May 14, 2006

What is Sponsorship?

"In A.A., sponsor and sponsored meet as equals, just as Bill and Dr. Bob did. Essentially, the process of sponsorship is this:

An alcoholic who has made some progress in the recovery program shares that experience on a continuous, individual basis with another alcoholic, who is attempting to attain or maintain sobriety through A.A."

c. 1983, Questions & Answers on Sponsorship
(A.A. Pamphlet P-15), page 7

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The Spiritual Angle

How often do we sit in A.A. meetings and hear the speaker declare, "But I haven't yet got the spiritual angle." Prior to this statement, he has described a miracle of transformation which has occurred in him - not only his release from alcohol, but a complete change in his whole attitude toward life and the living of it.

It is apparent to everyone else present that he has received a great gift, and that this gift is all out of proportion to anything that may be expected from simple A.A. participation. So we in the audience smile and say to ourselves, "Well, that guy is just reeking with the spiritual angle - except that he doesn't seem to know it yet!"

--Bill W.

Copyright®1967 Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

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May 12, 2006

Experience, Don't Suppress, Emotions

Throughout our lives, we may experience emotions that disturb or distress us. Often, our first reaction is to push our feelings away. We may say, "I don't want to think about that right now, I'll think about it later" and we bury our emotions, deny the validity of our feelings, or distract ourselves with other concerns. But the diverse emotions you experience are neither good nor bad-they are simply a part being human. Choosing not to experience pain, anger, or other intense feelings could cause those feelings to become buried deep into your physical body. There, they may linger unresolved and unable to emerge, even as they affect the way you experience the world. Allowing yourself to experience all of your emotions rather than push the more painful ones away can help you come to terms with your feelings so you can experience them and then move on.

It is possible to bring forth the old feelings you have pushed aside and experience them in a safe and enriching way. It may sound silly to set aside time to feel your old wounds that you haven't dealt with, but this can be a very beneficial healing experience. Find a safel place and pick a time when you can be alone. Make sure that you feel secure and comfortable in your surroundings. Bring to mind the circumstances that originally triggered the emotions you've been pushing away. You may need to revisit these circumstances by reading relevant entries in your journal or using visualization to relive your past. Once you have triggered your long-denied emotions, let yourself feel your feelings, and try not to judge your reactions. Cry or sound your emotions if you need to, and don't block the flow of your feelings. Allow any thoughts that are connected to your emotions to surface. As you release the feelings you have pushed inside of you, you will find yourself healing from ! the experience associated with these emotions.

When you deal with your feelings directly, they can move through you rather than staying stopped up in your body as emotional blocks that can sometimes turn into disease. Acknowledging your emotions, instead of pushing them away, allows you to stay emotionally healthy and in touch with your feelings.

From the DailyOM - Nurturing Mind Body & Spirit

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Excessive Worrying is Toxic

"Fear, anxiety, and stress...are all components of worry. Bill Crawford, PhD, author of All Stressed Up and Nowhere to Go, defines worry as envisioning something bad that might happen in the future.

"There's a difference between 'awareness' and 'worry,'" says Dr. Crawford. He likens awareness to the red light on the car dashboard; no one is pleased to see the light go on, but you can appreciate the message, as it enables you to take action to handle or avert a problem. Contrast that with worry, which Dr. Crawford says involves agonizing over situations about which you have little control...

"Worry is nature's alarm system. It's sort of like blood pressure," he adds—you need some level to be alive and healthy. It's when the alarm goes off for no reason or the level stays too high for too long—what Dr. Hallowell calls "toxic worry"—that problems arise.

Chemical Reactions in the Body
Worry causes a chemical reaction in the body, triggering the release of stress hormones that prepare you to respond to a dangerous situation by fighting or running away. With worry, though, the dangers are often imagined rather than real. As a result, explains Dr. Crawford, "we have our body in this hyperactive mode, but we're not doing anything."

Not only have you wasted time and energy, you've also unleashed chemicals that can interfere with other body processes, such as the immune system, and actually hamper your ability to act effectively. "Virtually every system in the body is affected by toxic worry," Dr. Hallowell says. "It's very destructive."...

Crossing the Line
So how do you know when your worrying has crossed the line? "When it hurts," answers Dr. Hallowell. You need to look closely at the sources of your worry when it holds you back from doing what you want, from making decisions, or from living as fully as you'd like...

What Do I Do Now?
If you aren't suffering from an anxiety disorder but want to minimize your worry, Dr. Crawford suggests examining the degree to which you use worry—or fear—as a motivator. For instance, if you use worry to motivate yourself to perform your best at work, refocus on rewards instead of punishments; envision how great it will feel to get that promotion rather than how bad it will be if you don't.

