In AA’s big book on page 61, a question is asked, “What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? Is he not even in his best moments a producer of confusion rather than harmony? Our actor is self-centered—ego-centric…”
In my life, there has been in subtle and overt ways, both when I am being generous and when I am being selfish, a very real energy in existence. It wasn’t really a conscious thought, but certainly a present behaviour. And it was simply this: What’s in it for me? What will I get out of this? What will they think of me? Will they admire me? Will I benefit from this? It’s a very natural human condition. If I were to name this condition, I would name it, “Life-is-all-about-me” condition.
When our behaviours, and I want to be clear that it is our behaviours, are driven by some sort of personal gain – regardless of whether I am giving to somebody – in a subtle way, I am taking. When life is about me, my fundamental physical, emotional, mental and spiritual posture is one of “taker”.
A few years ago, I heard the phrase, “Life is not about you, you are about life.” I was struck by the subtle yet profound difference.
If I am about life, then I am no longer the centre. Life is the centre. And if life is the centre, then my participation in life is one of creator and receiver.
I am thankful today that God is the Creator of life and that, in a growing measure, I am discovering that each day is a great mystery of receiving and creating that life. Here is a question that might help frame this distinction inside of your mind: Are my acts of kindness done to others simply for the benefit of the others, or do I seek reward for myself?
Thinking and writing down these lines is not about judging myself, nor is it inviting you into the judgement of yourself either. It is about recognising what is true about us. If you read this and perceive yourself as a taker, don’t judge it – just recognise it.
The awareness of this energy in our lives frees us up to discover our true desire which is always to be a creator and receiver of life; someone who is about life. I’d encourage you to trust the truth of what IS in your life, as I have learnt the truth of what actually IS in my life.
So what is our basic trouble? Are we not really self-seekers even when trying to be kind? I am thankful for another option, that being to move from a “taking” energy to a receiving and a creating experience of life.
I thank God for a gentle movement from “life is about me” to “I am about life.”