December 28, 2006

A New Life That Works

"Is sobriety all that we are to expect of a spiritual awakening No, sobriety is only a bare beginning; If more gifts are to be received, our awakening has to go on. As it does go on, we find that bit by bit we can discard the old life -- the one that did not work -- for a new life that can and does work under any conditions whatever."

Bill W., Grapevine, December 1957 c. 1967 AAWS, As Bill Sees It, p. 8

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Put Willpower to Work For You

Alcoholics do have tremendous willpower. Consider the ways we could manage to get a drink in defiance of all visible possibilities. Merely to get up some mornings -- with a rusting cast-iron stomach, all your teeth wearing tiny sweaters, and each hair electrified -- takes willpower many nondrinkers rarely dream of. . .

Oh yes, real drinkers have real willpower. The trick we learned was to put that will to work for our health, and to make ourselves explore recovery ideas at great depth, even though it sometimes might have seemed like drudgery.

c. 1998 AAWS, Living Sober, p. 84

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Consider Guided Meditation

A guided meditation uses the sound of a person’s voice to direct you through an inner process of relaxing your body and shifting your mind’s focus. The voice may be a person in the room with you or a recording—even something downloaded from the internet—and it is generally spoken in soothing, soft tones. You may be guided to focus on aspects of your physical body, such as on your breathing, relaxing your muscles one-by-one, or on an area in need of healing.

Sometimes it might involve visualizing a journey through the beauty of the natural world. Other times, you may be led to envision yourself working with light or energy, accomplishing your goals, or repeating positive thoughts in your head. Your guide may walk you through relaxation or motivation to help you change a habit, access untapped potential, or perhaps merely to find the silence within you. Whether you are familiar with meditation or you are a beginner, being guided gives you the opportunity to benefit from the insight of others. There are numerous meditation and visualization techniques based in various spiritual philosophies and psychological applications.

You may want to try several techniques to see what appeals to you the most, or just to gain a fresh perspective. Guided meditation allows you to learn from others in a way that is similar to ones used by ancients the world over. Once learned, meditation is a tool that will always be available to you.

Like having a tour guide while traveling in a foreign country, a guided meditation takes you on an inner journey. But this tour allows you to see and experience your own inner world, a place that truly only exists within you. The scenes created in your mind’s eye can be revisited at anytime, without a guide, because once you have seen the fascinating landscape of your own inner terrain, there will always be more to explore.


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Deep Gratitude

We have been given a new life just because we happened to become alcoholics. We certainly don't deserve the new life that has been given us. There is little in our past to warrant the life we have now.

Many people live good lives from their youth on, not getting into serious trouble, being well adjusted to life, and yet they have not found all that we drunks have found. We had the good fortune to find Alcoholics Anonymous and with it a new life. We are among the lucky few in the world who have learned a new way to live.

Am I deeply grateful for the new life that I have learned in AA.?

Meditation for the Day
A deep gratitude to the Higher Power for all the blessings that we have and that we don't deserve has come to us. We thank God and mean it. Then comes service to other people, out of gratitude for what we have received. This entails some sacrifice of ourselves and our own affairs. But we are glad to do it. Gratitude, service, and then sacrifice are the steps that lead to good A.A. work. They open the door to a new life for us.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may gladly serve others out of deep gratitude for what I have received. I pray that I may keep a deep sense of obligation

From Twenty Fours Hours a Day©Hazelden Foundation

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The Great Fact

The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows, and toward God's universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.

c. 2001AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p.25

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December 20, 2006

Happiness Comes From Right Living

Life is not a search for happiness. Happiness is a by-product of living the right kind of a life, of doing the right thing. Do not search for happiness, search for right living and happiness will be your reward.

Life is sometimes a march of duty during dull, dark days. But happiness will come again, as God's smile of recognition of your faithfulness. True happiness is always the by-product of a life well lived.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may not seek happiness but seek to do right. I pray that I may not seek pleasure so much as the things that bring true happiness.

From "Twenty-Four Hours A Day" ©Hazelden Foundation.

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Don't Stuff Your Feelings

Many of us have gotten so good at following the "don't feel" rule that we can try to talk ourselves out of having feelings, even in recovery.

"If I was really working a good program, I wouldn't feel angry."

"I don't get angry. I'm a Christian. I forgive and forget."

"I'm not angry. I'm affirming that I'm happy."

These are all statements, some of them quite clever, that indicate we're operating under the "don't feel" rule again.

Part of working a good program means acknowledging and dealing with our feelings. We strive to accept and deal with our anger so it doesn't harden into resentments. We don't use recovery as an excuse to shut down our

Yes, we are striving for forgiveness, but we still want to feel, listen to, and stay with our feelings until it is time to release them appropriately. Our Higher Power created the emotional part of ourselves. God is not telling us to not feel; it's our dysfunctional systems.

We also need to be careful how we use affirmations; discounting our emotions won't make feelings go away. If we're angry, it's okay to have that feeling. That's part of how we get and stay healthy.

Today, I will refuse to accept shame from others or myself for feeling my feelings.

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

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Acts of Charity

Often, we think of charity as the making of monetary contributions or volunteering services. But charity is exemplified in other ways as well - simple kindness toward others, leniency in judgment of others, benevolence toward others, displaying esteem for others, holding others in value. Charity includes not just what we do for people, but how we treat people.

Charity manifests itself ultimately through an open, caring, and loving heart. Opportunities for numberless acts of charity present themselves daily.

based on an article by G.A. Hazelwood

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Walk the Talk

"Words mean nothing until we put them into action." Basic Text p.56

The Twelfth Step reminds us "to practice these principles in all our affairs:' In NA, we see living examples of this suggestion all around us. The more experienced members, who seem to have an aura of peace surrounding them, demonstrate the rewards of applying this bit of wisdom in their lives.

To receive the rewards of the Twelfth Step, it is vital that we practice the spiritual principles of recovery even when no one is looking. If we talk about recovery at meetings but continue to live as we did in active addiction, our fellow members may suspect that we are doing nothing more than quoting bumper stickers.

What we pass on to newer members comes more from how we live than what we say. If we advise someone to "turn it over" without having experienced the miracle of the Third Step, chances are the message will fail to reach the ears of the newcomer for whom it's intended. On the other hand, if we "walk what we talk" and share our genuine experience in recovery, the message will surely be evident to all.

Just for today: I will practice the principles of recovery, even when I'm the only one who knows.

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

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December 19, 2006

Take Care of Yourself Emotionally

What does it mean to take care of myself emotionally? I recognize when I'm feeling angry, and I accept that feeling without shame or blame.

I recognize when I'm feeling hurt, and I accept those feelings without attempting to punish the source of my pain. I recognize and feel fear when that emotion presents itself. I allow myself to feel happiness, joy, and love when those emotions are available. Taking care of myself means I've made a decision that it's okay to feel.

Taking care of my emotions means I allow myself to stay with the feeling until it's time to release it and go on to the next one. I recognize that sometimes my feelings can help point me toward reality, but sometimes my feelings are deceptive. They are important, but I do not have to let them control me. I can feel, and think too.

I talk to people about my feelings when that's appropriate and safe. I reach out for help or guidance if I get stuck in a particular emotion.

I'm open to the lessons my emotions may be trying to teach me. After I feel, accept, and release the feeling, I ask myself what it is I want or need to do to take care of myself.

Taking care of myself emotionally means I value, treasure, explore, and cherish the emotional part of myself.

Today, I will take care of myself emotionally. I will be open to, and accepting of, the emotional part of myself and other people. I will strive for balance by combining emotions with reason, but I will not allow intellect to push the emotional part of myself away.

