From the BlogMeet Ron

Here is some more from Chuck

The perfection of innocence, indeed, is madness. –Arthur Miller
 
We’ve all said, “I didn’t do anything. Don’t blame me; I didn’t mean any harm.” Overdevelopment of innocence contradicts our spiritual growth. The painful truth is, we do have an impact on other people. Many times we have cultivated innocence as a style, and it has stood in our way of being accountable.
We cannot be in a relationship without sometimes hurting the ones we love. Spiritual growth requires us to take action and to take responsibility for what we do. It is painful to acknowledge we made a mistake and hurt someone. But giving up our innocent style is constructive pain. It opens the possibility to correct our ways, make repairs, and be forgiven. Then we are in the mainstream of a hearty spiritual life.
 
May I nave the grace to let go of my innocence by taking action and admitting my mistakes.
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Good Feelings
 
When we talk about feelings in recovery, we often focus on the troublesome trio – pain, fear, and anger. But there are other feelings available in the emotional realm – happiness, joy, peace, contentment, love, closeness, and excitement.
 
It’s okay to let ourselves feel pleasurable feelings too.
 
We don’t have to worry when we experience good feelings; we don’t have to scare ourselves out of them; we don’t have to sabotage our happiness. We do that, sometimes, to get to the more familiar, less joyous terrain.
 
It’s okay to feel good. We don’t have to analyze, judge, or justify. We don’t have to bring ourselves down, or let others bring us down, by injecting negativity.
 
We can let ourselves feel good.
 
Today, I will remind myself that it is my right to feel as good as I can. I can have many moments of feeling good; I can find a balanced place of feeling content, peaceful, and good.

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Take care of yourself
 
For once a person begins on this path of knowledge they will only look inward, learning how to fix themselves, instead of trying to fix other people.  –Rav Brandwein
 
Letting go doesn’t mean we don’t care. Letting go doesn’t mean we shut down.
Letting go means we stop trying to force outcomes and make people behave. It means we give up resistance to the way things are, for the moment. It means we stop trying to do the impossible– controlling that which we cannot– and instead, focus on what is possible– which usually means taking care of ourselves. And we do this in gentleness, kindness, and love, as much as possible.
 
Have you tricked yourself into believing there’s someone you can control? If you have, tell yourself the truth. Stop trying to have power where you truly have none. Instead, exercise your will in a way that will bring results. The one power you always have is the ability to let go and take care of yourself.
God, help me make letting go and taking care of myself a way of life.

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CHUCK D.

“Instead of debating why so many old-timers are leaving, maybe our time would be better spent in taking more responsibility and letting the old-timers know how much AA wants and needs them … creating and maintaining environments and meetings that are attractive to their recovery.”
Vancouver, Wash., August 1992
“Rekindling the Fire”, The Home Group: Heartbeat of AA
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The New Year

Make New Year’s goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part. It is an affirmation that you’re interested in fully living life in the year to come.

Goals give us direction. They put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious, and subconscious level.

Goals give our life direction.

What would you like to have happen in your life this year? What would you like to do, to accomplish? What good would you like to attract into your life? What particular areas of growth would you like to have happen to you? What blocks, or character defects, would you like to have removed?

What would you like to attain? Little things and big things? Where would you like to go? What would you like to have happen in friendship and love? What would you like to have happen in your family life?

Remember, we aren’t controlling others with our goals – we are trying to give direction to our life.

What problems would you like to see solved? What decisions would you like to make? What would you like to happen in your career?

What would you like to see happen inside and around you?

Write it down. Take a piece of paper, a few hours of your time, and write it all down – as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability to choose. Then let it go.

Certainly, things happen that are out of our control. Sometimes, these events are pleasant surprises; sometimes, they are of another nature. But they are all part of the chapter that will be this year in our life and will lead us forward in the story.

The New Year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.

Today, I will remember that there is a powerful force motivated by writing down goals. I will do that now, for the year to come, and regularly as needed. I will do it not to control but to do my part in living my life.
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Trust that good will come

It was a slow, bring January day at the Blue Sky Lodge. We had just moved in. The house was a mess. Construction hadn’t begun yet. All we had was a plan, and a dream. It was too cold and rainy to skydive or even be outdoors. There wasn’t any furniture yet. We were lying around on the floor.

I don’t know who got the idea first, him or me. But we both picked up Magic Markers about the same time. Then we started drawing on the wall.

“What do you want to happen in your life?” I asked. He drew pictures of seaplanes, and mountains, and boats leaving the shore. One picture was a video-camera man, jumping out of a plane. “I want adventure,” he said.

