May 31, 2007

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

"Humility is probably the most difficult virtue to realize."
--Thomas Yellowtail, CROW

Two definitions of humility are (1) being aware of one's own defects of character, and (2) giving credit where credit is due. This means if you do something and are successful because God gave you certain talents, give credit to God when someone tells you how well you did; this is being humble.

If you are successful at something, but had help from friends, spouse, neighbors, give credit to those who helped you; this is being humble. If you have done a task and you alone accomplished it, give credit to yourself; this is being humble. Say the truth and give credit where credit is due.

Grandfather, let me walk a truthful road today.

Elder's Meditation of the Day from White Bison

Online Fourth Step Resources

Step Four - "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

"So when A.A. suggests a fearless moral inventory, it must seem to every newcomer that more is being asked of him than he can do. Both his pride and his fear beat him back every time he tries to look within himself. Pride says, "You need not pass this way," and Fear says, "You dare not look!" But the testimony of A.A.'s who have really tried a moral inventory is that pride and fear of this sort turn out to be bogeymen, nothing else. Once we have a complete willingness to take inventory, and exert ourselves to do the job thoroughly, a wonderful light falls upon this foggy scene. As we persist, a brand-new kind of confidence is born, and the sense of relief at finally facing ourselves is indescribable. These are the first fruits of Step Four."

pp. 49-50

"Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? The inventory was ours, not the other man's. When we saw our faults we listed them. We placed them before us in black and white. We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight."

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, How It Works, pg. 67~

To Aid in taking this moral inventory, consider the following online resources:

"The history of this 4th Step Guide is vague but it has been attributed to anonymous members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Various versions could be found on early recovery computer bulletin boards (BBS). One version was dubbed 'The California 4th Step Guide' as it was believed that the originators were located in California.

In any event this guide has well over 300 questions for a person to answer starting with your childhood years, through adolescence, and into your adult life. The guide works for all 12 step programs as the guide is not specific to any particular program. The guide has a very good set of general directions for doing a 4th step."

This is an another Fourth Step Guide that follows a question and answer format, whose author, Jason Wittman, describes it as follows:

"This is about as complete a guide to writing a 4th Step inventory as you will ever see. I have never found a guide that was both a step by step guide to writing a complete inventory and had complete directions on how to do it. Although it is always suggested that one has a Sponsor who will guide one through this process, many people do not have a Sponsor. I have written the instructions assuming that the reader knows nothing about the process."

This site contains links to printer friendly unpublished NA Fourth Step guides described as follows:

"These guides come from early drafts of the "Basic Text" and "It Works." Because much of the material in these drafts did not make the final cut, these are not NA conference-approved Fourth Step guides. However, these NA Fourth Step guides are valuable because of their remarkable similarity to the Fourth Step process described in the AA Big Book."

This site provides several different step work and relapse prevention guides and assistance to 12-Step work and preventing relapse to alcohol and drug addiction.

On its pages "you will find work sheets ready to print and use to guide you through the Twelve Steps. Although our focus is upon the Alcoholics Anonymous approach, these guides can be used for working an NA, CA, CMA, or any other program of recovery. This service is designed to assist with step work, with quotes and pages from the Big Book, with forms ready to copy and utilize. There is a section devoted to relapse prevention as well."

This is a PDF file with charts and lists of defects that are helpful prompts. The site states:

"Everything contained in these sheets is directly from the Big Book 'Alcoholics Anonymous', there is no opinion, just fact."

This is another set of 4th step worksheets in PDF format with extensive lists of prompts that uses the wording from Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book) pages 63-71. A version in rtf (rich text format) is available here

This site sets forth a general set of practical directions stating:

"Buy paper and pen and start writing. The AA Big Book says on eight different occasions that we write out this step. It's the writing it down that helps trigger the release."

Another site with 4th Step Work sheets explains that:

"Step Four is a fact-finding and fact-facing process. We are searching for "causes and conditions." We want to uncover the truth about ourselves. We want to discover the attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, fears, actions, behaviors, and the behavior patterns - that have been blocking us, causing us problems and causing our failure.

We want to learn the exact nature our "character defects" and what causes us to do the unacceptable things we do - so that once they are removed - we can acquire and live with new attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, actions and behaviors for our highest good, and for the highest good of those with whom we come in contact.

This prepares us to live a life of purpose - where we can be in maximum fit condition to be of service to others. And, by taking inventory and learning the exact nature of our wrongs - we will be able to recognize when we might be slipping into our old way of life - and headed for new problems, and possibly relapse.