Dr. Hallowell also has several concrete recommendations for banishing worry:

Never worry alone. Making contact with another person and sharing your concerns is often the best way to combat incessant worry.
Get the facts. "A lot of times, worry is based on lack of information or misinformation," he says. Simply gathering data can help you develop a plan of action or even decide you don't need to worry after all.
Make a plan of action. By making a plan, you assume control of the situation. "Worry loves a passive victim," he explains. "The more you put yourself in control and reduce your vulnerability, the less you'll feel toxic worry."

Physical factors such as getting enough sleep, eating properly, and exercising also make a big difference in the amount of worry you experience. When your body is run down, you're more susceptible to letting your mind get carried away. Prayer and meditation can also help in calming runaway thoughts, says Dr. Hallowell. If none of these methods is helpful, the next step is to consult with a professional..."

Read more in this Beliefnet article

Bar the Door Against Resentment and Fear

When we come into A.A., looking for a way out of drinking, we really need a lot more than that. We need fellowship. We need to get the things that are troubling us out into the open. We need a new outlet for our energies and we need a new strength beyond ourselves that will help us face life instead of running away from it. In A.A. we find these things that we need. Have I found the things that I need?

Meditation for the Day

Turn out all thoughts of doubt and fear and resentment. Never tolerate them if you can help it. Bar the windows and doors of your mind against them, as you would bar your home against a thief who would steal in to take away your treasures. What greater treasures can you have than faith and courage and love? All these are stolen from you by doubt and fear and resentment. Face each day with peace and hope. They are results of true faith in God. Faith gives you a feeling of protection and safety that you can get in no other way.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may feel protected and safe, but not only when I am in the harbor. I pray that I may have protection and safety even in the midst of the storms of life.

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

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May 11, 2006

Prideful Balloons Ready for Popping

To the intellectually self-sufficient man or woman, many AA's can say, "Yes, we were like you -- far too smart for our own good.

We loved to have people call us precocious. We used our education to blow ourselves up into prideful balloons, though we were careful to hide this from others. Secretly, we felt we could float above the rest of the folks on our brain power alone...But John Barleycorn had other ideas.

We who had won handsomely in a walk turned into all-time losers. We saw that we had to reconsider or die."

c. 1967 AAWS, As Bill Sees It, p. 60

Thought to Ponder . . .

The ego seeks the destination; the soul seeks the journey.

--AA Thought for the Day (courtesy

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May 10, 2006

Resting in God with Gratitude

A.A. Thought for the Day

I'm grateful that I found a program in A.A. that could keep me sober. I'm grateful that A.A. has shown me the way to faith in a Higher Power, because the renewing of that faith has changed my way of life. And I've found a happiness and contentment that I had forgotten existed, by simply believing in God and trying to live the kind of a life that I know He wants me to live. As long as I stay grateful, I'll stay sober. Am I in a grateful frame of mind?

Meditation for the Day

God can work through you better when you are not hurrying. Go very slowly, very quietly, from one duty to the next, taking time to rest and pray between. Do not be too busy. Take everything in order. Venture often into the rest of God and you will find peace. At work that results from resting with God is good work. Claim the power to work miracles in human lives. Know that you can do many things through the Higher Power. Know that you can do good things through God who rests you and gives you strength. Partake regularly of rest and prayer.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may not be in too much of a hurry. I pray that I may take time out often to rest with God.

©Hazelden Foundation PO Box 176 Center City, MN 55012

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Letting Go of Fear

Fear is at the core of codependency. It can motivate us to control situations or neglect ourselves.

Many of us have been afraid for so long that we don't label our feelings fear. We're used to feeling upset and anxious. It feels normal.

Peace and serenity may be uncomfortable.

At one time, fear may have been appropriate and useful. We may have relied on fear to protect ourselves, much the way soldiers in a war rely on fear to help them survive. But now, in recovery, we're living life differently.

It's time to thank our old fears for helping us survive, then wave good bye to them. Welcome peace, trust, acceptance, and safety. We don't need that much fear anymore. We can listen to our healthy fears, and let go of the rest.

We can create a feeling of safety for ourselves, now. We are safe, now.

We've made a commitment to take care of ourselves. We can trust and love ourselves.

God, help me let go of my need to be afraid. Replace it with a need to be at peace. Help me listen to my healthy fears and relinquish the rest.

