Paradoxes in Recovery Series #2: Service to Others to Be Selfist


First, I offer a reminder of what I mean by “selfist.”  Selfist is meant to stand in contrast to selfish.  Selfish means putting your wants and needs before others’ needs and wants.  Selfist means putting your wants and needs on the same plane as everyone else’s.  In other words, putting yourself first doesn’t require that you put everyone else last. 

    This is meant to be a comfort to the codependent that tends to believe that in order to feel loved or in control that they must make someone else happy or that someone else is responsible for their well-being. 

    The truth is that each of us is 100% responsible for our feelings and experiences in life.  When we are able to be selfist, we understand this.  We understand our needs and wants matter as much as anyone else’s do.  We understand that their Higher Power is as available to others and as available to guide any situation as ours is.  It is an ego-taming tool that has helped me immensely.

    What does this mean when it comes to working in service to another addict or to any other person? 

    Let’s recall that the 12th step states, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”  Why is carrying the message a part of the 12 steps?  Is it about proselytizing? No way!  The 12 steps are a program of attraction, NOT promotion.

    Working with others is a practicing of the belief that God and we are one.  If you were fortunate enough to have another addict or alcoholic take you through the 12 steps, then you know the amazing feeling of having the support of someone who understood the experience of new sobriety and was willing to guide you through the steps and listen to your life challenges. 

    As human beings in human bodies with human instincts, it is easy for us to believe that time is finite, that there is not enough to go around, that giving to others means there will be less for us and so on.

    The most direct way for us spiritual beings having a human experience to know our abundance, to know the fullness of what we have is to give it away.  So when we are of service to another, we can more fully experience and more fully know, in both heart and mind, the growth that comes with abstinence and an enlarging of our spiritual experience.

    I have experienced the fear and reluctance of taking on a sponsee.  A full-time job, a child, a husband, dogs, etc.  I couldn’t find the time to call my sponsor or to get to enough meetings much less take on a sponsee or reach out to new comers!

    I also have the experience of miraculously having more time and energy when I have a sponsee, meet with my sponsor and reach out to new comers.  Somehow, the more time and love I give, the more time and love I receive!  Therein lies the paradox: The more we give from a faith in our abundance, the more we experience having.  In other words, trusting that you have enough time, energy, etc. to do your self-care, frees your heart and mind to be open to reaching a hand out to help another.  What that help looks like?  Between you and your HP J

    For a long time, I had a note on the lamp beside my bed with a quotation from Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations with God.  It said, “We have everything we need always.”  We have everything we need always!

    Something about this restatement of the more familiar mindfulness statement “in this moment, I am fine” really worked for me.  I hope it works now….

    I am struggling with my son’s recent ADHD diagnosis.  This is a common manifestation of being a meth baby and his birth parents both seem to have some ADHD qualities. 

    The more I learn about ADHD, the more I see it in my husband (whose disorganization and empathy issues have negatively impacted our marriage). 

    WORSE, the more I learn about ADHD, the more I see it in myself: The grandiose ideas, procrastinating on big projects until the last minute, mood swings and more (all of which have negatively impacted my marriage).  Ahhhhhh!  Another paradox – I pray to be humble – that is to remain teachable.  Then I get to learn things I don’t want to know, but maybe need to know. 

    Could this be a recency bias (you know – you decide you want a really unique yellow car then you start to see yellow cars everywhere)?  Maybe.  Could it be an experience of getting exactly what I need?  Always.

    The struggle is that my son’s behavior at school is affecting lots of other children and negatively impacting his learning.  I am willing, but terrified to try medication.  It is renowned for suppressing appetite, causing weight loss and thereby stunting growth.  My peanut is already 10% percentile with his weight with maybe an ounce of fat in his dear cheeks.

    I am also willing to try all the other things – which cost a lot of money.  I am praying hard to be open, to be willing, to be of service to my son and family.  I am in fear and in love at the same time.  In recovery, I get to experience that paradox, too.

    I will wrap up with a reminder that registration is OPEN for the 4-week series on the 12 steps for sugar addiction in March.  If you are struggling with your sugar consumption or want to add a spiritual support to your sugar sobriety, please consider joining us.  It is on a donation basis.  If the registration platform’s requirement for a credit card (even if you enter $0) is a problem for you, please email me at so I can accommodate you.

    The series meets Fridays, March 4, 11, 18, 25 at 2:00 p.m. PT.  It will recorded and distributed.  You will want to get a hold of a copy of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book and a journal.  You will get those details upon registration.

    Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey.  It is my honor to be a part of yours.  Truly.


    4 thoughts on “Paradoxes in Recovery Series #2: Service to Others to Be Selfist”

    1. Fabulous insight that you have shared with us. The wisdom of less is more and giving to others is what makes this work. Remaining teachable is one of my life long goals. I know there are times when I think I know all there is to know about myself and then poof another discovery. That’s what keeps it interesting and me coming back. I know I cannot do this alone. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of your community ❤️🤗🙏🏼

    2. “We have everything we need always.” – I feel this fits nicely with a personal belief of mine: Each of us is always in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.”

      But it’s one thing to believe these things, and another to practice them every day!

      I enjoyed this post, thank you.

      • Thanks for commenting, Rob! And YES, the living of these beautiful idealisms is so much harder that loving and believing them. I am glad we can practice together.


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