From the book The Language of Letting Go. Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation<

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December 17, 2006

What is God's Will for My Life?

If we are talking about life in broad terms, the answer is fairly obvious. The call of God is always for us to live with noble purpose, with love as our highest motivation. We are in the world to develop ourselves to our highest potential and to make the greatest possible contribution to the world. Anything, therefore, that contributes to our total well-being and to the well-being of others is clearly the will of God.

If, however, the question is about what God wants me to do about the daily decisions of my life, the answer is not so clear. My own opinion is that God would probably want us to change the question—"What do I deep inside want to do with my life?" This calls in question the idea that God has a master plan for every life and all we have to do is find out the details. Nothing is left to me except to discover what has already been laid out for me in advance. This does not fit my idea of human freedom.

When God created humankind in the divine image, the highest expression of that image is the power to be a decision maker. In this sense, one is never complete, but is always being formed by the decisions we make. If this be true, God casts the responsibility on us to choose that which is best for us. These choices come inevitably from the judgments we make about what reflects our highest selves.

Each one of us is a unique person, with gifts, abilities and desires that give us the opportunities for creativity. To discover who we are and what those deep desires of our hearts mean gives us the clue to making decisions about what we do with our lives. If we choose wisely, we will experience the joy of growing a self and offering it as a source of strength to others.

This does not mean that God is not with us in the critical moments of decision-making. Through prayer and meditation, we have access into the divine Presence that provides guidance and inspiration. God is never so pleased as when we stand up and make a moral decision that reflects our desire to live at the highest and most useful level attainable.

--The Rev. Dr. Brooks Ramsey

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December 03, 2006

4 Steps to Release Anger

From "Positive Energy," by Judith Orloff, M.D.:

Anger, an intense sense of displeasure and antagonism, comes from the Latin angere, "to strangle." We get angry at those who've harmed us, aggravated us, or let us down. We get angry at ourselves. At God. Growing up, I was angry about being stuck on Earth; I felt like an alien, just longed to go "home." Sometimes anger becomes a mask for fear or hurt; it also leads to resentments, which I'll discuss later.

Anger is human, we all have it. In this program you'll learn to identify it and healthily release it, then keep moving on. Anger is a toxic subtle energy. Seething in your system, it can eat you alive, or else dangerously erupt. Keep in mind: Those painfully polite churchgoing housewives turned ax murderers snapped from repressing anger, not from consciously expressing it.
Make changes now to disfuse anger that throws you off by following the 48-hour rule

1. Quickly identify your source of anger. Impulsive, unconscious anger is the dangerous kind-it can hurt us, others, even break windows. To avoid unhappy repercussions, when anger hits, slow down your reaction. Immediately identify the cause, but don't go on the attack.

2. Give yourself permission to rant for 48 hours max. The worst thing you can do is squash anger: trying to contain this energy bomb will only explode your insides or cause you to passive-aggressively act it out. But now is not the time to confront the offender. For 48 hours, let lose and rail about the object of your anger by yourself, or with a therapist or friend. Doing so begins your healing by diffusing negative energy.

3. After 48 hours, start letting anger go. This means getting out of your ego (even if you're "right") and into self-preservation. Releasing anger is a process, but you can start now. I recommend writing in your journal to vent all the venom. Or keep praying to have it removed. Breathe your anger out of the emotional energy center in the solar plexus; make sure it doesn't congeal. Take a few moments periodically to breathe calm in, and expel the toxicity of anger.

4. Express your anger to the offender. First, take a measure of the situation. If the person is nonreceptive, vindictive, or there's no positive gain (say with a tyrant boss), it may not be appropriate to express your anger directly. Instead use the above steps or minimize contact. If you think the person may be receptive, remember the goal is not to eviscerate him or her, but to get your point across and be heard...The offender may want to resolve differences or apologize. If not, don't fuel antagonism or engage in a power struggle. Stay firm and centered in the knowledge that you've expressed your truth. You might say, "I respect your feelings, but we have to agree to disagree. I'm sorry we can't resolve this right now."

Reprinting this article.

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Acceptance Leads to Freedom

"We admitted we couldn't lick alcohol with our own remaining resources, and so we accepted the further fact that dependence upon a Higher Power (if only our A.A. group) could do this hitherto impossible job. The moment we were able to accept these facts fully, our release from the alcohol compulsion had begun.

For most of us, this pair of acceptances had required a lot of exertion to achieve. Our whole treasured philosophy of self-sufficiency had to be cast aside. This had not been done with sheer will power; it came instead as the result of developing the willingness to accept these new facts of living.

We neither ran nor fought. But accept we did. And then we began to be free."

Bill W.
from As Bill Sees It

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Recovery is Job One

"We have to keep our recovery first and our priorities in order"
Basic Text p. 79

Before coming to NA, we used many excuses to justify our use of drugs: "He yelled at me" "She said this." "My partner left." "I got fired." We used these same excuses for not seeking help for our drug problem. We had to realize that these things kept happening because we kept using drugs. Only when we made recovery our first priority did these situations begin to change.

We may be subject to the same tendency today, using excuses for not attending meetings and being of service. Our current excuses may be of a different nature: "I can't leave my kids." "My vacation wore me out." "I have to finish this project so I can impress my boss." But still, if we don't make recovery our first priority, chances are that we won't have to worry about these excuses anymore. Kids, vacations, and jobs probably won't be in our lives if we relapse.

Our recovery must come first. Job or no job, relationship or no relationship, we have to attend meetings, work the steps, call our sponsor, and be of service to God and others. These simple actions are what make it possible for us to have vacations, families, and bosses to worry about.

Recovery is the foundation of our lives, making everything else possible.

Just for today: I will keep my priorities in order. Number One on the list is my recovery.

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

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November 30, 2006

Three Choices

The immediate object of our quest is sobriety-freedom from alcohol and from all its baleful consequences. Without this freedom, we have nothing at all. Paradoxically, though, we can achieve no liberation from the alcohol obsession until we become willing to deal with those character defects which have landed us in that helpless condition.

In this freedom quest, we are always given three choices. A rebellious refusal to work upon our glaring defects can be an almost certain ticket to destruction. Or, perhaps for a time, we can stay sober with a minimum of self-improvement and settle ourselves into a comfortable but often dangerous mediocrity. Or, finally, we can continuously try hard for those sterling qualities that can add up to fineness of spirit and action - true and lasting freedom under God.

As Bill Sees It

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November 29, 2006

Have I given up trying to escape life?

I no longer try to escape life through alcoholism. Drinking built up an unreal world for me and I tried to live in it. But in the morning light the real life was back again and facing it was harder than ever, because I had less resources with which to meet it. Each attempt at escape weakened my personality by the very attempt. Everyone knows that alcohol, by relaxing inhibitions, permits a flight from reality. Alcohol deadens the brain cells that preside over our highest faculties and we are off to the unreal world of drunkenness. A.A. taught me not to run away, but to face reality.

A.A. Thought for the Day

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Gratitude Unlocks the Fullness of Life

Gratitude 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

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Do You Think You Are Different?

"All of us alcoholics, no matter who we are or where we come from, drink the way we do for one basic reason -- our alcoholism. We have a disease that won't let us stop drinking, once we pick up the first one. Our disease is profound and dynamic, constantly invading the mental and spiritual tissues of our being. We must constantly keep it arrested through the program of A.A. if we are to recover and remain sober."

c. 1976, Do you think you're different?
(A.A. Pamphlet P-13), pages 29-30

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Tortured by Loneliness

"Almost without exception, alcoholics are tortured by loneliness. Even before our drinking got bad and people began to cut us off, nearly all of us suffered the feeling we didn't quite belong. Either we were shy, and dared not draw near others, or we were apt to be noisy good fellows craving attention and companionship, but never getting it -- at least to our way of thinking.

