April 30, 2005

Kinship of Suffering Informs Language of the Heart

"From the beginning, communication in A.A. has been no ordinary transmission of helpful ideas and attitudes. Because of our kinship in suffering, and because our common means of deliverance are effective for ourselves only when constantly carried to others, our channels of contact have always been charged with the language of the heart."

c. 1967, As Bill Sees It, page 195

April 29, 2005

Living For Today

"Living just for today relieves the burden of the past and the fear of the future. We learned to take whatever actions are necessary and to leave the results in the hands of our Higher Power."

Basic Text, pp. 90-91

In our active addiction, fear of the future and what might happen was a reality for many of us. What if we got arrested? lost our job? our spouse died? we went bankrupt? and on, and on, and on. It was not unusual for us to spend hours, even whole days thinking about what might happen. We played out entire conversations and scenarios before they ever occurred, then charted our course on the basis of "what if.. ." By doing this, we set ourselves up for disappointment after disappointment.

From listening in meetings, we learn that living in the present, not the world of "what if," is the only way to short-circuit our self-fulfilling prophecies of doom and gloom. We can only deal with what is real today, not our fearful fantasies of the future.

Coming to believe that our Higher Power has only the best in store for us is one way we can combat that fear. We hear in meetings that our Higher Power won't give us more than we can handle in one day. And we know from experience that, if we ask, the God we've come to understand will surely care for us. We stay clean through adverse situations by placing our faith in the care of a Power greater than ourselves. Each time we do, we become less fearful of "what if" and more comfortable with what is.

Just for today: I will look forward to the future with faith in my Higher Power.

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

April 28, 2005

Complacency Leads to Problems

The Promises, as suggested in the Big Book, clearly indicate that we have work to do if we want the rewards that are guaranteed in this program of recovery. Getting complacent, not using the tools that the program has taught us, opens the door to backsliding. Before long, we are caught in the old game of manipulation; tension fills our lives again.

There are simple antidotes to complacency. Gratitude is one of them. Every morning we can take a few movements to appreciate all the goodness in our lives. Another powerful antidote is taking the time to consciously contact our Higher Power. God is always available to help us: we simply have to open the door. Sharing hope with others is perhaps the most powerful of the antidotes because it helps at least two people -- ourselves and the listener who hears our story.

The Twelve Step program has made each of us a messenger for God. When we isolate, forgetting our role in this picture that's unfolding, the old attitudes and behaviors return. We are told to be painstaking about our efforts. The benefits will match them.

I will present to the others in my life today and will acknowledge God in all that I do. My conscientiousness won't allow me to be complacent.

You are reading from the book:
A Life of My Own by Karen Casey
Copyright 1993 by Hazelden

Every Day's a Holy-Day

"If you want to live a long, healthy life, celebrate each day as if it were your last.

Enjoy today and every day to the max. Do what you love. Treat yourself to something positive and self-appreciating. Learn something totally new.

Realize how fortunate you are to be here, in this life, on Earth. Take some time to be conscious of the ordinary miracles every day is filled with. And know that this day is sacred and holy, just like you are.

So make it a holy-day, celebrate, be joyful today. Treat yourself as if you are holy, too. Because you are holy.

You are a human being. Being your best. Being the best human your Creator created you to be."

-Norris Chumley

From the Beliefnet Spiritual Weight Loss newsletter.

April 26, 2005

"Be Still and Know that I am God"

Prayer is a conscious concerted effort to commune with the Consciousness of Life and its Creator and thus we speak to God. Prayer is also an aligning, cleansing process opening up our inner-selves to the Source of all life and demonstrating that we are anxious for enlightenment and guidance. In prayer we speak to God but so often we do not wait for a reply.

Meditation is the freeing and emptying of ourselves of obstacles that hinder communication and allow us to channel the God-Force, spiritually, mentally and physically. Meditation is likened to God speaking to us, and is the attunement of our physical and mental bodies to their spiritual Source.

A Spiritual Person Should Be a Normal Person

A spiritual person should be a normal person, a sound person. In order to reach God, a spiritual person has to be divinely practical in his day-to-day activities. In divine practicality, we share our inner wealth. We feel the divine motivation behind each action and share the result with others.

Spirituality does not negate the outer life. The outer life should be the manifestation of the divine life within us.

~Sri Chinmoy, The Wings of Joy

Take a Few Moments to Relax

Sit comfortably. Close your eyes. Take several gentle,easy breaths. Allow your shoulders, neck, and back to relax and let go. Feel a wave of relaxation flow through your body. Continue breathing gently and consciously. While you are in that quiet state, visualize having something you want, say a prayer of gratitude, or ask your Inner Wisdom for guidance. Then when you feel complete, breathe more deeply, stretch, open your eyes, and slowly start your activities.

When you give yourself the gift of experiencing a few minutes of quiet every day, you give your body and mind precious moments to relax, rev up your immune system, gain access to the wisdom within, stimulate creativity, feel a connection to Source, and open your heart. The benefits of those few minutes are enormous!

Patricia Crane, Ph.D.

Self-Acceptance Comes From Working the Steps

"The most effective means of achieving self-acceptance is through applying the Twelve Steps of recovery."

Most of us came to Narcotics Anonymous without much self-acceptance. We looked at the havoc we had wreaked in our active addiction, and we loathed ourselves. We had difficulty accepting our past and the self-image produced by it.

Self-acceptance comes more quickly when we first accept that we have a disease called addiction, because it's easier to accept ourselves as sick people than as bad people. And the easier it is to accept ourselves, the easier it becomes to accept responsibility for ourselves.

We achieve self-acceptance through the process of ongoing recovery. Working the Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous teaches us to accept ourselves and our lives. Spiritual principles like surrender, honesty, faith, and humility help relieve us of the burden of our past mistakes. Our attitude changes with the application of these principles in our daily lives. Self-acceptance grows as we grow in recovery.

Just for today: Self-acceptance is a process set in motion by the Twelve Steps. Today, I will trust the process, practice the steps, and learn to better accept myself. pg. 120

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

Be Patient with the Faults of Others

Be patient with the faults of others; they have to be patient with yours.
--Our Daily Bread

How do we feel when someone we know makes a mistake? What happens when the boss makes an error and we have to work overtime to straighten it out? How do we feel when a cashier overcharges us, the post office loses our package, or the mechanic doesn't fix a problem?

Most of us become angry. Since we have been brought up from childhood to believe we are victims, it seems only natural in adult life to feel the same way. We imagine all those people had it in for us; they were all in league somehow to make us suffer.

But everybody makes mistakes. Who among us is perfect? We have made many mistakes in our lives that have probably brought inconveniences to others. If we can learn to treat the faults of others with patience and understanding instead of anger and resentment, we may find others treating us accordingly.

I can overlook the mistakes of others as I would want them to over look mine.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Today's meditation comes from the book
Night Light
by Amy E. Dean C 1986, 1992

Happiness or Unhappiness is Not the Point

I don't think happiness or unhappiness is the point. How do we meet the problems we face? How do we best learn from them and transmit what we have learned to others, if they would receive the knowledge?

In my search "to be happy," I changed jobs, married and divorced, took geographical cures, and ran myself into debt-financially, emotionally and spiritually. In A.A., I'm learning to grow up. Instead of demanding that people, places and things make me happy, I can ask God for self-acceptance. When a problem overwhelms me, A.A.'s Twelve Steps will help me grow through the pain. The knowledge I gain can be a gift to others who suffer with the same problem.

As Bill said, "When pain comes, we are expected to learn from it willingly, and help others to learn. When happiness comes, we accept it as a gift, and thank God for it."

(As Bill Sees It, p. 306)

April 25, 2005

Forgiveness is a Spiritually Rewarding Gift to Yourself

"To forgive really is divine. It takes strength to set aside what is often justifiable anger. It's much easier to hold a grudge. Yet when we make the choice and allow ourselves to put aside that anger and to forgive those who have harmed us, we actually do ourselves a great service. Making the conscious decision to let go of pain is the beginning of healing.

