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What If I Don’t Have a Higher Power?



Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the

last 77 years (that’s when Alcoholics Anonymous

first got started), you’ve heard that accessing a

“Higher Power” can be helpful, if not essential,

for recovery from addictions and for giving you

the necessary resource to make healthy change.

But what if you don’t believe in God?  Have been

wounded by organized religion in some way?

What if you don’t think you have a Higher Power?

What if you can’t believe there is a Higher Power?

I Can’t Tell You What to Believe

As  a person’s therapist, it’s really not my place

to tell anyone that there is or is not a God

or a guiding force in this Universe that you can

access to feel loved, supported, accepted,

guided, nurtured, and empowered to create change.

My own spiritual beliefs are just that…my own.

They aren’t yours and shouldn’t be yours.

Your spiritual path is your own path to walk.

So what do you do if you have identified yourself

as an atheist or agnostic…an unbeliever or a doubter

in the whole Higher Power discussion?

Does that mean you can’t pick up self-help books

that rely on this?  Where are all the self-help books

for people who don’t have a Higher Power, anyway?

Reasons for Disbelief

In the last 20 years, I have worked with many people

who have no faith in God, Spirit, the Universe, a

Higher Power, or any other beneficent being or force.

They have been abused, harmed, beaten, or suffered

unspeakable crimes.

And the notion that there could be a God who could

stand by and let this happen makes no sense.

If such a God exists, they want nothing to do with Him.

Many people are pragmatic, and believe only

in what they can see and have proven to them.

The notion of believing in something they cannot see

also makes no sense.  They want nothing to do with

something that is intangible, unscientific, unproven.

Let’s Look Somewhere Else Then

God or no God, faith or no faith, belief or no belief,

I will often ask a person how they managed to survive

their childhood, their life circumstances, their trauma.

If they don’t believe in a Higher Power, or believe their

Higher Power deserted them in their time of need, I will

still press them to tell me how they managed to survive.

Many times the answer can be distilled into this :

“I refused to give up.  I refused to give in.  I just kept going.

I don’t know how I survived.  I just did.”

What is That Thing?

There was something within that person that kept them

going, that did not allow them to give up, that perhaps

allowed them to hope that someday things would be better.

That person has survived a life situation that others have not.

That person is here, now, attempting to find meaning and to

heal from their past, or rid themselves of a current addiction…

a coping skill picked up to try to deal with the damage.

What is that thing that did not allow that person to give up?

What is that energy or force that propelled them to survive?

What is that power that can allow a that person to overcome

when others have succumbed to their circumstances?

The Survival Instinct

It can be explained away that all humans…possibly

all living beings…have an innate desire to survive.

It’s embedded in our DNA to survive so that we can someday

pass on that DNA, to prevent complete species extinction.

It’s still a power that is greater than the circumstances which

are creating pain and suffering and damage to a person.

It’s a power that is stronger than the desire to end the pain.

It’s a higher power.

An Awesome Power

It’s a power that enables a person to survive,

and by virtue of having survived,

to get to a place where healing can occur,

and the business of learning how to thrive can begin.

Worship is not required of this Higher Power.

But certainly there can be reverence and awe.

I am constantly in awe of the things that people have

survived.  I am in awe that they are still here.

I am in awe that they still want to be here after

what they have been through or are going through.

You Are Here

If you are here, if you are reading this, you have

gotten to this place not wholly on your own…

not completely by virtue of your own struggles,

although perhaps mostly by that.

But the will to live, to survive, to continue

had to have been present, and this force

of will empowered you to get to here.

It was there before, it is there now.

You can always access that if you need to

heal, if you need to change, if you need to

know that there is a good enough reason for

you to continue to press on, survive, exist.

Access to power creates opportunity…

access to a Higher Power creates unlimited possibilities.


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