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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