Today I’m going to re-visit the Free Will/Willpower thing and how it relates directly
I see “will” as the uniquely human ability to make “decisions” based on a combination
of logic, intuition, intent, desire and a moral compass. One dictionary definition I like
is “the power of conscious and deliberate action or choice”. Unlike animals whose actions
are primarily driven by instinct, we humans, if operating efficiently, “think” about what we
do. Being able to manage all of those variables that go into thinking and “choosing” our
course of action is extremely taxing and requires “energy”.
This “choosing energy” I would equate to “willpower” and the authors of the book that I
referenced in my blog post on 3/30, (Willpower by Roy F Baumeister and John Tierney)
believe that we start our day with a certain amount of willpower and that it gets depleted
by the plethora of mental activity that makes up our day. I see “Free Will” simply as that
supply of will that we each have to work with. It’s free in that we all have this fantastic
ability to varying degrees without having to go out and obtain it. As I mentioned in that
post, there are ways to re-fill and fortify what’s in the tank and without even knowing it at
the time, the ideas contained in the 2nd half of “The Freedom to Recover” help to accomplish
I was speaking with someone about the book and he was taken aback by my criticism of AA
which he described as “a wonderful program for the average individual. People with higher
intellects and with perhaps a more sanguine position on religion tend to have a more difficult
time with the program. The main difference between us is that you are a “recovered alcoholic”
while I remain and am comfortable being a “recovering alcoholic”".
I don’t think it has so much to do with your level of intelligence but more so with your
proficiency in utilizing your “willpower”. I’m no rocket scientist and my 35 years of being
lost in addiction would indicate that maybe I’m not that bright. So what changed for me? I
learned how to more efficiently use my gift of “free will”. Sure some people due to genetics, etc.,
probably do in fact have a larger base to start with but anybody can improve on their use of
what they have.
AA actually helps people with lower levels of will power because instead of having to think for
yourself and question things (which depletes willpower), their program instructs you to surrender
your will and life to a higher power, thus relieving you of a good chunk of that responsibility.
Being told what and when to things is much less taxing than making those decisions yourself.
Being held accountable to “the group” and or to God does help keep you in line and that is not
necessarily a bad thing. Having structure is also a good thing as long as you don’t feel like you
“have” to do it. If you fight having to go to your meeting and calling your sponsor then that will
actually drain your energy. If, however, you embrace the whole concept of AA, then YES, you can
live quite peacefully as a “RECOVERING alcoholic”.
My goal was personally and is for those who want to achieve it, to go beyond accepting life as a
recovering alcoholic living in fear that if you don’t follow the AA roadmap that your life will unravel,
to strengthening or at least learning how to utilize our “free will energy” to evolve and live life as
RECOVERED individuals who can move on to a more meaningful, interesting and joyful existence.