we refine our concept of spiritual self?

First, realize that our preconceived notions about what is spiritual and what is not can sometimes limit us in some ways.

In other words, this is an exercise in awareness. Start paying attention to how you judge things to be “spiritual” or “non-spiritual.” What are those judgments based on? For example, say you take a long walk one morning….very quiet and peaceful, with no particular agenda or purpose to it. Then later on you might scold yourself for not meditating like you had planned on doing. See the contradiction here? Why dismiss the peaceful walk as being “non-spiritual?”

Give yourself credit! Remember–it’s all spiritual. What we are looking for in recovery is a practical spirituality that works for us.

Ask yourself:

1) How and when do you connect with a higher power? When does prayer become special and meaningful to you?

2) When do you listen to the stillness and the quiet? When and how do you appreciate the calm and serene moments?

In other words, just because you’re not sitting cross-legged in a cave on a prayer mat in meditation for 8 hours each day does not mean that you are not “spiritual.” Our lives can be hectic and busy, and we take whatever serenity we can get when it comes along.

Focus on the positive and embrace the serene moments. Everyone has at least some ups and downs in their life.

How can we live a spiritual life?

So the idea here is to relax your idea of what constitutes “spiritual.” Take your calm and serene and spiritual moments and focus on them for what they are–don’t dismiss them as being somehow “unworthy.” Sometimes my greatest connection with a higher power comes when I’m on the job, working directly with a sick client, or sometimes it’s out on the hills when I’m jogging in the morning.

Give yourself credit for the efforts you make in growing spiritually. We all have a busy life and we can’t just meditate on a mountaintop for the rest of our days. Embrace your smallest spiritual victories and focus on the positive.

You are as spiritual as you want to be. Celebrate your spiritual self and embrace the creative life in recovery.


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