From the Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

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12 Signs of a Spiritual Awakening

1. An increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
2. Frequent attacks of smiling.
3. Feelings of being connected with others and nature.
4. Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
5. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience.
6. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
7. A loss of ability to worry.
8. A loss of interest in conflict.
9. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
10. A loss of interest in judging others.
11. A loss of interest in judging self.
12. Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything in return.

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May 09, 2006

Choose to Make Happiness a Priority

A terrific gift to ourselves this season would be to shift out of irrational beliefs - like "If this happens, then I'll be happy" or "Someday my prince will come, then I'll be happy" - and replace them with the belief that "I CHOOSE to make HAPPINESS my priority. This is the situation, how can I perceive it so I am happy?" Most people's perception of difficult situations softens over time anyway; so why don't we simply choose to shorten that time span.

In this process, it's important for us to begin dismantling our self-restrictive walls and patterns from childhood. Each time we were hurt or disappointed as a child, we put up an emotional wall as protection. That emotional wall traps the original energy of the pain, anger or sadness inside us and keeps our love from getting out and other people's love from getting in.

When old feelings behind those walls suddenly express themselves and cause us to overreact, we experience emotional flashbacks. These flashbacks can influence us to form personal meanings that may be distortions of what actually exists. In Woody Allen's film "Deconstructing Harry", this occurrence is profoundly described when Woody's therapist tells him: "You expect the world to adjust to the distortion you have become."

Irrational beliefs often originate from childhood perceptions. We developed these beliefs based on how we interpreted early experiences. As young children we had limited experience and, therefore, took our interpretations as absolute truth.

Suppose my parents had very exacting standards. My response to these standards may have been to try to be perfect. Blaming my parents for my perfectionism would be a natural assumption. But, suppose I had a brother or sister who had no interest in perfection. In fact, sloppiness and laziness were their claim to fame. Same parents, different interpretations. So, I can't blame my parents for my perfectionism ... I have to take responsibility for my interpretation.

Note that responsibility doesn't mean blame. It simply means we made a choice at an early age about how to interpret our experiences ... perhaps the best choices we could make at that time. Since WE chose our INTERPRETATION, we can change our mind and make another choice now - we can create new, positive experiences to heal the old pain.

Chelle Thompson

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May 08, 2006

Let the Spirit of the Universe Assist You

Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth – that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too.

--Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Monday, May. 8

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May 06, 2006

A Clear Head and a Steady Heart

Most of us have seen death close up. We have known the kind of suffering that wrenches the bones. But we also have known the sort of hope that makes the heart sing. And we hope this booklet has conveyed to you more encouragement than pain.

If you are a problem drinker, you already know enough about pain and loneliness. We'd like you to find some of the peace and joy we have found in meeting the reality of life's ups and downs with a clear head and a steady heart.

c. 1998 AAWS, Living Sober, p. 86

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Forgiveness Aids the Forgiver

"Sometimes forgiving the people who have hurt you is the best path to peace of mind and moving forward with life...

Forgiveness sounds good in theory and makes intuitive sense, but the actual mechanisms of the process can elude us, especially when we're suffering from another's actions...
There is still much confusion surrounding the topic of forgiveness. These misconceptions keep us from finding forgiveness and can be harmful, experts say. Conversely, by letting go of our negative emotions, we can significantly improve the quality of our lives.

Why Forgive?...

'Unforgiveness is a form of stress," says Dr. Worthington. "If we maintain this for a long time, we're going to experience cardiovascular disorders, stress-related disorders, and maybe anger-related disorders and fear-related disorders as well.'

If physical health isn't enough to convince you to consider forgiveness, consider the mental benefits. Put simply, unforgiveness just doesn't feel good. "It's really not a good state of mind," says Welshons. "In the end, you suffer even more." In other words, unforgiveness can hurt you more than it hurts the object of your emotions. Nine times out of ten, he or she could care less.

What is Forgiveness?
One of the reasons people don't practice more forgiveness is that they misunderstand what it actually entails. It doesn't mean that you approve of someone's actions or condone their behavior. "There's a big difference between forgiving someone and condoning what they've done," says Margaret Paul, PhD, lecturer and author of Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved by God?

Forgiveness doesn't mean that you continue to subject yourself to abusive behavior, nor do you have to agree to spend time with the person you are forgiving. It may be that in order to protect yourself physically and/or psychologically, you have to distance yourself from the other person. You can do so and still forgive, says Welshons.

So if forgiveness isn't about reconciliation and it isn't about excusing behavior, what is it about?

"Forgiveness is an experience of feeling compassion in one's own heart for the other person. You move out of judgment and into compassion and understanding for the other person," says Dr. Paul.

