Self-Seeking Will Slip Away

Have you ever been the kind of person who has regularly looked for an angle in which to pursue your own ends and interests when it comes to the things you involve yourself with in life? If you have, then you’ve spent time doing something that so many of us are guilty of at some point or another, and that’s self-seeking.

My first sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) often said to me that I was synonymous with the term self-seeking. In fact, there were quite a few occurrences of me calling her up on the phone and talking about the latest drama in my life, which only resulted in her responding that I had been a self-seeker and brought it on myself.

To be a self-seeker simply meant that with every action I took, my motivation was usually all about what I was going to get out of taking that action. In other words, I rarely took any action unless I was going to get something out of it. Friends would call me to ask for my help in doing their household move from one place to another and I’d want to know that a meal would be provided. In AA, I often only chose those sponsees to help through the twelve steps because I was attracted to them, or thought they seemed relatively cool and would make great friends. There were times I’d go out for a meal with someone who I really didn’t even like that much only because I knew they would cover the check. I’d only go to certain recovery meetings where I knew I’d be able to go in front of a podium, or raise my hand, just to speak for awhile and have the spotlight on me. If my family or close loved ones asked me to do any specific chore for them, I’d do it and then store it away as a poker chip that I could cash in later when I needed something in return from them. I was selective about the people who I treated to various things such as meals or trips because I was trying to impress them or draw them closer in, while there were others who I also considered friends that I never did anything of the sort for. All of this really just boiled down to one thing, selfishness and self-centeredness.

Thankfully, I have worked quite hard in the last few years to shed that self-seeking, selfish, and self-centered skin I wore so tightly around me. That really only came about through getting closer to my Higher Power. Before that, it was such a joke to me when people looked my way and laughed as they said I was being a self-seeker again. What I never realized was that was one of the main reasons why they kept their distance from me. Why would anyone really want to be close to someone who is constantly thinking of only themselves? All my conversations, all the times I was with people, and even all the times I was alone, I was focusing on what I could get out of life and not what I could contribute to it.

Self-seeking is self-serving. And self-serving is just plain self-centeredness. To grow deeper spiritually, any of this type of behavior must absolutely be removed from oneself. I am grateful that my walk with God has helped me to migrate away from that old me who was only ever looking for that angle on what I could get out of life itself. Just yesterday, I received that confirmation of this growth from my sister of all people, who was once someone that constantly told me how self-seeking I always was.

She had been struggling with her job, as well as with some health issues and instead of me quickly shifting the focus away from her opening up to me, I spent the majority of the conversation listening to her and asking questions that ended up helping her. As she was getting ready to end the phone call due to her next engagement, she said thank you and told me it was the first time she felt I was really there for her and it wasn’t all about my drama or me lecturing her. I took that as an amazing sign that all my work to grow closer to God is truly guiding me in the right direction and I’m finally feeling that my life is becoming more meaningful.

If you are searching for a more meaningful or spiritual based life as I have been, I encourage you to take a moment, breathe, and ask yourself whether you’re always looking for that angle on what you can get out of the actions you take in life. If you are, then you’re being self-seeking just like I once did with regularity. This will only continue to take you in the exact opposite direction of a life that is filled with spiritual depth and meaning. If you really want to change that direction, all you need to do is what I did. Pray to a Higher Power daily to become more selfless and pray to be filled with a lot more love and light. In doing so, I’m sure that you’ll then begin to see, your self-seeking will slip away for good.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Please Stop Beating Yourself Up…It’s Not Helping You!

Why is it such a human trait that when a mistake is made by someone, they often go into the negative process of beating themselves up afterwards? I often asked myself this question for a number of years because I too was one on those who liked to self-flagellate by mentally and emotionally beating myself up when I thought I made any mistake. Through many sessions of therapy, meditation, prayer, and work surrounding my recovery from addictions, I discovered that my metaphorical process of picking a bat up and beating myself senseless when I thought I did something wrong, all stemmed from growing up in a dysfunctional family where I usually took the blame for everything.

Some of the most painful memories from my childhood are of my parents suffering from their own alcoholism and mental imbalances. In many dysfunctional homes where the parents are sick from any disease of addiction, the children often get blamed for anything that goes wrong, regardless of whether it was their fault or not. Most that suffer from addictions don’t like to look in the mirror and see that they are the cause of their own misery. It’s easier to put that blame on someone else and make them as miserable as they are. In the case of my own family, this often proved to be true. My sister and I were often the blame for the slightest of things that in most healthy homes would never have even been an issue. Both of us were punished quite a bit for even the slightest of mistakes that we did make. And unfortunately, the two of us spent much of our childhood years apologizing for every single little thing that went wrong in our parents lives. Sadly, that pattern continued even after we left home to venture out into the real world on our own.

When one is beaten down with regularity on any level, whether it be mentally, emotionally, or physically, it becomes very easy to start doing that same pattern to themselves when they encounter a triggering situation. One example of that could simply be when a person makes a similar mistake as to one they made during their childhood which resulted in them being punished. I once found it was much easier to put myself down long before someone else got the chance to scream and yell or seriously discipline me from an apparent mistake I made.