There was always that mysterious barrier we could neither surmount nor understand. . .That's one reason we loved alcohol too well. It did let us act extemporaneously. But even Bacchus boomeranged on us; we were finally struck down and left in terrified loneliness."

c.1952AAWS, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 57

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November 19, 2006

23rd Psalm, The Lord is My Shepherd -- Devotional

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the path of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

—King James Version

"Over the centuries, millions of people have found solace and peace in the psalmist's words. Experience the power and comfort of the 23rd Psalm in this audiovisual devotional {from]

Be Aware of the Power of Negative Thoughts

Few people enjoy the company of individuals whose attitudes are persistently negative. Yet many of us tolerate the critical chatter that can originate within our own minds. Since we are so used to the stream of self-limiting, critical consciousness that winds its way through our thoughts, we are often unaware of the impact these musings have on our lives. It is only when we become aware of the power of such thoughts that we can divest ourselves of them and fill the emptiness they leave with loving, peaceful affirmations.

Many people, upon paying careful attention to their thinking patterns, are surprised at the negativity they find there. But when we take notice of involuntary thoughts in a nonjudgmental way, we initiate a healing process that will eventually allow us to replace intimidating and upsetting self-talk with positive, empowering thoughts.

While the occasional downbeat or judgmental thought may have little impact on your contentment, the ongoing negativity that passes unnoticed can have a dampening effect on your mood and your outlook. When you are aware of the tone of your thoughts, however, you can challenge them.

Try to be conscious of your feelings, opinions, and judgments for a single day. From sunup to sundown, scrutinize the messages you are feeding into your subconscious mind. Consider your thoughts from the perspective of a detached observer and try not to judge yourself based on the notions that come unbidden into your mind. Simply watch the flow of your consciousness and make a note of the number of times you find yourself focusing on gloomy notions or indulging in self-directed criticism.

As you become increasingly aware of your patterns of thought, whether positive and negative, you will gradually learn to control the character of your stream of consciousness. Endeavor always to remember that the images and ideas that pass through your mind are transient and not a true representation of who you are. In training yourself to be cognizant of your thoughts, you gain the ability to actively modulate your mood. The awareness you cultivate within yourself will eventually enable you to create a foundation of positivity from which you can build a more authentic existence.

From the DailyOM

A Spiritual Workout

What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.

Maintaining my spiritual condition is like working out every day, planning for the marathon, swimming laps, jogging. It's staying in good shape spiritually, and that requires prayer and meditation. The single most important way for me to improve my conscious contact with a Higher Power is to pray and meditate.

I am as powerless over alcohol as I am to turn back the waves of the sea; no human force had the power to overcome my alcoholism. Now I am able to breathe the air of joy, happiness and wisdom. I have the power to love and react to events around me with the eyes of a faith in things that are not readily apparent.

My daily reprieve means that, no matter how difficult or painful things appear today, I can draw on the power of the program to stay liberated from my cunning, baffling and powerful illness.

Daily Reflections © 1990 AAWS INC

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Listen During Prayer

How can anyone expect God to acquiesce in the half-baked prayers that a lot of us send up to Him. He would have the world in a worse chaos than it is now in five minutes.

Real prayer is not telling God what we want. It is putting ourselves at His disposal so that He can tell us what He wants. Prayer is not trying to get God to change His will. It is trying to find out what His will is. . . That's why it is so important for us to listen
as well as talk when we pray.

c. 1985 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, p. 265
AA Thought for the Day (courtesy

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November 18, 2006

Through the Eyes of a Child

Big Mud Puddles and Yellow Dandelions

When I look at a patch of dandelions, I see a bunch of weeds that are going to take over my yard. My kids see flowers for Mom and blowing white fluff you can wish on.

When I look at an old drunk and he smiles at me, I see a smelly, dirty person who probably wants money and I look away. My kids see someone smiling at them and they smile back.

When I hear music I love, I know I can't carry a tune and don't have much rhythm so I sit self-consciously and listen. My kids feel the beat and move to it. They sing out the words. If they don't know them, they make up their own.

When I feel wind on my face, I brace myself against it. I feel it messing up my hair and pulling me back when I walk. My kids close their eyes, spread their arms and fly with it, until they fall to the ground laughing.

When I see a mud puddle I step around it. I see muddy shoes and dirty carpets. My kids sit in it. They see dams to build, rivers to cross and worms to play with.

I wonder if we are given kids to teach or to learn from?

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.


Author Unknown

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Do It Now

Trust in God and do something.
--Mary Lyon

I have gotten over my procrastination. I was always putting things off till tomorrow and as a result they never got done. "There is always another day" was my motto instead of "Do it now." Under the influence of alcohol, I had grandiose plans. When I was sober I was too busy getting over my drunk to start anything.

"Someday I'll do that"-but I never did it. In A.A. I have learned that it's better to make a mistake once in a while than to never do anything at all. We learn by trial and error. But we must act now and not put it off until tomorrow. Have I learned to do it now?

A.A. Thought for the Day
©Hazelden Foundation PO Box 176 Center City, MN 55012

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November 07, 2006

Are You Addicted to Anger?

"All addictions have symptoms, which allow us to recognize these problems as addictive diseases. The signs of addictive diseases are self-stimulation, compulsion, obsession, denial, withdrawal and craving syndrome, and unpredictable behavior. Like alcoholism or drug use, anger meets many of the criteria.

Self-Stimulation. For those of us who are rageaholics, expressing our anger is self-stimulating. It triggers our compulsion for more anger...The more alcoholics drink, the more they want. The more we ragers rage, the more we want to rage. One way to define alcoholism is that when the alcoholic ingests alcohol, it sets up a self-stimulating system in which he craves more alcohol. The more alcohol a person drinks, the more alcohol that person wants. It is the same way with rageaholics.

Compulsion. Anger addiction or "rageaholism" is the compulsive pursuit of a mood change by repeatedly engaging in episodes of rage despite adverse consequences. Rageaholics are individuals who continue to rage compulsively without regard to the negative consequences. It is the compulsion that signals the disease of addiction. Despite all judgment, reason, insight or consequence, we continue to use "the substance" compulsively.

When we can no longer control how much or when we rage, we have crossed the line into addiction...

In all forms of addiction, the control over thoughts and behavior is lost. As addiction progresses, our losses become increasingly profound and our life is no longer under our control. We are at the mercy of anyone who provokes us. Our thought processes become dominated by the addiction and we look for opportunities to indulge our addiction. Anger, revenge and rage take over. Our life becomes a booby trap, baited with pride and vengefulness as we wait for someone to offend us in some real or imagined way...

Obsession. Rageaholics are frequently preoccupied with resentment and fantasies of revenge. Those thoughts sometimes rise powerfully and allow no other thoughts to enter. No matter how hard we try to stop them, ideas of outrage and revenge predominate. The force of anger is sometimes irresistible and followed by action. Therefore, the preoccupation with the "wrongs" of others and revenge continually leads to rage. Progressively, these thoughts crowd out all others until our life becomes chronically revenge oriented. At that point, anger controls our thoughts.

Denial. Denial keeps anger addicts trapped. It is the mental process by which we conclude that the addiction is not the problem-it's them. Ignorance of addiction and the inability to examine ourselves work together to keep anger addicts stuck. Knowing no other way to live, we deny that there is anything wrong with us. This system of denial ensures that the process of rage and righteous indignation will continue...

Withdrawal and Craving. As with any addiction, anger has a detoxification period. This is a very vulnerable time when addicts often feel unreal, like we have given up "who we are." Craving is high during this time. Those who abstain from name-calling, profanity and yelling during this period report more depression than usual for the first three months. Afterward, however, if we have achieved complete abstinence and maintained it for 90 days, we find we no longer think in profane or disparaging terms. It may even become shocking when we hear others do it...

