Don’t Think, Act!

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“You cannot think your way into right actions, you have to act your way into right thinking”  – Hazeldon

When I was acting out I tried thinking my way out of the addiction. “Today I’m not going to look a porn online, I swear I’m not going on that chat site ever again, I’m not going to contact that person anymore”, etc. etc. etc.

My thinking didn’t translate into action because I was too weak. I didn’t have a game plan or instructions on how to behave correctly, all I knew was that I wanted my next high. No amount of promising could overcome the warped rationalization and justification of addictive thinking in my head. The only solution was Action!

At the suggestion of my therapist, I attended an SAA Meeting and found that the members had a game plan, they had an instruction manual, The 12 Steps. I heard it was a simple program but that it was hard work. “If you want what we have and are willing to go to ANY length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps”. I didn’t know if I was ready, all I knew was that I was in agonizing pain and anything was better than what I had tried. This will require dedication and action, was what my Sponsor told me.

Dedication and Action. Progress not Perfection. Fake it till you make it. Act as if. Behave as if. I was hearing this at meetings all the time and had no clue what they meant. One day I asked, AS IF WHAT?!  The answer came back: As if you’re sober, as if you always tell the truth, as if you have integrity and honor, as if you are living without addiction, as if you have the life you always wanted.

So I started behaving AS IF. I took my sponsor’s suggestions and began working the steps, using the tools and attending as many meetings as I could. Slowly, behaving as-if, became reality. Being honest and truthful was easier to do, being honorable and integrous came more naturally, life was more serene and peaceful. Yet, as I progressed in my program, I began to recognize the danger signs especially when attending meetings and seeing friends picking up white chips after months of sobriety. “What happened?”, I would ask. “I got complacent, I thought I didn’t need to work as hard”, “I stopped going to meetings” or “I stopped calling my sponsor”, they answered.    Cunning-Baffling-Powerful

They started ‘thinking’ again. Telling themselves it’s ok to rest, relax, take it easy…. I’ve had those thoughts myself. I don’t want to justify or rationalize anymore, that’s my addict whispering in my head and he almost got me killed. ACTION is what this program demands if I want to be sober and healthy! Action is what has led me to right thinking.

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”  ―    C.G. Jung


9 thoughts on “Don’t Think, Act!

  1. God bless you my friend…You hit the nail right on the head. As I was coming up on my time in recovery, I was seeing people picking up white chip after white chip as well. I sat and wondered why ? Why would anyone not put forth the effort to recover if the pain of addiction was so great ? I now know that, experience as my teacher, that each one of us follows their own path their own way. I on the other hand followed my sponsors path…almost to the t. I saw that he had what I wanted. He had sobriety. I had pain. He had laughter and joy in his life. I was miserable and tired. But I knew enough that if I wanted what he had and boy did I want it, then my path was laid out for me. All I had to do was duplicate his efforts.

    It seems as though I walked in my sponsors shoes…I managed to stay on the path. I kept watching others in the rooms and kept using their experiences for my own selfish needs. Yes, I have been selfish. Selfish in using the experiences of others as my own experience in order to side step the pain of relapse. Thankfully, my sponsor told me I could do that. I didn’t have to relapse myself. These experiences brought forth action. Action was the means by which I’ve made my sobriety grow, one day at a time. Oh by the way I didn’t do it, my HP gave it to me…He lite the path that I followed, He put the people in my life to listen to their experiences and He loved me unconditionally when I couldn’t find the love to love myself. My HP took away my compulsion to act out. Putting recovery into action is what got me to where I am today. Thank you Papa.

  2. I need to read and re read this post all the time.Ours is a program of action and not thoughts. I guess my best intentions and noblest thoughts could not keep me sober as I am not doing the work to be precise step work.
    Willingness and acceptance are just the start. It’s doing the work and following directions from my sponsor and others who have done this before .Habits that I have formed which have made me physically, emotionally and spiritually sick and are ingrained in my soul would take a lot of action , direction and my hp to change. I know I am not alone and don’t need to be alone. I am worth recovery. Thank you god and thank you saa.

