probably aware of the fact that I'm a HUGE believer of free-will and the ability to
choose and dictate/shape our own reality especially when it comes to overcoming
I also believe in being a life-long learner and towards that end, I read A LOT!
Anyway, I'm about a 1/3 of the way through the book, Willpower, by Roy F.Baumeister
& John Tierney. I can relate to a lot of it and some of my recovery advice in the 2nd
half of "The Freedom to Recover" are in my mind anyway, validated by some of the
ground that they cover.
Right on the first page they propose that, "We think that research into willpower and
self-control is psychology's best hope for contributing to human welfare." I agree.
I'm involved with various recovery discussion boards and some of them are heavily pro
AA and along with that I've been in recent debates with some of them about the subject.
Quite a few of them boldly state that they had NO free will which is why they found the
need to surrender to a higher power. I think some of what can be found in both books
may shed some light on why this might be so.
The authors of "Willpower" put forth the notion that we basically start each new day
with a certain resevoir of mental energy and fortitude (willpower) and that it gets depleted
for various reasons which I will go over below. They term this lessening of the reservoir as
"ego depletion". That term was selected based on some old Freud stuff but personally I
have come up with my own label to help me keep it straight in my head. I refer to it as free
will energy levels.
Anyway, they discuss 4 ways in which these energy levels are depleted;
1-"The control of thoughts"
2-"The control of emotions" (which they concede willpower can't control; but you can control or
influence how you will react to emotions which in turn affects how much ego depletion takes place)
3-"Impulse control" (resisting things like booze, sex, food, etc...) Again they point out that you
can't really control the impulse itself but rather your reaction to it.
4-"Focusing on the task at hand". Included here are things like planning, perserverance, etc...
All of these things use up this storage of energy and I find that many of these factors are a huge
deal for alcoholics. Concerning item #1, I don't know how many times in AA meetings that I've
heard about "the hampster wheel in my head" , "thinking about thinking", etc.. That gets tiring
as Hell! I devote a whole chapter in "The Freedom to Recover" to teaching methods in which to
handle these internal "conversations" that go on in everybody's heads and in how to think
better and more efficiently. I call the inner boss of those processes the "arbitrator" and there
are definite ways to help empower him or her to mitigate the battle going on up there.
On the 2nd point I'm a big believer that acceptance in the world as it is and trying to change the
things we should (The original Serenity Prayer) is very useful. I also address the final 2 points as
well so it's kind of neat to see ideas on this stuff from another perspective after I came up with
my own takes.
This whole ego depletion thing makes the idea that people in AA feel "powerless"more
understandable. The thing is that there are ways to re-fill the tank and to preserve what's already
there (which is what I support in my methods)
Well, this is getting long so until next time,