How Do I Find a Higher Power of My Own Understanding?

Higher Power

Table of Contents

That’s quite a big question, isn’t it? Perhaps the big question. Finding and understanding our higher power is a quest that mankind has engaged in since ancient times. But we’re not going to go back that far; we’re going to start right here and now. For alcoholics and addicts, the higher power issue is one of the most controversial, necessary, and misunderstood aspects of our recovery. Despite the magnitude of this question, we do have some helpful ideas and suggestions.

What if I Have an Issue With the Higher Power Concept?

To put it simply, we all have an issue with the higher power. All alcoholics and addicts have the spiritual malady — it is a symptom of our disease. Even for those of us who have a good relationship with a higher power already, we still suffer from this spiritual sickness. Therefore, all who arrive in the program seeking recovery have issues in the higher power department. The good news is that we have found the solution in the 12-Step program.

But what if we have an issue with even the idea of having a higher power? Well, we need to do the 12-Steps to recover anyway, and we can read Chapter 4 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous many, many times. Let’s delve into why we might need to address our distaste with the idea of a higher power.

Why Do We Need a Higher Power Anyway?

Because lack of power is our dilemma, according to the book Alcoholics Anonymous. If our own power alone was sufficient to provide recovery from our disease, then surely we would have saved ourselves by now. But we didn’t, because we couldn’t. We are alcoholics and addicts, and as such we have the mental obsession, physical allergy, and spiritual malady that seal our fate. We will live and die by the disease unless we find recovery. In order to recover, because we lack the power, we will need a power greater than ourselves to assist us every step of the way as we work the 12-Step program of recovery.

What the Heck Is a Higher Power?

Everyone answers this question differently. Even when people share a popular religion, each individual has a different concept, interpretation, or relationship with the higher power at the center of their religion. People without a formal religion have a myriad of different higher powers. There are so many to choose from. And that’s exactly what we get to do in our recovery — choose our own conception of a higher power. We each get a higher power of our understanding, however we understand it.

There are no right or wrong answers and no good or bad choices. God, nature, Buddha, love, truth, Jesus, Allah — it’s all good. Some people even let the recovery fellowship or the 12-Steps themselves serve as their higher power. It all works. Many of us call it our higher power or God or other common, catchy names. But the only thing that’s important to our recovery is that it be a power greater than ourselves. That’s all it needs to be.

Whatever we call it and whatever it looks like, that’s totally personal and private. It just has to be bigger than ourselves, because we need help, we need power, and we need a new way of life. The Big Book emphasizes many times that we must find, utilize, and connect to a higher power of our own understanding. One that is unique and personal to us, and private and useful for us alone. We don’t need anyone else’s higher power, and there are no rules about how we find our own.

So How Do We Find It?

That’s the million-dollar question. And honestly, the “how” is fairly straightforward. If you want to find your higher power, then look for it. Seek it out. Read, meditate, and ask your higher power to reveal itself to you. These are concrete actions that we can take to begin the searching process. But if we want to go further, we will need to do more.

The most effective way to discover our higher power is to work the 12-Step program of recovery. It may sound like we need to have some things figured out before we work the 12-Steps, but all we need to know is that we desire to stop drinking and using. Beyond that, the rest of the answers we need will come as we do the work. The spiritual experience comes as a direct result of working the 12-Step program. We will find our higher power, and we will begin to understand it as we work the program of recovery and spiritual action.

As we seek, we will find. Work the 12-Steps to their fullest with a sponsor who has a sponsor. Be willing, honest, and open-minded, and your higher power will find you along the way.

Alcoholism and addiction are a unique disease, one that is devastating and often misunderstood. It is characterized by its three-fold nature — the mental obsession, physical allergy, and spiritual malady are common among all sufferers. The mental obsession dominates the mind and makes avoiding alcohol and other substances impossible. The physical allergy means that once the obsession has gotten its drink or drug, the body begins relentless cravings. The sufferer has no control over how much or for how long. The spiritual malady means the sufferer lacks the power to remove the mental obsession or to remain abstinent. They need a power greater than themselves working in their lives. Luckily, the 12-Step program does exactly this by facilitating the necessary psychic change and vital spiritual experience that make recovery possible. The 12-Steps are done with the help of others in recovery. All that’s needed to begin is the earnest desire to stop using. If you’re ready to recover, we can help with the rest. Call Jaywalker now at (970) 533-8087.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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