Dr. Low made it clear that practicing Recovery means really applying the method—not just understanding it. I find myself spotting angry temper flares most easily. These are not as common as my flares of fearful temper, so in general I’m able to quickly spot and not begin a vicious cycle.
It’s a different story with fearful temper. Usually I’m “on edge” all day, so it’s difficult to “continuously” spot and reassure myself with secure thoughts and the Recovery tools. It takes a lot of work, in fact. I know intellectually what I’m supposed to do, but I often feel I’m not applying the method effectively.
Yet I know enough about Recovery to accept that this is just an average situation. There’s no need to work up these feelings, and the best course of action is to continue reading the books, attending meetings, and applying the method.
So when I read Dr. Low’s lecture on apprenticeship I felt much better about my progress. He reminds us that we are apprentices learning a new skill, and this is accomplished neither quickly nor easily:
“What would happen to our workers—to our craftsmen—if, when they begin their apprenticeship, they should become discouraged the first day? We would have no craftsmen. And yet that is what our patients do. They have a passion for becoming discouraged. They have a passion to be discouraged, and that means they don’t consider themselves apprentices.” (1)
Looking at recovery from nervous conditions as an apprenticeship is a refreshing perspective. Not only does it make sense, it is a much more authentic philosophy than many of the anxiety “quick fixes” that are hawked. Once again, Dr. Low’s enduring wisdom shines through.
1. Low AA. Lecture 11: The patient is an apprentice. In: Manage Your Fears, Manage Your Anger: A Psychiatrist Speaks. Glencoe, Il.: Willett Publishing Co.; 1995; 57-64.