December 31, 2005

True Ambition

True ambition is not what we thought is was. True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.

During my drinking years, my one and only concern was to have my fellow man think highly of me. My ambition in everything I did was to have the power to be at the top. My inner self kept telling me something else but I couldn't accept it. I didn't even allow myself to realize that I wore a mask continually. Finally, when the mask came off and I cried out to the only God I could conceive, the Fellowship of A.A., my group and the Twelve Steps were there. I learned how to change resentments into acceptance, fear into hope and anger into love. I have learned also, through loving without undo expectations, through sharing my concerns and caring for my fellow man, that each day can be joyous and fruitful. I begin and end my day with thanks to God, who has so generously shed His grace on me.

Copyright 1990 AAWS, INC.

December 30, 2005

The Healing Gift of Humor

Father Leo's Daily Meditation

"Humor is an affirmation of dignity, a declaration of man's superiority to all that befalls him." -- Romain Gary

Today I laugh at myself. Today I need to laugh at myself in order to stay sane. Today I choose not to take myself too seriously.

When I tell jokes about the alcoholic, I am not belittling the person. I am making fun of the disease that nearly killed me. For me to live with the disease, I need to be able to laugh at the disease in this way I stop it from having power in my life.

Also I catch something of the symptoms of the disease in the jokes: the grandiosity, arrogance, manipulation, insanity, ego, selfishness and exaggeration. The joke allows me to face reality with a smile.

O God, thank You for the healing gift of humor.

Suit Up and Show Up

In A.A. we aim not only for sobriety - we try again to become citizens of the world that we rejected, and of the world that once rejected us. This is the ultimate demonstration toward which Twelfth Step work is the first but not the final step.

The old line says, "Suit up and show up." That action is so important that I like to think of it as my motto. I can choose each day to suit up and show up, or not. Showing up at meetings starts me toward feeling a part of that meeting, I can talk with newcomers, and I can share my experience; that's what credibility, honesty, and courtesy really are. Suiting up and showing up are the concrete actions I take in my ongoing return to normal living.

The Permanent Assets We Seek

We were depressed and complained we felt bad, when in fact we were mainly asking for sympathy and attention. This odd trait of mind and emotion, this perverse wish to hide a bad motive underneath a good one, permeates human affairs from top to bottom.

This subtle and elusive kind of self-righteousness can underlie the smallest act or thought. Learning daily to spot, admit, and correct these flaws is the essence of character building and good living.

An honest regret for harms done, a genuine gratitude for blessings received, and a willingness to try for better things tomorrow will be the permanent assets we shall seek.

c. 1952AAWS, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pp. 94-5

Thought to Consider . . .

The best things in life aren't things.

December 27, 2005

Getting Through the Holiday Season

For some, the sights, signs, and smells of the holidays bring joy and a warm feeling. But, while others are joyously diving into the season, some of us are dipping into conflict, guilt, and a sense of loss.

We read articles on how to enjoy the holidays, we read about the Christmas blues, but many of us still can't figure out how to get through the holiday season. We may not know what a joyous holiday would look and feel like.

Many of us are torn between what we want to do on the holiday, and what we feel we have to do. We may feel guilty because we don't want to be with our families. We may feel a sense of loss because we don't have the kind of family to be with that we want. Many of us, year after year, walk into the same dining room on the same holiday, expecting this year to be different. Then we leave, year after year, feeling let down, disappointed, and confused by it all.

Many of us have old, painful memories triggered by the holidays. Many of us feel a great deal of relief when the holiday is ended.

One of the greatest gifts of recovery is learning that we are not alone. There are probably as many of us in conflict during the holidays than there are those who feel at peace. We're learning, through trial and error, how to take care of ourselves a little better each holiday season.

Our first recovery task during the holidays is to accept ourselves, our situation, and our feelings about our situation. We accept our guilt, anger, and sense of loss. It's all okay. There is no right or perfect way to handle the holidays. Our strength can be found in doing the best we can, one year at a time.

This holiday season, I will give myself permission to take care of myself.

You are reading from the book The Language of Letting Go.
©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

Share Your Warm Fuzzies

Father Leo's Daily Meditation


"And the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us." -- John (1:14)

There is a beautiful fairy tale about a land where everybody had an abundance of "warm fuzzies" that they exchanged with each other and shared with each other. Everything in this land was wonderful because all the people were generously giving and receiving "warm fuzzies".

Then a rumor began that there was to be a shortage of "warm fuzzies," and people began to hoard and selfishly protect their supply of "warm fuzzies." At this point, "cold pricklies" were introduced into the land. Sadness, pain, tension and persecution developed in the land, and the growth of the "cold pricklies" kept people separated, fearful and alone.

The tragedy of this tale is that the rumor was not true! As long as people generously share their "warm fuzzies", they will never disappear. The "warm fuzzies" only disappear when they are not shared. The more we give, the more we receive.

Abundance rests in giving, never hoarding!

Master, may I always be generous with all that You have given me.

We Surrender to Win

Such is the paradox of AA regeneration: strength arising out of complete defeat and weakness, the loss of one's old life as a condition for finding a new one. But we of AA do not have to understand that paradox; we have only to be grateful for it.
Bill W.

c. 1957, 1985AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, p. 46

December 26, 2005

Native American Code of Ethics

1. Rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often. The Great Spirit will listen, if you only speak.

2. Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Ignorance, conceit, anger, jealousy and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray that they will find guidance.

3. Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.

4. Treat the guests in your home with much consideration. Serve them the best food, give them the best bed and treat them with respect and honor.

5. Do not take what is not yours whether from a person, a community, the wilderness or from a culture. It was not earned nor given. It is not yours.

6. Respect all things that are placed upon this earth - whether it be people or plant.

7. Honor other people's thoughts, wishes and words. Never interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person the right to personal expression.

8. Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you put out into the universe will multiply when it returns to you.

9. All persons make mistakes. And all mistakes can be forgiven.

10. Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice optimism.

11. Nature is not FOR us, it is a PART of us. They are part of your worldly family.

12. Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and water them with wisdom and life's lessons. When they are grown, give them space to grow.

13. Avoid hurting the hearts of others. The poison of your pain will return to you.

14. Be truthful at all times. Honesty is the test of one's will within this universe.

15. Keep yourself balanced. Your Mental self, Spiritual self, Emotional self, and Physical self - all need to be strong, pure and healthy. Work out the body to strengthen the mind. Grow rich in spirit to cure emotional ails.

16. Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how youwill react. Be responsible for your own actions.

17. Respect the privacy and personal space of others. Do not touch the personal property of others - especially sacred and religious objects. This is forbidden.

18. Be true to yourself first. You cannot nurture and help others if you cannot nurture and help yourself first.

19. Respect others religious beliefs. Do not force your belief on others.

20. Share your good fortune with others. Participate in charity.

Author unknown

December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas Greeting from Bill W

Greetings On Our 10th Christmas - 1944. Yes, it's in the air! The spirit of Christmas once more warms this poor distraught world. Over the whole globe millions are looking forward to that one day when strife can be forgotten, when it will be remembered that all human beings -- even the least -- are loved by God, when men will hope for the coming of the Prince of Peace as they never hoped before.

But there is another world which is not poor. Neither is it distraught. It is the world of Alcoholics Anonymous, where thousands dwell happily and secure. Secure because each of us, in his own way, knows a greater power who is love, who is just, and who can be trusted.

Nor can men and women of AA ever forget that only through suffering did they find enough humility to enter the portals of that New World. How privileged we are to understand so well the divine paradox that strength rises from weakness, that humiliation goes before resurrection; that pain is not only the price but the very touchstone of spiritual rebirth.

Knowing it's full worth and purpose, we can no longer fear adversity, we have found prosperity where there was poverty, peace and joy have sprung out of the very midst of chaos. Great indeed, our blessings!

And so, -- Merry Christmas to you all -- from the Trustees, from Bobbie and from Lois and me.

- Bill Wilson, 1944

Your Own Conception of God

My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?"

That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last.

It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning.

- Bill W.
c. 2001 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 12

December 24, 2005

Holiday Season Recovery Tips

Check out this series of posts From Buddy T, Guide to Alcoholism / Substance Abuse, for good advice regarding maintaining your abstinence during the holiday season:

It's Okay to Celebrate!

Tips to Avoid Holiday Drinking

How To Resist Drinking at a Party

Maintaining Abstinence During the Holidays

Holidays and Recovery

The Greatest of These

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13

Recovery Through Giving

Recovery Through Giving

For a new prospect, outline the program of action, explaining how you made a self-appraisal, how you straightened out your past, and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him. It is important for him to realize that your attempt to pass this on to him plays a vital part in your own recovery. Actually, he may be helping you more than you are helping him. Make it plain that he is under no obligation to you.


In the first six months of my own sobriety, I worked hard with many alcoholics. Not a one responded. Yet this work kept me sober. It wasn't a question of those alcoholics giving me anything. My stability came out of trying to give, not out of demanding that I receive.

As Bill Sees It

December 23, 2005

Our Old Ideas Were Killing Us

Just For Today
New ideas

"We reevaluate our old ideas so we can become acquainted with the new ideas that lead to a new way of life." Basic Text p.91

Learning to live a new way of life can be difficult. Sometimes, when the going gets especially hard, we're tempted to follow the path of least resistance and live by our old ideas again. We forget that our old ideas were killing us. To live a new way of life, we need to open our minds to new ideas.

Working the steps, attending meetings, sharing with others, trusting a sponsor - these suggestions may meet our resistance, even our rebellion. The NA program requires effort, but each step in the program brings us closer to becoming the kinds of people we truly want to be. We want to change, to grow, to become something more than we are today. To do that, we open our minds, try on the new ideas we've found in NA, and learn to live a new way of life.

Just for today:
I will open my mind to new ideas and learn to live my life in a new way.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

December 22, 2005

Strive for Balance

Strive for balanced expectations of others. Strive for healthy tolerance.

In the past, we may have tolerated too much or too little. We may have expected too much or too little.

We may swing from tolerating abuse, mistreatment, and deception to refusing to tolerate normal, human, imperfect behaviors from people. Although it's preferable not to remain in either extreme too long, that is how people change - real people who struggle imperfectly toward better lives, improved relationships, and more effective relationship behaviors.

But if we are open to ourselves and to the recovery process, we will, at some time, begin another transition: it becomes time to move away from extremes, toward balance.

We can trust ourselves and the recovery process to bring us to a balanced place of tolerance, giving, understanding, and expectations - of others and ourselves.

We can each find our own path to balance as we begin and continue recovery.

Today, I will practice acceptance with others and myself for the way we change. If I have had to swing to the other extreme of a behavior, I will accept that as appropriate, for a time. But I will make my goal one of balanced tolerance and expectations of others and myself.

©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

In Recovery We Come Back to Life

Just For Today
A new way to live

"When at the end of the road we find that we can no longer function as a human being, either with or without drugs, we all face the same dilemma.... Either go on as best we can to the bitter ends-jails, institutions, or death-or find a new way to live." Basic Text p.84

What was the worst aspect of active addiction? For many of us, it wasn't the chance that we might die some day of our disease. The worst part was the living death we experienced every day, the never-ending meaninglessness of life. We felt like walking ghosts, not living, loving parts of the world around us.

In recovery, we've come to believe that we're here for a reason: to love ourselves and to love others. In working the Twelve Steps, we have learned to accept ourselves. With that self-acceptance has come self-respect. We have seen that everything we do has an effect on others; we are a part of the lives of those around us, and they of ours. We've begun to trust other people and to acknowledge our responsibility to them.

In recovery, we've come back to life. We maintain our new lives by contributing to the welfare of others and seeking each day to do that better-that's where the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Steps come in. The days of living like a ghost are past, but only so long as we actively seek to be healthy, loving, contributing parts of our own lives and the lives of others around us.

Just for today:
I have found a new way to live. Today, I will seek to serve others with love and to love myself.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

Through a Glass Darkly

A.A. Thought for the Day

As we look back over our drinking careers, we must realize that our lives were a mess because we were a mess inside. The trouble was in us, not in life itself. life itself was good enough, but we were looking at it the wrong way. We were looking at life through the bottom of a whiskey glass, and it was distorted. We could not see all the beauty and goodness and purpose in the world because our vision was blurred. We were in a house with one-way glass in the windows. People could see us but we could not look out and see them and see what life meant to them and should mean to us. We were blind then, but now we can see. Can I now look at life as it really is?

©Hazelden Foundation PO Box 176 Center City, MN 55012©

December 21, 2005

Ego Deflation

AA Thought for the Day

December 21, 2005


Is there no hope for the very intelligent alcoholic, who cannot see that it's his ego, not his IQ, that is the issue in his drinking?

Yes, there is indeed hope. By a paradox he will later rejoice in, but cannot recognize today, his progressive illness will save him. If it doesn't kill him first, alcoholism will beat him to his knees. Pain will be his educator, his mentor.
He will topple from the throne from which he has looked down with condescension
upon "those alcoholics."

He will echo the words at the end of chapter two of the Big Book: "Yes, I am one of them; I must have this thing."

c. 1998 The AA Grapevine, Inc., The Best of the Grapevine (Vol. 3), pp. 308-9

The Awakened Heart
Wednesday, Dec. 21

The awakened heart says, "I must give, I must not demand." Thus it enters a gate that leads to a constant happiness.

Hazrat Inayat Khan
The Bowl of Saki

Lessons of Discovery

Depending on what stage we are in our lives, we can sometimes feel like we ought to know more about who we are or how to live. We may even berate ourselves for making the same mistakes, or for just not "getting it," whatever "it" may be. We wonder how our lives would be now, if only we had "known better." During moments like these, it is important to remember that none of us are born with instruction manuals and that learning lessons is a lifelong journey.

Inherent to our being born is that we are here to observe, learn, and grow. Accompanying this is a built-in guarantee that there will be mistakes and misadventures along the way. And while it is only natural that we may sometimes become overwhelmed, especially when the lessons keep coming, it is important to remember that learning to understand yourself and your world is an ongoing and active process where the journey is more important than the destination. Every lesson is intended so you can become more of who you are. And as you grow through this self-discovery, you begin to create your own instruction manual. The "how's" and "why's" are yours to discover, and part of the beauty of being alive is that these rules are always changing.

If you feel that you would like to explore what your personal instruction manual may already say, then try writing down in order some of the significant events that have happened to you. It's also important to take note of what you learned from each one. When you are done, you may be surprised to discover how much you are always growing, and that every lesson learned always informs the next. That being said, there is never any need to be hard on yourself or think that you should have it all figured out. We always know as much as we're meant to know at that moment, and growing into our fullness is a process that unfolds in divine timing. You and your life are beautiful works in progress. Discover yourself and embrace your life's lessons, and your instruction manual will create itself.

From the DailyOM - Nurturing Mind Body & Spirit

December 15, 2005

Let Go of the Chains that Bind You

A Sufi teaching story tells of the man who visited a great mystic to find out how to let go of his chains of attachment and his prejudices.

Instead of answering him directly, the mystic jumped to his feet and bolted to a nearby pillar, flung his arms around it, grasping the marble surface as he screamed,
"Save me from this pillar! Save me from this pillar!"

The man who had asked the question could not believe what he saw. He thought the mystic was mad. The shouting soon brought a crowd of people. "Why are you doing that?" the man asked. "I came to you to ask a spiritual question because I thought you were wise, but obviously you are crazy. You are holding the pillar, the pillar is not holding you. You can simply let go."

The mystic let go of the pillar and said to the man, "If you can understand that, you have your answers. Your chains of attachment are not holding you, you are holding them. You can simply let go."

Author Unknown

December 14, 2005

A Tale of True Humility

By Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski

The profound humility of great Torah (Bible) scholars is manifested in their utter self-effacement. Although they are well aware of their exalted status and their capacity as authorities, they never allow this to go to their heads, and they do not see any reason why they should be singled out for undue honors.

The two outstanding Torah luminaries, Rabbi Akiva Eiger and Rabbi Jacob of Lisa, were once passengers in a coach. When they approached their destination, many of the community citizens who anticipated their arrival came out to form an honor guard to accompany these great men into the city.

When Rabbi Jacob saw the crowd that had gathered to escort the wagon, he decided that this could only be a tribute to his fellow sage, and he therefore secretly descended from the coach to join the throngs who marched alongside it. Rabbi Akiva Eiger, who was sitting on the other side of the coach, similarly concluded that this whole tumult must be for Rabbi Jacob, and he quietly alighted from the other side to participate in the mitzvah.

The empty wagon thus entered the city with its two prominent passengers lost in the crowd. Neither had accepted the possibility that he might be the intended recipient of the honor. Who can compare to these giants?

December 13, 2005

Twelve Ways of Christmas

Twelve Tips on Keeping Your Holiday Season Sober/Clean and Joyous

1. Line up extra A.A./NA activities for the holiday season. Arrange to take newcomers to meetings, answer the phones at a clubhouse or central office,or help line, speak, help with dishes, or visit the detox ward at a hospital.

2. Be host to A.A./NA friends, especially newcomers. If you don¹t have a place where you can throw a formal party, take one person to a diner and spring for the coffee.

3. Keep you A.A./NA telephone list with you all the time. If a using/drinking urge or panic comes‹postpone everything else until you¹ve called an A.A./NA

4. Find out about the special holiday parties, meetings, or other celebrations given by groups in your area, and go. If you¹re timid, take someone newer than you are.

5. Skip any drinking/using occasion you are nervous about. Remember how clever you were at excuses when using/drinking? Now put the talent to good use. No office party is as important as saving your life.

6. If you have to go to a using/drinking party and can¹t take an A.A./NA with you, keep some candy handy.

7. Don¹t think you have to stay late. Plan in advance an "important date" you have to keep.

8. Worship in your own way.

9. Don¹t sit around brooding. Catch up on those books, museums, walks, and letters.

10. Don¹t start now getting worked up about all those holiday temptations. Remember "one day at a time." And "Just for Today"

11. Enjoy the true beauty of holiday love and joy. Maybe you cannot give material gifts, but this year, you can give love.

12. "Having had a Špiritual awakening... No need to spell out the Twelfth Step here, since you already know it.

Adapted From a Box 459 Holiday Issue
Noreen S

December 06, 2005

Surrender Hobbling Dependencies & Demands

If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God's help, continually surrender these hobbling liabilities.

c. 1967 AAWS, As Bill Sees It, p. 288

Mix Romance & Recovery Carefully

Just For Today
December 6 Romance and recovery

"Relationships can be a terribly painful area." Basic Text p. 78

Love is like an elixir for some of us. The excitement of a new lover, the intrigue of exploring intimacy, the sense of release we get from allowing ourselves to become vulnerable-these are all powerful emotions. But we can't forget that we have only a daily reprieve from our addiction. Holding onto this daily reprieve must be the top priority in any recovering addict's life.

We can become too involved in our relationship. We can neglect old friends and our sponsor in the process. Then, when things get difficult, we often feel that we can no longer reach out to those who helped us prior to our romantic involvement. This belief can lay the groundwork for a relapse. By consistently working our program and attending meetings, we ensure that we have a network of recovery, even when we're deep in a romance.

Our desire to be romantically involved is natural. But we mustn't forget that, without our program, even the healthiest relationship will not guard us against the strength of our addiction.

Just for today: In my desire for romance, I will not ignore my recovery.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

Avoid Temptation One Day at a Time

A.A. Thought for the Day

People who have had a slip are ashamed of themselves-sometimes so ashamed that they fear to go back to A.A. They develop the old inferiority complex and tell themselves that they are no good, that they have let down their friends in A.A., that they are hopeless, and that they can never make it. This state of mind is perhaps worse than it was originally. They have probably been somewhat weakened by their slip. But their A.A. training cannot ever be entirely lost. They always know they can go back if they want to. They know there is still God's help for them if they will again ask for it. Do I believe that I can never entirely lose what I have learned in A.A.?

Meditation for the Day

Nobody entirely escapes temptation. You must expect it and be ready for it when it comes. None of us is entirely safe. You must try to keep your defenses up by daily thought and prayer. That is why we have these daily meditations. You must be able to recognize temptation when it comes. The first step toward conquering temptation always is to see it clearly as temptation and not to harbor it in your mind. Dissociate yourself from it, put it out of your mind as soon as it appears. Do not think of excuses for yielding to it. Turn at once to the Higher Power for help.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may be prepared for whatever temptation may come to me. I pray that I may see it clearly and avoid it with the help of God.

©Hazelden Foundation PO Box 176 Center City, MN 55012©

Each Day Provides Its Own Gifts

Today I received some unwanted news about a job opportunity that I was seeking, so it is amazing to me that the first piece of email that I looked at today for consideration for posting was this one. There truly are no coincidences.

"We are guaranteed experiences that are absolutely right for us today. We are progressing on schedule. Even when our personal hopes are unmet, we are given the necessary opportunities for achieving those goals that complement our unique destinies.

Today is full of special surprises, and we will be the recipient of the ones which are sent to help us grow--in all the ways necessary for our continued recovery. We might not consider every experience a gift at this time. But hindsight will offer the clarity lacking at the moment, just as it has done in many instances that have gone before.

We are only offered part of our personal drama each day. But we can trust our lives to have many scenes, many acts, points of climax, and a conclusion. Each of us tells a story with our lives, one different from all other stories and yet necessary to the telling of many other stories too. The days ahead will help us tell our story. Our interactions with others will influence our outcomes and theirs. We can trust the drama and give fully to our roles.

Every day is a gift exchange. I give, and I will receive."

You are reading from the book Each Day a New Beginning.
--Ruth P. Freedman
© 1982, 1991 by Hazelden Foundation.

December 05, 2005

Rewards of Sobriety

"The rewards of sobriety are bountiful and as progressive as the disease they counteract. Certainly among these rewards for me are release from the prison of uniqueness, and the realization that participation in the AA way of life is a blessing and a privilege beyond estimate -- a blessing to live a life free from the
pain and degradation of drinking and filled with the joy of useful, sober living, and a privilege to grow in sobriety one day at a time and bring the message of hope as it was brought to me."

From the new Fourth Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous
AAGrapevine, December 2001, p. 47

Letting Go of Shame

Many of us were victimized, sometimes more than once. We may have been physically abused, sexually abused, or exploited by the addictions of another.

Understand that if another person has abused us, it is not cause for us to feel shame. The guilt for the act of abuse belongs to the perpetrator, not the victim.

Even if in recovery we fall prey to being victimized, that is not cause for shame.

The goal of recovery is learning self-care, learning to free ourselves from victimization, and not to blame ourselves for past experiences. The goal is to arm ourselves so we do not continue to be victimized due to the shame and unresolved feelings from the original victimization.

We each have our own work, our issues, and our recovery tasks. One of those tasks is to stop pointing our finger at the perpetrator, because it distracts us. Although we hold each person responsible and accountable for his or her behavior, we learn compassion for the perpetrator. We understand that many forces have come into play in that person's life. At the same time, we do not hold on to shame.

We learn to understand the role we played in our victimization, how we fell into that role and did not rescue ourselves. But that is information to arm us so that it need not happen again.

Let go of victim shame. We have issues and tasks, but our issue is not to feel guilty and wrong because we have been victimized.

Today, I will set myself free from any victim shame I may be harboring or hanging on to.

You are reading from the book The Language of Letting Go.
Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

December 04, 2005

God's Will, Not Ours

Just For Today
December 4 God's will, not ours

"We know that if we pray for God's will we will receive what is best for us, regardless of what we think." Basic Text p. 44

By the time we came to NA, our inner voices had become unreliable and self-destructive. Addiction had warped our desires, our interests, our sense of what was best for ourselves. That's why it's been so important in recovery to develop our belief in a Power greater than ourselves, something that could provide saner, more reliable guidance than our own. We've begun learning how to rely on this Power's care and to trust the inner direction it provides us.

As with all learning processes, it takes practice to "pray only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out." The selfish, ego-driven attitudes we developed in our addiction are not cast off overnight. Those attitudes may affect the way we pray. We may even find ourselves praying something like, "Relieve me of this character defect so I can look good:

The more straightforward we are about our own ideas and desires, the easier it will be to distinguish between our own will and our Higher Power's will. "Just for your information, God;' we might pray, "here's what I want in this situation. Nonetheless, I ask that your will, not mine, be done." Once we do this, we are prepared to recognize and accept our Higher Power's guidance.

Just for today: Higher Power, I've learned to trust your guidance, yet I still have my own ideas about how I want to live my life. Let me share those ideas with you, and then let me clearly understand your will for me. In the end, let your will, not mine, be done.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

November 22, 2005

How to Deal with Difficult Family Members

By Leonard Felder, Ph.D.

As a psychologist who helps people deal with their more difficult relatives, I've found that at holiday time these stresses and personality clashes with certain family members come out more strongly than at other times of the year. To make sure your family gatherings are more harmonious this year than in the past, there are specific--and spiritual--things you can do.

1. Say a silent prayer or meditate silently right at the moment when your family is acting up. The prayer can be, "Please God (or Spirit), give me strength to be patient with the difficult members of my family and open me up to the possibility that I will have a few sacred moments of connection with those family I love and whom I don't get to see often enough." Or, humorously, it can be, "Thank you God (or Spirit) that I don't have to see these people 24/7."

2. Choose to bless your most troubled or difficult family member rather than cursing this person. In most spiritual traditions there are blessings you can say to regain your peace of mind and your ability to speak respectfully to even the most unpleasant individuals. For example, if you silently say to yourself, "May God bless and keep this person," it gives you an extra 10 seconds of impulse control so that you can negotiate calmly with this difficult individual rather than erupting in anger or insults. Instead of provoking a war with this person, you can silently bless him or her and then say respectfully out loud, "Let's work together to figure out how to improve the way we interact at these holiday gatherings. You go first, and I'll listen to your ideas. Then I'll go second, and I hope you'll listen to my ideas, too."

3. Look for the wounded soul that is often hidden deeply under this person's toxic comments and personality traits. You may need to do some informal research ahead of the next visit to find out from aunts, uncles, cousins, or others when and how this difficult family member changed from being a kind soul into an angry or self-absorbed individual. That doesn't mean you need to whitewash or minimize the hurtful things he or she does, but rather it will give you the compassion and perspective to realize this person's woundedness is old and deep, having nothing to do with you.

4. Experience gratitude for each small grain of progress. Rather than hoping your difficult relative will become perfect or stress-free, you can seek to notice each small moment of connection or decency that occurs between you. If last year you could only stand this person for 5 minutes and this year you successfully enjoyed 10 quality minutes with this troubled individual, that is a huge improvement.

5. Recognize the growth that this person stirs up in you. In the 23rd Psalm, there is a mysterious statement that "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." Some spiritual teachers suggest that just as an oyster needs sand to irritate, polish and create a fine pearl, so does life give us difficult relatives who force us to grow and learn more about patience, compassion, kindness, limit-setting, strength, and the release of expectations. If it weren't for your difficult relatives, would you have ever been forced to work so hard at becoming the kind of person you are today? If it weren't for the unpleasant ways you were treated by certain members of your family, would you have known to be so careful so as not to mistreat your spouse, your kids, your friends, or your co-workers? Rather than dreading your encounters with your toughest or most insensitive relatives, you can view each current and future interaction as another chance to be tested and see how far you have come on your personal journey. You don't need to be perfect, but you can remind yourself to stay open to what each stressful situation with your family is trying to teach you.

6. When you're feeling trapped, call a "lifeline." You can regain your sense of humor and your inner strength by phoning a supportive friend and saying, "Could you please remind me if I'm a worthwhile human being...I'm with my relatives right now and I've completely forgotten." Just that one sentence of ironic humor can snap you out of the feelings of victimization and aloneness that could cause you to shut down, overeat, or drink too much at family gatherings.

From Beliefnet's Inspiration Newsletter.

A Faith that Casts Out Fear

As Bill Sees It

The Coming Of Faith, p. 51

In my own case, the foundation stone of freedom from fear is that of faith: a faith that, despite all worldly appearances to the contrary, causes me to believe that I live in a universe that makes sense.

To me, this means a belief in a Creator who is all power, justice, and love; a God who intends for me a purpose, a meaning, and a destiny to grow, however little and haltingly, toward His own likeness and image. Before the coming of faith I had lived as an alien in a cosmos that too often seemed both hostile and cruel. In it there could be no inner security for me.