But doing so is challenging because it is easy to become attached to seeing oneself as a victim and to hold onto resentment, even when the person who has harmed us is genuinely sorry. Forgiving someone is both one of the most difficult and one of the most spiritually rewarding choices we can make.

While forgiveness is a noble act, research shows that the person who forgives benefits as much, perhaps more, than those that are forgiven. Expressing true forgiveness is empowering because it helps us to stop feeling like victims and to dispel our own suffering at having been wronged. Our levels of anger and hostility decreases while our capacity to love increases.

We are better able to control our anger and we have an enhanced capacity to trust. We are freed from the control of past events, which can help us to stop repeating negative behavior. Both our physical and mental health improves. Though many people feel forgiveness is something that must be asked for or earned by another, forgiveness is actually a gift you give to yourself.

When you are ready to let go of your anger and forgive, it can be helpful to do so internally, whether or not you intend on telling the one who wronged you. It doesn't matter if the person has passed on or if you don't have contact with them anymore.

Keep in your mind's eye the person you want to forgive but do not dwell on their past actions or words. As you concentrate on them, sincerely wish for them everything you would want for yourself. Do this for as long as and as many times as it takes. It may be days, months or even a year before you sense a change. But you'll know when you are finished, because you will feel a positive shift and you will feel free."

Reprinted from DailyOM.

April 24, 2005

Alanon Slogans and their Meanings

Every day there are decisions to be made and problems to be solved. When you notice irritations growing into tensions, tensions into near-panic, and old fears returning, this is the time to stop short and turn to God. You can do nothing anyway, and you will find that if you supply the willingness He will supply the power.

Many of our confusions and frustrations are due to our failure to deal with tasks and problems in the order of their importance. It does take discipline to put aside the things we'd rather do, and attend to those of first importance FIRST. But the rewards are great: we get things done, we enjoy a sense of accomplishment, and we learn to face issues with a real sense of value and purpose.

This is a reminder that most of us need- often. We need to make ourselves realize that we are not equipped to judge or criticize others for what they are or do. Our only concern should be our own conduct, our own improvement, our own lives. Each of us is entitled to his own view of things, but we have no right to inflict it on anyone else.If there are differences of opinion in your group, try to treat them

When we come into Al-Anon, burdened with problems and confusions, we are confronted with a bright light of hope. This may tempt us to try too hard to learn too quickly, all there is to learn about the program. "If we could only grasp the magic formula that is doing so much for the others," we think. But alas, it is not magic, but a philosophy of living, to be learned slowly and patiently, and absorbed into our hearts and minds. Easy does it. If you approach each meeting, each problem, each step,in a relaxed frame of mind, what you need will come to you, and much more quickly than if you strained and hurried. Easy does it. Readjusting your life and changing old habits takes time, and easy does it best.

It is well to remind ourselves, when we are resentful and embittered over an alcoholic's behavior, that it was not his choice to carry this burden of misery and despair. But for the Grace of God, we might have been afflicted by this sickness. Let us be thankful that we have the blessing of sobriety, and be willing to help the alcoholic find this blessing, too.

The Twelve Steps are Keys to a Tranformed Life

"Through abstinence and through working the Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous, our lives have become useful" Basic Text, p. 8

Before coming to Narcotics Anonymous, our lives were centered around using. For the most part, we had very little energy left over for jobs, relationships, or other activities. We served only our addiction.

The Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous provide a simple way to turn our lives around. We start by staying clean, a day at a time. When our energy is no longer channeled into our addiction, we find that we have the energy to pursue other interests. As we grow in recovery, we become able to sustain healthy relationships. We become trustworthy employees. Hobbies and recreation seem more inviting. Through participation in Narcotics Anonymous, we help others.

Narcotics Anonymous does not promise us that we will find good jobs, loving relationships, or a fulfilling life. But when we work the Twelve Steps to the best of our ability, we find that we can become the type of people who are capable of finding employment, sustaining loving relationships, and helping others. We stop serving our disease, and begin serving God and others. The Twelve Steps are the key to transforming our lives.

Just for today: I will have the wisdom to use the Twelve Steps in my life, and the courage to grow in my recovery I will practice my program to become a responsible, productive member of society.

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

April 21, 2005

The Importance of Meetings

Defeated, and knowing it, I arrived at the doors of AA,alone and afraid of the unknown. A power outside of myself had picked me up off my bed, guided me to the phone book, then to the bus stop, and through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous. Once inside AA, I experienced a sense of being loved and accepted, something I had not felt since early childhood.

May I never lose the sense of wonder I experienced on that first evening with AA, the greatest event of my entire life.

c. 1990 AAWS, Daily Reflections, p. 301 Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

Thought to Ponder . . .

Seven days without an AA meeting...makes one weak.

Overcoming Self-Sabotage

From this Daily OM:

"Each one of us is blessed with the ability to want. Some desire to achieve financial success, some to change the world, and others simply desire to change themselves for the better. Each one of us also has the power to make what we want become reality. Often, however, we subtly undermine our efforts by refusing support, adopting an air of ambivalence, over-committing, being indecisive, or listening to our doubts. This is self-sabotage. Sometimes it's not a deficiency of desire, intelligence, skill, or effort that is holding you back, but an internal tug-of-war based on fear. You know what you want from life but consciously or sub-consciously get in the own way of your efforts. There is a conflict between your desires and your feelings of worth and entitlement.

Self-sabotaging behavior can affect your motivation and your drive. You may drown your strong desires in television or food, avoid facing potentially challenging situations, or simply retreat inward. Accepting challenges, growing, making tough decisions, and working hard can seem truly frightening. It is easier to continue doing what you've always done. But the more you turn away from the means to achieve your life's dreams, the more your self-esteem and confidence is damaged. In that way, self-sabotage is cyclical. You shy away from getting what you want and then believe you lack the ability to get what you want. Self-sabotage can inspire feelings of depression, frustration, discouragement, and even anger because you are working against yourself. If you feel you have sabotaged your own efforts, remember and write down times in which you did so. Don't use the information to judge yourself. Rather, try to avoid similarly sabotaging yourself in the future.

Then, recognize that all worthwhile goals will take patience, organization, work, and a measure of confidence. Self-sabotage nearly always comes from feelings of inadequacy or underservedness, but those feelings can be overcome by giving yourself an extra portion of nurturing and love when you're working out a problem or formulating a long-term plan. All wants are special and valid and learning to overcome self-sabotage is an important part of achieving what you desire."

Trade Cynical Doubt for Affirmations of Hope

"We have found that we had no choice except to completely change our old ways of thinking or go back to using." Basic Text, p. 21

Many of us find that our old ways of thinking were dominated by fear. We were afraid that we wouldn't be able to get our drugs or that there wouldn't be enough. We feared discovery, arrest, and incarceration. Further down the list were fears of financial problems, homelessness, overdose, and illness. And our fear controlled our actions.

The early days of recovery weren't a great deal different for many of us; then, too, fear dominated our thinking. "What if staying clean hurts too much?" we asked ourselves. "What if I can't make it? What if the people in NA don't like me? What if NA doesn't work?" The fear behind these thoughts can still control our behavior, keeping us from taking the risks necessary to stay clean and grow. It may seem easier to resign ourselves to certain failure, giving up before we start, than to risk everything on a slim hope. But that kind of thinking leads only to relapse.

To stay clean, we must find the willingness to change our old ways of thinking. What has worked for other addicts can work for us—but we must be willing to try it. We must trade in our old cynical doubts for new affirmations of hope. When we do, we'll find it's worth the risk.

Just for today: I pray for the willingness to change my old ways of thinking, and for the ability to overcome my fears.

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

April 20, 2005

You are Very Important

"I understand how it feels when you’re not at your best. Perhaps you feel flawed, unworthy, or hopeless. May be you feel sick, drained of energy, listless, or depressed. Or is it that you just feel so fat and ugly, and there’s so much weight to lose you don’t know where to start?

It may sound strange, but I believe, from experience, that we are supposed to make mistakes, fall off the wagon, and blow it from time to time. That’s how we learn to do something different.

