Willingness, Honesty and Open Mindedness

Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable.

Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous – Appendix II Spiritual Experience page 567

Much can be said about Willingness, Honesty and Open Mindedness, and the first thing that comes to mind is quite simply the acronym of HOW. Rearranged slightly, yet the same three words we have the solution to the steps. How to do the steps? Apply HOW. Honesty, Open mindedness and Willingness.

Honest with myself first. Honest with myself about whatever it is that I am struggling with, honest about the situation with me on the inward level first. Once I begin to be honest with myself, then I can begin to be honest outward. This is not to be confused with cash register honesty. most of us will do the right

Willingness is the effort
Willingness is the effort

thing if someone makes a mistake. Most of us generally tell the truth to the best of our abilities. This deeper honesty that I am referring to, is inward only. I could lie to myself about something. Rationalize it. Hmm, Rational Lies. I can rationalize and justify a situation or a behavior to myself, to make it acceptable to me. When upon self-appraisal, upon being honest with myself, I could see how I was lying to myself about the truth of something. The type of Honesty required here is Self-Honesty.

Next is Open Mindedness. If I am closed minded to anything, then I begin immediately to shut down to growth, potential and change . Open mindedness led me in the beginning to try my substance to change how I felt. I had the open mindedness to try the substance. It changed how I felt. I liked that change so I continued to use that substance. I developed a problem. So now, the type of open mindedness I am looking at will again lead me to change. I am looking at trying a spiritual solution for recovery. If I identify a problem in being Honest with myself, if I then consider being Open Minded to new ideas, then I begin to position myself for new experiences. If I am closed minded to trying something new, then I will never have new experiences. So Open Mindedness is very important.

This leads to the final clause, however in my opinion, it is the most important. Willingness. If I am not willing to try something, then I won’t it is that simple. Usually, in my experience, willingness comes when I get tired of living my life a certain way. That tiredness sometimes comes in the form of pain. Pain is a great teacher, and usually motivates me to change. In effect pain creates willingness. So as a result of wrong living, I ended up in some painful situations, and in turn willingness to change was created. I developed the willingness through pain, through suffering through making mistakes.

When I no longer wished to be in the situations that were happening, when the pain was greater than the reward and I could see that. It was then I became wiling. When I became willing  I could see the truth inside of me, thus I became more honest. Once I could be honest about the situation, then I could look at options. Find alternatives, become open minded.

It’s no mistake that even though I am referring to the acronym of HOW, that when Bill wrote appendix II, he put them in the order of Willingness, Honesty and Open mindedness. It took pain to create a desire for change, which leads naturally to being more honest and open mind. The beauty of the quote I just mentioned, the sexiness of it all is this. It states that these are the essentials of recovery. Then it reinforces that fact by saying they are indispensable, in the next separate sentence.

This is concept is hit home twice, that willingness, honesty, and open mindedness are fundamental principles for change.



Giving yourself to this simple program

“…completely give themselves to this simple program… “

– Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Page 58

This is actually only a partial sentence from the first paragraph of How it Works, which is commonly read at many meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. The larger sentence reads, d231f7c82374f8fea0a0100802d93bb8“Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” – page 58 AA Bigbook.

The larger sentence carries one point, however inside the sentence are a few other statements. I have found in the past, when I focus on a particular clause, it can change my perspective slightly on recovery and help me understand a point a little better. For example, think of the weight that is carried when looking at the simple statement of “completely give themselves to this simple program”. This implies first that If I give myself fully, completely to this simple program, then I will begin to understand recovery a little bit better.

I can actually translate this statement into an action. With ‘completely give’ with the phrase completely give being an action, I can simply give myself to the steps 100 percent. The moment I do this, I begin an entirely different approach to life, an entirely different mindset develops inside of me.

When I completely give myself to this simple program, then I have let go of my old ways. Then, I am open to new ideas, then I have developed the quality of willingness that is necessary to do the steps. When I completely give myself to this simple program, then I am teachable. I am in a position to learn new and interesting things about me.

The steps, the 12 steps of recovery, they are actually quite simple statements to live by. Guides to life, stepping stones to spiritual principles, a solution to live by. This much I am certain of. While initially this program may not seem simple, once I am willing to completely give myself to it, that willingness, that openness, helps to create the simplicity found in 12 step living.