Honesty, Openness, Willingness (HOW)
Why is HOW important to your recovery?
HOW (honesty, openness, and willingness) is a common phrase in Twelve Step programs. It represents three key ingredients that are needed to move forward in a successful program of recovery.
What is honesty?
Sobriety requires us to change the way we live, to adopt a lifestyle that requires rigorous honesty. While in active addition, most addicts and alcoholics are far from honest. They live in a world of deceit and denial. Recovery demands that they be honest with themselves first, but also with their families, their friends in recovery, and those they have harmed. The Big Book states, “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. . . . They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.”
Honesty means speaking the truth to yourself and others. Honesty at times, however, needs to be tempered with compassion. Never use honesty to purposely hurt someone. Practicing honesty makes it apparent that what is also needed is wisdom. When you are struggling with an issue of honesty, talk about it with your sponsor or recovery support group.
Learning how to be honest after living dishonestly takes focused effort and it requires the help of your Higher Power. Making small, daily choices to be honest will help you grow and develop spiritually.
What is openness?
Openness is difficult for most people in recovery. Much of the time, addicts and alcoholics feel that if people really knew who they were and how they felt, they would not like them. One way to start being open is with people you trust, those you feel would understand. A good place to begin might be in your Twelve Step group. Start little by little. Begin by sharing at a meeting and see what happens. Others will respond to your openness.
What does it mean to be willing?
Willingness comes from your commitment to do whatever it takes to recover. The Big Book states, “If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it—then you are ready to take certain steps.” Follow the Twelve Steps of AA. You may also need to heed the advice of those that are already sober, even when it does not make sense to you at the time. Willingness is the commitment you bring to your recovery.
“Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.”
Honesty, openness, and willingness are the defining principles of AA. It is virtually impossible to drink and use drugs if you live your life in accordance with these simple truths.