"Forgiveness is an emotional replacement of unforgiving emotions [such as resentment, hostility, anger and fear] with more positive emotions such as love and empathy for the person who has hurt you," adds Dr. Worthington...

Read more in this Beliefnet article.

May 05, 2006

On the Journey Towards Accepting my Fears

"Sometimes it's really hard to get up in the morning," the rabbi told us.

He was middle-aged, but he had a very young, enthusiastic spirit as he told us about his synagogue in Jerusalem where people with intellectual disabilities not only were welcome but had become key members of the community. We laughed as he told us funny stories about how people with disabilities had helped to break down barriers between groups in his synagogue. He acknowledged that his congregation's openness to people with intellectual disabilities had caused some to leave - yet far more new people had joined, attracted by the spirit of acceptance and inclusion.

The rabbi also shared with us some of his own story - about meeting his wife on a kibbutz and, with her, making the decision to stay in Israel and raise their children, now talented young adults off on their own. This remarkable man told us all that, but what I remember, word for word, was that one sentence of admission, "Sometimes it's really hard to get up in the morning." We had asked him what it was like to live in the midst of such conflict and insecurity, and he had told us the truth.

It is sometimes hard for me too. I don't live in war-torn Israel, but some mornings I am also afraid of the day. I am grateful for having met that vulnerable rabbi that day in Jerusalem. He took the risk to share with us the humanity of his fear. His story gave me courage to accept my own.


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May 04, 2006

Fear the First Drink

"It is the first drink which triggers, immediately or some time later, the compulsion to drink more and more until we are in drinking trouble again. Many of us have come to believe that our alcoholism is an addiction to the drug alcohol; like addicts of any sort who want to maintain recovery, we have to keep away from the first dose of the drug we have become addicted to."

c. 1975, Living Sober, page 5

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May 03, 2006

Prayer for Recovery

This prayer is based on a section of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:

Thank you for keeping me straight yesterday. Please help me stay straight today.

For the next twenty-four hours, I pray for knowledge of Your will for me only, and the power to carry that through.

Please free my thinking of self-will, self-seeking, dishonesty, and wrong motives.

Send me the right thought, word, or action. Show me what my next step should be. In times of doubt and indecision, please send Your inspiration and guidance.

I ask that You might help me work through all my problems, to Your glory and honor.

This prayer is a recovery prayer. It can take us through any situation...If we pray this prayer, we
can trust it has been answered with a yes.

Today, I will trust that God will do for me what I cannot do for myself. I will do my part - working the Twelve Steps and letting God do the rest.

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

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Healing Heart and Mind

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


Since it is true that God comes to me through people, I can see that by keeping people at a distance I also keep God at a distance. God is nearer to me than I think and I can experience Him by loving people and allowing people to love me. But I can neither love nor be loved if I allow my secrets to get in the way.

It's the side of myself that I refuse to look at that rules me. I must be willing to look at the dark side in order to heal my mind and heart because that is the road to freedom. I must walk into darkness to find the light and walk into fear to find peace.

By revealing my secrets -- and thereby ridding myself of guilt -- I can actually change my thinking; by altering my thinking, I can change myself. My thoughts create my future. What I will be tomorrow is determined by what I think today.

Daily Reflections^*~*~*~*~*

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Friends and Their Unique Gifts

No two friends are the same. Each has his or her own gift for us. When we expect one friend to have all we need, we will always be hypercritical, never completely happy with what he or she does have.

One friend may offer us affection, another may stimulate our minds, another may strengthen our souls. The more able we are to receive the different gifts our friends have to give us, the more able we will be to offer our own unique but limited gifts. Thus, friendships create a beautiful tapestry of love.

---Henri Nouwen

May 02, 2006

Don't Let Negativity Get You Down

Some people are carriers of negativity. They are storehouses of pent up anger and volatile emotions. Some remain trapped in the victim role and act in ways that further their victimization. And others are still caught in the cycle of addictive or compulsive patterns.

Negative energy can have a powerful pull on us, especially if we're struggling to maintain positive energy and balance. It may seem that others who exude negative energy would like to pull us into the darkness with them.

We do not have to go. Without judgment, we can decide it's okay to walk away, okay to protect ourselves.

We cannot change other people. It does not help others for us to get off balance. We do not lead others into the Light by stepping into the darkness with them.

Today, God, help me to know that I don't have to allow myself to be pulled into negativity -- even around those I love. Help me set boundaries. Help me know it's okay to take care of myself.

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

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