I drew pictures of a woman tromping around the world. She went to war-torn countries, then sat on a fence and watched. She visited the mountains and the oceans and many exciting places. Then I drew a heart around the entire picture, and she sat there in the middle of all the experiences on a big stack of books.

“I want stories,” I said, “ones with a lot of heart.”

Across the entire picture, in big letters, he wrote the word “Woohoo.”

As an afterthought, I drew a woman sky diver who had just jumped out of the plane. She was frightened and grimacing. Next to her I wrote the words “Just relax.”

On the bottom of the wall I wrote, “The future is only limited by what we can see now.” He grabbed a marker, crossed out “only,” and changed it to “never.”

“There,” he said, “it’s done.”

Eventually, the house got cleaned up and the construction finished. Furniture arrived. And yellow paint covered the pictures on the wall. We didn’t think much about that wall until months later Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, and sometimes in ways we’d least expect, each of the pictures we’d drawn on that wall began to materialize and manifest.

“It’s a magic wall,” I said.

Even if you can’t imagine what’s coming next, relax. The good pictures are still there. The wall will soon become covered with the story of your life. Thank God, the future is never limited by what we can see right now.

The wall isn’t magic.

The magic is in us and what we believe.

Before we start speaking the language of letting go, we need to understand what a powerful behavior letting go and letting God really is.

God, help me do my part. Then help me let go, and let you do yours.

Activity: Meditate for a moment on the year ahead. Make a list of things you’d like to see happen, attributes you’d like to gain, things you’d like to get and do, changes you’d like to occur. You don’t have to limit the list to this year. What do you want to happen in your life? Make a list of places you’d like to visit and things you’d like to see. Leave room for the unexpected, the unintended. But make room for the possibility of what you’d like,too– your intentions, wishes, dreams, hopes, and goals. Also, list what you’re ready to let go of,too– things, people, attitudes, and behaviors you’d like to release. If anything were possible, anything at all, what are the possibilities you’d like to experience and see.=============================

 

 

Chuck D.

When we are reduced to our last extreme, there is no further evasion. The choice is a terrible one. It is made in the heart of darkness … when we who have been destroyed and seem to be in hell miraculously choose God!
–Thomas Merton

There are many ways we benefit from a life crisis. Perhaps none of us could achieve true adult maturity – or a relationship with God – without having the foundations of our lives shaken. One of our pathways to crisis was the willful pursuit of control in our codependent and addictive lives. Our lifestyles were extreme, the consequences were extreme, and our surrender had to be absolute.
Most of us are surprised by how our weaknesses can turn to strengths. When our defiant wills led us to the utter bottom of our despair, we finally turned to a Power greater than ourselves and found a new way to live. This spiritual story is told in endless variations in our meetings, and it is renewed in small ways every day in each of our lives.

God, lift my defiant willfulness from me and renew my day.
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Laying the Foundation

The groundwork has been laid.
Do you not see that?
Don’t you understand that all you have gone through was for a purpose?
There was a reason, a good reason, for the waiting, the struggle, the pain, and finally the release.
You have been prepared. The same way a builder must first tear down and dig out the old to make way for the new, your Higher Power has been cleaning out the foundation in your life.

Have you ever watched a builder at construction? When he begins his work, it looks worse than before he began. What is old and decayed must be removed. What is insufficient or too weak to support the new structure must be removed, replaced, or reinforced. No builder who cares about his or her work would put a new surface over an insufficient support system. The foundation would give way. It would not last.

If the finished product is to be what is desired, the work must be done thoroughly from the bottom up. As the work progresses, it often appears to be an upheaval. Often, it does not seem to make sense. It may appear to be wasted time and effort, because we cannot see the final product yet.

But it is so important that the foundation be laid properly if the fun work, the finishing touches, is to be all that we want it to be.

This long, hard time in your life has been for laying of groundwork. It was not without purpose, although at times the purpose may not have been evident or apparent.

Now, the foundation has been laid. The structure is solid.

Now, it is time for the finishing touches, the completion.

It is time to move the furniture in and enjoy the fruits of the labor.

Congratulations. You have had the patience to endure the hard parts. You have trusted, surrendered, and allowed your Higher Power and the Universe to heal and prepare you.
Now, you shall enjoy the good that has been planned.
Now, you shall see the purpose.
Now, it shall all come together and make sense.

Enjoy.
Today, I will surrender to the laying of the foundation – the groundwork – in my life. If it is time to enjoy the placement of the finishing touches, I will surrender to that, and enjoy that too. I will remember to be grateful for a Higher Power that is a Master Builder and only has my best interests in mind, creating and constructing my life. I will be grateful for my Higher Power’s care and attention to details in laying the foundation – even though I become impatient at times. I will stand in awe at the beauty of God’s finished product.
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Slow down and let go

On a road trip up the California coast a while back, I tried to call home only to find that the batteries in my cell phone had died. I worried. What if someone needed to get in touch with me? What if there was a problem with the house? What if my family couldn’t find me and got worried?

