When I am willing to look repeatedly beneath the surface of any character defect, I finally find at its root is one of those "old ideas" Bill talks about in "How It Works." The most powerful old idea I've discovered so far in my sixth step work is the false belief that I need other people's approval in order to be safe, secure and happy.
I'm beginning to see that I was addicted to being loved, accepted, and approved of long before I picked up that first drink. The fear of being not being approved of or being (God forbid!) rejected by the people in my life created internal tension and anxiety, much like I felt when I couldn't get a drink when I needed one. My character defects sprouted out of this anxiety like so many weeds growing out of a cesspool. I didn't start out to become a liar, a cheat and a thief. I was just trying to get comfortable in my own skin. I just didn't know how.
I lived in the illusion that I could avoid these uncomfortable feelings if I could just control the people and events in my life. The heartbreak and frustration of repeated failure to get other people to follow my script was only slightly offset by very brief periods of success. I attempted to manage the whole world for forty years. I can report it is exhausting, frustrating work that made me very thirsty.
I've learned in AA that this need to control is the basis for spiritual sickness that blocks God from working in my life. Without God I'm running on Jeff power, which is really no power at all. The slogan on the wall says "Let go and Let God." I'm learning that letting you be you and life be life is my ticket to freedom.