It’s taken some seriously hard core work to understand that there are a lot of things in life that aren’t ever my fault. It really is sad that people have a tendency to just place the blame on someone else because they can’t face it within themselves. I’ve gotten much stronger now to see many of those times when that’s happening so that I don’t go into the process of picking that bat up and beating myself up for something that’s not my fault.

On the other side of the coin, there are also those times when I really have made a mistake that affected myself or others negatively. But I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to beat myself up in those situations either. Everyone makes mistakes. EVERYONE. And when I make them, I try to love myself now through it, instead of beating myself up mentally. God has helped me to see that all of that punishing my parents did to me as a kid for those mistakes I really did make, never really helped me to become a healthier person. In fact, it did just the opposite. So for all of those times I spent beating myself up in my adult years, it was only reinforcing the same negativity I experienced as a kid when my parents were doing that to me.

I find that many people in recovery meetings seem to do a lot of this pattern of beating themselves up. There, they speak of how they have been a scumbag or a loser or use some other terribly negative word to describe themselves with how their addiction took over their lives. And they talk about how bad of a person they got to be. But what they don’t realize is that the only thing they are doing at that moment is hurting themselves even more when they are saying those words. Deep inside each of them is a little kid who from the start, only ever wanted to be loved and cared for, and is still waiting for that. But for many of them, like it was in my sister’s and my life, this never happened. Instead we became punching bags for our sick parents and then when they were no longer in control of us, we became our own punching bags by continuing to beat ourselves up, which only kept ourselves sick and miserable.

The process of beating ourselves up over any mistake, whether it really was our fault or not, is seriously unhealthy for each of our souls. It doesn’t help us to grow and it won’t increase our levels of love and light within us. So the next time you make a mistake that is your fault or find yourself being in receipt of someone else’s mistake, I encourage you to take a moment, breathe, and remember that you don’t have to beat yourself up in either case.

For those situations that really were your mistake, try practicing forgiveness for yourself and all others who were affected as that is the most loving action to do. And for those situations that weren’t your fault, stop taking ownership of them by asking God for the strength to deflect that negative energy being aimed at you. Send love instead to those sick people who refuse to look in the mirror at their own problems.

In either case, you’ll find in following these simple suggestions, that you’ll be beating yourself up a lot less until you no longer want to ever do it again.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The “God Please Help Me!” Prayer

There’s a lot of people out there who I know of both in the recovery circles and outside of them who really struggle with the concept of prayer. For some it has become relatively synonymous with religion, which is considered poison in their minds, so they they want nothing to do with it. For others, it’s the process of how to pray that overwhelms them, so they don’t ever even try. I understand and relate to both of these points of view, but have come to see that a prayer can really be as simple as just saying four words: “God please help me!”

Prayer is defined as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” While that may indeed sound religious and lofty, the truth is in saying those words, “God please help me!”, that a powerful prayer has already been spoken and nothing more has to even be said. What’s funny though is that I once thought prayer had to be some great Shakespearian prose.

That probably stemmed from having grown up in a religious family who attended church week in and week out for many years. There, I heard many prayers that never made much sense to me and most were just words being read aloud. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t attend any church currently as I never feel my heart is being stirred when listening to someone else’s prayers or reading them in unison with others from a piece of paper. To me that just feels like there are specific rules or formats to praying and I don’t believe that there actually are. I feel that prayer is an intimate experience that’s different for each and every individual who utilizes it.

Most people usually picture a person kneeling with their hands clasped tightly together when it comes to prayer, except that’s only one of an infinite number of ways that people can pray. There’s also standing, walking, driving, eating, playing, lying down, jogging, running, hiking, working, and so on, are you getting my point? There really is no specific position, place, or format on how to pray. All it really takes is to just start. And for much of the past few years of my life when the excruciating pains that I’ve been going through are overwhelming me, I have struggled myself in doing that. But one day I heard a friend in AA speak at a podium who changed my own viewpoint on prayer. He said that in his weakest moments, when he feels most overwhelmed in life, and has no clue on how to start praying, he just raises his hands up in the air and says the words, “God please help me!” and then finds the rest of the words come forth.

Since hearing that man speak in AA, I have applied this countless of times in my own life on all those days when I don’t feel like I have the energy to go on anymore. I have lost track of how many places I have found myself crying out those words of “God please help me!” And I’ve come to see that in many of those times, I not only feel closer to God in saying them, but I find a whole conversation with God is then able to pour out of me.

Prayer doesn’t have to be a religious thing nor does it have to be filled with exalted words. It doesn’t have to be done in any specific format nor does it have to be carried out in any certain place either. Prayer truly has no boundaries, and there is no right or wrong way of doing it. Sometimes, all one needs to do when struggling with prayer, is to just take a moment to think about the difficulty their facing, then breathe deeply, and say those four little words of “God please help me!” It really IS that simple.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson