Honesty: Voicing Your Hidden Motives

The journey to and through sobriety asks us to confront uncomfortable truths about ourselves, pulling back the blinds on our illusions, and reflecting on our hidden motives. In this exploration of honesty, we need heightened self-awareness to truly understand why we do what we do and if we may be hiding ill intentions just underneath our helpful actions toward others.

Reflecting on passages focused on honesty in the AA-approved literature ‘As Bill Sees It’, I resonated deeply with this challenging aspect of self-awareness: sometimes we disguise a not-so-great motive within a seemingly good one. I’ve begun to practice recognizing this in order to correct my choice of actions should there be an underlying dishonest motive that was not obvious to me right away. As one passage says, deceiving others often begins with deceiving ourselves.

One self-correcting exercise I’ve found valuable is admitting my motives to my higher power. Speaking my ugly truths and hidden motives out loud can feel completely uncomfortable and shameful, but it’s a powerful step towards honesty. It’s like holding up a mirror to ourselves, rather than just looking at the world from the inside out. In the quiet corners of our minds, motives can easily hide in our dark place.

The Serenity Prayer has been a staple in my recovery program. It encourages me to pause, assess a situation or relationship, and discern what’s within my power to change. Once we understand our capacity to influence a situation, we can make informed choices and examine the intent behind each action.

Honesty is at the heart of this process. Being transparent with ourselves, ensures our motives are as clear as they seem at first glance. Sometimes, what appears to be kindness and empathy can be laced with selfishness, a realization that requires a high degree of self-awareness and humility. When in doubt, a candid conversation with my higher power helps me clarify my motives. Just quickly saying out loud, “I’m doing this because…”, is just enough to keep me honest.

The Serenity Prayer doesn’t encourage us to flee from what we can’t change. It teaches us to observe life unfolding without our interference, recognizing we never really had control and its ok. I often joked at work, amid things I couldn’t control, that I was excited to see how the story ends. It was my way of acknowledging my limited control with a hint of sarcasm.

Blaming others for our circumstances is a comfortable way to avoid looking at our own defects of character and mistakes. Accepting our circumstances as a product of our choices invites humility and releases the illusion of control of people, places, and things. No matter how self-aware we think we are, we sometimes need the perspective of others to keep us honest.

I work at nurturing self-kindness and self-forgiveness, pushing me with the same compassion I’d offer my kids. This inner dialogue is critical in shaping my honesty about motives.

While living one day at a time is vital in recovery, our values and actions should be guided by a vision of our future selves, not just short-term desires. Try saying your self-talk out loud. It might just reveal hidden motives beneath your good deeds while cultivating stronger self-awareness.