What is self-reliance? It is my ego-driven attempts to attain happiness through inherently unstable externals: money, sex, property, prestige, appearance etc. Convinced these things will make me happy/ fill that hole I chase them, single-mindedly, only to discover through a lot of pain that they don’t deliver what they promise.
It means I depend on other peoples approval for my self-worth, which in turn can lead to dishonesty and attempts to manipulate what you think about me. It means paralysis into inactivity instead of risking making mistakes. It means staying in toxic relationships because I am afraid to be alone. It means bad decisions and horrible experiences. It means that from an observer’s perspective it looks like an idiot is running my life!!
It is to an alcoholic what kryptonite is to Superman. Yet whilst Superman accepts his powerlessness over kryptonite, the alcoholic will determinedly, persistently, unrelentingly wrestle with self-reliance and often refuse to accept its detrimental impact on his life. Ultimately the result is perpetual and inescapable fear.
The antidote? God-reliance. Which intellectually I am willing to do but emotionally I stumble. I frequently lack the humility to accept I don’t know best, to accept that my perception is distorted. I am frightened to move towards the unfamiliar – even if it’s better – because my ego doesn’t want to be wrong. But if I want to outgrow fear I must learn to move towards guidance – away from ego, towards God.
As someone who’s concept of God is fluid, who’s connection with God oscillates between non-existent and adequate (rarely strong), this is a difficult concept for me to get my head around, let alone apply. But Sandy B’s definition helps: God is a power source that restores me to a different perspective – one that is light instead of dark; kind instead of cruel; loving instead of hateful; hopeful instead of fearful.
This is a daily process for me. Practice. Practice. Practice. My ego is a powerful entity with an extremely loud voice. It creeps into my prayers and (feeble) meditation and can often be confused with the voice of God! For this reason I must repeatedly check in with others of higher spiritual development what I think I know. When I stop or forget to do these things, the delusion of self-sufficiency doesn’t just creep in, it swallows me whole and I am again left drowning in fear.