<< << << >> >> >>

"When I was driven to my knees by alcohol, I was made ready to ask for the gift of faith. And all was changed. Never again, my pains and problems notwithstanding, would I experience my former desolation. I saw the universe to be lighted by God's love; I was alone no more."

1. Grapevine, January 1962
2. Letter, 1966

Welcoming Life's Curve Balls

"In life, we are always setting goals for ourselves and working to make them happen. This gives us focus and ensures that we use our time and energy efficiently and effectively. It also provides us with a sense of purpose and direction. We know where we are going and what we want to do. But quite often, due to forces outside our control, things do not go as we had planned-the flat tire on the way to the wedding, the unforeseen flu virus-and we have to adjust to a postponement or create a whole new set of circumstances. Even positive turns of fortune - an unexpected influx of cash or falling in love - require us to be flexible and to reconsider our plans and priorities, sometimes in the blink of an eye. This is what happens when life throws you a curve ball.

The ability to accept what is happening and let go of your original expectations is key when dealing with these unexpected turns of fate. We have a tendency to get stuck in our heads, clinging to an idea of how we think life should go, and we can have a hard time accepting anything that doesn't comply with that idea. The fact is that life is unpredictable. The trip you thought was for business - and when the deal fell through, you got depressed - actually landed you at the airport two days earlier than planned so you could meet the love of your life. Your car breaks down, and you are late for an appointment. While it's true that you never arrive at that important meeting, you end up spending a few relaxing hours with people you would never have met otherwise.

In order to keep us awake to opportunity and to teach us equanimity, the universe throws us the occasional curve ball. Remember that curve balls are not only life's way of keeping us awake, which is a gift in and of itself; they are also often life's way of bringing us wonderful surprises. Next time a curve ball comes your way, take a deep breath, say thank you, and open your mind to a new opportunity."

From the DailyOM - Nurturing Mind Body & Spirit

Build a Firm Foundation

Just For Today
November 22 Foundation first

"As we begin to function in society, our creative freedom helps us sort our priorities and do the basic things first." Basic Text p. 83

No sooner do we get clean than some of us begin putting other priorities ahead of our recovery. Careers, families, relationships-all these are part of the life we find once we've laid the foundation of our recovery. But we can't build a stable life for ourselves before we do the hard, basic work of laying our recovery foundation. Like a house built on sand, such a life will be shaky, at best.

Before we begin putting all our attention to rebuilding the detailed framework of our lives, we need to lay our foundation. We acknowledge, first, that we don't yet have a foundation, that our addiction has made our lives utterly unmanageable. Then, with the help of our sponsor and our home group, we find faith in a Power strong enough to help us prepare the ground of our new lives. We clear the wreckage from the site upon which we will build our future. Finally, we develop a deep, working familiarity with the principles we will practice in our continuing affairs: honest self-examination, reliance upon our Higher Power's guidance and strength, and service to others.

Once our foundation is prepared, then we can go full steam ahead to put our new lives together. But first we must ask ourselves if our foundation is secure, for without our foundation, nothing we build can stand for long.

Just for today: I will take care to lay a secure foundation for my recovery. Upon such a foundation, I can build for a lifetime in recovery.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous © 1991 by World Service Office Inc.

November 21, 2005

Grateful to be Responsible

"A complete change takes place in our approach to life. Where we used to run from responsibility, we find ourselves accepting it with gratitude that we can successfully shoulder it. Instead of wanting to escape some perplexing problem,
we experience a thrill of challenge in the opportunity it affords for another application of AA techniques, and we find ourselves tackling it with surprising vigor."

c. 1976AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 311-12

Thought to Consider . . .

When brimming with gratitude, one's heartbeat must surely result in outgoing love, the finest emotion we can ever know.
Bill W., March 1962

November 20, 2005

Open to Possibilities

"It was out of the depths of loneliness, depression and despair that I sought the help of A.A. As I recovered and began to face the emptiness and ruin of my life, I
began to open myself to the possibility of the healing that recovery offers through the A.A. program.

By coming to meetings, staying sober, and taking the Steps, I had the opportunity to listen with increasing attentiveness to the depths of my soul. Daily I waited, in hope and gratitude, for that sure belief and steadfast love I had longed for in my life. In this process, I met my God, as I understand Him."

c. 1990, Daily Reflections, page 177

November 19, 2005

Gratitude Keeps the Channel Open

"One way to keep the channel open and to improve my conscious contact with God is to maintain a grateful attitude. On the days when I am grateful, good things seem to happen in my life. The instant I start cursing things in my life, however, the flow of good stops. God did not interrupt the flow; my own negativity did."

c. 1990, Daily Reflections, page 319

November 18, 2005

Experience the Joy of Sobriety

Father Leo's Daily Meditation

"Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him."
-- Aldous Huxley

Today I experience the joy of sobriety. Today I experience God in my world. Today I experience the peace and serenity that for years eluded me.

Experience is the key. It locates all that is in my life. Experience allows me to appreciate what living is all about.

Love is to be felt. Forgiveness is to be experienced. Humility is to be lived in action. Hope is to be recognized in the brightness of the eye.

Life is to be experienced. That is spirituality.

May the God that I experience be reflected in daily life.

November 16, 2005

Letting Go

Just For Today

"Take my will and my life. Guide me in my recovery. Show me how to live." Basic Text p. 25

How do we begin the process of letting our Higher Power guide our lives? When we seek advice about situations that trouble us, we often find that our Higher Power works through others. When we accept that we don't have all the answers, we open ourselves to new and different options. A willingness to let go of our preconceived ideas and opinions opens the channel for spiritual guidance to light our way.

At times, we must be driven to the point of distraction before we are ready to turn difficult situations over to our Higher Power. Anxiously plotting, struggling, planning, worrying-none of these suffice. We can be sure that if we turn our problems over to our Higher Power, through listening to others share their experience or in the quiet of meditation, the answers will come.

There is no point in living a frantic existence. Charging through life like the house is on fire exhausts us and gets us nowhere. In the long run, no amount of manipulation on our part will change a situation. When we let go and allow ourselves access to a Higher Power, we will discover the best way to proceed. Rest assured, answers derived from a sound spiritual basis will be far superior to any answers we could concoct on our own.

Just for today: I will let go and let my Higher Power guide my life.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous © 1991 by World Service Office Inc.

November 15, 2005

The Short and Long-Term Benefits of Recovery

There are two benefits from recovery: we have short-term gains and long-term gains. The short-term gains are the things we can do today that help us feel better immediately.

We can wake up in the morning, read for a few minutes in our meditation book, and feel lifted. We can work a Step and often notice an immediate difference in the way we feel and function. We can go to a meeting and feel refreshed, talk to a friend and feel comforted, or practice a new recovery behavior, such as dealing with our feelings or doing something good for ourselves, and feel relieved.

There are other benefits from recovery, though, that we don't see immediately on a daily or even a monthly basis. These are the long-term gains, the larger progress we make in our life.

Over the years, we can see tremendous rewards. We can watch ourselves grow strong in faith, until we have a daily personal relationship with a Higher Power that is as real to us as a relationship with a best friend.

We can watch ourselves grow beautiful as we shed shame, guilt, resentments, self-hatred, and other negative buildups from our past. We can watch the quality of our relationships improve with family, friends, and spouses. We find ourselves growing steadily and gradually in our capacity to be intimate and close, to give and receive.

We can watch ourselves grow in our careers, in our ability to be creative, powerful, productive people, using our gifts and talents in a way that feels good and benefits others.

We discover the joy and beauty in ourselves, others, and life.

The long-term progress is steady, but sometimes slow, happening in increments and often with much forward and backward movement. Enough days at a time of practicing recovery behaviors and piling up short term gains leads to long-term rewards.

Today, I will be grateful for the immediate and long-term rewards of recovery. If I am new to recovery, I will have faith that I can achieve the long-term benefits. If I've been recovering for a while, I will pause to reflect, and be grateful for my overall progress.

©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

November 08, 2005

A Few of My Favorite Recovery Words


There Is Only Now

"It can be easy for us to walk through the world and our lives without really being present. While dwelling on the past and living for the future are common pastimes, it is physically impossible to live anywhere but the present moment. We cannot step out our front door and take a left turn to May of last year any more than we can take a right turn to December 2010. Nevertheless, we can easily miss the future we are waiting for as it becomes the now we are too busy to pay attention to. We then spend the rest of our time playing "catch up" to the moment that we just let pass by. During moments like these, it is important to remember that there is only Now.

In order to feel more at home in the present moment, it is important to try to stay aware, open, and receptive. Being in the present moment requires our full attention so that we are fully awake to experience it. When we are fully present, our minds do not wander. We are focused on what is going on right now, rather than thinking about what just happened or worrying about what is going to happen next. Being present lets us experience each moment in our lives in a way that cannot be fully lived through memory or fantasy.

When we begin to corral our attention into the present moment, it can be almost overwhelming to be here. There is a state of stillness that has to happen that can take some getting used to, and the mind chatter that so often gets us into our heads and out of the present moment doesn't have as much to do. We may feel a lack of control because we aren't busy planning our next move, assessing our current situation, or anticipating the future. Instead, being present requires that we be flexible, creative, attentive, and spontaneous. Each present moment is completely new, and nothing like it has happened or will ever happen again. As you move through your day, remember to stay present in each moment. In doing so, you will live your life without having to wait for the future or yearn for the past. Life happens to us when we happen to life in the Now."

