Letting Go Of Our Willfulness: Self-Reliance

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If you want something done right, you’d better do it yourself.

This is the basic assumption that every self-reliant person makes. We all know someone who has all the answers and never needs any help. These people believe that their way of doing anything is always the best way. They are quick to notice the failings and shortcomings in others, even if they don’t talk about it. Self-reliance is just another form of willfulness, a way in which the ego takes command. Unfortunately such people are often cranky, since not everyone takes their advice right away. And so they retreat from others and they may live in splendid isolation.

Are We This Person?

If we are honest with ourselves, we admit we might have a touch of this character trait in ourselves. Granted, we’re not as bad as some people we know. Nevertheless, we have learned over the years that some methods work better than others, and as a result we have drawn firm conclusions about how things should be done. We think nothing can be better than our hard-won experience. But we don’t notice how self-important our egos have become.

Even if we have discovered a good way to do something, it doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Someone else, often an unlikely person, may have found another good way to accomplish the same thing. But we have become too proud to acknowledge it. Our self-reliance blocks us from being open to new solutions and new insights. And it obscures the Source living within us.

So how can we shed our self-reliance and develop an open outlook?

Basically we need to adjust our self-perception so that we identify with the Source at the core of our awareness. This Source gives us our life and our consciousness. We do not sustain ourselves, nor do we make ourselves awake. All our thoughts, emotions and sensations come to us, we do not make them happen. They all inform us in their own way about the intention of the Source that is guiding us. We simply need to interpret whatever happens as an opportunity to let the Source live through us.

Richard G. Hartnett, MA, MS, LCADC is a former Jesuit priest who now lives with his wife, Kathy, by a lake in northwestern New Jersey. He has served as the chaplain at Hazelden New York, pastoral counselor at the Chemical Dependency Department of the International Center for the Disabled in NYC, and continuing care counselor at the outpatient Chemical Dependency Program of High Focus Centers in New Jersey. Currently he maintains a private practice in New Jersey. He is the author of The Presence at the Center, Renewing Your Fourth Step, The Three Inner Voices: Uncovering the Spiritual Roots of Addiction and Recovery, and Sobriety and Inspiration: Entrusting Ourselves to the Source of Our Healing and Creativity.

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