A bunch of years ago someone said to me “You really think outside the box” and my ego soared in thinking that “Yes, I certainly am an innovative and creative thinker.” Of late, I prefer the idea of making the box bigger instead. The difference reflects the me vs we of every aspect of my daily existence.
Thinking outside the box can be a very lonely place. This approach celebrates illusions of my terminal uniqueness, a perception that allows me to actively live into my addictions and isolate in a little bubble of self-righteousness. This reminds me of the quote from Herbert Spencer on page 570 of the Big Book that reads:
There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.
Contrary to thinking outside the box, making the box bigger is an understanding that celebrates creative thinking, rejects the unchanging dogmatism of outmoded and ineffective past precedent, but allows me to do so in the community of others. That community engagement is the very essence of my recovery from active addiction. Today, I realize the transition from outside the box to making the box bigger thinking was instrumental to taking the First Step – We Admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. To do so, required not so much my thinking outside the box, but simply making my box bigger to include the box of recovery.