By falling, we learn to get up.

By not knowing answers, we look for truth.
By eating too much, we feel sick and eat less next time.

By feeling sick, we seek a remedy.
By feeling out-of-shape, weak, and in chronic physical pain we realize the need to move every day.
By losing touch with God, we reach out for something more.

I think the worst mistake of all is when I feel unimportant and unloved. I've lived through the lowest lows of self-esteem and I know if God didn’t think I was important, I wouldn’t be here. If I was not supposed to live, I wouldn’t have awakened alive again today. My Creator loves me, and cares for me. That’s evident because I am a part of nature; I belong.

The same’s true for you, too, dear friend. It’s evident that you are supposed to be here, and that you are loved and cared for by your creator. If you were not, surely you would not be alive again today, reading this.

So, put the bad feelings and negative thoughts aside for a moment, and feel God inside you, loving you."

From the Beliefnet Spiritual Weight Loss newsletter.

Overcoming Resistance to Change

"I've started to recognize some patterns in the reasons people give for not making personal changes that they really want to make. Here's the Top Ten list:

Some Suggested Ways to Overcome It

1. Procrastination

Fight it like the addiction it is. Separate the urgent from the Important. Have a list of the Important things and keep it in front of you. Break the Important things into manageable steps. Do one 'next step' towards your Important things every day. Learn to say 'no' to things that aren't as important. Don't try to do too many Important things at once. Don't wait for a crisis, or until it's too late. Don't beat yourself up about it, but don't deny it either.

2. Well-meaning naysayers and apologists

Your friends may well tell you your greatest goal, the change you most want to achieve, is foolish, impractical or impossible, and to lower your sights. Or they may reassure you that there's always time later and that it's OK to put it off. Don't listen to them. They want to make you feel better, happier with what you have and are and have done so far, but they're abetting the crime of letting you be less than what you were meant to be, what you must be to be happy, to be complete.

3. Fear of failure (defeatism)

Take it one step at a time. Get lots of help. Use the buddy system. Find a personal coach. Avoid those people (there are a lot of them) who love to talk about others' failures and failings. Learn from failures (quickly, don't let them drag on). If you never fail, you're setting your sights too low.

4. Giving up too soon (impatience)

Do your research so you are 'knowledge-powered'. That will reduce the number of surprise obstacles that arise, and will equip you to deal with them. Pace yourself. Reward yourself for progress. Enjoy the ride.

5. Waiting for the whole plan to be in place

Just start.

6. Lack of self-confidence or cultural intimidation

Avoid conformists and cynics -- they will suffocate you. Also avoid hero-worshipers and those infested with the cult of leadership -- they perpetuate the myth that some people are inherently better and more likely to succeed than others. Smile a lot. Hang around people with the courage to be different. It will rub off on you. We're all born knowing we can do anything, we just need to unlearn that we can't.

7. Inflexibility or lack of adaptability

Have a vision, a story, of where you want to go, but don't get locked into one way to get there. Plan, but don't overplan. Learn to improvise (it's more fun).

8. Trying to do it all yourself

Ah, that cowboy culture. Total myth. Discover how many people love to help others succeed. Use them shamelessly, but spread the help you ask for around. Say 'thank you' a lot. Give stuff away free. Reciprocate in ways that don't distract you, and in ways that draw on what you do best. Learn the art of collaboration.

9. Lack of forethought or concentration

Have lots of conversations with a diversity of others. Listen to constructive ideas, suggestions and criticisms. Set aside the time to think things through: You can listen too much to others, to the point you stop listening to yourself, or even stop thinking. Take up meditation or whatever works for you to silence the 'noise in your head' that keeps you from focusing. Trust your instincts.

10. Lack of necessary skills or talents

Learn how to learn (they didn't teach that in school). Work with others who overcame the same lack of skills or talents. Even creativity and imagination can be learned. If you can imagine it, you can do it. Oh, and practice, practice, practice."

From How to Save the World.

April 18, 2005

Handling Anger Assertively

By Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D.

The emotion we call "anger" is a natural response to frustration, pain, loss or neediness. It may also occur out of "old habit" or imitation of an angry parent. Anger is what we label the biochemical/physiological response we experience when our wants and needs are not met, when we are blocked from pursuing our goals, when we are hurting either physically or emotionally, or when we have experienced a loss of some kind. Anger is a natural emotion and a powerful energizer.

Many, many people have problems expressing their anger. You may have been given lots of messages as a child that you were supposed to be nice, kind, and sweet all the time. Or perhaps any anger _expression was not tolerated and punished in some way. Messages like, "Don't you talk back to me!" accompanied by a swat, is not only telling the child his or her angry feelings are "bad", it is punitive of the child's attempt to express the anger. It is also very confusing, because the child is being shown how the parent handles anger and at the same time told not to handle his or her anger in the same manner. So the child often learns to bottle up his or her anger in an effort to be a "good child" and avoid punishment.

Bottling up your anger, allowing it to build until you explode, or becoming your own angry critic of yourself and others, are not the most beneficial methods for handling anger. Learning how to be self-supportive and assertive with your anger are the most healthful ways to deal with your naturally-occurring emotion.

It is unnatural for everyone to remain smooth, calm, and unaffected by the frustrations, hurts and losses experienced in life. But expressing anger in a rage or "dumping" your anger on yourself or others is highly destructive to your psychological well-being.

Instead of venting your angry feelings in thermonuclear outbursts, or blocking them, thereby creating enormous internal stress, you can learn to turn your anger into a motivational tool which will give you the charge of energy you can use to take control of your own life, pursue your wants and goals more vigorously, and clarify where you stand in relation to others in your life. Using your anger for powerful assertiveness is the natural purpose for having it in the first place.

Here are six suggestions for handling your anger assertively.

1. Allow yourself to acknowledge your feelings of anger. Take a deep breath and listen to yourself for a minute. Become aware of the bodily sensations your anger creates. Ask yourself, "Do I feel angry enough to let others know what I am feeling?" or "How can I use my angry energy to address the problem to which I responded with anger?" Then decide either to let the problem go...along with your anger, or use the energy to address the precipitating issue.

2. Pick an appropriate discussion time. If possible, arrange with another a suitable time to raise the issue to which you responded with anger. A sudden outburst of anger may just put others on the defensive and may be even more frustrating for you.

3. Avoid blaming, judging, and accusing others. Your blaming offensive will only breed a defensive counter attack. It also makes you feel more helpless, because blaming becomes an obstacle to problem-solving. After you cool down, the problem remains with perhaps the addition of guilt or anxiety over your own outburst.

4. Always express your anger using "I" statements about how you are feeling. Say "I am feeling really frustrated and angry right now" rather than "You and your stupidity make me feel sick (tired, angry, ticked off, or any other adjective describing your anger)."

5. Say what it is you are wanting or needing which would address the problem or your anger. Make your needs clear and very specific. Don't ask the other person to change his or her feelings. They have a right to their feelings just as much as you have to yours. Ask directly and specifically for something that will help you feel
satisfied or less angry.

6. Listen to the other's response. Allow the person you're talking to enough time to hear and respond to what you've said. Look at them when they talk. Don't interrupt or rehearse your reply while they are talking. Slow down, and take in what they are saying. Then choose how you want to respond to them. Before you respond, acknowledge that you heard what they said, even though you may not agree with what they said.

The practice of using your anger to assert yourself can result in a much more fulfilled way of functioning. It can even bring others closer to you through caring and respect. Learn to use your anger for self-support and you regain control of your feelings and your life.

About the Author:
Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D. has 30+ years experience as a Life Coach and Licensed Psychologist. He is available for coaching in any area presented in "Practical Psychology." As your Coach, his only agenda is to assist you in creating the lifestyle you genuinely desire. The initial coaching session is free. Contact him: (970) 568-0173 or E-mail: DrLloyd@CreatingLeaders.com or LJTDAT@aol.com.