Unpredictable Behavior. Another definition of alcoholism is that when an alcoholic drinks, there is no way to predict his or her behavior. He may drink appropriately from time to time, just as the rageaholic may express anger appropriately from time to time. However, when the alcoholic starts to drink alcohol, all bets are off. No one knows what is going to happen. He or she may drink appropriately or may disappear for days. When rageaholics start to express anger, no one knows where it is going to go. The most likely thing is that we are going to explode, rant and rave. How can we then relate to "the appropriate expression" of anger?

We rageaholics would like to learn how to express our anger appropriately just like alcoholics would like to learn how to drink appropriately. But can we be taught to do this? Yes, you can be taught, but when the adrenaline hits, it's an excuse to blow up. We keep arguing that we are expressing ourselves appropriately. While there are some exceptions, I encourage those with rage problems to abstain from the expression of anger for one year.

Remember, this plan is only for that small percent of the population who have rage or violence problems. (The approach described here is not for everyone.) For those addicted to anger, it won't work to express our anger. We have tried it and know it has never worked. Many of us have been to therapy for years and have worked very hard at learning to express our anger appropriately. However, we often feel frustrated and don't know why we can't learn it. In fact, we may feel relieved when we decide it is all right to give up trying to express our anger appropriately and begin to learn how to abstain from the expression of anger altogether...

A Recovering Rager's Creed

1. I will practice self-restraint as a top priority today.

2. When angry, I will act the opposite of how I feel.

3. If I am feeling like my anger is about to erupt, I will QUIETLY leave the situation.

4. I will find truth in all criticisms directed toward me today, especially from my partner.

5. I will say, "You are right," in a sincere, meaningful way when criticized.

6. I will give an example of how the person who criticized me is right.

7. I will repeat this silently to myself: "I am better off being wrong, because when I am right, I am dangerous."

8. I will avoid explaining myself in any way by saying, "I have no idea why I did that... it doesn't make any sense to me either."

9. I will listen sympathetically to my partner when she tells me about her day. I will make eye contact and turn off the TV.

10. I will give no unsolicited advice to my wife or children. I will also avoid asking, "Do you know what you should do?" or "Do you know why that happened?"

11. I will avoid blaming family members for anything today, especially if it was their fault.

12. I will avoid trying to make any family member "understand."

13. I will avoid trying to convince my child or spouse that I am being fair.

14. I will look for an opportunity to sincerely praise everyone I live with, even the cat I don't like.

15. I will humbly commit myself to removing my angry behaviors today as my contribution toward a more peaceful world.

Read more in How to Stop Losing Your Life to Anger

Number One Offender: Resentment

Resentment is the "number one" offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick.When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.

c. 2001 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 64

Thought to Ponder . . .
Resentment is like acid, eating away at the vessel it is stored in.

AA Thought for the Day (courtesy

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November 03, 2006

What Can I Expect at a 12-Step Meeting?

-You Don't Have to Say Anything, Pray or Hug Anyone
-Each Group Decides Its Own Format

Those who have never attended a 12-step meeting have some misconceptions about how the meetings actually work. Barb M., a long-time member explains what you can expect at your first meeting in this article.

Eliminate Emotional Hangovers

When a drunk has a terrific hangover because he drank heavily yesterday, he cannot live well today.

But there is another kind of hangover which we all experience whether we are drinking or not. That is the emotional hangover, the direct result of yesterday's and sometimes today's excesses of negative emotion -- anger, fear, jealousy, and the like.

If we would live serenely today and tomorrow, we certainly need to eliminate these hangovers.

c. 1953 AAWS, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 88

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Grateful Words for Today

When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.

- Maya Angelou

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

-Philo of Alexandria

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world -- that is the myth of the "atomic age" -- as in being able to remake ourselves.

-Mahatma Gandhi


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November 02, 2006

Pass Your Light to Others

Most people rarely give thought to the effect they have had or will have on others. When we take a few moments to contemplate how our individual modes of being affect the people we spend time with each day, we come one step closer to seeing ourselves through the eyes of others. By asking ourselves whether those we encounter walk away feeling appreciated, respected, and liked, we can heighten our awareness of the effect we ultimately have.

Something as simple as a smile given freely can temporarily brighten a person's entire world. Our value-driven conduct may inspire others to consider whether their own lives are reflective of their values. A word of advice can help others see life in an entirely new fashion. And small gestures of kindness can even prove to those embittered by the world that goodness still exists. By simply being ourselves, we influence other's lives in both subtle and life-altering ways.

From DailyOM - Nurturing Mind Body & Spirit

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October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

A lady recently joined NA and was asked by a coworker, "What it was like to be a clean addict?"

She replied, "It's like being a pumpkin. Your Higher Power picks you from the patch, washes all of the dirt off that you may have gotten from the other pumpkins. Then He cuts the top off and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."

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October 29, 2006

Transform Your Life with Gratitude

"Gratitude can be a powerfully transformative practice...Practicing gratitude can actually improve our emotional and physical well-being...Here are daily practices anyone can try.

1. See the giver behind the gift...

2. Ask yourself three questions every day... 'What have I received today? What have I given? What trouble have I caused?'...'As we become aware that we've received so much more than we've given, not only does that cultivate gratitude, it also cultivates often a sense of wanting to give something back to the world.'

3. Practice even when you don't feel like it. 'One of the mistakes people often make in our culture is thinking you have to feel grateful to practice gratitude...You can practice anytime'...

4. Make thank-you your mantra...

5. Create a simple family ritual. 'In our family, every evening when we have dinner, we say our thank you's...I's not a formal prayer of any kind, but just what we're grateful for in the moment, and that's all. It brings us back, it's a touchstone to the miracles of life that we may have been overlooking.'

6. Bow to life. 'I do three bows in the morning...The first bow is to my self as part of the universe. The second bow is to my family, children, and friends to acknowledge and appreciate them. The third is bowing to the universal life force and what is. Doing this helps me let go of controlling, and instead open to the flow of life...'

Read more in this article from

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October 28, 2006

Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real

One of humanity's biggest fears is losing what we have. It is healthy when fear of loss helps us take steps to protect what we have worked hard to attain, but it is unhealthy to continue to fear something we can do nothing about.

We need to remember that focusing our energy on fear can actually create what scares us, and holding tightly to what we have keeps us from participating in the universal flow of abundance and instead creates stagnation. Since we can only really control our thoughts and our responses, gaining proper perspective may be key to conquering such fears.

The letters of the word "fear" can be used to stand for "False Evidence Appearing Real." Fears of being separated from something or someone we feel we need for our security or happiness comes from a delusion-a distorted way of understanding ourselves and the world around us. When we understand that possessions are only representations of the energy at work in our lives, we can shift our attention to the right and proper place.

We can stop fearing loss of money or success because when we understand how it is created, we can always create more. We can stop fearing loss of possessions when we realize that they are not the source of our joy or well-being but only icing on our cakes. And when we understand the energy of love, we need not hold anyone too close for fear of losing them for we know that love does not diminish when it is given or shared but expands beyond boundaries of time or space.

By focusing our light on our fears, they are revealed as mere shadows that disappear in the presence of mind and spirit. We can choose instead to direct our thoughts and creative power toward things of true value-love, abundance, peace, passion, and joy. These are energies that are always available to us when we place ourselves confidently in the universal flow of abundance.

From DailyOM - Nurturing Mind Body & Spirit.

