Addiction: The fears ListWe use the same system here in that we need to have it on paper. We need to look at it from up here. Its that whole perspective thing again. Ever notice how easy it is to give someone else good advice. How clearly you see the problem and how the solution is rather obvious. No where is this more apparent than in looking at people and their romantic relationships. You listen to a friend say that, "he's driving me crazy, he acts like a child and blames me for everything and gets so angry that it scares me", and you think, leave. You're right. It wasn't hard, didn't take months or years, didn't take some awful tragic event, you looked and saw it clearly and a split second later gave the solution. You weren't entangled. You were looking from a different place without the thoughts and emotions that confuse people.
Seeing how that worked doesn't it make sense that this is how we can best examine our own lives? From some emotional distance? That's what we want to do as we continue on through the inventory process. Here's an example of a fears list:
You don't need to write a complete list. It doesn't even have to be a final list. It's best just to start writing, not thinking about too much, and see what winds up on the page. The goal at this point is to make the lists. Rough drafts or fine, brain storming is good, everything will work to your benefit. Its the principles at work. Being honest enough to make a self appraisal is pretty tough for some people. Beginning to become open minded about what you see is sometimes just down right painful. If you recall I said that at one point my main motivation for moving forward in the process was that my character defects were so icky, my fear list so revealing, I just couldn't stay where I was. I really didn't feel I had any choice but to do what was needed to change. I simply couldn't live with what I saw. On top of that it was "My Nature" therefore it was my job to clean it up.
I am afraid I'll never stop
I'm afraid I will be broke and homeless
I'm afraid that I'll get hurt
I'm afraid that people are so crazy and selfish they'll destroy the planet
This idea that " everything is my fault " might be hard to take. It doesn't have to be, but if it is then the principle of open mindedness will be helpful. Open mindedness can say I don't know. Its another very freeing principle. Why should you know? Where would this knowing come from? Most of the ideas stored on those dusty shelves of that vast warehouse that makes up the brain are, consciously, long forgotten. They have to be or we would never get any thing done. You couldn't possibly deal with all those packages at the conscious level. They're really not forgotten you simply aren't aware of them. You don't know what your brain knows. You don't know how to breathe but you breathe all day and have for years. When you wake up you don't have to think about how to get up, you just get up. If you had to remember how to do everything you had to do everyday just to stay alive you wouldn't live very long. Probably about three or four minutes.
It is this function of brain architecture that makes it possible to have destructive programs running that we're not aware of. I would define destructive as anything that causes discomfort. Not stubbing the toe discomfort or any discomfort that arises from genuinely uncomfortable conditions but that ill defined situational discomfort. You know it when you feel it. Most people don't like having to address crowds. Giving speeches is very distressing for them. Why? What is it in our brains, what ideas do we have about people that makes this so threatening. Don't think its about people? Would you feel threatened if you found yourself in front of a large group of cocker spaniels? If they would be still you could probably have fun addressing them on any topic you wished to try out. Wouldn't matter if they applauded or paid attention it would just be fun. This is a realistic assessment in action. So why are so many people afraid of people? We know its not the people now that we've honestly looked at feelings. We know where feelings come from and so we have to admit the fear is coming from our brain. Some part that, like breathing, we're not conscious of. If we can admit this, and look at it, we can deal with fear.
Somewhere some brain is saying,"I don't need to make speeches, so this has nothing to do with me". Another function of the brain is to protect the image it made. It made it for good reason even if the reason was wrong. Good has nothing to do with right as far as the brain is concerned. True and false are the criteria it uses. When something passes the true test it goes into a package and gets stored. An example of a package might be," if I act tough no one will hurt me". This gets held up beside all the "known" items, that are already stored to see if there are contradictions. If contradictions are found it gets dismissed: labeled false. If no contradictions are found it is passed along as true and added to the self-image. The self-image is the systems way of surviving and satisfying whatever need/ideas have been stored. Needs, wants, likes and dislikes are all made and stored with the same process: one after another over days and years. Once the tests are made and they are passed to the package builders, who categorize them and decide what shelf they go on, they slowly fade from the level of awareness until they disappear into the subconscious. It is from there they are put into use just like walking and breathing. The mind closes around them.
So in order to see them we have to open our minds. The reaction to a fears list viewed through the closed mind might be something like,"well all that stuff is scary, I'm right to be aware of it, I must defend myself or the world will just walk all over me...". Justifying the self is a misguided survival technique. A type of twisted self preservation. What this part of the mind really wants to keep safe is its own existence. This gets kind of tricky and the proper view point will never be more important. What is the "it" that wants to survive? What is it thats being protected? Somehow the thought is present that says,"If I change I won't be here". This new data, that I just presented to the brain, is probably hitting a snag in the true/false test right now. It's running up against the collected and accepted data and might be reading false. The self is not liking it and looking for an argument as a defense. Maybe the thought is that it doesn't make sense. Some thing is being threatened. What is that something and what is the threat?
The person, that is an image made up of data collected, analyzed, and packaged by the brain is not us. It is a survival mechanism. The list of fears belongs to that person. That self-image made from collected data. Is that us? What if the brain dies? What would you be? Most people want to believe that there is life after death. There is no mystery here as to why you would want this to be true. I want to believe this too. So why would there be a fear of death? What is it that fears the death of the brain? It's the self-image. Why would that be? Because the self-image is the brain. It is the picture the brain makes of itself. It travels from place to place, driving the body here and there like a little car, meeting other self-image pictures for lunch and having pleasant afternoons at the park.
If "you" believed that you would go on to some other place and do other things then you would never fear death. It would just be something to do. How important would a hundred years be to an eternal being? See the need for open mindedness? I said all this so that you could look at the list with a new perspective. Even if you "think" you've accepted nothing I've said, you will still include what I've said in your analysis of the list. Your decisions on what to do about the list won't depend solely on the self-images reaction to it but to something on a much deeper level. I can't say that this is how most of the members of the A.A. program would see it. Some understand what I'm talking about and some don't. I want to give every thing I've got to everyone who can hear it. So I have to write it the way I've found it to be. You can get a lot out of simply writing a list and showing it to someone. This is the, "A burden shared is a burden halved concept", and it works. It helps. But it won't keep you off whatever it is you're trying to stay off. I personally want to encourage people to become world makers. After all, you already are.
I have steadily endeavored to keep my mind free so as to give up any hypothesis, however much beloved (and I cannot resist forming one on every subject), as soon as the facts are shown to be opposed to it. Charles Darwin
Let yourself be open and life will be easier. A spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable. A spoon of salt in a lake is almost unnoticed. Siddhārtha Gautama
The only means of strengthening one's intellect is to make up one's mind about nothing - to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts. Not a select party. John Keats
There are children playing in the street who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago. J. Robert Oppenheimer
Open-mindedness should not be fostered because, as Scripture teaches, Truth is great and will prevail, nor because, as Milton suggests, Truth will always win in a free and open encounter. It should be fostered for its own sake. Richard Rorty
Keeping an open mind is a virtue, but not so open that your brains fall out. Bertrand Russell
One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others. Lewis Carroll