Dr. Thomas also serves on the faculty of the Institute For Life Coach Training. In that capacity, he teaches advanced coaching teleclasses: *Coaching Successful Life*s Lessons,* and *Intentional Creation: Re-Shaping Your Life.* To contact the Institute, call 970-224-9830 or E-mail: doccoach@lifecoachtraining.com. Check out the website: www.lifecoachtraining.com

Start with Self-Honesty

The deception of others is nearly always rooted in the deception of ourselves...When we are honest with another person, it confirms that we have been honest with ourselves and with God


When I was drinking, I deceived myself about reality, rewriting it to what I wanted it to be. Deceiving others is a character defect -- even if it is just stretching the truth a bit or cleaning up my motives so others would think well of me. My Higher Power can remove this character defect, but first I have to help myself become willing to receive that help by not practicing deception. I need to remember each day that deceiving myself about myself is setting myself up for failure or disappointment in life and in Alcoholics Anonymous. A close, honest relationship with a Higher Power is the only solid foundation I've found for honesty with self and with others.


April 17, 2005

Practice Loving-Kindness

The one who practices loving-kindness sleeps and wakes in comfort and has no bad dreams; he is dear to both humans and creatures; no danger harms him. His mind can be quickly concentrated, his expression is happy and serene. He dies without any confusion of mind. Loving-kindness protects him.

-Anguttara Nikaya
From "Buddha Speaks," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000.

Relapse Danger Signals

1. EXHAUSTION - Allowing yourself to become overly tired or in poor health. Some alcoholics are also prone to work addictions - perhaps in a hurry to make up for lost time. Good health and enough rest are important. If you feel well you are more apt to think well. Feel poorly and your thinking is apt to deteriorate. Feel bad enough and you might begin thinking a drink couldn't make it any worse.

2. DISHONESTY - This begins with a pattern of unnecessary little lies and deceits with fellow workers, friends, and family. Then come important lies to yourself. This is called "rationalizing" - making excuses for not doing what you don't want to do, or for doing what you know you should not do.

3. IMPATIENCE - Things are not happening fast enough. Others are not doing what they should or what you want them to do.

4. ARGUMENTATIVENESS - Arguing small and ridiculous points of view indicates a need to always be right. "Why don't you be reasonable and agree with me?" Looking for an excuse to drink?

5. DEPRESSION - Unreasonable and unaccountable despair may occur in cycles and should be dealt with - talked about.

6. FRUSTRATION - At people and also because things may not be going your way. Remember -- everything is not going to be just the way you want it to be.

7. SELF-PITY - "Why do these things happen to me?" "Why must I be an alcoholic?" "Nobody appreciates all I am doing - for them?"

8. COCKINESS - Got it made - no longer fear alcoholism - going into drinking situations to prove to others you have no problem. Do this often enough and it will wear down your defenses.

9. COMPLACENCY - "Drinking was the furthest thing from my mind." Not drinking was no longer a conscious thought, either. It is dangerous to let up on disciplines just because everything is going well. Always to have a little fear is a good thing. More relapses occur when things are going well than otherwise.

10. EXPECTING TOO MUCH FROM OTHERS - "I've changed, why hasn't everyone else?" It's a plus if they do, but it is still your problem if they do not. They may not trust you yet, may still be looking for further proof. You cannot expect others to change their style of life just because you have.

11. LETTING UP ON DISCIPLINES - Prayer, meditation, daily inventory, AA attendance. This can stem either from complacency or boredom. You cannot afford to be bored with your program. The cost of relapse is always too great.

12. USE OF MOOD-ALTERING CHEMICALS - You may feel the need to ease things with a pill and your doctor may go along with you. You may never have had a problem with chemicals other than alcohol, but you can easily lose sobriety starting this way - about the most subtle way of having a relapse. Remember you will be cheating! The reverse of this is true for drug-dependent persons who start to drink.

13. WANTING TOO MUCH - Do not set goals you cannot reach with normal effort. Do not expect too much. It's always great when good things you were not expecting happen. You will get what you are entitled to as long as you do your best, but maybe not as soon as you think you should. "Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have."

14. FORGETTING GRATITUDE - You may be looking negatively on your life, concentrating on problems that still are not totally corrected. Nobody wants to be a Pollyanna - but it is good to remember where you started from, and how much better life is now.

15. "IT CAN'T HAPPEN TO ME" - This is dangerous thinking. Almost anything can happen to you if you get careless. Remember you have a progressive disease, and you will be in worse shape if you relapse.

16. OMNIPOTENCE - This is a feeling that results from a combination of many of the above. You now have all the answers for yourself and others. No one can tell you anything. You ignore suggestions or advice from others. Relapse is probably imminent unless drastic change takes place.

The above is a checklist of symptoms leading to relapse (taken from a Hazelden Foundation pamphlet called, "A Look at Relapse")

Meditation on Perfect Humility

As Bill Sees It
"Perfect" Humility

For myself, I try to seek out the truest definition of humility that I can. This will not be the perfect definition, because I shall always be imperfect. At this writing, I would choose one like this:
"Absolute humility would consist of a state of complete freedom from myself, freedom from all the claims that my defects of character now lay so heavily upon me. Perfect humility would be a full willingness, in all times and places, to find and to do the will of God."
When I meditate upon such a vision, I need not be dismayed because I shall never attain it, nor need I swell with presumption that one of these days its virtues shall all be mine. I only need to dwell on the vision itself, letting it grow and ever more fill my heart.

This done, I can compare it with my last-taken personal inventory. Then I get a sane and healthy idea of where I stand on the highway to humility. I see that my journey toward God has scarce begun.

As I thus get down to my right size and stature, my self-concern and importance become amusing.


April 16, 2005

The Serenity Prayer as Gyroscope

"That word 'serenity' looked like an impossible goal when we first saw the prayer. In fact, if serenity meant apathy, bitter resignation, or stolid endurance, then we didn't even want to aim at it. But we found that serenity meant no such thing.

When it comes to us now, it is more as plain recognition -- a clear-eyed, realistic way of seeing the world, accompanied by inner peace and strength. Serenity is like a gyroscope that lets us keep our balance no matter what turbulence swirls around us. And that IS a state of mind worth aiming for."

c. 1975, Living Sober, page 19

The Pink Cloud

"As newcomers, many of us have indulged in spiritual intoxication. Like a prospector, belt drawn in over the last ounce of food, we saw our pick strike gold. Joy at our release from a lifetime of frustration knew no bounds.

The newcomer feels he has struck something better than gold. He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on giving away the entire product."

Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 128-9
As Bill Sees It, p. 57

For a Chance at a Fruitful Harvest, Plant Something

Thy Will Be Done

You can clear the land, plow the field, spread the fertilizer and plant the corn. But you cannot make it rain.You cannot prevent an early frost. You cannot determine exactly what will happen in your life. The rain may or may not fall, but one thing is certain: you will get a harvest only if you planted something in the field.

It's important to do everything in our power to ensure our success, but we also need to let the universe take its course. Getting mad won't help. Dwelling on a situation only takes energy away from us, while yielding few positive results. The Serenity Prayer comes to mind. It begins: "God Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change."

Clear the land, plow the field, plant the crop, and then let go. Things will work out, sometimes the way we want them to, sometimes not. But they will work out. Sometimes all you can do is shrug your shoulders, smile, and say whatever.

Thy will, not mine, be done. God, help me take guided action, then surrender to your will. Help me remember that true power comes from aligning my will, intentions, and desires with you.

Melody Beattie © Hazelden Foundation

April 15, 2005

Try Not to Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Today's thought is:

Ask, and ye shall receive.
--John 16:24

Somewhere in our past life, we may have picked up the idea that it's not all right to ask for help, that asking for help would be a sign of weakness. Recovery calls for some basic changes in our thinking, and when we feel vulnerable is the best time to reach out and ask for help from our Higher Power, from our program, and from our friends in recovery. It's hard for us, at first. We may be afraid of rejection, or of being laughed at for not knowing all the answers. But once we've taken the risk and openly asked for help, we realize our fears are a part of the past, and we can leave them behind us.