Alcohol Abuse Screening Quiz

Answering these 20 questionswill give you an idea if your drinking patterns are safe, risky or harmful. The test is completely confidential and anonymous; your results are not recorded; and are available only to you. You will not be asked for any personal identifying information.

Giving Gives Health Benefits

"It would seem fairly intuitive that helping others would make you feel good, but what about actual health benefits? Recent studies have shown that volunteering can play a role in increasing your overall sense of well-being, alleviating chronic pain, and even reducing depression."

Read more in this article

The Circus is Still in Town

My perception of any situation is in my control -- I have a choice about which way my mind will react. I try my best to look for positive solutions; I take my problems to my sponsor or I let my friends at a meeting know what is going on inside me. . .

I must always remember, however, that "the monkey may be off my back, but the circus has not left town" -- and it never will for this alcoholic.

The AA Grapevine, November 2006, p. 25

Thought to Ponder . . .
Sobriety is a choice and a treasure.

AA-related 'Alconym' . . .
P A C E = Positive Attitudes Change Everything.

AA Thought for the Day from

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October 24, 2006

An Apache Blessing

May the sun bring you new energy by day,
May the moon softly restore you by night,
May the rain wash away your worries,
May the breeze blow new strength into your being.


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I am Responsible

"We are not responsible for our disease, only for our recovery. As we begin to apply what we have learned, our lives begin to change for the better" Basic Text, p.88

The further we go in recovery, the less we avoid responsibility for ourselves and our actions. By applying the principles of the Narcotics Anonymous program, we are able to change our lives. Our existence takes on new meaning as we accept responsibility and the freedom of choice responsibility implies. We do not take recovery for granted.

We take responsibility for our recovery by working the Twelve Steps with a sponsor. We go to meetings regularly and share with the newcomer what was freely given to us: the gift of recovery. We become involved with our home group and accept responsibility for our part in sharing recovery with the still- suffering addict. As we learn how to effectively practice spiritual principles in all areas of our lives, the
quality of our lives improves.

Just for today:
Using the spiritual tools I've gained in recovery, I am willing and able to make responsible choices.

Just For Today Daily Meditation is the property of Narcotics Anonymous ©1991 by World Service Office Inc.
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October 23, 2006

Fear of Losing Control

"The master addiction is control.

It is not lack of courage that keeps us from moving forward, as most people think; it is the fear of losing control.

The Spiritual Warrior can overcome addictions by surrendering control and confronting inner enemies by embracing them like ones own children who are misguided and looking for loving discipline from the one who has control.

By being the master of acceptance, cooperation, understanding, empathy and enthusiasm."


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October 22, 2006

Humility is the Foundation

"The attainment of greater humility is the foundation principle of each of AA's Twelve Steps. For without some degree of humility, no alcoholic can stay sober at all.

Nearly all AA's have found, too, that unless they develop much more of this precious quality than may be required just for sobriety, they still haven't much chance of becoming truly happy.

Without it, they cannot live to much useful purpose, or, in adversity, be able to summon the faith that can meet any emergency."

c.1952AAWS, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 70

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September 13, 2006

The Health Effects of Marijuana

"Although legalization activists and many marijuana users believe smoking pot has no negative effects, scientific research indicates that marijuana use can cause many health problems. "

Read more at this site.

September 12, 2006

Accept Compliments Graciously

Many of us find it difficult to accept compliments but easy to believe the slightest criticism. Today, right now, let's make a choice to fully accept compliments as we would a gift. Sincere compliments are gifts of praise. They are kudos given for wise choices or accomplishments or perhaps for just letting your light shine. There is no reason not to accept the gift of a kind word, but some of us argue against them, even giving reasons why they aren't true.

If we visualize the energy of a compliment, we would see beautiful, shining, positive energy being sent from the giver. That energy, if accepted graciously, would brighten our personal energy field. Our gratitude then returns to the giver as warm, fuzzy, glowing energy, completing an even circuit of good feelings. But if we reject a compliment, what could have been a beautiful exchange becomes awkward and uncomfortable, making it a negative experience instead.

Misplaced modesty can ruin the joy of sharing this connection with another person. But we can accept a compliment and still be modest by simply saying "thank you." However, if compliments are rejected due to a lack of self-esteem, then the first step would be to start believing good things about yourself. Try giving yourself compliments in the mirror. Beyond the initial feelings of silliness, you will notice how good it feels and can watch the smile it puts on your face. The next step would be to see how it feels to gi! ve compliments to others. Notice how great you feel when you've made another person's face brighten and how differently you feel when the gift you've offered is rejected. Having experienced all sides, you will be ready to play along fully and willingly.

We are our harshest critics. When we accept compliments, we are reminded that others see us through different eyes. All living beings crave positive attention, and we all deserve to have positive energy shared with us. Perhaps if we happily and gratefully accept compliments, we will give others permission to do so as well.

From DailyOM - Nurturing Mind Body & Spirit

Satisfactions of Right Living

How wonderful is the feeling that we do not have to be specially distinguished among our fellows in order to be useful and profoundly happy. Not many of us can be leaders of prominence, nor do we wish to be.

Service gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God's help, the knowledge that at home or in the world outside we are partners in a common effort, the fact that in God's sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in self-constructed prisons, the surety that we can fit and belong in God's scheme of things - these are the satisfactions of right living for which no pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions, could possibly be substitutes.


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New Horizons

"My life is well-rounded and I am becoming a more comfortable version of myself, not the neurotic, boring person that I thought I'd be without drugs." Basic Text p.262

Is there really life without drugs? Newcomers are sure that they are destined to lead a humdrum existence once they quit using. That fear is far from reality.

Narcotics Anonymous opens the door to a new way of life for our members.The only thing we lose in NA is our slavery to drugs. We gain a host of new friends, time to pursue hobbies, the ability to be stably employed, even the capacity to pursue an education if we so desire.

We are able to start projects and see them through to completion. We can go to a dance and feel comfortable, even if we have two left feet. We start to budget money to travel, even if it's only with a tent to a nearby campsite. In recovery, we find out what interests us and pursue new pastimes. We dare to dream.

Life is certainly different when we have the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous to return to. Through the love we find in NA, we begin to believe in ourselves. Equipped with this belief, we venture forth into the world to discover new horizons. Many times, the world is a better place because an NA member has been there.

Just for today:

I can live a well-rounded, comfortable life-a life I never dreamt existed. Recovery has opened new horizons to me and equipped me to explore them.

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

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My Prayers Are Changing

"Before I got here, my prayer was 'God... give me.'

Then I finally admitted my powerlessness and unmanageability, and it became 'God... help me.'

Now I am so humbly grateful, it is 'God... use me.'"

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September 10, 2006

Begin Here, Now

"I knew I had to have a new beginning, and this beginning had to be here. I could not start anywhere else. I had to let go of the past and forget the future.

As long as I held on to the past with one hand and grabbed at the future with the other hand, I had nothing to hold on to today with. So I had to begin here, now."

c. 1973, Came to Believe..., page 46

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Make Souls Bloom


Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

Marcel Proust

Happiness is not what makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy.

David Steindl-Rast
A Listening Heart

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything.

Thomas Merton
Thoughts in Solitude

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September 06, 2006

God is There

This is the magic of recovery; when one alcoholic tries to help another, God is there, inspiring one with just the right words to do some serious good. That's why meetings can be so amazing.

At times, I have sat in meetings and heard God speaking directly to me, answering my thoughts through the words of another person's sharing.

Box 1980, The AA Grapevine, Inc., September 2006, p. 31

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A Great Day - I Awoke

I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun.
--Katharine Hepburn

The first good news each day is that we wake up. We are breathing. Our heats are beating, our minds working. The adventure of living begins. What does the day hold in store? We have no way of knowing what surprises lie in wait for us today.

