Willingness vs. Self-will

There is a difference between willingness and self-will that often gets lost in translation. The AA tradition is against self-will and this againstness can often confuse people around the quality of willingness. Willingness was one of my strongest qualities when I started my process; it remains a strength today. I became willing to do things differently, to look at things differently. Because of my willingness, I changed. Willingness can be defined as a state of being prepared to do something; readiness. Willingness offered me advancement to surrender. To me, self-will is ego. Self-will seems to be a defense mechanism. I often hear people say, “I’m a smart guy, I should be able to figure this out.” This reminds me of self-will. I view this as Authentic Self vs. ego. Most of us go through our entire lives fully connected and living from ego. We buy into a system that tells us to be happy you have to x, y and z. I became willing to look beyond the “suppose to” and started to connect with my heart’s desire. What’s my passion? Who am I really? What’s my purpose in this world? When we can shift to asking these questions, we can create a space that let’s our true self come forward. Willingness is a wonderful quality to cultivate. It can support you in getting in touch with your Authentic Self. How has willingness supported you in your process?


  1. Wes on August 24, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    My process started over a year ago with a willingness to be vulnerable, to do something that went against my habitual way of responding to my circumstances. Since then, I’ve cultivated the willingness to push myself to go beyond limitations and beliefs that no longer serve me now. The biggest thing I notice now is a willingness to wake up every morning with a new perspective on life. This translates into being willing to let go of long held beliefs and opinions on what truth is. A lot of this has come from your example, since willingness isn’t something I was consciously aware that I was cultivating. It’s become an important quality in my healing and growth process. Without it, I’d be stuck being a victim of life instead of consciously creating it as I move through it.

    • beverlysa on August 24, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      I think people really struggle with willingness and commitment. It’s easy to say you want something to be different but to show up willing and commit yourself to making it different is something else. You are very committed to your process, that’s a good sign. I know that I had a strong commitment to my old self so I knew that if I could shift it, I would have a strong commitment to my new self.

  2. NicoleK on August 24, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    I see willingness and self-will to be opposite to each other.. Self will having a sense of control and or results… and willingness having to do with surrender to some power outside of myself.
    I have been raised in my recovery by AA and chose to open myself to alternative avenues as well so I have a more well rounded recovery toolbox.

    • beverlysa on August 27, 2015 at 1:00 am

      So good to hear that you are adding alternatives to your toolbox in service to having a well-rounded set of skills. I tend to see surrender to a power within me versus a power outside of me. I do appreciate different perspectives so I thank you for sharing. I’ve found a greater shift by recognizing that it’s a power within. However, I do know everyone holds these things differently. If you way of holding it works for you, then go with it. If it’s not working, perhaps opening yourself up to different possibilities and perspectives is a good thing to explore. I’ve always found you open to trying new things! I appreciate that about your process.

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