The Intersection of Kindness and Sobriety – A Holistic Approach
Recently, during a meeting, we explored the subject of “kindness” as prompted by the Daily Reflections. It’s a reasonable question for newcomers to ask, “What does kindness have to do with staying sober?”
As per the Big Book, a text read at every meeting, the AA calls for us to “grow along spiritual lines.” The book even highlights this growth as “the Point!” Who could argue that kindness isn’t an indicator of mature, well-developed spirituality? Perhaps only those who, stuck in the ‘AA caveman’ mindset, still believe in “tough love” as a valid approach to dealing with newcomers and others.
I’ve been there, practicing ‘tough love.’ It’s misguided and lacks the essential element of love. Above all, ‘tough love’ lacks kindness. I have since learned that it is possible to speak difficult truths with kindness; it requires skill but is certainly achievable.
The Role of Conscientiousness
Alongside kindness, I see compassion and conscientiousness as values that spiritually mature individuals embody.
Why is it often challenging to be kind, compassionate, and conscientious? On one level, it’s simply easier to be angry, indifferent, and moody than it is to practice kindness, compassion, and conscientiousness. Many of us default to these negative states. I’ve found that sometimes, I’m angry without even knowing why. This is where the HALT (Hungry – Angry – Lonely – Tired) concept might come into play.
Beyond Steps: Seeking Additional Help
On another level, there could be deeper issues at play that go beyond the steps. It might be necessary to undertake more writing and “work” to identify the underlying causes and conditions blocking a loving and kind response to those we love and care about. This self-exploration often goes beyond the resentments, harms, sexual issues, and fears addressed in the AA 4th and 5th steps. To get to the core of these issues, it might be time to consider Al-Anon, another program, or even professional help.
While this might go against the grain for those who say, “AA solves all my problems,” it’s important to remember that such a statement is an opinion, not a fact. The Big Book encourages seeking out “where others can be right” and can be of help.
Final Thoughts: The Power of Kindness
No one chooses to be unkind on purpose. If they do, they need even more love and compassion from us. Either way, meanness isn’t spiritual. After all, who believes that the world needs less kindness?
The value, respect, and spiritual significance attributed to kindness stem from the fact that it’s challenging to consistently practice, but when applied at just the right time, it can transform lives.
We each have our own paths to kindness. Some may find it easier than others. For those who struggle, let’s borrow another universally recognized spiritual value – patience.