In Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs, Step One requires you to admit that there’s a problem, that you aren’t happy, and that something needs to change. This isn’t exclusive to people who abuse substances. Addiction takes many shapes and forms, and loneliness and discontent live in the hearts of people who appear to be “perfectly fine” just as often as those who are admittedly broken. In both cases, acknowledgement and willingness are the fertile soil within which change can grow.
I used to compare how I felt inside to how other people looked on the outside. So often it seemed that they “had it all”: the happy family, the perfect physique, zero debt or financial concerns. It’s amazing how much you can tell from a person’s Facebook status, isn’t it? (Not really!) In fact, when I got out of my head and went into the world to talk with people, the more I realized that everyone, everyone is working through something in their life, whether that’s grief or job loss, depression or anxiety, addiction, loneliness, or pain—nobody is 100% free of the trials and tribulations of this thing we call Life.
Talking with others made me realize how lucky I am to be on the spiritual path, not because it makes me immune from pain or suffering, but because it provides me with some incredible tools for dealing with those ups and downs.