Another approach and guide may be found at this nalouisville site.

[2nd link updated May 31, 2007]

May 30, 2007

Don't Let Depression Get You Down

"Recovering people are susceptible to the same diseases as nonaddicts. Some people have a depressive outlook on life. Some people become depressed when they sustain a loss. And some people are depressed when they must give up their chemicals. But there is also a kind of depression that results from certain chemical changes in the body, that can occur in addicts and nonaddicts alike. This latter type of depression can be treated with safe, nonaddictive antidepressants. The failure to treat such depression can result in prolonged dysfunction, severe suffering, and even suicide. A recovering person with severe depression should be evaluated by someone competent in the diagnosis of dual disorders. While addicts are prone to take medication indiscriminately, they should not be deprived of nonaddictive medication that can be life-saving. Recovering people who need medical treatment for depression should not be excluded from the program and deprived of the support the fellowship can provide when that need is greatest."

---Dr. Abraham Twerski

May 27, 2007

Choose to Live

"Our necessities are certainly immense and compelling. Each of us must conform reasonably well to AA's Steps and Traditions, or else we shall go mad or die of alcoholism. Therefore the compulsion among most of us to survive and grow soon becomes far stronger than the temptation to drink or misbehave. Literally, we must 'do or die.'

So we make the choice to live. This, in turn, means the choice of AA
principles, practices, and attitudes. This is our first great and critical choice. Admittedly, this is made under the fearful and immediate lash of John Barleycorn, the killer. Plainly enough, this first choice is far more a necessity than it is an act of virtue."

Bill W., May 1960 ©1988AAGrapevine, The Language of the Heart, pp. 301-2

All About Love and Service

Our Twelve Steps, when simmered down to the last, resolve themselves into the words "love" and "service." We understand what love is, and we understand what service is. So let's keep those two things in mind.

Let us also remember to guard that erring member the tongue, and if we must use it, let's use it with kindness and consideration and tolerance.

-Dr. Bob S., co-founder of AA, July 1950 c.1980 AAWS, Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, p. 338

the Higher Power of the Group

"Our understanding of a Higher Power is up to us.... We can call it the group, the program, or we can call it God." Basic Text, p. 24

Many of us have a hard time with the idea of a Higher Power until we fully accept the depth of our own powerlessness over addiction. Once we do, most of us are at least willing to consider seeking the help of some Power greater than our disease. The first practical exposure many of us have to that kind of Power is in the NA group. Perhaps that's where we should start in developing our own understanding of God.

One evidence of the Power in the group is the unconditional love shown when NA members help one another without expectation of reward. The group's collective experience in recovery is itself a Power greater than our own, for the group has practical knowledge of what works and what doesn't And the fact that addicts keep coming to NA meetings, day after day, is a demonstration of the presence of a Higher Power, some attractive, caring force at work that helps addicts stay clean and grow.

All these things are evidence of a Power that can be found in NA groups. When we look around with an open mind, each of us will be able to identify other signs of that Power. It doesn't matter if we call it God, a Higher Power, or anything else‹just as long as we find a way to incorporate that Power into our daily lives.

Just for today: I will open my eyes and my mind to signs of a Power that exists in my NA group. I will call upon that Power to help me stay clean. pg. 152

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

Freedom to Choose

We have choices, more choices than we let ourselves see.

We may feel trapped in our relationships, our jobs, our life. We may feel locked into behaviors such as caretaking or controlling.

Feeling trapped is a symptom of codependency. When we hear ourselves say, I have to take care of this person. . . . I have to say yes. . . . I have to try to control that person. . . . I have to behave this way, think this way, feel this way. . . . we can know we are choosing not to see choices.

That sense of being trapped is an illusion. We are not controlled by circumstances, our past, the expectations of others, or our unhealthy expectations for ourselves. We can choose what feels right for us, without guilt. We have options.

Recovery is not about behaving perfectly or according to anyone else's rules. More than anything else, recovery is about knowing we have choices and giving ourselves the freedom to choose.

Today, I will open my thinking and myself to the choices available to me. I will make choices that are good for me.

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

May 26, 2007

Gratitude in Action

Gratitude should go forward, rather than backward.


