What is the Power of Choice?
The Power of Choice is a philosophy that is the foundation stone behind all my programs and services; School programs, Corporate training, Community events, Treatment facilities, Family and Individual coaching, Interventions.
The rest of the text on this page is directly from my book in progress of the same name, "The Power of Choice";
"For me, the “power of choice” has become the key to transforming any unwanted habit and even all addictions.
As I say that, I’m a bit hesitant calling anything “the” key because it presupposes that there is only one right way, or that other approaches are not as good or valid as this one. And that’s not what I mean.
What I’ve discovered is that it’s been the key in my work to accelerating results and creating lasting change. It can also be utilized with any paradigm of addiction recovery or any method of breaking free of unwanted habits that are not addictions. Regardless of what modality I use to help someone, I’ve found that giving them the power to choose has been the key to their success.
What’s so Important about Choice?
It began when I went into a treatment centre for my alcohol and drug problems in 1999. There they used the AA or 12-step model of recovery, which is based on the book Alcoholics Anonymous. In the “big book” (as those who’ve been through the program call it), it says that "most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice (over) drink." And therefore I was taught that I had lost the power of choice.
I remember one of my sponsors, an amazing man who took me through the book, saying, “Scott, you've got no choice about who you are - or you being an alcoholic.” He believed it was something I was born with, like a genetic inheritance. “But I do have choice,” I said. “Well did you have a choice about what colour your eyes are?” “No.” “Did you have a choice about whether you were going to be male or female?” he asked. “No.” “Well see, you have no choice.” We argued like that for about 20 minutes. Then I realized something.
I really wanted to be like this guy. He was my sponsor's sponsor, and his presence was so peaceful and spiritual that everybody just wanted to be around him. So I said to myself, “There's no point in arguing with this guy about this. I don't agree; I believe that I do have choice. But he's telling me if I believe that, then I'm in denial and he won’t work with me. I can't change what I believe,” I thought, “so I'm just going to swallow it.” So I lied to myself and said to him, “Okay, now I get it.” And once I’d agreed with him, we moved on.
The Only ‘Real’ Way
Before going into treatment – a story I’ll share later in this book – I had worked with many different teachers and self-development programs. Each one had helped me enormously, even to the point of getting off drugs or alcohol for several years at a time. However, like Ruth’s experience, nothing seemed to stick for me. And eventually I would fall back into one of my destructive habits once again.
However this recovery was different. As I began to apply the 12 steps, I found that they did help me stay ‘clean and sober.’ So I wanted to continue.
I was also taught by some of my sponsors that the Big Book was 'the only real way' to recovery. It wasn’t just about going to AA meetings and sharing your stories. You have to go through the Book with someone step by step, so you really learn, follow and apply what it says. So when I would see people in my 12 step meetings relapse, I'd say to myself, "I figured that would happen. He (or she) didn't go through the Big Book." At the time, I really believed that that was “the” answer.
Eventually, I ended up being taken through the Big Book by five of the top people in Toronto. Nobody got "booked" as many times as I did. Sometimes I even pretended that I was more messed up than I was, so the next ‘top’ guy would work with me. Before the 12 steps, my life had been hell. This was working for me. So I really wanted to master the process, since I thought it was the only path to recovery.
My whole mission to help others came out of this experience with AA. I wouldn't even be doing all the things I've done over the past 10 years had it not been for that. So I owe a lot to it, and will always appreciate it and remember that training.
Since that time, I’ve taken countless people through the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. And whenever I did, there was only one paragraph I would ever ask anyone to memorize. (I’ll bet you can guess what it said.) Out of that entire 500 page book, this was the paragraph:
"The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called willpower becomes practically non-existent. We're unable at certain times to bring into our consciousness the suffering, humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defence against the first drink." (Bold is my addition)
The whole addiction model that I was taught, and then taught others, was that being an addict means you've lost the power of choice. Therefore you need a higher power, God or spirituality to help you recover. Even then, it's only a daily reprieve. You could relapse at any time if you don’t do it this way. And that was the belief system that became my truth.
At the same time, what I found was that even the 12 steps had its limitations. The AA model wasn’t right for everyone. It also didn’t help me deal with all of my addictions and habits. So I came to the realization that something more was needed. That ‘something more’ led me to continue my search into the root causes and solutions to these problems. And it eventually helped me discover how to regain my power of choice, while still honouring the wisdom of the 12-steps and the many other paths that helped me along the way."