New to Recovery? Stick Around, It’s Worth It

“It gets better!” is a refrain commonly heard in and around the rooms of recovery. That’s because it’s true. Over time in recovery, our lives generally DO “get better.” Our lives improve in terms of both externals and internals. Often, sharing will focus on improvement to what I call the externals of life, which includes our financial circumstances, acquiring more and nicer “stuff,” getting better jobs and new careers, and improved relationships. These are wonderful blessings we can receive through our partnership with a Higher Power and with time and work through the 12 Steps and through practical action in the world.

My observation, however, is that there can sometimes be an over-emphasis on improvement to externals, to the detriment of growth and development of the “inner life” – matters of heart, mind, soul and spirit. From both my own life and from working with others, I have found that the mad rush to fix everything on the outside can sometimes backfire. There is a spiritual truth here that is difficult to describe simply. The best statement of this phenomenon that I’m aware of came from a spiritual master who asked his followers to “seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all of these things shall be added unto you.” The lesson here is that our primary focus should be on growth and development of the interior, spiritual/emotional life, and less on acquisition of material success. Not that anything is wrong with material success. I like it. We all like it.

The central concern is that without a parallel development of the inner life, many of the acquisitions and accomplishments of the outer life can sometimes (not all the time) crumble down around us eventually, because they are built atop a weak, fragmented, unconscious inner personality structure.  On the whole, good things do come to us, as we become more and more able to deal with them in a healthy, balanced manner, with the inner strength necessary to handle them. Emotional and spiritual maturity more often PRECEDES the right acquisition and accomplishment of externals. That’s my understanding of what the spiritual master was pointing out.

And all of this takes time (another catch). Microwave recovery is flimsy, built atop an interior mess. It doesn’t deliver on its promises. Only “inner work”, done in parallel with our striving in the outer world, can effectively deliver on the promises implied by “It Gets Better.”

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