In asking for help, we acknowledge that we can't do it all by ourselves. We surrender once again to powerlessness. And we give others the joy and satisfaction of helping us.

Today if I'm feeling I'm on a solo-fight, help me to reach out and find support just by asking.

You are reading from the book:
Body, Mind, and Spirit by Anonymous
Copyright 1990 by Hazelden Foundation.

April 14, 2005

Recovery Takes Practice

No one learns how to play golf in a day, or masters a musical instrument in a week, or builds a relationship in a month. Neither does recovery happen overnight.

If we're ready and lucky, we may immediately take the direct path of abstinence and stay on it without making any detours. When that occurs, it's wonderful, but it's just a beginning. Recovering is more than abstaining from overeating, bingeing and purging, or restricting. Recovering is a new way of life that involves our entire being.

What, when, and how much we eat is the starting point. Then we move on to how we think, feel, act, and believe. Before we're very far along the path, we realize we're learning a whole new way of orienting ourselves to the events of every day. It feels good, and the more we practice, the more complete our recovery.

I give thanks for another day to practice recovering.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Today's meditation comes from the book
Inner Harvest
by Elizabeth L. C 1990

Tips for Avoiding Fights

"If someone openly displays aggression towards you, being calm in response gives you control and allows you to keep your mental attitude positive. Here are some tips for avoiding fights. I have used them successfully in a number of scenarios:

-Adobt a confident posture, but do not try to make yourself look too big by widening your stance, putting your hands on your hips etc.
-Speak clearly and calmly.
-Repeat one problem solving phrase. It should begin with 'I'. Never start the sentence with 'you'.
-Keep your mouth neutral, and eyes as friendly as you can, and look at the person.
-If the other person fails in their attempt to control your state, they will feel uncomfortable and move away first. They will probably part with a negative comment to let you know that they are not runing away. Let it go.
-Focus your thoughts for a moment on how unhappy that person's life might be, and send out a caring message so that you do not adopt any negativity from the confrontation."

Read more at Achieving Our Potential (And Beyond).

Shame Blocks Us; Acceptance Enables Growth

Many of us picked on ourselves unmercifully before recovery. We may also have a tendency to pick on ourselves after we begin recovery.

"If I was really recovering, I wouldn't be doing that again . . .." " I should be further along than I am." These are statements that we indulge in when we're feeling shame. We don't need to treat ourselves that way. There is no benefit.

Remember, shame blocks us. But self-love and acceptance enable us to grow and change. If we truly have done something we feel guilty about, we can correct it with an amend and an attitude of self-acceptance and love.

Even if we slip back to our old, codependent ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, we do not need to be ashamed. We all regress from time to time. That's how we learn and grow. Relapse, or recycling, is an important and necessary part of recovery. And the way out of recycling is not by shaming ourselves. That leads us deeper into codependency.

Much pain comes from trying to be perfect. Perfection is impossible unless we think of it in a new way. Perfection is being who and where we are today; it's accepting and loving ourselves just as we are. We are each right where we need to be in our recovery.

Today, I will love and accept myself for who I am and where I am in my recovery process. I am right where I need to be to get to where I'm going tomorrow.

You are reading from the book:
The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie
Copyright 1990 by Hazelden Foundation.

April 13, 2005

Stress Management Tips

"Being overly anxious is not just a mental hazard; it's a physical one too. The more stressed out we are the more vulnerable we are to colds, flu, and a host of chronic or life-threatening illnesses. And the less open we are to the beauty and pleasure of life. For your emotional and bodily benefit, we've consulted experts and come up with 37 easy, natural alternatives to anxiety. Enjoy!

1. Breathe Easily...
2. Visualize Calm...
3. Make Time for a Mini Self-Massage...
4. Try a [Homeopathic] Tonic...
5. Say Cheese...
6. Do Some Math...
7. Stop Gritting Your Teeth...
8. Compose a Mantra...
9. Check Your Chi..
10. Be a Fighter...
feeling like a victim only increases feelings of stress and helplessness. Instead, focus on being proactive...
11. Put It on Paper...
Writing provides perspective...
12. Count to 10
Before you say or do something you'll regret...,
13. Switch to Decaf
Wean yourself slowly...,
14. Just Say No
Trying to do everything is a one-way ticket to serious stress. Be clear about your limits, and stop trying to please everyone all the time...
15. Take a Whiff
Oils of anise, basil, bay, chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, rose, and thyme are all soothing...
16. Warm Up...
17. Say Yes to Acupressure...
18. Schedule Worry Time...
19. Shake It Up...
20. Munch Some Snacks
Foods that are high in carbohydrates stimulate the release of serotonin, feel-good brain chemicals that help induce calm...
21. Boost Your Vitamin Intake...
22. Get Horizontal
If sex has been on the bottom of your to-do list for too long, move it to the top...
23. Admit It...
24. Space Out
Look out the window and find something natural that captures your imagination...
25. Try [herbal] Tea...
26. Take a Walk...
27. Soak it Up...
nothing is more stress relieving...than a hot bath...
28. Play a Few Bars...
music can do everything from slow heart rate to increase endorphins...
29. Fall for Puppy Love...
30. Practice Mindfulness
Heighten your awareness of the moment by focusing intently on an object. Notice a pencil's shape, color, weight and feel. Or slowly savor a raisin or a piece of chocolate. Mindfulness leads to relaxation
31. Dial a Friend
Sharing your troubles can give you perspective, help you feel cared for and relieve your burden.
32. Stretch...
33. Say a Little Prayer...
34. Make Plans...
35. Goof Off...
36. Straighten Up...
37. Tiptoe Through the Tulips
Tending your garden helps get you out of your head and lets you commune with nature, a known stress reliever..."

Read the entire HealthyPlace article from which the foregoing was taken.

Do the Right Things for the Right Reasons

"…approval-seeking behavior carried us further into our addiction..."
Basic Text p. 14

When others approve of what we do or say, we feel good; when they disapprove, we feel bad. Their opinions of us, and how those opinions make us feel, can have positive value. By making us feel good about steering a straight course, they encourage us to continue doing so. "People-pleasing" is something else entirely. We "people-please" when we do things, right or wrong, solely to gain another person's approval.

Low self-esteem can make us think we need someone else's approval to feel okay about ourselves. We do whatever we think it will take to make them tell us we're okay We feel good for awhile. Then we start hurting. In trying to please another person, we've diminished ourselves and our values. We realize that the approval of others will not fill the emptiness inside us.

The inner satisfaction we seek can be found in doing the right things for the right reasons. We break the people-pleasing cycle when we stop acting merely to gain others' approval and start acting on our Higher Power's will for us. When we do, we may be pleasantly surprised to find that the people who really count in our lives will approve all the more of our behavior. Most importantly, though, we will approve of ourselves.

Just for today: Higher Power, help me live in accordance with spiritual principles. Only then can I approve of myself.

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

Accept What Is and Let Go of What Is Not

Humility is to make a right estimate of oneself.
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

What does it take to come to the place where we can exchange pride for humility? First we must stop the blasphemous charade of pretending that we are no good. "I'm worthless" has often been spoken in the name of humility. But these words, or any other words that express the same sentiment, are a self-indulgence and a cop-out.

The essence of humility is summed up in the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Humility is truth. To be humble is to know the truth about our limits, to recognize what can be changed, and to accept that all good things are possible with the help of our Higher Power.

Excessive pride prohibits acceptance because it prohibits the truth, and the truth is that some things are unchangeable. Refusal to accept that truth gets us plenty of frustrations and anger - and no humility at all.

Today, I humbly ask God for the wisdom to accept what is and to let go of what isn't.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Today's meditation comes from the book
Days of Healing, Days of Joy
Daily Meditations for Adult Children
by Earnie Larsen & Carol Larsen Hegarty C 1987

April 12, 2005


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

April 11, 2005

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Today's thought is:

Often I need to cut myself and others some slack. When I remind myself to lighten up, the intensity of the situation diminishes.
-- Lisa Keyes

Most of us have honed, quite skillfully, our ability to take most situations far too seriously. Perhaps if we were as careful to hone our skill of relying on our Higher Power to see us through situations, we'd more fully enjoy the moments God gives us.

