Selfism - By Rabbi Twerski
We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
We admitted to G-d, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
The concept “Know thyself” has been attributed to a number of the ancient Greek philosophers. In Alei Shur, Rabbi Shlomo Walbe contends that the Torah requirement for self-knowledge antedated Greek philosophy.
The importance of a valid self-knowledge should be immediately evident. If a person has an erroneous perception of reality, one cannot have an optimal adjustment to reality. It makes little difference what the nature of the error is. A poverty stricken person who has the delusion that he is a multibillionaire or the psychotic who cannot be budged from his conviction that he is president of the World Bank cannot live a normal, healthy life. This is equally true of a bright, handsome, gifted, personable person who thinks himself to be dull, ugly and devoid of any skills or talents. A person who thinks himself to be inferior believes that everyone who looks at him sees him as the worthless person he thinks himself to be. One who functions under this delusion cannot make an optimal adjustment to life.
Earlier, I related how doing the fourth step enabled me to achieve a correct self-awareness. I pointed out that my sponsor was not satisfied with my first attempts at an inventory, because I only listed my character defects and the mistakes I had made. He instructed me to describe my character strengths and the good things I had done, but that I found this difficult.
We then went over the mistakes I had made. My sponsor said, “If that situation occurred today, what would you do?” I said, “I certainly would not act as I did then.” He said, “Oh, then it was a learning experience. A learning experience is a positive, not a negative.” Eventually, all my inventory was positive.
Why should a person have trouble being aware of one’s strengths? Perhaps it is because if you are aware of your potential, you may feel obligated to live up to it, and if you do not actualize your potential, you may feel guilty. It may be more comfortable to be unaware of your skills, talents, and strengths. A person may justify his indolence by thinking that he is not capable of doing what he should.
Rebbe Zusia of Anipole was hurrying along his way when a man shouted to him, “Hey, come here and help me set this wagon up straight.” Rebbe Zusia, said, “I’m not able to.” The man said, “Sure, you are able to. You just don’t want to.” Rebbe Zusia said that this was like a message from heaven. Whenever you think you cannot do something, think again. It may be that you just don’t want to do it.
It is well known that the hallmark of adduction is denial. This refers not only to the denial of the addictive behavior, but also to the denial of who one is in reality.
In my book The Thin You Within You, I said that the person that one really is, will not overeat. However, if one imagines oneself to be something else, this imaginary person is insatiable. No matter how much food this imaginary person is given is not enough. This applies to all addictions. The real person does not have an endless desire. It is because one believes oneself to be something else than one is in reality that the person is like a bottomless pit, that can never be satisfied.
One recovering addict said, “I never had a desire for drugs. My body wanted drugs , but not me.” This is a wise statement. If all we are is a body, or as science says, homo sapiens, a baboon with intellect, we are at risk of be coming addicted. If we recognize who the “real me” is, we are less likely to become addicted.
The problem with selfism is that we have no idea who the real self is. The bogus “self” that we think ourselves to be may be insatiable in many ways .
Having made a searching and fearless moral inventory, the program requires that we admit it to Hashem and to another human being. Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk says that when you verbalize the wrongs that you’ve done, it breaks their hold on you. Furthermore, if you know that you will eventually have to reveal your actions to someone, that may restrain you from doing something wrong.