From DailyOM - There Is Only Now

Excessive Worrying is Harmful

"Worrying about things we have no control over is counterproductive. It makesyou tense -- which, in turn, ruins your judgment. When you are worried, you live in a state of fear. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to be loving, helpful, and kind on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis. And being kind is what the world needs most at this time. We need living examples among us who are confident, loving, kind, courageous, and generous. As individuals, being excessively worried about our personal and national safety doesn't support these ideals.

When we're too worried, we tend to be less generous. We're so concerned about our own needs and fears that we forget about others. There are exceptions, such as immediately following a national crisis, when people can be extremely generous, but generally speaking, we are usually more stingy with our time and money when we are focused on ourselves and our own worries.

When you're not overly worried, you trust that everything is going to be okay. It's therefore easier for you to reach out to others and to be an example of someone who isn't frightened. You intuitively understand that giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. The more you give, the more you receive. You trust your heart instead of only relying on your head. Other people see the way you live your life and begin to trust that it's okay to be generous and kind themselves. Your lack of fear spreads a positive message.

On the flip side, one of the problems with excessive worry is that it's also contagious. When you're worried, you tend to discuss your fears and commiserate with others about those fears. We then focus too much on what's wrong with the world, instead of remembering how much good there is as well. This spreads worry and negativity, which compounds the problem and makes us feel even more insecure. Too much worry makes people suspicious and cynical. When our children see us worried, then they too become frightened. It creates a vicious cycle, and the best way to help is to step outside the confines of that cycle.

Beyond all the negative practical aspects of fear is the simple truth that worry interferes with the quality of your life. Rather than being awestruck by the beauty of life, you focus too much on its potential dangers. You have fewer experiences because of fear of what might happen. Worry interferes with spontaneous joy. It keeps us tense and on guard. It makes us far more reactive, which in turn negatively affects all of our relationships, personal and otherwise. Our patience is affected, as is our temper. When we worry too much, it's harder to see the innocence in people and to remember that, although there are obvious exceptions, a vast majority of people are decent and loving.

This doesn't mean there aren't legitimate things to worry about. It's just that it's important to know that worry itself is something we do to ourselves, within our own thinking. It's not bad. It's just important to know where it's coming from in order to create the possibility to let it go. Worry is one of those things that tends to magnify and feed on itself unless and until we can recognize the role that our thinking is playing in the process.

Many people equate being worried with caring, as if the two are interconnected. To some extent, I disagree with this notion. While it's certainly true that there are appropriate times to worry about those we love, it's also important to know that worry is not synonymous with love. In fact, when you describe or think about love or caring, what words do you use? To me, words like gentle, kind, trust, relaxed, selfless, giving, supportive, listening, willing, and hugs come to mind. What about you?

On the other hand, when you think of worry, the opposite adjectives come to mind: words like tense, untrusting, cynical, suspicious, and on-edge, to name a few. I bring this to your attention as further justification for attempting to eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, your sense of fear. It's always easier to get rid of something when you see it as harmful instead of as an asset.

Whatever you do, don't pretend that you have no fear. It's not necessary, and it's not the best way to get rid of fear anyway. The most effective "fear-buster" that I'm aware of is to acknowledge the fear fully, but rather than running from it -- or reacting to it -- the technique is to turn toward the fear, face on. You can even talk to it like this: 'I see you, fear, and it's okay that you're here. I am, however, prepared to give you less significance. From now on, when you surface, I'm going to dismiss you more quickly.'"

This article is excerpted from What About the Big Stuff?, ©2002, by Richard Carlson, Ph.D.

About the Author:
RICHARD CARLSON is the bestselling author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work; Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens; and Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Men, among other titles. He lectures around the country and internationally, and lives with his wife and children in Northern California. Visit his website at

Keys to the Kingdom

As the years go by, working together, sharing our experiences with one another, and also sharing a mutual trust, understanding and love -- without strings, without obligation -- we acquire relationships that are unique and priceless. There is no more aloneness, with that awful ache, so deep in the heart of every alcoholic that nothing, before, could ever reach it. That ache is gone and never need return again. . . .

In return for a bottle and a hangover, we have been given the Keys of the Kingdom.

c. 2001 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 276

November 07, 2005

A Gift in Every Relationship

There is a gift for us in each relationship that comes our way.

Sometimes the gift is a behavior we're learning to acquire: detachment, self esteem, becoming confident enough to set a boundary, or owning our power in another way.

Some relationships trigger healing in us - healing from issues of the past or an issue we're facing today.

Sometimes we find ourselves learning the most important lessons from the people we least expect to help us. Relationships may teach us about loving ourselves or someone else. Or maybe we'll learn to let others love us.

Sometimes, we aren't certain what lesson we're learning, especially while we're in the midst of the process. But we can trust that the lesson and the gift are there. We don't have to control this process. We'll understand, when it's time. We can also trust that the gift is precisely what we need.

Today, I'll be grateful for all my relationships. I will open myself to the lesson and the gift from each person in my life. I will trust that I, too, am a gift in the other people's lives.

©1990, Hazelden Foundation. All rights reserved.

November 06, 2005

Honestly Accepting a Realistic View of Ourselves

"Humility is a result of getting honest with ourselves."
Basic Text p. 35

Humility was an idea so foreign to most of us that we ignored it as long as we could. When we first saw the word "humbly" ahead in Step Seven, we may have figured it meant we had quite a bit of humiliation in store. Perhaps we chose to look it up in the dictionary, only to become even more confused by the definition. We didn't understand how "lowliness and subservience" applied to recovery.

To be humble does not mean we are the lowest form of life. On the contrary, becoming humble means we attain a realistic view of ourselves and where we fit in the world. We grow into a state of awareness founded on our acceptance of all aspects of ourselves. We neither deny our good qualities nor overemphasize our defects. We honestly accept who we are.

No one of us will ever attain a state of perfect humility. But we can certainly strive to honestly admit our faults, accept our assets, and rely on our Higher Power as a source of strength. Humility doesn't mean we have to crawl life's path on our hands and knees; it just means we must admit we cannot recover on our own. We need each other and, above all, we need the power of a loving God.

Just for today:

To be humble, I will honestly accept all facets of myself, seeing my true place in the world. For the strength I need to fill that place, I will rely on the God of my understanding.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

Realm of the Spirit

"As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, A Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps. We found that God does not make too hard terms for those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of the Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive, never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all"

c. 1976AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 46

November 05, 2005

Helping Others Helps You

We realize now that we were excessively self-centered, chiefly concerned about our feelings, our problems, other people's reactions to us, and our own past and future. Therefore, trying to get into communication with and to help other people is a recovery measure for us, because it helps take us out of ourselves. Trying to heal ourselves by helping others works, even when it is an insincere gesture. Try it some time.

c. 1998 AAWS, Living Sober, p. 85

Thought to Ponder . . .

Every time I encourage, I receive courage

November 04, 2005

Try to Think Faith Instead of Fear

A.A. Thought For The Day

Fear and worry had me down. They were increased by my drinking. I worried about what had done when I was drunk. I was afraid of what the consequences might be. I was afraid to face people because of the fear of being found out. Fear kept me in hot water all the time. I was a nervous wreck from fear and worry. I was a tied-up bundle of nerves. I had a fear of failure, of the future, of growing old, of sickness, of hangover, of suicide. I had a wrong set of ideas and attitudes. When A.A. told me to surrender these fears and worries to a Higher Power, I did so. I now try to think faith instead of fear. Have I put faith in place of fear?

Meditation For The Day

Spiritual power is God in action. God can only act through human beings. Whenever you, however weak you may be, allow God to act through you, then all you think and say and do is spiritually powerful. It is not you alone who produces a change in the lives of others! It is also the Divine Spirit in you and working through you. Power is God in action. God can use you as a tool to accomplish miracles in peoples' lives.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may try to let God's power act through me today. I pray that I may get rid of those blocks which keep His power from me.

©Hazelden Foundation PO Box 176 Center City, MN 55012©

October 11, 2005

This Too Shall Pass

If I can endure for this minute
Whatever is happening to me,
No matter how heavy my heart is
Or how dark the moment may be-
If I can remain calm and quiet
With all the world crashing about me,
Secure in the knowledge God loves me
When everyone else seems to doubt me-
If I can but keep on believing
What I know in my heart to be true,
That darkness will fade with the morning
And that this will pass away, too-
Then nothing in life can defeat me
For as long as this knowledge remains
I can suffer whatever is happening
For I know God will break all of the chains
That are binding me tight in the darkness
And trying to fill me with fear-
For there is no night without dawning
And I know that my morning is near.

Helen Steiner Rice

Memorable Marital Advice

Long, long ago, when I was a young, young married man, I called a friend to get some informal marital counseling. My friend was Del Fehsenfeld, the founder of Life Actions Ministries in Buchanan, Michigan. I was on staff at a church nearby. As always he immediately made time for me. We met for breakfast.

Del was in intense man with a choleric temperament. After talking for a while he looked me directly in the eye and said, “Can I ask you a question? Do you love Lois?”

“O, Yes,” I said. “I do.”

Without breaking stride he said, “Do you tell her regularly that you love her?”

“Yes, I do,” I said, confidently. I felt a little smug because I know it is hard for some men to express their love. I have never had that problem.

“Good,” Del said and then, eyes on mine, he asked, “If I were to ask her today, “Do you feel loved right now? What would she say?”

After a while I said, “I don’t know.”

Del said, “It’s not just your job to love her or even to tell her regularly that you love her. It is your job to make her feel loved every day.

It’s been about twenty years and Del has long since gone to be with the Lord, but he took time one morning to give me advice that I have never forgotten. I am still working to make my wife feel loved every day. I make a study of each person in my family to discover their love language, the spiritual gifts, how God made them, and what makes them feel loved. One of the things that makes life interesting is to try different things all the time to help those you love feel loved.

