Mental Health

Embracing the Outer Circle: A Journey to My Higher Power and Intuitive Self | by Serenity Notekeeper | Jan, 2024

Recently, I opened up about feeling envious of some fellow individuals’ seemingly constant connection with their higher power. My years of agnosticism and a very ‘scientific’ perspective have impacted this. Additionally, my constant return to addictive behaviors has hindered my ability to build a relationship with my higher power or intuitive self.

For now, my version of a higher power is still being developed, as I am in the early stages of recovery. I see it as more of the compassionate and giving parts of myself and others. Being in a relationship with a higher power for me means being in touch with my intuitive self that cares about me and others. Maybe I should call it “compassionate intuition” or something similar. I am still working on the concept and building trust and a relationship with that higher power. However, my addictive behaviors distract me from building a meaningful relationship that I can rely on for guidance on the next indicated action.

The Fluctuating Nature of Spiritual Connection

My friend and fellow traveler in recovery acknowledged the fluctuating nature of spiritual connection, suggesting that it’s normal for this feeling to be inconsistent. He pointed out the beauty in my jealousy, seeing it as a sign of recognizing something worth aspiring to. This wholesome envy is a step towards seeking a deeper understanding and relationship with a higher power. He mentioned how some “outer circle behaviors” can become spiritual experiences or healing once there is a relationship with a higher power involved. I’ve seen fellows who even see filling out tax forms as a spiritual action if they feel it’s for their spiritual fitness and guided by their compassionate intuition or higher power.

The concept of “circles” in addiction recovery is a tool that involves three concentric circles: inner, middle, and outer. The inner circle includes core addictive behaviors; the middle circle consists of behaviors that may lead to inner circle behaviors, often known as “slippery slope” actions; and the outer circle represents healthy, positive behaviors that support recovery.

My friend shared insights on building a relationship with a higher power, likening it to developing any meaningful relationship — it requires time, effort, and genuine commitment. “Building a relationship with a higher power is like if you met someone you wanted to date. You wouldn’t just expect them to marry you because you think they’re amazing. Just like someone who’s been dating for two weeks might be in lust but doesn’t really know each other. Then you meet someone who’s been in a healthy relationship for 10 years. They have a really amazing dynamic. It just takes time to build that. It takes a lot of time, energy, effort, and commitment. It’s the same with a higher power. We work the steps to come into a relationship with a higher power.

Continuing, he said, “In the first stages of any 12-step program, it’s about getting enough sobriety to build a relationship, maybe you’re white-knuckling it. It’s about getting enough space from those activities that harm the relationship with the higher power. It doesn’t matter if you’re fully doing it from your old being or if you fully believe it, but it’s like if you’re trying to heal a wound, you need to stop rubbing dirt into it.

“It’s going to feel artificial to have space from these things at first. But that’s where commitment and jealousy are beautiful. Be jealous enough of those people that you think they have a good relationship with their higher power, that you might just try it, even though it’s difficult, and you don’t understand it.”

I mentioned how it’s been hard for me to avoid rubbing dirt into that wound! I might still avoid drinking or using narcotics but quickly check irrelevant websites or engage in other addictive behaviors such as food and TV to soothe my pains without addressing them. These also are serious barriers to building that connection with intuition for me.

My friend advised, “Take it one bit at a time. You can put things in your outer circle that seem healthy enough and just get space from the inner circle ones. If you can get space from one thing, then that will help you get space from the next thing and then the next thing. You don’t have to shoehorn yourself into everything at once. It’s a matter of practice and patience.

When I mentioned feeling that my writings for Medium were just corny, he responded, “If you’re waiting for perfection to have a relationship with a higher power, you’re never going to start. What helps with the imperfection of outer circle stuff is the trust that I’m heading towards higher power. It’s part of this bigger journey I’m making on the spiritual path. So, I don’t have to do them for no reason, I’m doing them because I know I’m on a bigger journey that I do believe in.”

Abstaining from harmful behaviors, especially in early states of recovery, is crucial to heal and build a healthier relationship with oneself and a higher power. He encouraged taking small steps and focusing on one aspect of recovery at a time. It again reminded me that spiritual fitness and growth are processes that require patience and perseverance. It’s not about immediate perfection but about gradual progress and the willingness to explore new ways of living. I am inspired to continue my journey, recognizing the value in each step I take towards healing and a deeper spiritual connection.


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