Our struggle with perfectionism, coupled with our need to control outcomes, makes us experience life far too gravely. At the root of these character traits lies fear. We may not recognize our behavior as fear-based. However, were we not anxious about unfolding events, we'd feel peaceful and free to pursue activities that would reward us with the spiritual growth this program has promised.

Being reminded to lighten up may irritate us and feel like criticism at the time, but this advice can quickly change how we feel. After all, what we want is more serenity in our lives. We simply need reminders about how to attain it. Lightening up is one of the best and simplest of reminders.

I will remind myself to lighten up today as many times as it takes to feel some peace.

You are reading from the book:
A Woman's Spirit by Karen Casey
Copyright 1994 by Hazelden Foundation.

April 10, 2005

Self-Respect Through Sacrifice

At the beginning we sacrificed alcohol. We had to, or it would have killed us. But we couldn't get rid of alcohol unless we made other sacrifices. We had to toss self-justification, self-pity, and anger right out the window. We had to quit the crazy contest for personal prestige and big bank balances. We had to take personal responsibility for our sorry state and quit blaming others for it.

Were these sacrifices? Yes, they were. To gain enough humility and self-respect to stay alive at all, we had to give up what had really been our dearest possessions--our ambition and our illegitimate pride.


Why Worry?

Easy Does It

Relax a little. Try for inner contentment. No one individual can carry all the burdens of the world. Everyone has problems. Getting drunk won't solve them. . .

Doing our best, living each day to the fullest is the art of living. Yesterday is gone, and we don't know whether we will be here tomorrow. If we do a good job of living today, and if tomorrow comes for us, then the chances are we will do a good job when it arrives -- so why worry about it?

c. 2001 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 357 Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

Vigilance, the Price of Survival


"Now that we're in AA and sober, winning back the esteem of our friends and business associates, we find that we still need to exercise special vigilance. As an insurance against the dangers of big-shot-ism, we can often check ourselves by remembering that we are today sober only by the grace of God and that any success we may be having is far more His success than ours."

Bill W., Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 92 As Bill Sees It, p. 19

Thought to Consider . . .

"Vigilance will always be the price of survival."

Bill W., The AA Grapevine, November 1960. The Language of the Heart, p. 317

April 09, 2005

Learn to Love Yourself

"People who truly love themselves do not become destructively self-centered. They do not abuse others. They do not stop growing and changing. People who love themselves well, learn to love others well too. They continually grow into healthier people, learning that their love was appropriately placed."
--Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go

"Self love is about fully embracing oneself, realizing one's strengths and accepting one's flaws. Self love is not about being self-centered or self-absorbed, which is based on insecurity and not knowing oneself. True self love is a guarantee that we will not succumb to such selfish pursuits. For if we truly love ourselves we know that we do not need to be the best looking, most talented, or have the most possessions.

When we love ourselves, we are able to give love freely to others without fear of being hurt or used. We love ourselves enough to not allow others to take advantage of us. And, when we are secure in our love of self, we attract the love of others.

To learn to love yourself, treat yourself the way you treat those you love. Be kind to yourself, giving yourself all that you need to be happy and healthy. Show yourself a good time by doing things you like. Eat well and take care of your body. Say nice things to yourself. Compliment and praise yourself, just as you would a friend, family member, or lover. Encourage yourself when you're feeling down.

And most importantly, say the words that we all long to hear. Look in the mirror and tell yourself, 'I love you.' This can be difficult, but it's a powerful tool in acceptance and self love. It may not be easy, you may feel foolish at first, but you can do it. Even if you don't feel it right away, keep doing it. Love yourself first and you will be able to truly love others and to be truly loved in return. "

From DailyOM - Learning To Love Yourself.

Drop the Word Blame

As Bill Sees It
The Fine Art Of Alibis, p.279

The majority of A.A. members have suffered severely from self-justification during their drinking days. For most of us, self-justification was the maker of excuses for drinking and for all kinds of crazy and damaging conduct. We had made the invention of alibis a fine art.

We had to drink because times were hard or times were good, We had to drink because at home we were smothered with love or not none at all. We had to drink at work because we were great successes or dismal failures. We had to drink because our nation had won a war or lost a peace. And so it went, ad infinitum.

To see how our own erratic emotions victimized us often took a long time. Where other people were concerned, we had to drop the word "blame" from our speech and thought.

12 & 12
1. pp. 46-47
2. p. 47

What a Tangled Web

"As a drinking alcoholic I was telling so many lies to cover the lies I had previously told that I got lost in a maze of untruth! Most of the lies were stupid, irrelevant and harmless - but they were all aimed at building up my ego. Making me look good. Telling people I had more. My memory could not keep up with my tongue and I became guilty, ashamed and embarrassed.

Today I need to remember that there is nothing any lie can give me that I need; there is nothing in the world of fabrication that I need; I have what I need.

Today I have a relationship with a God and Friend that I can understand and be vulnerable with; I don't need to be perfect to be loved.

Help me to seek the good life in those things that are good."

From Reverend Leo Booth - Daily Meditation.

Unfulfilled Expectations Lead to Disappointment

"In the course of living, many people are disappointed when others do not live up to their expectations. In order to be happy, some expectations must be dropped. These unrealistic and unhealthy expectations are three of the main culprits.

1. Do not EXPECT appreciation. When others say, "Thank you," or in any way show their gratitude, be happy. It is a gift!

2. Do not EXPECT others to make you happy. They simply cannot do that. Make yourself happy and share your joy with others.

3. Do not expect NOT to be let down. At times, people will simply not come through for you in the way you need. Forgive them and move on.

Get rid of these three expectations and you will be getting rid of daily disappointment!"

Steve Goodier

April 08, 2005

Embrace the Mystery of Life

Embrace the mystery of life. You don't need to know everything in your head. You don't need to figure everything out. You don't need an instruction sheet or a set of rules. You don't need all the answers.

Let yourself experience life. Hang on to the handlebars when you must, but as much as possible put your hands in the air and enjoy the ride. Feel everything you need to feel along the way. Feel the fear, the joy, the exhilaration. Feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your shoulders. Feel the validity of life surge through you. See vitality and life in a; that's around you.

Watch the magical journey of your life unfold with all it's ups and downs. Feel the awareness surge up from deep within. Grasp the insights that come. Grab the brass ring whenever you can.

Embrace the mystery of life. Embrace the mystery and magic of you.

Melody Beattie ©

Happiness is a Choice

"We come to know happiness, joy and freedom." Basic Text p. 88

If someone stopped you on the street today and asked if you were happy, what would you say? "Well, gee, let's see... I have a place to live, food in the refrigerator, a job, my car is running... Well, yes, I guess I'm happy;' you might respond. These are outward examples of things that many of us have traditionally associated with happiness. We often forget, however, that happiness is a choice; no one can make us happy.

Happiness is what we find in our involvement with Narcotics Anonymous. The happiness we derive from a life focused on service to the addict who still suffers is great indeed. When we place service to others ahead of our own desires, we find that we take the focus off ourselves. As a result, we live a more contented, harmonious life. In being of service to others, we find our own needs more than fulfilled.

Happiness. What is it, really? We can think of happiness as contentment and satisfaction. Both of these states of mind seem to come to us when we least strive for them. As we live just for today, carrying the message to the addict who still suffers, we find contentment, happiness, and a deeply meaningful life.

Just for today: I am going to be happy. I will find my happiness by being of service to others.

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


The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
-Carl Rogers

We can stop waiting for others to give us what we need and take responsibility for ourselves. When we do, the gates to freedom will swing wide. Walk through.
-Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.
-Albert Pike

Recovery is not for the people who need it, it's not even for the people who want it, it's for the people who DO it.

April 07, 2005

Spirituality, Prayer, the Twelve Steps and Judaism

Spirituality, Prayer, the Twelve Steps and Judaism

By Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

The fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Al-Anon are of inestimable value in the recovery from alcoholism and chemical dependency. Not infrequently, there is a resistance on the part of Jews to participate on the grounds that these programs have a religious orientation that is non-Jewish.