It is tragic for people in this world to feel unloved, but millions do. I consider it my personal responsibility to see to it that none of them are in my family. --Ken Pierpont

Opening Ourselves to Love

Allowing ourselves to receive love is one of the greatest challenges we face in recovery.

Many of us have blocked ourselves from receiving love. We may have lived with people who used love to control us. They would be there for us, but at the high price of our freedom. Love was given, or withheld, to control us and have power over us. It was not safe for us to receive love from these people. We may have gotten accustomed to not receiving love, not acknowledging our need for love, because we lived with people who had no real love to give.

At some point in recovery, we acknowledge that we, too, want and need to be loved. We may feel awkward with this need. Where do we go with it? What do we do? Who can give us love? How can we determine who is safe and who isn't? How can we let others care for us without feeling trapped, abused, frightened, and unable to care for ourselves?

We will learn. The starting point is surrender -- to our desire to be loved, our need to be nurtured and loved. We will grow confident in our ability to take care of ourselves with people. We will feel safe enough to let people care for us; we will grow to trust our ability to choose people who are safe and who can give us love.

We may need to get angry first -- angry that our needs have not been met. Later, we can become grateful to those people who have shown us what we don't want, the ones who have assisted us in the process of believing we deserve love, and the ones who come into our life to love us.

We are opening up like flowers. Sometimes it hurts as the petals push open. Be glad. Our heart is opening up to the love that is and will continue to be there for us.

Surrender to the love that is there for us, to the love that people, the Universe, and our Higher Power send our way.

Surrender to love, without allowing people to control us or keep us from caring for ourselves. Start by surrendering to love for yourself.

Today, I will open myself to the love that is here for me. I will let myself receive love that is safe, knowing I can take care of myself with people. I will be grateful to all the people from my past who have assisted me in my process of opening up to love. I claim, accept, and am grateful for the love that is coming to me.

You are reading from the book:
The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie

October 10, 2005

Live the Life You Desire

A time comes when we finally awaken and start finding the "Pearls" in our life. When in the midst of all our fears and insanity, we stop dead in our tracks, and realize that it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. We awaken to the fact that we are not perfect, that not everyone will always love, appreciate, or approve of who or what we are, and that's okay. (They're entitled to their own views and opinions.) And we learn the importance of loving and championing ourselves; and in the process a sense of new-found confidence is born of self-approval.

We learn that people don't always say what they mean or mean what they say, and sometimes they don't even know themselves. We also learn that not everyone will always be there for us; and that it's not always about us. So, we learn to stand on our own, and to take care of ourselves, and in the process, a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.

We stop judging and pointing fingers and we begin to accept people as they are, and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties; and in the process, a sense of peace and contentment is born. We realize that much of the way we view ourselves and the world around us, is as a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into our psyche.

We begin to sift through all that we've been fed about how we should behave, how we should look, and how much we should weigh; what we should wear and where we should shop, and what we should drive; how and where we should live, and what we should do for a living; who we should sleep with, who we should marry, and what we should expect of a marriage; the importance of having and raising children, or what we owe our parents. We learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And we begin reassessing and redefining who we are and what we really stand for.

We learn that we don't know everything, it's not our job to save the world and that we can't teach a cat to sing. We learn to distinguish between guilt, and responsibility, and the importance of setting boundaries, and learning to say NO. We learn that the only cross to bear is the one we choose to carry. We learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as we would have them be. We stop trying to control people, situations, and outcomes.

We look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that we will never be a perfect size, and we stop trying to compete with the image inside our head and agonizing over how we "stack up." We stop working so hard at putting our feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring our needs; and we come to the realization that we deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity, and respect.

We learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear. So we take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul,and crying cleans our hurts. Suppressing our hurt makes us weak. It's OK to cry; it's a form of releasing our hurt, after we feel the fullness of our hurt, we will grow strong again.

So we take more time to laugh and to play. We learn that for the most part, in life we get what we believe we deserve and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for, and that wishing for something to happen is different from working toward making it happen. More importantly, we learn that in order to achieve success we need direction, discipline, and perseverance.

We also learn that no one can do it all alone and that it's OK to risk asking for help. We learn that the only thing we must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time, fear itself. We learn to step right into and through our fears because we know that whatever happens we can handle it, and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on our terms.

And we learn to fight for our life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom. We learn that life isn't always fair, we don't always get what we think we deserve; and that sometimes-bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions, we learn not to personalize things.

We begin to take responsibility for our actions. And we learn to deal with evil in its most primal state - the ego. We learn negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected, or they will suffocate the life out of us, and poison the universe that surrounds us. We learn to admit when we are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

We learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower. Slowly, we begin to take responsibility for ourselves; and we make ourselves a promise to never betray ourselves and to never settle for less than our heart's desire.

And we hang a wind chime outside our window so we can listen to the wind. And we make it a point to keep smiling, keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

Finally, with courage in our heart and with Spirit by our side, we take a stand, for we have found one of life's most important "Pearls" ... we take a deep breath and ... we begin to design the life that WE want to live.

Author Unknown
Contributed by Denys in Santa Fe, New Mexico

October 09, 2005

Father Leo's Daily Meditation: UNDERSTANDING

"Intelligence is proved not by
ease of learning but by
understanding what we learn."
-- Joseph Whitney

For years I learned things without understanding what the words, or the meaning behind the words, really meant. An example was alcoholism. Then a man said, "My name is Bill, and I am an alcoholic and a recovering human being!" Then it struck me; recovery from a drug --- alcohol --- was not simply about putting down the glass but about changing and developing a positive lifestyle as a human being.

The same is true with spirituality. It is not about being religious, going to church or accepting dogma. It is about finding God in my life, discovering God in the decisions and actions I take and seeing Him in the world around me. Today I understand spirituality tO be the link that unites all peoples and is centered on what is true and real.

May I continue to search for the meaning within the word and the harmony of communication.

October 05, 2005

Laughter is the Noise of Optimism

Father Leo's Daily Meditation


"We are all here for a spell, get all the good laughs you can."
-- Will Rogers

When I first heard recovering alcoholics laughing, I thought I was in the wrong place. I was angry that they treated the disease so lightly. Then slowly I began to see that laughter is part of joy --- a deep joy that comes from personal healing. Laughter is spiritual because it is a positive response to life. It is the noise of optimism.

And there is so much in life to laugh about --- not only the funny things we did, but also the "humor" that abounds in living. How funny is our self-righteousness! How amusing we are in courtship. How ridiculous we appear when we pretend to be serious and "in charge".

Laughter is the conversation of angels.

Let me see the miracle of humor in the gift of life --- and let me be prepared to share it.

Seeking Peace by Johann Christoph Arnold

"Everyone's seeking peace, but few seem to find it. Why? Arnold says most people are looking in the wrong direction.

For anyone sick of the spiritual soup filling so many bookstore shelves these days, Seeking Peace is sure to satisfy a deep hunger. Arnold offers no easy solutions, but also no unrealistic promises. He spells out what peace demands. 'There is a peace greater than self-fulfillment,' he writes. But you won't find it if you go looking for it. It is waiting for everyone ready to sacrifice the search for individual peace, everyone ready to 'die to self.'"

Download the book, Seeking Peace by Johann Christoph Arnold here.

Surrender and All Will Be Well

"Difficulties should not depress or divert us. The cause that has gripped us is so great that the small weaknesses of individuals cannot destroy it. Therefore I ask you only one thing: do not be so worried about yourself. Free yourself from all your plans and aims. They occupy you far too much. Surrender yourself to the sun, the rain, and the wind, as do the flowers and the birds. Surrender yourself to God. Wish for nothing but one thing: that his will be done, that his kingdom come, and that his nature be revealed. Then all will be well."

Read more in this article by Johann Christoph Arnold.

October 04, 2005

Positive Thoughts

When you give of yourself, you receive more than you give.
--Antoine De Saint-Exupery

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
--Melody Beattie

"The more you recognize and express gratitude for the things you have, the more things you will have to express gratitude for."
--Zig Ziglar

When a person habitually thinks optimistically and hopefully, they activate life around them positively and thereby attract positive results. Positive Thinking sets in motion positive and creative forces and success flows toward you!
--Norman Vincent Peale

October 03, 2005

Living in Harmony with the World

Just For Today
October 3 Losing self-will

"Our egos, once so large and dominant, now take a back seat because we are in harmony with a loving God. We find that we lead richer, happier, and much fuller lives when we lose self-will"
Basic Text p.101

Addiction and self-will go hand in hand. The unmanageability that we admitted to in Step One was as much a product of our self-will as it was of our chronic drug abuse. And today, living on self-will can make our lives just as unmanageable as they were when we were using. When our ideas, our desires, our demands take first place in our lives, we find ourselves in constant conflict with everyone and everything around us.

Self-will reflects our reliance on ego. The only thing that will free us from self-will and the conflict it generates in our lives is to break our reliance on ego, coming to rely instead on the guidance and power offered us by a loving God.

We are taught to consult spiritual principles, not our selfish desires, in making our decisions. We are taught to seek guidance from a Higher Power, one with a larger vision of things than our own. In doing this, we find our lives meshing more and more easily with the order of things around us. No longer do we exclude ourselves from the flow of life; we become a part of it, and discover the fullness of what recovery has to offer.