I am very grateful that my Higher Power has given me a second chance to live a worthwhile life. Through Alcoholics Anonymous, I have been restored to sanity. The promises are being fulfilled in my life. I am grateful to be free from the slavery of alcohol. I am grateful for peace of mind and the opportunity to grow, but my gratitude should go forward rather than backward. I cannot stay sober on yesterday's meetings or past Twelfth-Step calls; I need to put my gratitude into action today. Our co-founder said our gratitude can best be shown by carrying the message to others. Without action, my gratitude is just a pleasant emotion. I need to put it into action by working Step Twelve, by carrying the message and practicing the principles in all my affairs. I am grateful for the chance to carry the message today!

from Daily Reflections ©1990 AAWS, INC.

May 23, 2007

Life Without Fear

"Fear is an element of all chemical dependencies. The fear is not panic or agoraphobia, but a terror that has been described as follows by a recovering person: 'Ever since I was a kid I felt I was walking through a minefield.' When we walk through a minefield, we are aware that the next step may blow us to bits. If the next step is survived, it may be the one after that. There is no relief, because minefields are everywhere: at home or at work, when alone or with friends. The only respite is a chemical, for the brief period of its action.

But these minefields exist only in our imagination. They are as unreal as other hallucinations. This is the insanity to which the program refers-the insanity of believing there are mines where none exist. Some psychologists help a person walk safely through the minefield. The Twelve Step program helps a person realize that the minefields do not exist. The promise of recovery is serenity instead of fear. Gradually the mines disappear, and we can direct our efforts to dealing with the challenges of the real world that do exist. With recovery we gain the wisdom to know the difference."

---Dr. Abraham Twerski

Embrace & Enjoy Life

Life is not to be endured; life is to be enjoyed and embraced.

The belief that we must square our shoulders and get through a meager, deprived existence for far off rewards in Heaven is a codependent belief.

Yes, most of us still have times when life will be stressful and challenge our endurance skills. But in recovery, we're learning to live, to enjoy our life, and handle situations as they come.

Our survival skills have served us well. They have gotten us through difficult times - as children and adults. Our ability to freeze feelings, deny problems, deprive ourselves, and cope with stress has helped us get where we are today. But we're safe now. We're learning to do more than survive. We can let go of unhealthy survival behaviors. We're learning new, better ways to protect and care for ourselves. We're free to feel our feelings, identify and solve problems, and give ourselves the best. We're free to open up and come alive.

Today, I will let go of my unhealthy endurance and survival skills. I will choose a new mode of living, one that allows me to be alive and enjoy the adventure.

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

From Anchor Dragging to Sailing Free

. . . It Might Have Been The Time . . . I too needed spiritual development

It is hard to say just when Alcoholics Anonymous began. It may have been at the time a friend came to see my husband, Bill. Or it may have been at the moment of Bill's spiritual experience. Most AAs feel it is the time six months later when he met Dr. Bob in Akron and, together, they started to help other alcoholics who wanted to be rid of their addiction.

But for me it was the day I first saw the released expression on my husband's face. We had been married 17 years, and were compatible and companionable. Our interests were similar and we both deeply desired and strove for the other's welfare. The only, but considerable block to our happiness was Bill's uncontrolled drinking. In the early years he said that he could stop when he wanted and I thought I'd soon be able to make life so complete for him that he would wish to quit drinking entirely. Much later when he really did want to stop, he was absolutely unable to do so, and we both then became terribly confused and frustrated. Oddly enough he had been in other matters a person of strong will power, but his will seemed to melt away where alcohol was concerned. In his remorse and disappointment he was a tragic and heart breaking figure. I too felt myself a failure, for despite every endeavor, I had not been able to help him in time, nor could I aid him in the least in his final struggle for freedom.

Today I can talk and write about these intimate details of our life together. While Bill was drinking, I dared not even speak to my family about it and tried to hide the fact of his alcoholism in every way possible. Now that I have learned that Bill was actually a very sick man, that awful feeling of disgrace has left me. I have also learned how much help the telling of such experiences can be to those who are going through similar ones. After fifteen years in AA the old trying times are so far away and foreign to Bill's and my present way of life that it seems like the experience of someone else.

After Bill left the hospital for the last time, he began to think of the thousands of alcoholics who wanted to be rid of their malady. If they could be made to feel desperate enough, they might have a releasing experience just like his. He would hold before them the medical verdict that alcoholism was hopeless. So tirelessly, day and night, we worked. Our home was filled with alcoholics in various stages of sobriety. As many as five of them lived with us at one time. But none of them stayed sober for long. Then started a long process of trial and error, certain ideas were retained, but many discarded.

It was in June 1935 that Bill went to Akron, Ohio on a business trip. The venture failed. He finally contacted Dr. Bob, an Akron surgeon soon to become cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Bob too wanted above all to stop drinking. He and his wife, Anne, had done everything they could.

