Today, we will continue running through the 12 step spiritual principles list: Hope. This principle is crucial for success not only in achieving sobriety, but in all our endeavors. If we did not have hope, we would do nothing. We hope that we will get a date with the girl we like; we hope that if we work hard we will be recognized and earn that promotion; we hope that if we eat right and exercise, we will achieve our ideal bodies. We hope that if we follow the steps and principles of a 12 step program, we will recover. If there were no chance of these things to happen, we would make no effort whatsoever. What would be the point? It’s important to see the full list of spiritual principles in their entirety to understand how they correlate with one another:
- HONESTY – Fairness and straight forwardness of conduct: adherence to the facts.
- HOPE – To expect with desire; something on which hopes are centered.
- FAITH – Complete confidence; belief and trust.
- COURAGE – Firmness of mind and will in the face of extreme difficulty; mental or moral strength to withstand fear.
- INTEGRITY – The quality or state of being complete or undivided; soundness.
- WILLINGNESS – Prompt to act or respond; accepted and done of choice or without reluctance.
- HUMILITY – Not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive; a clear and concise understanding of what we are, followed by a sincere desire to become what we can be.
- LOVE – Unselfish concern that freely accepts another in loyalty and seeks his good to hold dear.
- DISCIPLINE – Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character; to bring under control; to train or develop by instruction.
- PATIENCE/PERSEVERANCE – Steadfast despite opposition or adversity; able or willing to bear; to persist in an understanding in spite of counter influences.
- AWARENESS – Alive and alert; vigilance in observing.
- SERVICE – A helpful act; contribution to the welfare of others; useful labor that does not produce a tangible commodity.
In this post, we will explore why hope is so crucial, explain how hope is the ultimate motivator, briefly go over this principle in practice, and how to make an honest effort to let hope in our lives.
Let’s explore the principle of Step Two: HOPE
Now that we have finally gotten honest with ourselves that we had little to no control over our drinking and drugging, we need a reason to continue living life sober. This is where hope comes in. We must sincerely believe that our lives will improve if we are able to stay sober. Associated with Step Two of the program: “Came to believe a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity,” Hope is the guiding light of this step.
I can attest during every sober period of my life, things went really well, which, looking back, I cannot take credit. I may pray every day now, but this is a new practice that seems to set my day off right. I find that when my day is going wrong, I remember that I did not pray that morning. Those things that are derailing my day may have happened anyway, but my reactions would have been better had I started my day with prayer.
Although I may have always believed in a loving God, this is only my understanding. Most people have a hard time with step two because they believe they are being brainwashed into believing in the judgmental god sitting on his throne, if they believed in God at all. As a side note, I believe my brain needed a little washing based on some decisions I was making in active addiction. If you are having a hard time with this step, we will explore how to make a beginning a bit later.
Hope is the Ultimate Motivator
When you set out to master a new task you are hoping that it will come to fruition. People whom have hope possess the will and determination that their goals can be achieved. Nothing of importance is achieved without barriers and obstacles lining our path. Hope allows us to formulate a plan and set piece-meal goals that greatly increase our chances of accomplishing them. We begin to believe there are many solutions to our problems, and are not immediately overwhelmed by stress when the unexpected happens. A.A. actually promises that “we will intuitively know how to solve problems that used to baffle us.” This is directly correlated with healthy amounts of hope. Hanging around the right people is also essential to this principle.
We draw strength from our peers in recovery that we see achieving great things. We find people that have the things that we want and latch onto them. We hope we can become more like them. It has been said that we are the average of the five people with whom we spend the greatest amount of time. I find this to be quite accurate. When drinking, I seek out people who drank as much as I did to avoid losing face. If a group of people all blackout in a drunken stupor, remembering nothing, no one can point out each other’s glaring defects. On the other hand, spending time with successful people who are always smiling will stimulate the same traits into our lives.
Principle in Practice
If you are willing to keep an open mind, refrain from belittle other people’s beliefs, and accept three statements, you have completed this step and understand this principle. These are the following:
- We were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
- Probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
- That God (higher power) could and would if He were sought.
Remember, hope is simply expecting with desire. We must become aware that our aspirations can be accomplished if we set out with a firm hope they can be done. Motivation is governed by consequences. As we do the right things, our family may accept us back into the fold, our colleagues will grant us greater trust and respect, and we will be in a position to help the alcoholic or addict that still suffers.
How Do I Begin?
Most people believe that they must instantly become willing to believe in a certain type of religious God. God is mentioned many times in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, However, Bill Wilson, the co-founder, states many times that he means a Higher Power or a God of your understanding. It wasn’t until a friend of his suggested this that he finally became open-minded. He had many resentments against religious folk and the God of his childhood.
Thankfully, we are allowed to choose our own conception of God. At first, many people decide to let the group act as their higher power. It can be readily accepted that a group of sober people is greater than an addicted individual. The most important thing to remember about this principle and step is to remain open. You don’t need to believe in God to accept that it certainly isn’t you!
Although we are often legends in our own minds, very few of us attest to being God. When drinking, I couldn’t even manage my own life; Never mind being lord of the cosmos. However, I had hope that life would improve if I followed a few spiritual principles. And guess what? It did.
I was taught the following in a philosophy class that I’d would like to share here. It is Kalam’s cosmological argument. It is based on two statement where only one logical conclusion can be drawn.
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
- The universe began to exist.
- The universe has a cause.
I particularly like this argument because it does not in any way mention what that cause may be. There are no character evaluations, attributes, or descriptions. For many people I have talked to whom have trouble with the second step, this has alleviated their concern. They could get on board with this because it makes logical sense, and we all love logic!
We have now seen why hope is such a great asset. Out of hope, our dreams will aspire us to action that will bring us the success we crave. We will be better equipped to pursue the goals we have put off for too long. We will start choosing friends that have the things we want. Finally, we will at least accept we are not the alpha and omega. This will allow us to grow in our spirituality and learn the steps and principles that follow. I look forward to your comments on this and the next post, which will be focused on Faith.
Please share this post if it has helped or will help others close to you.