Let us first dispense with some extraneous objections.A.A. is Christian because meetings are held in church basements, say some. While it is true that the majority of A.A. meetings are in churches, it should also be mentioned that few Jewish facilities have welcomed A.A. The myth that Jews do not become alcoholic has resulted in an alienation of alcoholism treatment programs from the Jewish community. Just as there is a lack of alcoholism expertise in Jewish health agencies, so is there a dearth of synagogues and Jewish community centers that have opened their doors to A.A. Several years ago there were virtually no synagogue-based A.A. meetings. Today there are communities that have one or more. If more rabbis and community leaders would overcome their resistance and denial, there is no question that more meetings will be held in Jewish institutions. A.A. meetings involve Christian liturgy, say others. While A.A. meetings generally close with the Lord's Prayer, there is no rule in A.A. that precludes substituting a Jewish prayer. While others are reciting the Lord's Prayer, one may say the 23rd Psalm or any other Jewish prayer. All the available literature on spirituality in recovery has Christian origins, is another common complaint. Like the first objection, this is not inherent in A.A., but a default by Jewish theologians. Again, the prevailing lack of awareness about alcoholism among Jews is responsible for the absence of literature on spirituality. Hopefully, this will be corrected with the increasing interest in the problem. In some communities, knowledgeable rabbis have begun to provide sessions on spirituality for recovering Jews.

Denial and resistance These objections are similar to the various forms of denial and resistance inherent to the disease of alcoholism and the awareness that help must be sought. Even after a person accepts the presence of a problem and the need for treatment, there is often resistance to Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon.

Permit me to list the most typical forms of resistance:

1. A.A.'s insistence on total abstinence.

The alcoholic much prefers a treatment which would allow him (or her) to cut back on his alcohol consumption, or teach him to control his drinking. He is therefore more likely to accept some treatment approach that would not demand total abstinence indefinitely.

2. Reluctance to be stigmatized as alcoholic.

The pejorative nature of this term, and its association in many people's minds with skid-row derelicts often results in preference for the euphemism of problem drinker.

3. Concern that one will meet social or business acquaintances at meetings, and that one's alcoholism will be exposed.

While there are various reasons for resistance to A.A., the rationalization that it is alien to Jewishness is a comfortable one and frequently exploited. Strangely, one can hear this objection from people who have broken all identity with Judaism. It is a rationalization that is also employed by those who have no reservations about intermarriage. Clearly, objections of this sort are a resistance maneuver and should be recognized as such.


The essence of Alcoholics Anonymous is contained in the Twelve Steps, the adoption of which is a sine qua non for participation in the fellowship. Much confusion can be eliminated if we look at the compatibility of the steps with Jewish theology.

STEP ONE: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable.

This Step is the foundation of recovery since it identifies the problem. Unless one accepts that a problem exists, efforts to do something about the problem will be futile. Clearly, this Step has no religious connotations. The First Step is without a doubt the most difficult. Typically, the alcoholic will deny the problem even when the evidence is blatant and irrefutable. The loss of control over alcohol, whether it is dependency or the inability to stop, is usually recognized by everyone except the drinker. The physical, emotional, social or occupational deterioration of life may be quite evident to family, friends, employer or physician, but the drinker often has the delusion that things are just fine, or that his difficulties are due to the actions of others. To the active alcoholic, Step One is terrifying because it implies that the use of alcohol must be totally abandoned. It is also formidable because the person may perceive admission of powerlessness as a shortcoming or a weakness. Considering that alcoholics are invariably lacking in self-esteem, this admission is extremely threatening to the ego. Anything which can help bolster the fragile ego of the alcoholic will make acceptance of powerlessness and the recognition that one has lost control much easier. For the same reason, punitive behavior toward the alcoholic will only depress his self-esteem and make acceptance more difficult. Spiritual guidance directed at improving one's sense of worth is thus helpful in facilitating the first step and initiating recovery.

STEP TWO: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

The Talmud states that a person's temptation becomes more intense each day, and were it not that God helps him, it would be impossible for him to resist (Sukkah, 52B). This statement is universal, applying to all people, great or small, wealthy or poor, learned or unlearned. The Talmud tells us that even though giving in to destructive impulses may be recognized to be foolish and detrimental, no one would be able to resist these urges without the help of God. One's own resources, regardless of how great they may seem, are simply inadequate. Step Two is thus a statement of fundamental Jewish belief.

STEP THREE: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

The phrase God as we understand Him is a recurring one in A.A. literature. The wording was intended to avoid identification with any particular denomination.

Step Three is a logical consequence of One and Two. If I've lost control of my life, and there's a greater power that can restore my sanity, then it follows that I must be ready to turn my life over to that higher power. But, for many, this step is almost as difficult to accept as the first. In part, this is due to the contradiction between the verbal acknowledgement of the loss of control and the obstinate efforts in early recovery to maintain control.

Yet turning one's life and will over to the care of God does not mean that one can relinquish responsibility. Although the quoted principle of the Talmud indicates that unaided man is helpless, it clearly does not imply that an individual should make no effort and place total responsibility on God. The Talmud states that God's assistance to man is indispensable. Assistance implies that one is taking some action, but needs help. A person must do everything within his power to make his life constructive and productive. Divine help, if sought, will be forthcoming only when one does his share of the work.

STEP FOUR: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

STEP FIVE: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

All the works of Jewish moralists and ethicians are replete with the need for cheshbon hanefesh . This is a detailed personal accounting taken daily, as well as a more general overview of the direction, accomplishments and shortcomings of one's life taken periodically, with special emphasis in the period beginning with Rosh Hashonah and concluding with Yom Kippur.

The great Classical master, Rabbi Elimelech of Lizensk, states in his Brief List for Proper Living that one must repeatedly confide in another person, whether spiritual counselor or trusted friend, all improper thoughts and impulses which come to one's heart and mind, whether these occur during meditation, while lying idle awaiting onset of sleep, or at any time during the day, and one should not withhold anything because of shame or embarrassment.

Anyone familiar with the siddur knows that confession before God is not restricted to Yom Kippur. A detailed confession is required twice daily.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty here is admitting to oneself, and one must stand in admiration of the wisdom of this requirement. Many individuals make verbal confessions from which they are completely detached. Confessions that are not accompanied by a sincere regret for the wrong deed and commitment to change are worse than worthless.

A sincere admission of a mistake to God or to another person elicits forgiveness, and so should this admission elicit forgiveness to oneself. Yet many people seem unable to forgive themselves even when the misdeed is acknowledged and sincerely regretted. These individuals carry a heavy load of guilt, and this remains a hindrance to all. For the alcoholic, this unalleviated guilt is a frequent cause of relapse.

STEP SIX: We're entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

STEP SEVEN: Humbly asked Him to remove all these defects of character.

These Steps reflect an understanding of human behavior which is well-recognized in Jewish ethics. In Judaism, man is defined not as homo sapiens, a hominoid with intelligence, but as homo spiritus, a hominoid with a divine spirit. According to Genesis, God blew into his nostrils a spirit of life, and man became a living being (II, 7). Man's distinction from lower forms of life lies in his spirit, not in his intellect.

Man is thus essentially a biological animal with all of the lusts, cravings, impulses and drives that are natural to all animals. In contrast, however, man has a spirit which enables him to master these innate urges- But all that unaided man can do is master these forces. He cannot eradicate them any more than he can change the color of his eyes.

While man alone can't relinquish undesirable internal drives, God can, if His help is sought. A prerequisite for divine intervention, however, is that man must first do all that is within his power to subdue undesirable traits. A person who prays for divine intervention to rid himself of undesirable lust impulses while, at the same time, indulging in sexually provocative literature, can hardly expect divine assistance. Whether it be lust, anger, hate, envy or greed, maximum efforts on one's own part must fully be exhausted before a divine response can be expected. This is the readiness required in Step Six and the justification for Step Seven.

