Sunday, 11 January 2015

Authenticity and kindness

At a meeting recently, it was suggested that people-pleasers (those who act kindly and courteously towards others in order to curry favour) necessarily must stop being kind and courteous and go through a phase of being angry and unpleasant, in order to learn authenticity, ultimately to resume being kind and courteous, but this time authentically.

It was asserted that the programme is not about becoming a better person but becoming authentic.

Now, that is a view, but it not the view of the Big Book, which is clear that we perform inventory and ask God to remove defects not so we can indulge in a glorious process of self-discovery and reached a hallowed place of authenticity but so we can stop being rebarbative and objectionable and start being patient, tolerant, kind, and loving.

I've met a quite a few people-pleasers in my time. I have to say, they have never particularly pleased me. I'm a little hesitant about anyone who comes into recovery claiming to have behaved in a saintly manner, just with the wrong motives.

It was said of someone, 'she helps many people. You can tell who they are by the haunted look on their faces.'

The premise of this suggested journey is likely flawed, therefore.

But the real problem is the suggestion that, if we are indeed kind and courteous to others, but for self-serving reasons, we need to stop acting kindly and courteously and start acting unkindly and rudely, in order to make spiritual progress.

I am most thankful this is not the case. One can continue behaving well but work on surrendering internally to God to ensure that the spirit in which one does such things is amended. The result will indeed be more authentic and more genuinely helpful, therefore, without the silent but oh-so-well-understood expectations hitherto served up as a parsley garnish with every boeuf-en-croute of kindness.

To test this, ask those surrounding the recovering or recovered alcoholic who behaves well but is sickeningly dependent on the approval of others: what would you prefer? That he find his true self and in the course of doing so cease to be any use to others, perhaps taking himself on dates with himself, or running luxurious baths, or that he carry on behaving well but grow up and stop being so needy? I think the answer is clear.

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