I really like my Tuesday night meeting. It is filled with all kinds of people at different levels of recovery and no recovery. There are newcomers who cry, people who come but have no sponsor, others who have a lot of wisdom, and many double winners of which several violate the traditions. The group is large and the room is filled to overflowing every Tuesday night.
Last night, I brought a fellow who had not gone to this meeting before. He has been in Al-Anon for a number of years. His impression of the group was that there was a lot of intellectualizing going on. He stressed that Al-Anon is a spiritual program and isn't about the intellect.
I know a lot about intellectualizing. It's what I do as a scientist. In recovery though, it means avoiding emotional and personal awareness of the problem of alcoholism by being general, analytical, or theoretical. An example of this comes to mind in which one justifies not dealing with underlying feelings because their childhood was so bad.
Al-Anon is a spiritual program which means that I have a relationship with my Higher Power that isn't intellectual. I have faith and a belief. I also have a gift from this program that allows me to put myself in the shoes of another. And through this principled determination of compassion I put aside self-will, judgment, and a host of other character defects and enhance the capacity of my heart. Eventually, as I progress the head and heart will be in alignment.
I cannot intellectualize my way to a spiritual experience. It basically gets down to walking the walk and not just talking the talk. I must act on my compassion, not just pray out of compassion.
I have a concern about intellectualizing this program. I speak plainly with my sponsor, but often with people in every day life, I have difficulty transitioning between the truth of my heart and the gray matter in my head.
I have read that surrender is not only a part of Step One but is also essential in Steps Two and Three. I want to surrender those defense mechanisms of the ego that keep me off the spiritual path. What are your thoughts on intellectualizing recovery?