Alcoholism is composed of two word elements.
Alcohol – the substance which alcoholics use. And ism the underlying motives or needs which can be addressed in recovery. This article will discuss the ism’s and associated fears.
These ism’s are part of normal life, everyone has them to varying degrees. Specifically, the ism’s are an attempt to make life bearable, as a way of “interpersonal control and coping.” This is, of course, what we all strive to do on a day-to-day basis, we need these thinking patterns and behaviours to cope, most people seem to be doing alright, while the alcoholic seems to be sinking fast.
One of the main ism’s with alcoholism is the ism of fear.
Recovery is mostly about letting go of fear. In fact, fear produces most all my insane moments. Any time I need a reality check, I try to stop and ask myself if there is a fear at the root of what I’m doing.
These are the fear demons I’ve identified in myself – so far.
- Fear of failure,
- Fear of loneliness,
- Fear of intimacy,
- Fear of risk,
- Fear of pain,
- Fear of abandonment,
- Fear of rejection,
- Fear of looking/sounding stupid,
- Fear of what someone might think,
- Fear of punishment,
- Fear of poverty,
- Fear of exploitation,
- Fear of missing the big chance,
- Fear of fear,
- Fear of ….
Letting go of fear
With self awareness of my isms and associated fears I can now know when I am acting or even thinking from fear.
If I know when I’m acting from fear, or about to act from fear, then I can usually let go of the fear and remain in the calm centre. For me, recovery works when this “check-up” is my first response to a fear producing situation.
If the fear overwhelms me, or I miss the cue and act out of fear, my life gets unmanageable.
Other emotions and fear
What sometimes helps me identify fear are the other emotions it produces in me: Anger and Self-pity (helplessness). If anger is the corresponding emotion, I know I need to detach my “self” from who or what is causing the fear and the anger. I return to Step One and admit powerlessness.
If distress or worry is the corresponding emotion, I know I need to let go of the fear, accept (which sometimes includes facing the fear), and quit focusing on feeling sorry for myself, or wishing someone or something would rescue/help me out of the fearful situation. I return to Step Three and reliance upon my Higher Power to show me how to take care of/help myself or regain trust that what is worrying me will be taken care of by my Higher Power.
Fear v Trust (Faith)
Fear, for me, is always the opposite of trust (faith). Faith means that my Higher Power is big enough and powerful enough to see me through any situation. When I doubt that the Higher Power is big enough, I try to become my own higher power, and that’s when serenity and sanity fly out the window.
For me, serenity is the reality that the Higher Power is always there for me, always available. It’s my responsibility to remember I am not alone; I am one with the Higher Power and the Higher Power has a plan and a will for my life, even in the fearful moments.