Just for today:

I seek freedom from ego and the conflicts generated by self-will. I will try to improve my conscious contact with the God of my understanding, seeking the guidance and power I need to live in harmony with my world.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

Higher Power is a Flexible Concept

As Bill Sees It
A Higher Power for Atheists

I have had many experiences with atheists, mostly good. Everybody in A.A. has the right to his own opinion. It is much better to maintain an open and tolerant society than it is to suppress any small disturbances their opinions might occasion. Actually, 1 don't know of anybody who went off and died of alcoholism because of some atheist's opinions on the cosmos.

"But I do always entreat these folks to look to a 'Higher Power' -namely, their own group. When they come in, most of their A.A. group is sober, and they are drunk. Therefore, the group is a 'Higher Power.' That's a good enough start, and most of them do progress from there. I know how they feel, because I was once that way myself."

LETTER, 1962

Be Not Afraid of Life

"Men and women who use alcohol as an escape are not the only ones who are afraid of life, hostile to the world, fleeing from it into loneliness. Millions who are not alcoholics are living today in illusory worlds, nurturing the basic anxieties and insecurities of human existence rather than face themselves with courage and humility.

To these people, AA can offer as a cure no magic potion, no chemical formula, no powerful drug. But it can demonstrate to them how to use the tools of humility, honesty, devotion, and love, which indeed are the heart of the Twelve Steps of our recovery."

c.1957AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, p. 279

Healthy vs. Reactive States of Mind

Dancing with Life
by Richard Carlson

Human beings have essentially two modes or mind-sets that we operate or live in, with, of course, some shades of gray in between. We have what you might call a healthy mode, and another, which you can think of as reactive.

When we are in our healthiest state of mind, we "dance" with life. We're in the flow of things. We're patient, wise, thoughtful, and kind. We make good, sound decisions. We treat others with respect and compassion -- and we treat ourselves that way too. We make adjustments when necessary, and are flexible in our thinking. Reflect, for a moment, on your own life. Can you recall times when you have remained -- even for a moment -- in a healthy, calm state of mind, despite difficult circumstances?

Our reactive state of mind is quite different. In fact, if you're anything like me, there are probably times when you wonder how the same person can respond (or react) so differently to a remarkably similar set of facts. One moment we can handle something really well, even when it's "big." But the next moment we fly off the handle! In a reactive state of mind, we are less patient. Instead of being effortless, our thinking is difficult. We churn and struggle. We are quick-tempered and judgmental. We are frustrated and hard on ourselves and others. Our problem-solving skills are limited, as are our perspective and vision.

It's helpful to notice and acknowledge the difference between these two ways of being (or states of mind) because it gives you a "home base" and a starting point; it gives you something to work with. It's very comforting to know the power of your own state of mind because, unlike so many other factors, it comes from within you. You have some capacity to control it.

Sometimes it's hard to believe, but ultimately we are the source of our own love. In the beautiful audiotape course To Love and Be Loved by Stephen and Ondrea Levine (published by Sounds True), the Levines spoke of a woman who said, "My mother can't allow me to love her." They pointed out something that took me some time to digest. In a very compassionate tone they pointed out that, "Actually, she can't stop you from loving her."

Our healthiest state of mind is that strong. It's a state of mind filled with love. When we are in it, we feel secure and at peace -- to some extent regardless of what's going on around us. This is our most natural state of mind.

Everyone gets reactive, and at times it seems we're always that way. And there's nothing wrong with this, nor am I aware of any way to completely eliminate it. But if you've ever felt the peace of your mental well-being, then you know it's in you and can be found again. Simply knowing that it's there is half the battle. By acknowledging the existence of a healthy state of mind, you can learn to trust it, and access it, more often. And this is key: When you're in a healthy state of mind, you'll know who to turn to, who your friends are, and what to do. That's not a pep talk, it's the truth.

Ironically, the way to access your inner health and strength is not by "trying," but by letting go. The idea is to clear our minds and let go of our analytical thinking when it's getting the best of us. When we do, and as we quiet down, a natural, orderly flow of thoughts will begin to emerge, including insights on what to do next. It's this quieter place where our deepest wisdom exists.

You'll notice that when you are in your healthiest state of mind, life will seem pretty manageable and effortless. The decisions and actions you need to make will flow, as if you are dancing. You will see right to the heart of the matter and you will act accordingly. On the other hand, when you slip into a more reactive state, you'll feel overwhelmed and stressed. The key is, you'll feel the difference.

My dear friend and coauthor of Slowing Down to the Speed of Life, Joe Bailey, equates our thinking to a walkie-talkie. He says we are either on "talk" or "listen." The metaphor suggests that we are either in a healthy state or a reactive one. And just like a walkie-talkie, in order to shift from talk to listen, it's necessary to know which mode you're in. But once you do, all that's necessary is to let go of the button, and the shift occurs automatically.

So it is when we're thinking. When we're reactive, churning, and trying too hard to figure everything out, the key is to recognize that we're doing so. Then, like silt settling in a pond, we do nothing except ease off and wait. Relax and trust that your wisdom will kick into gear. It requires no effort, but it does require faith, humility, and patience. It requires faith because you must trust that your wisdom and healthy mind-set do in fact exist. It requires humility because it's often hard to admit that effort is not the answer. Finally, it requires patience because even though the process is simple, it's not as easy as it sounds.

One thing is certain, however. If you can dance with it, making the necessary adjustments along the way, you can and will get through it. Give yourself plenty of time and space, and remain compassionate toward yourself. There is a part of you that is stronger than any of your problems.

This article is excerpted from What About the Big Stuff?, ©2002, by Richard Carlson, Ph.D. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Hyperion.

About the Author
RICHARD CARLSON is the bestselling author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff,
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work; Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens;
and Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Men, among other titles. He lectures
around the country and internationally, and lives with his wife and children
in Northern California.

September 28, 2005

No Reservations Required

We have seen the truth demonstrated again and again: "Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic." Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad as ever. If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.


Today I am an alcoholic. Tomorrow will be no different. My alcoholism lives within me now and forever. I must never forget what I am. Alcohol will surely kill me if I fail to recognize and acknowledge my disease on a daily basis. I am not playing a game in which a loss is a temporary setback. I am dealing with my disease, for which there is no cure, only daily acceptance and vigilance.

From Daily Reflections

Despair Turns to Hope

Just for Today, September 28

"Gradually as we become more God-centered than self centered, our despair turns to hope." Basic Text, p.92

As using addicts, despair was our relentless companion. It colored our every waking moment. Despair was born of our experience in active addiction: No matter what measures we tried to make our lives better, we slid ever deeper into misery. Attempts we made to control our lives frequently met with failure. In a sense, our First Step admission of powerlessness was an acknowledgment of despair.

Steps Two and Three lead us gradually out of that despair and into new hope, the companion of the recovering addict. Having accepted that so many of our efforts to change have failed, we come to believe that there is a Power greater than ourselves. We believe this Power can-and will-help us. We practice the Second and Third Steps as an affirmation of our hope for a better life, turning to this Power for guidance. As we come to rely more and more on a Higher Power for the management of our day-to-day life, the despair arising from our long experiment with self-sufficiency disappears

Just for today: I will reaffirm my Third Step decision. I know that, with a Higher Power in my life, there is hope.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.

September 27, 2005

Healing is a Process

Healing the Emotions
by Barry S. Weinberg

If there's ever gonna be healing,
there has to be remembering and feeling,
so that there can be forgiving,
there has to be knowledge and understanding.

-- Sinead O'Connor

Healing is a process. It is a path that bestows great benefit merely by walking upon its soil. Often, we enter this process with the hope of reaching a certain destination, achieving a certain goal, or reaping a certain reward, only to discover that when we arrive, the path continues into the horizon offering greater rewards and larger goals. With this realization, we learn that healing is not about the outcome, but who we become in the process.

As you continue to journey on a clear path to healing, it is very common for different feelings and emotions to arise. Old guilt, anger, and doubt may enter your mind and heart from out of nowhere. Likewise, new fear, anxiety, and sadness may develop if you see no end to the path before you. Although all these feelings are shared by all of us on our healing path, when you are experiencing them yourself, you may feel that you are alone in the process. The world may suddenly seem like a very big place, and that you are the only one on the face of the Earth.

During the healing process, these feelings are normal. Every human being walks the same path and feels the same feelings. If you experience such feelings, know that you are not alone. Recognize these uncomfortable and frightening feelings for what they are -- signs and signals that you are healing and that you are on the right track.

In walking the clear path to healing myself and assisting hundreds of people to do the same, I realized that there are seven emotions common to all of us, and seven Processes of the Heart that move us through each of these emotions. As you read this, remember two things:

"The only way out is through," and "You have got to feel it, to heal it."

EMOTION #1: Doubt

I place doubt at the top of the list, because I feel that this is the greatest obstacle on a clear path to healing. When doubt is present, nothing is possible. We learned that what we think creates a vibration that attracts to it whatever was imaged by the thought. When experiencing doubt, we send out a vibration that states that what we wish to manifest in our life is not possible, therefore the impossibility is attracted into our life.

Doubt is like a tiny bead of black ink dropped into a glass of clear water. The water is forever tainted, forever clouded. If you focus on your vision, speak positive affirmations, and live in gratitude, you have no doubts. However, as soon as you allow the tiniest seed of doubt to enter your mind, your mind becomes tainted, clouding your vision and hindering the process of healing.

The doubt we experience may be directed towards our health practitioner or whatever procedure or protocol we may be utilizing. It may be directed towards the universal principles that govern the universe or towards the healing process itself. Whereas all doubt will slow down the healing process, the doubt that will bring the healing process to a complete stand still and very often send it into a tail spin, initiating a dis-ease process, is doubt in ourself.

