On control

We are not in control. While we may be able to influence the course of our lives, while we may be able to develop the skills to respond to unexpected circumstances in a way that minimizes unwanted results, we are not in control. But our addictions develop as an attempt at control. Through the mechanics of addiction, we attempt to create a predictable and acceptable emotional experience of life. Looking at addiction through this lens illuminates the need for our recovery to honor this important truth. We must embrace the vital difference between influence and control so that we don’t get lost in the futile attempt to continue to seek control even after we have managed to stop our addictions. But giving up the illusion of control does not mean that we must be out of control. It simply means that we must develop the emotional flexibility to allow ourselves to remain stable during the inevitable times when circumstances don’t go the way we had expected that they would. If our happiness or feelings of safety are dependent on life unfolding in a particular way, then we remain dependent. Our recovery, then, must include the ability to develop an inner sense of emotional safety that does not rely on an illusion of control.

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