Journey of a Single Step (fear of failure)
By John Cassap
When this topic first came out it got me thinking (Dangerous Pastime). I tried to recall moments where I could highlight the fear of failure. I quickly gave up when I remembered I suffer from an ISM (Insanely Short Memory). The book says there are a hundred forms of fear and I can identify with that. But when fear is on me its not always easy to label its cause. Then my mind quickly threw an idea at me. The opposite of fear in whatever form is Faith and the Seventh Step started to dominate my thoughts on where I'm going with this.
Lets forget about the addictive substance / behaviour for a moment and focus on the one problem we all share... Life! Its unmanageable by me. My everyday fear of failure is one I have of just not been able to show up for it. To loose the will to participate in the game, to retreat back into myself and my thinking. To disconnect and isolate!
Every morning I awake to the dis-ease whispering or screaming at me “Todays the day, why bother, why is this pain still in my head?” Then I remind myself its not that long ago that it never whispered and always screamed. Its getting better. Progress not perfection.
My faith has developed through the understanding that no matter how quiet it whispers or how loud it screams I have managed to survive everyday of my life so far and will continue to do so in all but one. The Power behind me is far Greater than any fear before me! This fear of been unable to show up for life, to fail today when I succeeded yesterday is bullshit, its akin to Homer Simpsons philosophy of “If at first you don't succeed... Quit!”
Action and quickly into it has to be my first thought, if I wait then the screaming will get louder and Im up against it. ‘Before we begin’ - thats what it says in the book! I counteract both fear and the possibility of failure by connecting straight away to that that I made a decision to receive guidance from. Asking my thoughts be especially divorced from self-pity, dishonest and self seeking motives. Im winning before Ive even stepped out of bed! It doesn't feel like that straight away but the tide is turning and I have enough experience to be aware of that. It was only 24 hours ago since I done this last, it worked then and my Faith is now one day stronger.
But its still a trudge... When I first came into the Program ‘Before we begin’ was a long way away. I was on that Pink Cloud and life was wonderful, I was so grateful to be sober. I know Im not unique in that experience, its a good way to start. It gave me a glimpse of what life can really be like. Reality however is a little different. We cannot constantly maintain that natural sense of euphoria. But we can develop it. The Homer Simpson mindset of quit when the going gets tough is really that ‘fear of failure’. But if I hide from the lows then how can I ever experience the highs? My search for balance is born out of the understanding that both are impermanent. This search for balance demands effort and action, along with the faith that I can do it - if I just release the desire to control outcomes and not resent whatever gets in the way. This for me is the essence of Step 7 “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings”. Humbly isn't some aspect of language, it isn't in the manner that I ask, its about what I offer in return! During my time in a treatment centre the age old question of whats the difference between defects of character and shortcomings came up. Everybody including myself gave their opinion. The Old Timer who manages that facility, a wonderful man with 20 plus years in the Program insisted it was just Bill Wilsons use of ‘Language’, that it was just two ways of saying the same thing. As much as Ive grown to love and respect the old man over the years I have to disagree! Its quoted that our friend Bill even said the same thing himself. For what its worth I think (just my opinion) he just got so sick of people asking him that question it was easier to tell them what they wanted to hear. I believe it is the true Step of Faith! That I agree to do whatever it takes no matter how difficult it seems if the God of my understanding strengthens my legs enough to stop them from buckling along the Journey.
A brief Yoga session and some Prayer and Meditation after I step out of bed doesn't seem too much like hard work when I remember I agreed to Go to Any Lengths!
I step out the door and head for work feeling the apathy drain leaving me. Im ready to face an imperfect world occupied by imperfect people, myself included. The Journey into self to face myself must be accompanied by a constant thought of others. The willingness to open up and be honest, expressing empathy and compassion in all relationships and encounters, not just with the still suffering! That doesn't come natural to me, on the contrary, but its the only way I can enlarge my spiritual life and gain immunity from drinking & drugging for the next 24 hours. If I do that I grow without discouragement, knowing non of us have ever maintained anything like perfect adherence to the principles of Recovery. So when the dis-ease whispers or screams “Thou dares not fail” I can calmly reply “Grant me the acceptance, courage and wisdom to know and do the next right thing”.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ~ Chinese Proverb.
“Success is the ability to move from one failure to another without the loss of enthusiasm” ~ Winston Churchill.
“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them” ~ Bruce Lee.