When we doubt ourself, our talents, and our abilities, specifically our ability to heal, it creates changes in our body both energetically and biochemically that make it impossible to heal and often cause our bodies to create dis-ease. In Candice Pert's book, Molecules of Emotion, she describes a study that was conducted to determine the effect of thought on our immune system.

In this study, they asked for the assistance of people who had contracted AIDS. They divided the subjects into two groups. One group was instructed to look in the mirror each day and affirm positive statements such as, "I can heal myself. I am a wonderful, strong, and a powerful person. Everyday I am becoming healthier and healthier. My life is worth living." The second group was also asked to look in the mirror, but instead to affirm negative statements, such as, "I am worthless. I could never possibly heal this disease that has no cure. Death is certain."

What they found is that in the first group, the T-Cell count rose steadily, whereas in the second group the T -Cell count plummeted and the subject's condition began to deteriorate. To confirm their findings, they then reversed the groups, having the first group do the negative affirmations and the second group affirm the positive.

Immediately the T -Cell counts started to shift, and the condition of the subjects reversed in both groups! Realizing the powerful effect of the experiment, they brought the study to an abrupt halt and had both groups begin positive affirmations. As you can imagine, as soon as they started declaring life-affirming statements, their T -Cell counts immediately began to rise and their condition dramatically improved.

What this study shows us is when we experience the certainty and unwavering faith that we can achieve, all doubt is removed from our mind, everything becomes possible, including the healing of a seemingly "incurable" disease. As soon as doubt again enters the mind, the healing process is halted and our quality of life begins to deteriorate.

In his book, Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins describes how he healed himself of an "incurable" disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis (A.S.). A.S. is a chronic inflammation of the spinal joints in which over time the spinal bones, or vertebrae, begin to fuse together. It is very painful and can often lead to organ dysfunction. According to the diagnosis, there is no cure, and the prognosis is death.

Mr. Cousins disagreed. He believed that although the disease had no "cure", the body and mind were capable of "healing" anything including A.S. So how did Mr. Cousins heal this incurable disease? He took very large doses of Vitamin C and watched funny movies all day. He proved that "laughter is the best medicine". Watching "Marx Brothers", "Three Stooges", and other early comedy teams, he caused himself to laugh all day. Over the course of a few years, Mr. Cousins treatment worked and he healed himself of A.S.

Had Mr. Cousins believed the doctor's prognosis and doubted his own ability to heal, he would have succumbed to the deadliness of this disease. Instead, he believed in himself and he healed.

By becoming aware -- the first process of the heart -- that doubt inhibits healing, replace it with certainty and belief and accelerate the healing process.

EMOTION #2: Apathy

If you continue to live in doubt, and fail to reach the certainty and faith in your ability to heal yourself or in a healing facilitator who will help you, you may enter a period in which you feel apathy. In this state we no longer care whether we get better or worse. We may become lethargic and enter a state of hibernation in which we do nothing, say nothing, and want nothing. What's the use? We're not going to get better anyway, so why even try? If doubt doesn't taint the water, apathy surely will.

In my healing practice, it has been my experience that at this point the condition of most people begins to deteriorate. I often offer a few words of encouragement and tell an inspirational story to lift them out of doubt, however, once they reached the point where they had given up and didn't care whether they got better or worse, there was generally nothing I could do to help them. It was up to them. If there is no desire or intention to heal, healing can not take place.

Should you be in a state of apathy, and have a desire to move on, the only way to replace it is with care. The only way to replace apathy with care is through acknowledgment, the second process of the heart. When you begin to acknowledge the wonderful healing power within you, all feelings of apathy fall away, and you begin to participate more in your healing process, igniting a spark under the flame of health.

EMOTION #3: Anxiety

Quite often, we have complete certainty and faith that our body can and will heal itself, yet we begin to feel impatient in regards to when. We may have certain discomforts or symptoms that we understand serve an important purpose, yet they are very uncomfortable and inconvenient and we wish that they would serve their purpose already. This anticipation can often cause another emotion to arise in the form of anxiety. Anxiety is the experience of wanting something now, while understanding that it may not happen for quite some time.

Healing is a process and processes take time. Just as it takes time for dis-ease to develop, it takes time for healing to occur.

Comedian George Carlin eloquently said, "Time is something we made up so that everything doesn't happen at once." And that is exactly right. The only place the future and the past exist is in our minds, specifically in our memories and imagination. The only time that truly exists at any moment is the present moment -- now. Likewise, at any one time, we are nowhere... that is, now - here.

Imagine you are in a boat floating on a river. As you careen around the curves, flowing with the current downstream, you can only be at one place at any one time -- exactly where you are. Where you have been represents the past, and the river before you represents the future, yet your boat can only exist here and now. When you leave that here and now, you find yourself in a new here and now, with the old here and now becoming a there and then. (Whew!)

Now imagine yourself floating in a hot air balloon. Soaring in the blue sky amongst the beautiful clouds, you look down to see the entire river from beginning to end. From this vantage point, you realize that there is no past, present, or future. There is only one river. So it is with time. In our finite existence on the physical earth, we can only experience the now moment, just as we can only be one place on the river. Just as we can see the river in its entirety from above, when we increase our awareness and level of consciousness, we can begin to realize that there really is only one time and one place -- here and now.

Another result of anxiety is worry. Worry is the anticipation of something terrible happening in the future. If you focus on your vision of health and stay focused in the here and now, all worry, like anxiety, falls to the wayside. By placing your attention upon where you are at the present moment you can begin to accept -- the third process of the heart -- your current state and relieve yourself of anxiety and worry and begin to feel secure and calm.

EMOTION #4: Helplessness

If we never become aware of our ability to heal ourself and acknowledge the power we all possess, and continue to live in doubt and apathy, we will reach a point in life where we give up. In this state of mind, we begin to believe there is no hope and that our condition or situation that we are living in is permanent. We forget that everything is in a constant state of change, and we lose sight of our bodies' innate intelligence and infinite healing capacity. We despair that all possibility of recovery and an improved quality of life is lost.

In this state of helplessness, healing is impossible, and unless we replace it with confidence, strength, and inner power, our condition may begin to deteriorate. When we begin to appreciate -- the fourth process of the heart -- the power of the healer within all of us and the gifts and strengths we all possess, the helplessness is replaced with power, and the healing process takes a quantum leap forward.

EMOTION #5: Sadness

When we experience pain, dis-ease, and other forms of suffering, it is difficult not to focus on the suffering. We know that in order to create health, we must focus on healing. When we want to be strong and vibrant, we must see ourselves as such. Yet, when we are constantly reminded of our dis-ease by our limitations and discomforts, it is a challenge to keep our mind focused on health. This challenge can often cause us to lose sight of our vision. With the overwhelming constant reminder of our condition, our thoughts may begin to focus on our suffering, our disease, and everything that we may be lacking. Unfortunately, by focusing on images of misery, it only creates more of the same -- misery loves company. When all we see is our suffering, and we lose sight of our healing vision, what remains is sadness.

From sadness comes grief. Grief is the feeling we experience when we focus on what we have lost or are lacking. Again, by focusing on what we lack we only create more lack. Yes, I agree that a certain period of grieving is necessary in healing, especially when we have lost a loved one. However, when we can begin to focus on the joy we experienced with that person and the wonderful life they lived, the grief turns to joy and the spirit of their memory continues to live with us through the rest of our lives.

If you are feeling sadness or grief during your healing process, focus on what you wish to create and affirm it -- the fifth process of the heart -- everyday. By doing this, not only does your sadness turn to joy, but the image in your vision begins to manifest in your life.

EMOTION #6: Anger

When we overcome our helplessness, sadness, or other emotions during our healing process, we may begin to feel angry. We may think, "Why did this happen to me?" We may have lived a life of virtue and responsibility and still entered some form of dis-ease process. When this occurs, we may feel angry that such a thing could happen.

In order to feel angry we must blame someone or something. We choose something outside of ourselves and make it the culprit. By blaming the culprit, we make ourselves the victim. As the victim, we become angry that the culprit has done something to interfere with our lives. In this state of anger, we no longer need to accept responsibility for what is happening, because it is their fault.

From anger comes guilt. Guilt is the experience of blaming ourselves for some past thought, word, or action we committed that resulted in our dis-ease. Even though long-term guilt can be very devastating to the healing process, it can actually be the first step towards accepting responsibility. By removing the fault from someone else and putting it on ourselves, it begins our liberation.

To free ourself of anger and guilt we must be open to forgive, specifically in the form of atonement or at-one-ment -- the sixth process of the heart. When we realize that we are not separate from our dis-ease, we accept what is occurring and accept full responsibility for what has occurred, without the need to find blame or fault in another or within ourselves. True forgiveness occurs when we understand that what is happening is actually in our best interest for our fullest healing and we become one with the process.

EMOTION #7: Fear

I left this emotion for last because it encompasses all the others. In order for there to be doubt, helplessness, apathy, anxiety, sadness, or anger, there must be some degree of fear. We experience fear when we are uncertain of our future and we envision in our mind only the worst. When we see no hope of recovery and no end to our suffering, we feel fear. When it seems that our end is near and nothing can help us, we experience fear. Fear is at the heart of all the other emotions discussed. As said in the book, Dune, by Frank Herbert, "Fear is the mind-killer." By removing fear all together, we can eradicate all emotions that interfere with healing.

In its truest essence, fear is the absence of love. When we are in love, there are no limits to what we can accomplish. When we are in awe -- the seventh process of the heart -- nothing is impossible and healing becomes something that always amazes us, but never surprises us.

This article is excerpted from A Clear Path to Healing, © 2001, by Dr. Barry
S. Weinberg.