We may look forward, not just to the expected, but to the unexpected. Whom shall we meet? What will we see? What will we learn? How will we be entertained? What changes to help others will come our way? What chances to love and be loved?

Now that our eyes are opened to today's beauty, let us remain alert for new sights. Let us cry when sad, smile when touched, and laugh at what is funny in a whole new lifetime before us.

What can I be thankful for today?

You are reading from the book Today's Gift. ©1985, 1991 by Hazelden Foundation.

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August 22, 2006

A Little of This and That


You don't have to worry about God, because He's sitting right in front of your eyes. You get just a little sobriety, and you get just a little humility. Not the humility of sackcloth and ashes, but the humility of a man who's glad he's alive and can serve. You get just a little tolerance, not too much, but just enough to sit and listen to the other guy. . .

And you realize that if you put all this together, you get a little humility, a little tolerance, a little honesty, and little sincerity, a little prayer -- and a lot of AA.

c. 2003 AAWS, Experience, Strength and Hope, pp. 201-2

Thought to Ponder . . .

Humility is attentive patience.

AA Thought for the Day
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August 21, 2006

The Result Was Nil

"The newcomer to A.A. is asked, not so much to learn new values, as to unlearn those he comes in with; not so much to adopt new goals, as to abandon old ones. To my mind, one of the most significant sentences in the entire book ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS is this:

'Some of us tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we
let go absolutely.'"

c. 1970, A Member's Eye View of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A. Pamphlet P-41), page 13

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August 20, 2006

Affirmations to Help Move Past Pain

According to Charlene M. Proctor, Ph.D.,

"Every day we have an opportunity to choose our attitude and focus our intentions in the present moment." The following excerpts from her new book, "The Women's Book of Empowerment: 323 Affirmations That Change Everyday Problems into Moments of Potential," offer ways to help overcome the past.

Never allow the past to hold you back from enjoying a full life. What have you got to lose, except a heavy burden? Forgiveness is usually the key to moving forward, which is why it’s on the path to gaining insight. When you forgive yourself, and those who have hurt you, you are able to release negative patterns that visit you over and over again. More important, you will finally sever the control that a memory of another person has over you. Stay in the present, affirm the good that has been a result of a bad situation, and love your authentic self even more than you did yesterday. You can do it!

Use these affirmations to help you overcome the past and focus on moving forward.

If You Have a Bad Attitude

Today I change my focus by championing a new cause. I am the ambassador of positive thinking. I spread health, wealth, love, and happiness wherever I go. I love watching how my positive statements dissolve negativity in others. I am my own instrument of renewal of positive energy, and my positive outlook is stored deep within me. Every positive statement I make is rewarded.

If You Can’t Release the Past

Today I take all my unhappy memories out of my body and place them in a basket. My pain, my anger, and my resentments are placed in this basket. I have an angel that takes this basket of unhappiness from my hands and flies to the outer reaches of the universe and transforms it into loving energy that will revisit me later today. I forgive those around me and ask for divine assistance to hold me in a state of continual forgiveness.

If Your Family Did Not Allow You to Bloom

Spring is guaranteed to come. I can bloom no matter what the weather, because I am growing spiritually each day. Today I take time to notice how I have bloomed so beautifully despite my circumstances. I am capable of reaching for the sun and sky because that is my natural state. I am reaching upward every day and do so joyfully, knowing I am grounded in the life cycle of spiritual development.

If You Have Frequent Family Feuds

I choose to be a spectator, not a participant, in a negative energy generation. I facilitate healing by taking time to ask for divine assistance for this family’s difficulties. I visualize these family members embracing one another for their diversity and know that each one helps another on their soul journey. Every loving and positive word I speak about my family helps to generate more healing.

If You Have Trouble Forgiving

I forgive because I am capable of expressing compassion. By forgiving, I release this situation from my energy field and feel clear-headed and full-hearted. I forgive because I am able to rise to my higher self and feel lighter. My light knows no boundaries when I forgive. Life feels lighter when I forgive.

If Your Family Has Patriarchal Attitudes

I am a spark of the Divine; therefore I am of the same soul substance as everyone else. From this day forward, I recognize my gifts of both male and female energy and reclaim a balanced image of my infinite power. Those who do not believe in me are denying part of their own divine nature; therefore they have no power over me. I am supported by Mother God!

If You Have Regrets

Life is a curvaceous and fluid journey. Because I am always moving through leaning stages, I cannot look back or measure. I learn though my relationships because that is how I begin to define who I am. Nothing is unforgivable in life. I know nursing this hurt is holding me back from fully being with other; therefore I choose to thank the universe for giving me another opportunity to develop my soul by knowing another person. I move easily through this experience.

If You Repeat the Same Patterns

I keep experiencing the same events in my life because I have not learned a lesson at the deep level of the soul. I am committed to changing my behavior, attitude, and negative belief systems. I learn from past mistakes. Life is a self-educational process and I am a perceptive individual. I watch others as they model what I need to learn. I love all my talents as well as my imperfections because that is what makes me the beloved person I am.

From “The Women’s Book of Empowerment: 323 Affirmations That Change Everyday Problems into Moments of Potential,” by Charlene M. Proctor, Ph.D. Copyright 2005.

Charlene M. Proctor, PhD helps lead people to a more positive mind and heart set. You can read more about her on her website, The Goddess Network.

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A Program of Action

The Value of Human Will

Many newcomers, having experienced little but constant deflation, feel a growing conviction that human will is of no value whatever. They have become persuaded, sometimes rightly so, that many problems besides alcohol will not yield to a headlong assault powered only by the individual's will. However, there are certain things which the individual alone can do. All by himself, and in the light of his own circumstances, he needs to develop the quality of willingness. When he acquires willingness, he is the only one who can then make the decision to exert himself along spiritual lines. Trying to do this is actually an act of his own will. It is a right use of this faculty.

Indeed, all of A.A.'s Twelve Steps require our sustained and personal exertion to conform to their principles and so, we trust, to God's will.


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Give to Receive

From "Many of us thought we were special:"

"We in A.A. believe alcoholism is a disease that is no respecter of age, sex, creed, race, wealth, occupation, or education. It strikes at random. Our experience seems to show that ANYONE can be an alcoholic. And, beyond question, ANYONE who wants to stop drinking is welcome in A.A.

"Day by day, one day at a time, I have kept away from that first drink. A.A. has become my way of life. I realize that, paradoxically, I keep my sobriety by giving it away. I am responsible whenever and wherever a hand reaches out for help. What freely I received, freely I must give."

c. 1976, Do you think you're different?
(A.A. Pamphlet P-13), pages 7 & 21 Technorati Tags: , , ,

August 19, 2006

The Spiritual Path

A.A. Thought for the Day

"To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic, a spiritual experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster. To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face. But we have to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life-or else. Lack of power is our dilemma. We have to find a power by which we can live, and it has to be a power greater than ourselves." Have I found that power by which I can live?

Meditation for the Day

Sunshine is the laughter of nature. Live out in the sunshine. The sun and air are good medicine. Nature is a good nurse for tired bodies. Let her have her way with you. God's grace is like the sunshine. Let your whole being be enwrapped in the Divine spirit. Faith is the soul's breathing in of the Divine spirit. It makes glad the hearts of human beings. The Divine spirit heals and cures the mind. Let it have its way and all will be well.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may live in the sunshine of God's spirit. I pray that my mind and soul may be energized by it.

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

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August 18, 2006

We Belong Somewhere

We discover -- but can hardly dare to believe right at first -- that we are not alone.

We are not totally unlike everybody, after all. The brittle shell of protective and fearful egocentricity we have dwelled in so long is cracked open by the honesty of other recovered alcoholics.