  3. Act, recovery is an action program. Actively changing the thoughts but more importantly the behaviors. Years ago I said, “I had to quiet my body to quiet my mind.” It has taken me a very long time to quiet my body, but things are finally quiet and I am willing to listen. To listen to my higher power and his love for me. To listen to my brothers and sisters in recovery and their love for me. The most significant act I have done in recovery is the act of unconditional love. Unconditional love of others but more importantly of myself. The act of addiction is self loathing for this addict. The act of recovery is love. I am so grateful there were others who loved me and showed me how to love myself.

  4. Phil

    Finishing, AND Beginning the 12 Steps.

    I talked to my sponsor last week, and was surprised to hear that I finished with Steps 11 and 12,and he congratulated me on our 3 1/2 year journey. I said “WOW” ! Does that mean I’m “cured”?

    Then came the REST of the story. But first – let’s talk about the 3 1/2 years.

    I was desperate – I had been “found out”. Another affair exposed, my life in tatters – my significant other in torment. Full of guilt, grief, nowhere to turn, suicidal thoughts, “how could I have done this AGAIN!” 2 failed marriages, a dozen failed relationships, and still lying and rationalizing. Not knowing that I was the couse of this misery. A miracle brought me to a counselor specializing in sex addiction – he outlined what would have to be done, if I wanted a better life, to save my relationship, to not DIE from this addiction. Or to look forward to making suffering, pain and misery my future.

    Then, needing to be honest for the first time in my 40+ years of addiction, to ADMIT I was powerless against it, then to recognize that there was a Higher Power that could restore me to sanity. And me not believing in Higher Powers! Realizing that I had no other choice to continue living, I was told to pretend to believe there was a Higher Power, and that it would work anyway. I found LJ, who volunteered to be my sponsor, and it was off to a fresh start, still lots of pain, self realizations, and new responsibilities to take care of myself, and my partner,but still with a wisp of hope.

    It worked! My life improved, I admitted my character defects, asked for help from God and others to drag me through the swamp of sex addiction. I learned to believe in a Higher Power, because I saw miracles happen to help me through the steps. I was convinced and had a spiritual renewal that lasts up to this day, and I believe for the rest of my life.

    The program starts with desperation, and changing behaviors, even though I didn’t know WHY I was doing it. Then gradually I realized God was presenting me with a new way to live – I became happy to see myself as a spiritual person, and my life improved an impossible level. I saw a better way to live.

    The Rest of the Story? It turns out that Steps 11 and 12 never end. It’s just the beginning! We must stick with the program every day – with prayers to keep our minds on the right path, to watch for any backsliding, to continue to learn from the experience of others.. It opens up a life of joy and clarity.

    I thank our fantastic program, the help of my counselors, sponsors, the patience of my partner, and the inexhaustible love of our Higher Power. The journey, though hard, is worth everything.


    One of the most important revelations I have had in studying the steps for the past 3 years is that the changes I have experienced are not really a transformation of the “old me” into a “new me”. What is now clear is that the “old” me was a product of imagining who I thought I was, and copying so much of the worst beliefs and behaviours predominant in our society. It was not Me at all – but an adopted version of what I thought was “cool” or “What Everybody did!”. Advertising, salacious movies, TV, magazines and other versions of the “way people are” these days – I was just a member of the pack – normal, funloving, outrageous.

    After many horrible years of misery, broken relationships, extreme drinking and chasing, the misery cried out for MERCY. It was too much – life couldn’t be worth living this way. After God guided me to counseling and SAA. it became clear that all those beliefs were false. I had a mask on that kept me from knowing who I was, what I was, and I believed in this false identity for 50 years and reaped from it disaster after disaster. Recovery really was allowing me to see what was underneath the false beliefs and identity. A creature made in the image of God, a misled member of the human community. How could a creature of God act in such insane, destructive and unconscious life? It was the false “way of the world” that I thought I lived in – but it was in the hell on earth where I was in actuality.

    Recovery, admitting who you really are, defects of character and all, no more lying, forces us to get back to sanity, to live the happy, loving, compassionate life God meant us to have, and CAN have – once we throw off the mask and costumes that kept us from seeing the divinity in all of us. Thanks to this incredible program and the loving care of H.P. and the people who rescue us from madness – that demonstrates and offera us the joy of living balanced, harmonious, compassionate and loving lives.