STEP EIGHT: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

STEP NINE: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

The Shulchan Aruch , or Code of Jewish Law, states that all the atonement possible is ineffective if an individual has harmed another, unless forgiveness from the victim has been sought. If the wrong action resulted in financial loss, then adequate restitution is required. If the offended party refuses to grant forgiveness, he is to be approached three times. If he remains obstinate in refusing forgiveness, and the offender sincerely regrets his behavior, Divine forgiveness is assured. If the victim has died, the Shulchan Aruch requires that one take a minyan (a quorum of ten people) and visit the burial place to publicly ask forgiveness.

STEP TEN: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Taking a personal inventory on Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur is not sufficient. This must be an ongoing process. The need for recognizing a wrong and promptly admitting it is stressed by the Talmud. The longer one delays in admitting a sin, the more apt he is to explain away and justify his behavior, until the sin may even appear as the right course of action.

STEP ELEVEN: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

One of the first prayers upon rising asks for Divine guidance and the strength to do God's will. In Ethics of the Fathers, the Talmud states, Make His will your will, and negate your will before His (Pirke Avot,II, 4) .

STEP TWELVE: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Everywhere in Jewish ethics there is a great emphasis on mutual responsibility for one another's actions. No man is an island. Just as some diseases are contagious, so is spiritual and moral deterioration. Those who are fortunate enough to achieve a measure of spirituality do not have the right to keep this enlightenment to themselves. The Yiddish phrase, He is a zaddik in pelz refers to the pious one who keeps warm by wrapping himself in furs. In other words, he maintains a selfish piety. Warmth should be obtained by building a fire so that others can benefit from the heat as well.

A.A. has set an example for stretching out a helping hand. It is not unusual for a person to be awakened in the early hours of the morning in subzero weather and be asked to respond to a call for help from a total stranger. The call is heeded even though the helper realizes that the stranger may change his mind or has fallen into a drunken stupor. Yet recovering alcoholics respond because their disease has taught them in very practical terms that We either make it together, or we don' t make it at all.

Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religion and cannot take the place of religion. Religion deals with ultimates, especially with the ultimate purpose of man's presence on earth. All Jews need to learn more about their faith and learn more from the unlimited resources of Jewish knowledge. The recovering alcoholic has a particular need for positive direction and sense of purpose in his life, A.A. does not attempt to provide this.

It has been said that new ideas often have a three-stage course. At first, the idea is thought to be anti-Jewish. Then it is decided it may be compatible with Jewishness after all. Finally, it is declared that Jews thought of it first. This thought notwithstanding, it is difficult to see how anyone can point to any conflict between A.A. philosophy and Judaism.

It is important for Jews as a whole, but especially for Jewish spiritual and communal leaders, to learn more about alcoholism and chemical dependency. In addition to the methods that have been found effective in promoting recovery, the treasury of Jewish tradition and learning has much to offer, A.A. can be an invaluable ally in the comprehensive spiritual growth for recovering Jews everywhere.

Rabbi Abraham Twerski, M.D. is a nationally acknowledged expert in the field of alcoholism and chemical dependency, and is currently the Medical Director of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh , as well as an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The author of several books, Dr. Twerski has written extensively and lectured world-wide about the problem of chemical dependency in the Jewish community.

April 05, 2005

Live to Learn, to Serve and to Love

As Bill Sees It
"...In All Our Affairs

"The chief purpose of A.A. is sobriety. We all realize that without sobriety we have nothing.

"However, it is possible to expand this simple aim into a great deal of nonsense, so far as the individual member is concerned. Sometimes we hear him say, in effect, "Sobriety is my sole responsibility. After all, I'm a pretty fine chap, except for my drinking. Give me sobriety, and I've got it made!'

"As long as our friend clings to this comfortable alibi, he will make so little progress with his real life problems and responsibilities that he stands in a fair way to get drunk again. This is why A.A.'s Twelfth Step urges that we 'practice these principles in all our affairs.' We are not living just to be sober; we are living to learn, to serve, and to love."

LETTER, 1966

Between a Rock and the Moon


"This very real feeling of inferiority is magnified by his childish sensitivity and it is this state of affairs which generates in him that insatiable, abnormal craving for self-approval and success in the eyes of the world. Still a child, he cries for the moon. And the moon, it seems, won't have him!"


While drinking I seemed to vacillate between feeling totally invisible and believing I was the center of the universe. Searching for that elusive balance between the two has become a major part of my recovery. The moon I constantly cried for is, in sobriety, rarely full; it shows me instead its many other phases, and there are lessons in them all. True learning has often followed an eclipse, a time of darkness, but with each cycle of my recovery, the light grows stronger and my vision is clearer.


April 04, 2005

23rd Psalm of Recovery

The Lady is my sponsor. I shall not want.

She maketh me to go to many meetings.

She leadeth me to sit back, relax and listen with an open mind.

She restoreth my soul, my sanity, and my health.

She leadeth me in the paths of recovery, serenity, and fellowship for mine own sake.

She teacheth me to think, to take it easy, to live and let live, and to do first things first.

She maketh me honest, humble, and grateful.

She teacheth me to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and shows me the wisdom to know the difference.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of despair, frustration, guilt, and remorse, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; the program, thy way of life.

The Twelve Steps, they comfort me.

Thou preparst a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; rationalization, fear, anxiety, self-pity, anger, and resentment.

Thou anointest my confused mind and jangled nerves with knowledge, understanding, and hope.

No longer am I alone; neither am I afraid, nor sick, nor helpless, nor hopeless.

My cup runneth over.

Surely recovery and serenity shall follow me every day of my life, twenty-four hours at a time, as I surrender my will to God and carry the message to others;

and I will daily dwell in the house of my Higher Power.

Forever and ever.

Author Unknown

April 01, 2005

Focus on Similarities

"My disease of addiction kept me separate, isolated and alone. I was so busy seeing how I was different from other people that I missed the similarities. I missed the "oneness" of this creation by always placing myself above it, below it, outside it: and I was the loser.

Even my religion kept me separate. I was a Christian and not a Jew, Muslim or Hindu --- but I failed to see the similarities of these major philosophies; I failed to see what all religious people have in common; I failed to see the inclusiveness of Love, Truth and Forgiveness.

God is to be found in the "difference" and "sameness" of His people.

O Lord, I am discovering that even the differences, when understood, become the same."

From Reverend Leo Booth - Daily Meditation.

Let Change Come From Your Heart

"From the beginning, communication in AA has been no ordinary transmission of helpful ideas and attitudes. Because of our kinship in suffering, and because our common means of deliverance are effective for ourselves only when constantly carried to others, our channels of contact have always been charged with the language of the heart."

c. 1967, As Bill Sees It, page 195

Just for Today -- A Daily Devotional
We can attend meetings, work the steps as our sponsor’s guide us, but if we don’t have that heart change -- we will always struggle in our recovery.

In our meetings, we have seen people that have been through rehab – multiple times – they know what they are supposed to do -- and some even walk through the steps and do what is expected to be done to recovery, but if it is never in their heart, if they don’t have a language that comes from the heart and if we don’t love God and want Him to do a work in us -- the struggle is inevitable – we will continually walk in the vicious cycle of addiction.

Work on the language of your heart today, invite God in.

Wings Devotional© Daily Meditation Translation is property of Wings Of Eagles Recovery©

Using Your Desire

"In any quest for spiritual growth there is a struggle between the life one lives and the life one would wish to live. The first step on any path is desire. Using your desire means envisioning your goals, being honest with yourself, developing focus, living in the moment, and assessing your progress in terms of not only what you have accomplished, but also what you have pledged to accomplish.

It takes effort, commitment, and, above all, practice, but it centers you in every activity, every state of mind, and every mode of being. Desire can give you a roadmap for life that you never before had the power to access. It can bring you blessings. And, when you've determined what it is you desire, acknowledging what you want can help you achieve those desires. "

From this DailyOM post.

Become a Possibilitarian

"Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities — always see them, for they're always there."

--Norman Vincent Peale