We sense, almost before we can articulate it, that we do belong somewhere, and the loneliness starts rapidly leaking away. Relief is too weak a word to convey our initial feeling.

c. 1998 AAWS, Living Sober, p. 34
AA Thought for the Day

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August 17, 2006

Today, I will think healing thoughts.

When you feel anger or resentment, ask God to help you feel it, learn from it, and then release it. Ask Him to bless those who you feel anger toward. Ask Him to bless you too.

When you feel fear, ask Him to take it from you. When you feel misery, force gratitude. When you feel deprived, know that there is enough.

When you feel ashamed, reassure yourself that who you are is okay. You are good enough.

When you doubt your timing or your present position in life, assure yourself that all is well; you are right where you're meant to be. Reassure yourself that others are too.

When you ponder the future, tell yourself that it will be good. When you look back at the past, relinquish regrets.

When you notice problems, affirm there will be a timely solution and a gift from the problem.

When you resist feelings or thoughts, practice acceptance. When you feel discomfort, know it will pass. When you identify a want or a need, tell yourself it will be met.

When you worry about those you love, ask God to protect and care for them. When you worry about yourself, ask Him to do the same.

When you think about others, think love. When you think about yourself, think love.

Then watch your thoughts transform reality.

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

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August 16, 2006

Powerless, Not Helpless

An admission of personal powerlessness over alcohol is a cornerstone of the foundation for recovery.

I've learned that I do not have the power and control I once thought I had. . . But I've also learned I am not powerless over some things. I am not powerless over my attitudes. I am not powerless over negativity. I am not powerless over assuming responsibility for my own recovery. I have the power to exert a positive influence on myself, my loved ones, and the world in which I live.

c. 1990 AAWS, Daily Reflections, p. 11

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August 07, 2006

What We Feel Is Not Who We Are

Our emotional lives move up and down constantly. Sometimes we experience great mood: swings from excitement to depression, from joy to sorrow, from inner harmony to inner chaos. A little event, a word from someone, a disappointment in work, many things can trigger such mood swings. Mostly we have little control over these changes. It seems that they happen to us rather than being created by us.

Thus it is important to know that our emotional life is not the same as our spiritual life. Our spiritual life is the life of the Spirit of God within us. As we feel our emotions shift we must connect our spirits with the Spirit of God and remind ourselves that what we feel is not who we are. We are and remain, whatever our moods, God's beloved children.

-- Henri Nouwen

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Digging Into Our Spiritual Resources

When someone hurts us, offends us, ignores us, or rejects us, a deep inner protest emerges. It can be rage or depression, desire to take revenge or an impulse to harm ourselves. We can feel a deep urge to wound those who have wounded us or to withdraw in a suicidal mood of self-rejection. Although these extreme reactions might seem exceptional, they are never far away from our hearts. During the long nights we often find ourselves brooding about words and actions we might have used in response to what others have said or done to us.

It is precisely here that we have to dig deep into our spiritual resources and find the center within us, the center that lies beyond our need to hurt others or ourselves, where we are free to forgive and love.

From the Henri Nouwen Society.

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August 04, 2006

Spirituality and Religion

When you think of being spiritual rather than religious, you are probably feeling that you don't want to simply practice a piety that is antiquated, or that causes you to feel guilty for what you have and have not done in your life.

But, when you feel spiritual, you will naturally be led to embrace a practice of piety. Religious piety does not have to be a straightjacket.

There is an immense amount of freedom in how you give voice and substance to the spiritual longing you feel within.

* Perhaps your piety will involve simple silence and centering.

* Perhaps it will be lived out in the way that you show care and compassion to others.

* Perhaps you will articulate it through the way that you pray and surrender yourself to the God who loves you with infinite constancy.

* Perhaps you will manifest it through embracing such virtues as patience, kindness, truthfulness, or unconditional love.

Being religious doesn't mean simply surrendering yourself to a church institution.

Rather, being religious is choosing to live a life that honors and claims the relationship with God that your soul so deeply craves.

by Renee Miller
from"Questions of Faith and Doubt"

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Live in Hope

Eight things you and your family can do to increase hope in uncertain times.
By Naomi Drew

"I've been so overwhelmed by what's going on these days," a mother recently said regarding world events. "I feel like there's nothing I can do and the world's spinning out of control." Her words echo the sentiments so many of us feel each time we pick up a paper or turn on the news. War on the horizon, nuclear weapons in North Korea, a family of six killed by a fire bomb in Baltimore, the massacre in Bali -- the list goes on. Right now, it's easy to lose hope. However, loss of hope doesn't have to be the path we walk down.

You see, hope is actually something we create. It's not something that magically appears from an outside source. We each have within us the capacity to generate hope. It's critical that we be absolutely intentional about nurturing hope in our lives and the lives of our children.

Now more than ever, overcoming fear and holding onto hope are essential. The eight steps below will enable you do this. Try these steps yourself and teach them to your kids. Do some of these as a family. Know that it is within your control to become more hopeful. Don't let the news be your undoing. You can take charge. Here's how:

1. Be kind to yourself.
Think about what you need most, and then do it. Is it a cup of tea, a brisk walk, some downtime, quiet music, a little rest, or reading inspirational literature? Whatever it is, grant yourself permission to do it, even for just a few minutes. If you're at work, take a "care-break" where you take care of you for a brief moment. These small moments accumulate and transform the texture of our days.

2. Create a 5-minute silence ritual every day.
Light a candle and pray, meditate or reflect. You don't have to believe in any particular deity to make this work. Just silently reflecting in front of a lit candle is extremely nurturing and healing. This may be the one time of day when you feel connected to your own soul, and perhaps even something larger. Don't skip this step -- it's very powerful.

3. Curtail your intake of news.
Oversaturation with news right now is detrimental to emotional health. If you read the newspaper in the morning, let that be enough. You don't need to turn on the TV or radio too, especially before bed. Consider putting a complete moratorium on news at least once a week. Anything you missed will be there tomorrow. Drastically curtail any news you let your children watch.

4. Treat each day like the precious gift it is.
Be vigilant in looking for things and people to appreciate. What if today was the last day of your life? How would you want to live it? Ask yourself this question throughout the day. It will help you let go of the countless petty annoyances that tend to throw most of us off balance.

Shift your gaze to appreciation. Who and what are you grateful for? Make a list each day and add to it.

5. Every morning, afternoon and night, take a 30-second break to look at the sky, breathe deeply and offer thanks.
Even though the world has its problems, the sun still rises in the sky each morning, and we're awake and alive when we get out of bed. Let the sky be a touchstone to hope. Think of other people around the world as you look at the sky, and know that we all share this planet together. Among all of us, we have the ability to create solutions to the problems that now exist.

Trust that this is so.

6. Express love tangibly.
Hugs, words, notes, acts of kindness -- be indiscriminately generous with all of them. Surprise a friend with a hug. Hug and kiss your kids longer and with deeper feeling. If you like how the clerk treated you in the store, thank her. Leave your partner small notes expressing gratitude for kind acts. Doing all of this adds warmth and positive energy to our lives and the lives of people around us. It's also very comforting both to the giver and receiver of each loving act.

7. Say this affirmation everyday and see where it leads you: "I am the key to peace."
Most of us believe, erroneously, that peace will come from people or institutions much larger than we. Just the opposite is true. Peace starts with each individual and it will only come to this world from the people themselves. It is critical that we each create peace in the small and large moments of our lives. We must live it in our words and actions rather than giving in to fear, hatred, or resignation.

