Emotional Sobriety: The Next Step in Recovery

Allen Berger & Thom Rutledge

Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholic's Anonymous, wrote in 1952, "If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root some unhealthy dependence and its consequent demand." Wilson suggested that if we could identify and continually surrender these unrealistic and unrecognizable demands, that we may then be able to accomplish what he imagined to be recovery's next frontier - something he called emotional sobriety.   Flash forward 70 years, and join psychotherapists and best-selling authors Thom Rutledge and Dr. Allen Berger, who have taken up the mantle of exploring Bill Wilson's new frontier. Welcome to Emotional Sobriety.

Episode Forty-Four: Emotional Sobriety as Philosophy (Part Two)
Mar 20 2022
Episode Forty-Four: Emotional Sobriety as Philosophy (Part Two)
Thom shares further thoughts on psychology and philosophy, which Allen relates to existentialism. All have a useful context in our journey towards greater emotional freedom. Next week, we do a deep dive on perfectionism. Thom’s essay: Psychology is the study of how our minds work. Philosophy pans back for a much bigger picture, an expansive view that inspires us to wonder how the whole universe works. Philosophy is often more about developing good questions, not so much so to discover the RIGHT answers, but just questions that are good company, questions that are magnetic in that they attract information, ideas, thought, even other questions.   For me in the 1990’s I became aware of self-indulgence in recovery. In myself, my community and my clients. Were we just learning to take care of ourselves for its own sake? I became aware of the arrogance of my own recovery. I was better than my family, I was better than the families of my friends and of my clients. I had become a fundamentalist. I had become what I despised the most from my most religious friends. I was right, others were wrong, not subjectively but objectively. Clearly I was missing something.   So the question showed up: WHY are we recovering? Is it really for its own sake? I had an idea that I liked better: that we are all component parts of a much greater whole – that we were healing, repairing, rehabbing our way back to rejoin (or join for the first time) the whole. Not so that we could FEEL better but so that we can BE better. So that we can become better people. More self-sufficient, sure, but also better at letting our guards down, being vulnerable, better at connecting and collaborating with others. A balance of giving and receiving seemed like a good idea.   Especially fond of that place of the BIG CONNECTION, the place called Humility. Where we are neither better nor worse than one another. Where we are individuals but also part of the whole.   Looking at all of this through the lens of Emotional Sobriety, and specifically during this time in our world’s history, I can see how each of our individual recovery paths can become models for a bigger recovery --- a recovery in ALL CAPS, maybe.   The human condition is in pain, in distress. The collective human experience is confused, lost, drunk, addicted, obsessed, selfish, narrow minded. The collective human experience does what we have all done as individual component parts: it over-simplifies what is extremely complex and it makes what should be simple complicated to a point of contamination.   The human experience, as we individually have done (and still do), is missing more than a few points.   There is room within this way of looking at ourselves individually and the human experience as a whole, for any number of individual belief systems. To consider this perspective does not require than we renounce other beliefs. And what I am describing is not intended to become one of those belief systems. Instead, this is my work-in-progress attempt to depict a broad enough, yet specific enough problem definition so that we can work together to support one another’s individual recovery practices and just maybe contribute to the ALL CAPS RECOVERY.   -Thom Rutledge /  www.thomrutledge.com   Follow us on social media! Twitter: @EmSobrietyPod