Something passed between these two men. There was real mutuality this time. By example they showed how it worked. Thus AA spread like a chain letter.

Bill had learned a great deal. At first he had tried to put every alcoholic he met in the way of a spiritual experience just like his own. As AA grew, he realized that what had come to him in a few dramatic minutes usually dawns on others in months or years. Sometimes the alcoholic himself does not even realize his own development, though his words and actions soon speak for him, for he is doing now what, of himself, he was unable to do before. He is staying sober and helping other people as never before. He is gaining a serenity, a joy in living.

Watching Bill and the other men at the meetings, I noticed many of them had begun to grow by leaps and bounds. This made me look at myself. I had been given a sound religious upbringing and felt I had done for Bill all a good wife could do, although this was strangely mixed with a sense of failure. At first it never occurred to me that I too needed spiritual development. I did not realize that by living such an abnormal life I might have become twisted, losing a sense of true values. After awhile I saw that unless I jumped on the bandwagon too, I would be left way behind. The AA Program I found could be most helpful to the non-alcoholic as well, a fact thousands of alcoholics' relatives and friends now apply to their own lives.

Those Clinton Street days are full of memories. Some of them are humorous, some tragic. But most of them bring back a warm glow of hope and courage, of friendship and rebirth. For the fellowship in AA is unique. Ties are made overnight that it would take years to develop elsewhere. No one needs a false front. All barriers are down. Some who have felt outcasts all their lives, now know they really belong. From feeling as if they were dragging anchor through life, they suddenly sail free before the wind. For now they can be of tremendous and peculiar use to others having a dire need like their own.


From AA Grapevine Current Issue - bonus online feature

May 20, 2007

No Strings Attached

And he well knows that his own life has been made richer, as an extra dividend of giving to another without any demand for a return.

--AS BILL SEES IT, p. 69

The concept of giving without strings was hard to understand when I first came into the program. I was suspicious when others wanted to help me. I thought, "What do they want in return?" But I soon learned the joy of helping another alcoholic and I understood why they were there for me in the beginning. My attitudes changed and I wanted to help others. Sometimes I became anxious, as I wanted them to know the joys of sobriety, that life can be beautiful. When my life is full of a loving God of my understanding and I give that love to my fellow alcoholic, I feel a special richness that is hard to explain.

From Daily Reflections GIVING WITHOUT STRINGS ©1990 AAWS, INC.

the Spirit Within

I need power each day, because I get weary. But with AA as my structure and God as my source of strength, I can face life without taking a drink.

I don't have to stare out my window in total despair any more. The ocean and the sun and the trees and all the fantastic beauty that God has created have finally become very real to me.

I crave and need the presence of nature. But I must also bear in mind that it is the spirit within me, which comes from God, that is going to be the healing force. I can turn to it wherever I am.

c. 1973 AAWS, Came To Believe . . ., p. 103

Thought to Ponder . . .

The power within me is far greater than any fear before me.

--AA Thought for the Day (courtesy

May 18, 2007

Grateful Morning

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

--Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Today's Meditation:

I don't think that too many people do this first thing in the morning. Most people seem to be focused on the tasks that are ahead of them for today--what has to be done, where they have to go, when they have to be where. When our lives revolve around our careers and (hopefully) our families, it's very easy to be focused on something other than the glory and the blessing of a new day in our lives. If we turn on the news or pick up the paper and see the scandals and violence and wars, it can be difficult to appreciate the privileges we have.

I made a CD and bought an alarm clock that played compact discs as an alarm. The first song that we woke up to in the morning, then was "What a Wonderful World." It was nice having that reminder of the beauty of the world in my mind the first thing every day. In our motorhome we don't have room for that alarm clock, but I still do my best to listen to uplifting music and read uplifting words every morning so that my mind is focused on the fact that I am, indeed, privileged to be alive on this day, whatever its weather or circumstances.

When we focus on the privilege that we have of breathing the air of this planet and thinking our own unique thoughts and enjoying all this world has to give us, our lives take on a new luster, a new shine. When we focus early on the morning of the privilege of sharing the love we have with others, life has a much deeper meaning.

We choose what we think. We choose what we wake up to, and we choose the first things we think about. I hope that I'm always able to start my days with positive, uplifting thoughts about gratitude and love...

