By: Dave K.
Honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness, are described as indispensable in our “It Works How and Why” reading. These 3 principles work together, and are all necessary to start us off on the journey of recovery. The focus of this article is on open-mindedness.
Open-mindedness is described in the literature as carefully listening to suggestions without prejudging them or jumping to conclusions. The literature describes open-mindedness as a state of mind that leads to willingness. Open-mindedness to me means not predetermining what is going to work for me.
When I first arrived in recovery, I had already tried “Dave’s program” of recovery. I had tried to think of, and implement my own solutions. I had tried many things that I thought would work, to try to make myself feel whole and happy. But none of these ended up working.
I was definitely in the habit of coming up with my own solutions, and had a very closed mind towards others. But here I was in the NA program which necessitates listening to sources other than me with an open mind. In order to learn new habits like open-mindedness, my sponsor suggested to me, to ask myself 3 times a day if I had been honest, open-minded and willing. If the answer was “yes”, I was probably not practicing honesty, and if the answer was “no”, I could learn where I needed improvement.
Open-mindedness is found through-out the steps. In step 3, I was not open-minded at first that I should turn my life over to a higher power. However, after reminding myself how I had tried to do everything on my own, it started to make sense to me that the solution would have to be a power greater than me. And it started to make sense for me that the God of my understanding could be a label, and not the same God as that which is defined by religion.
In step 4, I had to be open-minded, that writing an inventory - a process that seemed painful to me - would be beneficial for me overall. It was suggested to me that I include my assets as well as my liabilities, which increased my motivation to work this step and be more open-minded to the process.
I also find open-mindedness to be very important in step 11. At first I thought it was impossible that some “God of my understanding” would be listening to me as I pray. But I usually felt much better after I prayed. Prayer helps me start my day with gratitude and awareness that my higher power is with me. I am glad I was open-minded to this step, as today prayer is something I look forward to.
Open-mindedness slowly but surely has become one of my assets, although I still have to continuously work on it. Even though I do not completely understand everything about this program and my higher power, by remaining open-minded I can continue to learn and grow.