8. Make a difference.
Reach out beyond your normal scope. This is your opportunity to live your greatest promise, highest self. Don't wait. Each time we make a difference in the lives of others, we create hope in ourselves. By reaching out to someone in need, be it your neighbor, a Guatemalan orphan, or people in a homeless shelter, we add a little more peace and hope to the world. Our accumulated gestures of care and compassion will ultimately transform our lives and the lives of others. We are each the source of that transformation. Knowing this gives me hope.

From Today's Daily Inspiration --

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June 27, 2006

Living in "Want"

"I WANT to be happy," is an often repeated phrase.

People who say it, get exactly what they're asking for. They live in the 'want' of happiness.

Wanting a million dollars won't put money in your bank account. Wanting a Porsche won't turn your Neon into a lean mean driving machine. Wanting to be a bird won't give you wings or get you off the ground.

Instead of curling yourself into a tight little ball and remaining clutched in the 'want' of happiness, open yourself up to the opportunity of receiving it.

Fill the holes in your life with the joy of being alive. Work at happiness from the inside out. Remove the weight of 'want' off your heavily burdened shoulders and make yourself available to bliss.

When you achieve inner happiness, it shows. It seeps from your eyes and rolls off your words. Your peace of heart, supported by a solid foundation, is unflappable. You see external happiness for what it really is, a precarious source of self fulfillment.

Your 'want' is gone, and without it, you stand in the wake of grand possibilities.

Your eyes see the positive in what you have, instead of the negative in what you lack. Happiness starts coming at you from a multitude of different directions.

Live in the 'want' of being happy, or 'be' happy.

The choice is completely up to you.

© 2000 Terri McPherson
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
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So more may see it, I have reprinted a wonderful comment on this post from Trudging the Road who said...

I like your "Living in want" entry.

Remids me of a story I heard about an old dog that wandered upon a puppy who was chasing his tail in circles. The puppy said there is happiness in my tail and I have been chasing it all day. The old dog asked "have you gotten happiness?" to which the puppy responded "no."

The old dog said "I just live my life as best I can and happiness seems to follow me"

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We Are Not Our Parents' Fears, Criticisms and Beliefs

Roger King at shares the following wisdom with us today:

"It's so important that we develop our 'higher awareness' by feeding our unconscious mind positive messages - with passion - from our conscious mind. This, I believe, helps each of us experience our lives with intimacy and compassion, as unique and responsible human beings, with our lives working and manifesting our destiny - to bring healing and peace to this planet.

"'In Creative Visualization,' Shakti Gawain writes, 'Every moment of your life is infinitely creative and the universe is endlessly bountiful. Just put forth a clear enough request and everything your heart desires must come to you.' You and I are not our mother's or father's fears, criticisms and beliefs; each of us can dilute old beliefs by acting "AS IF"; then believing, by consistently repeating the following thought passionately:

'I now think all new thoughts ... fresh, creative and loving thoughts which create my reality.'

Wherever you are now, write your own affirmations ... as many as you can. There is a universal magic that comes when you write and say out loud your positive thoughts."

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Living My Amends

"Years of living with an alcoholic is almost sure to make any wife or child neurotic. The entire family is, to some extent, ill"

It is important for me to realize that, as an alcoholic, I not only hurt myself, but also those around me. Making amends to my family, and to the families of alcoholics still suffering, will always be important. Understanding the havoc I created and trying to repair the destruction, will be a lifelong endeavor.

The example of my sobriety may give others hope, and faith to help themselves.

Daily Reflection

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June 21, 2006

De-Stress in Three Minutes or Less - Stop Emotional Eating/Drinking/Using Before It Starts

"There are many instances when you need something you can do right now, to keep yourself grounded, focused and able to make good decisions. After all, you don’t always have time to take a walk, relax in a hot bath or call a friend to talk things over. That’s what we’ll be talking about here—a 3-minute trick for handling stressful situations in the moment.

Minute 1: Stay Grounded

Emotional eating[/drinking/using] happens when you lose your connection to your grounded self. Stress itself is not what makes you reach for something to eat[/drink/use]. In fact, stress is often a good thing and your grounded self knows this! We need the physical stress of exercise to keep our bodies in good shape just as we need the stress of intellectual and emotional challenges to keep our minds healthy.

Nine times out of ten, what really leads to emotional eating[drinking/using] is getting caught in a "mind storm" of worst-case scenarios, projections, misinterpretations, and all the emotional overreactions that come with these thoughts.

This "storm" turns a manageable challenge into something that makes you feel helpless, overwhelmed, ashamed or afraid—and sends you to the kitchen to find something to stuff those extreme feelings. When you can stay grounded in the moment of stress, you have many more options.

Here are some simple ideas to keep you grounded when something (or someone) pushes your buttons and your feelings start to spiral out of control:

Take a few deep breaths. (You can also count to 10, if that helps.) If the stressful situation involves someone else, take a timeout and agree to continue the discussion in a few minutes.

Remind yourself where you are. Take a look around, noticing and naming the colors and shapes in the space around you.

Notice the physical sensations you are experiencing. Whether it's a sinking feeling, turmoil in your stomach, tension in your hands or jaw, restricted breathing, or heat on the back of your neck, try to name the feelings that go with the sensation. Is that sinking feeling fear, or dread? Is the heat a symptom of anger?

The idea here is to stay in your body and in the moment—with what’s real—instead of going inside your mind where all those unreal scenarios are just waiting to get spun out-of-control.

Minute 2: Reality Check

Once you’re calm enough to start thinking productively, put all those thoughts that are clamoring for attention inside your head through a quick reality check. Here are several very common thought patterns that have no place in reality. Do any of these apply to you?

All or nothing thinking
Example: You go over your calorie limit or eat something on your “forbidden” list, and then decide to keep eating because you’ve already “blown it” for today. Reality: Weight loss is not a one-day event. If you stop overeating now, you’ll gain less and have less to re-lose later. That’s something to feel good about!

Reading your own thoughts into someone else’s words
Example: Someone made a mildly critical or unsupportive remark to you, and you feel completely devastated. Reality: The more bothered you are by such remarks, the more likely it is that you are being overly-critical of yourself. When you treat yourself with respect, what others say won’t matter nearly so much.

Either-Or thinking
Example: You make a mistake or have a bad day and feel like a complete and hopeless failure. Reality: No one does well all the time. Mistakes are a necessary and valuable opportunity to learn—if you don’t waste them by getting down on yourself.

Taking care of other people’s business
Example: Something is going badly for someone you care about, and you feel responsible, or pressured to fix it. Reality: People need to learn from their own problems. You aren’t doing anyone a favor by trying to fix things just to make yourself feel better.

Minute 3: Putting Things in Perspective

Most common problems that you face in everyday life are much easier to handle when you keep them in perspective and avoid making mountains out of molehills. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure you aren’t in the mountain-making business:

How big a deal is this, anyway? If I knew I was going to die in a week, would this be something I would want to spend this minute of my remaining time on?

Will any bad things happen if I postpone thinking about this until I have more time to figure things out?

Do I have all the information I need to decide how to respond to this? Do I really know what’s going on here, or am I making assumptions? Am I worrying about things that might not even happen? What do I need to check out before taking action?

Is there anything I can do right now that will change or help this situation?
Am I trying to control something I can't, like what other people think, say, or do?

Have I really thought through this problem, and broken it down into manageable pieces I can handle one-at-a-time?

Use this approach whenever your thoughts or situations begin to feel overwhelming, and you'll quickly find that the mountains that seem impossible at first can quickly morph into what they really are—manageable hills that you DO have the ability to climb. All it takes is three little minutes of your time."

--- By Dean Anderson, an ACE certified personal trainer and Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant. He holds Master's degrees in Human Services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and Liberal Studies.

From this article from

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