I have noted in my Underground DSM-IV (I have not updated) that the substance abuser who says they will do “whatever it takes” to get sober is not to be believed. I had noticed that purely empirically over the years, but had no explanation. Early in my minor ordeal of having to keep my head face down for a week I was frustrated and wanted to sit up more, but knew I had to maintain the uncomfortable posture for the sake of my future eyesight. I found myself thinking that very phrase “whatever it takes,” and chuckled to myself that I was doing what I had criticized others for. But this time I knew in a moment how people could say it with sincerity, yet it was still wrong. It’s a different type of discipline, a different type of courage. One says “whatever it takes” to get up to fever pitch. It’s for a one-shot deal, a moment’s intense courage or determination. Go ahead! Pull the bone into place! Make the call! Leap the brook! But that is not the type of determination that is needed to get sober or to remain in an uncomfortable position another day. It is not a matter of amount, it is different in quality. Fever pitch won’t get you sober.
Saying “whatever it takes,” then, is not a matter of deceiving oneself or others. But it does mean you don’t understand what is being asked of you.