  6. Taking action was never a big problem for me. I have taken action a million times over my sex addiction. I would relapse, feel guilt and shame, and take vigorous action for 2 or 3 days. After that I would slowly fall into the same slimy pit that I knew all too well. And so the cycle would happen again and again for around 10 years. My problem is consistent action. Taking action when I don’t feel like it. Taking action when all I would rather do is act out. This is where I must fake it til I make it. When the phone seems like a thousand pounds, I must make that phone call. When the meeting seems like a million miles away I must get off the couch and into my car. Taking action is only meaningful for me if I am willing to be consistent with it. I need to make phone calls on both the good and bad days. I need to work steps when I feel like or more common, when I don’t. In doing this I have begun to notice a slight change. I am not faking it so much anymore but am actually developing a new habit in myself that wants to make that phone call when I am tempted. Wants to make that meeting when I have had a rough day. This can only be related to God’s transforming of my heart and mind to His will. If I want to live I must stay vigilent in action. For me truly to act out is to die (Big Book paraphrase pg 66).

  7. When my life was rocked about 2 months ago, and I was about to lose my wife and family, I vowed to do anything necessary to change my behavior and show my wife that those hurtful activities that i was doing would not continue. Even this early on in the process, I can see how easy it is to slack off, and i have not even completed my first step. My work is doubled because I am doing couples therapy and groups as well as my individual recovery. I do see the progress, though. I am being more honest and connecting with my wife more than we have during our entire marriage. Between my wife and my sponsor, I think I will have enough motivation to keep up the daily work and frequent meetings. I desperately want to feel better about myself and show my wife that i can become a better person.

  8. “Fake It Until You Make It”….act as if…act as if I’m a man of integrity…act as if I’m not a liar…act as if I’m a man of honor and I do what is right and honorable and truthful. Many years ago…a long time ago…It seems like several lifetimes ago…I was all of these. And then I gave in to the desires. And then I gave in again and again. I remember as one of the other posts says…taking action. I just couldn’t sustain it. When I felt as I do now…alone, lonely, sad, useless, and hopeless…I acted out. I knew deep down where it would lead me but I wanted to fill the hole and the hopelessness so much and the high was so great…until the ride stopped and I had to get off. And each time I had another affair I dug a deeper hole and created more hopelessness and despair. So here I am now. I “acted as if” and it was working…but then I did what I always have done before…gave into the pain and desires. And to compound the difficulty…we are in the midst of the holidays and all that memories and sadness that brings back.
    So how am I going to crawl out of this hole. By “faking it until I make it”. It seems impossible but I know from having been in the “rooms” for a couple years now…it is not. It is very difficult, but with God’s help and the fellowship, I can fake it until I do make it. I will “act as if” I am sober and growing, and when I stop “acting as if”, then I will pick myself up again and “act as if” I am all those things that I once was – a very long time ago. I will fake it until I do make it – somehow.

  9. As I have been previously advised by my sponsor, I have to work relentlessly. That also includes changing your thoughts (or patterns) to a different angle. You have to be relentless in the efforts within SAA to begin to heal. This disease doesn’t take a day off and nor shall I.

    I agree with the original post that my thinking didn’t translate into action because I was too weak. I felt as if my world was spinning out of control and all I could do is NOTHING. However:
    “My thinking didn’t translate into action because I was too weak. I didn’t have a game plan or instructions on how to behave correctly, all I knew was that I wanted my next high. No amount of promising could overcome the warped rationalization and justification of addictive thinking in my head. The only solution was Action!”
    And it was the action of walking through the door for the first time that I was determined that I wasn’t going to fall victim to this disease. Yes, it is a simple program, but the work you have to put into it is well worth it for recovering your life, your spouse and everything that you hold dear.

    Of all the quotes given, fake it till you make it made the most sense to me. I am not saying or believing the literal sense of the phrase, I take it deeper. Action(s) translate into change. And that is what I want.

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