For further thought:
Most mornings when I awake, I am pleasantly surprised to find I’m still alive. On occasion I have been known to wake up mean and irritable, but even then I can choose not to stay that way. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may not come. Today is the only slot of time I really have. What a shame to blow it. I want to make today the very best possible. . . . Before I crawl out of bed, I thank the Lord for another day and ask for strength. Maybe I’m to clean the house, or work at the office, or talk with a friend over lunch. The tasks aren’t the issue; my attitude is.

--Marabel Morgan

From the ezine of, motivation, and encouragement

Keep It Simple When Making Amends

"We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." Step Nine

In every relationship, we don't always handle things the way we would have hoped. But friendship don't have to end when we make mistakes; instead, we can make amends. If we are sincerely willing to accept the responsibilities involved in friendship and make the amends we owe, those friendships can become stronger and richer than ever.

Making amends is simple. We approach the person we have harmed and say, "I was wrong." Sometimes we avoid getting to the point, evading an admission of our own part in the affair. But that frustrates the intent of the Ninth Step. To make effective amends, we have to keep it simple: we admit our part, and leave it at that.

There will be times when our friends won't accept our amends. Perhaps they need time to process what has happened. If that is the case, we must give them that time. After all, we were the ones in the wrong, not them. We have done our part; the rest is out of our hands.

Just for today:
I want to be a responsible friend. I will strive to keep it simple when making amends. Page-144

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

a New Freedom

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.


My first true freedom is the freedom not to have to take a drink today. If I truly want it, I will work the Twelve Steps and the happiness of this freedom will come to me through the Steps -- sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Other freedoms will follow, and inventorying them is a new happiness. I had a new freedom today, the freedom to be me. I have the freedom to be the best me I have ever been.

From Daily Reflections ©Copyright 1990 AAWS, INC.

May 11, 2007

Expectations Up, Serenity Down

Perhaps the best thing of all for me is to remember that my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations . . . the lower is my serenity. I can watch my serenity level rise when I discard my expectations. . .I must keep my magic magnifying mind on my acceptance and off my expectations, for my serenity is directly proportional to my level of acceptance. When I remember this, I can see I've never had it so good. Thank God for AA!

AA Thought for the Day c. 2001 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 420 from

May 10, 2007

Differences are but Delightful Flourishes

That sense of being different, which had long plagued me, disappeared when I saw the threads that run through us all. Sharing our stories, our feelings, it is the areas where we are the same that impress me. The differences are but delightful flourishes on the surface, like different-colored costumes, and I enjoy them. But the basic ways we are human, the basic ways we simply are, stand out to me now. I came to see that we all are really one, and I no longer feel alone.

c. 2001 AAWS, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 347

Practice These Principles

One member's list of some of the principles underlying the Twelve Steps:

1. Honesty/Acceptance
2. Open-mindedness/Hope
3. Willingness/Faith
4. Courage/Responsibility
5. Integrity/Trust
6. Willingness
7. Humility
8. Agapic Love
9. Justice/Restitution
10. Perseverance/Commitment
11. Spiritual Growth
12. Service

Fifth Step Leads to Humility

STEP FIVE: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
A great dividend we may expect from confiding our defects to another human being is humility -- a word often misunderstood... it amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.


I knew deep inside that if I were ever to be joyous, happy and free, I had to share my past life with some other individual. The joy and relief I experienced after doing so were beyond description. Almost immediately after taking the Fifth Step, I felt free from the bondage of self and the bondage of alcohol. That freedom remains after 36 years, a day at a time. I found that God could do for me what I couldn't do for myself.

From Daily Reflections ©1990 AAWS, INC
"More realism and therefore more honesty about ourselves are the great gains we make under the influence of Step Five. As we took inventory, we began to suspect how much trouble self-delusion had been causing us. This had brought a disturbing reflection. If all our lives we had more or less fooled ourselves, how could we now be so sure that we weren’t still self-deceived? How could we be certain that we had made a true catalog of our defects and had really admitted them, even to ourselves? Because we were still bothered by fear, self-pity, and hurt feelings, it was probable we couldn’t appraise ourselves fairly at all. Too much guilt and remorse might cause us to dramatize and exaggerate our shortcomings. Or anger and hurt pride might be the smoke screen under which we were hiding some of our defects while we blamed others for them. Possibly, too, we were still handicapped by many liabilities, great and small, we never knew we had.

"Hence it was most evident that a solitary self-appraisal, and the admission of our defects based upon that alone, wouldn’t be nearly enough. We’d have to have outside help if we were surely to know and admit the truth about ourselves—the help of God and another human being."

© 1952, AAWS, Inc.; Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pgs. 58-59