Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “We have Nothing to fear but Fear itself”. Sounds like a pretty simple idea, but is it really? For most people, we have fears that we may not even know we have. Now I’m not talking about fear of the dark or of spiders, but a different kind of fear. Unbeknownst to us, most of the decisions we make are based out of fear, and as alcoholics and addicts, we have been fear driven for years. The tricky part is, we most likely didn’t even realize when and why fear was our motivator.
What is Fear in Regards to Sobriety?
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us that we are driven by a hundred forms of fear. That it is “An evil corroding thread.” Again, not necessarily phobias, but the fear that is driven by our instinctual needs.
When we act out of fear, it is commonly due to one of our three basic needs being threatened. These needs are security, social, and sexual instincts. Often times, when we feel that one of these areas are threatened, we do what we deem necessary to protect them at the time. This is when the fear driven actions come into play.
This is one that has been deeply ingrained in us for thousands of years. As a human being, we need to feel “a part of.” Whether it’s with our family, our friends, trends, whatever. We need to know that we are not alone.
Often times, I myself have acted out of fear in order to feel like I belonged. Peer pressure was a guaranteed aggressor. I did drugs to fit in with my friends, or I would bully others to look cool (I was a real asshole). Nowadays, I have learned not to care so much about what other people think, but I do still need the love of my family and real friends. As an alcoholic, I mistreated them for years, as addicts usually do. I stole from them, lied to them, and manipulated them out of fear that my needs wouldn’t be met. However, after doing my steps, I have been able to realize where I was wrong and make amends to those I have hurt.
Like every other living thing on the planet, we have instinctual desires that require us to reproduce. We really are just animals deep down, granted, we have thumbs and the power of our own will. The drive to reproduce can often lead us into silly acts.
For example, when I would get lonely, and I’m sure I’m not alone on this, I would try to rekindle a dead flame with an ex. Even though I knew this act would end in shame and regret, I needed to feel loved and wanted sexually, thus opening Pandora’s box. Other common fear driven acts we alcoholics do to soothe our instinctual urges can vary. We may keep multiple partners at a time, or manipulate the one we are with, the list goes on and on.
However, if we are working a program and we do a thorough sex inventory during our 4th step, we will learn why and how our actions have hurt others out of our own fear.
This one can be a little trickier but is simple once broken down. From a psychological standpoint, security is in regards to having food, water, and shelter.
From an addict/alcoholic standpoint, this is commonly referred to feeling okay, aka, getting out of ourselves with our drug of choice that day.
I never put much thought into how much danger I put myself in, or where I would be sleeping at night, or if I’d eaten in days, as long as I knew I could get good and high that day.
Again, it wasn’t until I did a thorough 4th step that I realized that all of the pain I had put myself through was really just the result of my fear of not being okay. All I really lacked was a spiritual relief.
How Can We Learn to Stop Acting out of Fear?
Not necessarily an easy feat, but it’s one that can be done. At this point, we’ve discussed the three basic routes of all of our fears, and shed some light on why acting out of fear can be dangerous. If you’ve been following the pattern, you may have noticed that a 4th and then 5th step with a sponsor is all we have to do to learn how and why we do the things we do.
The answer is simply that. In order to stop acting out of fear, we have to work a 4th step to realize why we do it, and then follow through with the following steps to learn how to correct them.
Step 5 allows a sponsor to show us our patterns and defects and why we had them. Steps 6 and 7 allow us to give our Higher Power the permission to remove from us our defects of character. Steps 8 and 9 allow us to make amends to those we have hurt in the past. Steps 10 and 11 allow us to practice and improve our day to day encounters with ourselves, our fellow man, and our higher power. And the 12th step allows us to give back our knowledge to someone who is as lost as we once were, and to practice what we have learned on a day to day basis.
Other Helpful Tips
Practice positivity. Practice loving yourself. Practice loving others. Give more than you receive. Compliment more than you are complimented. Act out of compassion even when it’s not shown to you. Try to understand that we are put on this earth for one reason, and that is to help others. If you are putting in a conscious effort to get sober, then you will begin to feel your Higher Power in your life. Use it. It will help turn you from a selfish addict, acting out of fear, into a loving and compassionate piece of the puzzle.
Getting Help At Wayside House
If you are a woman struggling with addiction, Wayside House can help. We offer a women-only program and provide a safe, supportive environment to recover in. We have outstanding treatments and therapies that are often only found in more expensive programs. We offer a 90-day inpatient rehab with relapse prevention education, outpatient, and aftercare. Contact Wayside House at 800-655-0817 to learn more.