Judgements in Sobriety

Many alcoholics and addicts find that a key ingredient in their recovery is a correction and refinement of our distorted judgements of ourselves and others. Especially in early sobriety, we climb steeply up and out of a swamp of self-criticsm, but the process of refining our judgement continues for a lifetime.

Active alcholism leads us into a downward spiral in which our bad behavior informs the harsh judgements of others, which in turn reinforces our own capacity for self-criticism. We act badly, and know that we’ve hurt others, and we are at once ashamed of ourselves and angry at our victims.

The Steep Early Hill and Beyond

Early in sobriety, if we go to LifeRing, AA, or another active recovery fellowship, our shame is gradually transformed. Our behavior begins to improve almost immediately as we react to life with a sober brain, and our recovering friends reinforce our positive actions with unconditional acceptance.

As before, it is the interplay between our actions and the opinions of others that interact to determine our judgements of ourselves, but now the influence of both of these is positive rather than negative.

There is a lag, however, between these positive “inputs” and the output we would like, which is a healthy and balanced ego.

By sharing the fruits of our fourth step with another person, for example, we begin the process of realizing that we are not the unworthy miscreant we believed ourselves to be, but simply an imperfect human being who is as intrinsically worthwhile as any other.

Still, our self-doubt, depression, and anxiety may linger for many months, and we may find that therapy or a similar professional intervention may help us to continue our recovery journey.

In any case, habit of self-examination and fine-tuning our opinions of ourselves and others is one we can enjoy for a lifetime of happy sobriety.