I passed the exit to the beach that I had always wanted to see.

I obsessed some more.

I stopped for breakfast at a restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I asked if they had a pay phone. They didn’t. I barely noticed the stunning view, the smell or the sound of the surf, and I can’t remember eating my eggs and toast.

I put off seeing things until another trip; I took the freeway and got home early.

When I got home, there were no messages. No one had needed me; no one had even been aware that I was gone. But I had missed out on the treasures of the trip. I had spent so much time obsessing, I could barely remember where I’d been.

Are you missing out on the wonder of your trip because you’re in too big of a hurry? Let go. Breathe deeply. As long as you’re taking the journey, you might as well relax and enjoy the ride.

God, help me enjoy where I am right now.
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More Chuck D.

Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. 
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
After we get a new understanding about ourselves we think, “Now I will never have to make the same mistake again!” But our lessons are usually not that easily learned. We have to get them into our muscles and bones as well as our heads. Some of us have to learn how to be kind; others, how to be good listeners or how to stand up for ourselves in many different ways. Every new situation calls on a little different way of knowing, and perhaps we have to fall a few times in the learning.
The most important asset in our lives is the faith to get up again and continue. We must accept our imperfections. Each time we fall and with each mistake we make, we’re vulnerable to doubting and losing faith. By rising again, we make progress in our learning and continue to become better men.
    Today, I will have faith, even in the midst of my mistakes.
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Let the adventure consume you
 
The spirit of adventure settles over us slowly sometimes. In the beginning, when those old winds of change blow, we turn our backs, fight, and resist. We just want things to stay the same. Gradually we let go of the need to control. We allow things to change and us to change with them.
 
We accept the change.
 
Then we round the corner and find a wonderful lesson there, and then another, and another. Soon we find ourselves looking forward to taking the next step, anxious to see what lies in front of us today. Where will my path lead? Who will I meet? What will I learn? What wonderful lesson is taking place right now?
 
And the adventure begins to consume us.
 
The steps that you have been taking have been slowly leading you down a path with more wonder and goodness at every turn of the road. You learned to tolerate change. Now learn to embrace it.
 
Adventure isn’t something you do. The adventure is your life. Recognize how sweet it is. Let those winds of change blow.
      God, help me cultivate a spirit of adventure in my life. 
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Moving On

Learn the art of acceptance. It’s a lot of grief.

–Sometimes, as part of taking care of ourselves, it becomes time to end certain relationships. Sometimes, it comes time to change the parameters of a particular relationship.

This is true in love, in friendships, with family, and on the job.

Endings and changes in relationships are not easy. But often, they are necessary.

Sometimes, we linger in relationships that are dead, out of fear of being alone or to postpone the inevitable grieving process that accompanies endings. Sometimes, we need to linger for a while, to prepare ourselves, to get strong and ready enough to handle the change.

If that is what we are doing, we can be gentle with ourselves. It is better to wait until that moment when it feels solid, clear, and consistent to act.

We will know. We will know. We can trust ourselves.

Knowing that a relationship is changing or is about to end is a difficult place to be in, especially when it is not yet time to act but we know the time is drawing near. It can be awkward and uncomfortable, as the lesson draws to a close. We may become impatient to put closure on it, but not yet feel empowered to do that. That’s okay. The time is not yet right. Something important is still happening. When the time is right, we can trust that it will happen. We will receive the power and the ability to do what we need to do.

Ending relationships or changing the boundaries of a particular relationship is not easy. It requires courage and faith. It requires a willingness on our part to take care of ourselves and, sometimes, to stand-alone for a while.

Let go of fear. Understand that change is an important part of recovery. Love yourself enough to do what you need to do to take care of yourself, and find enough confidence to believe that you will love again.

We are never starting over. In recovery, we are moving forward in a perfectly planned progression of lessons. We will find ourselves with certain people – in love, family, friendships, and work – when we need to be with them. When the lesson has been mastered, we will move on. We will find ourselves in a new place, learning new lessons, with new people.

No, the lessons are not all painful. We will arrive at that place where we can learn, not from pain, but from joy and love.

Our needs will get met.

Today, I will accept where I am in my relationships, even if that place is awkward and uncomfortable. If I am in the midst of endings, I will face and accept my grief. God, help me trust that the path I am on has been perfectly and lovingly planned for me. Help me believe that my relationships are teaching me important lessons. Help me accept and be grateful for middles, endings, and new beginnings.God, help me cultivate a spirit of adventure in my life.
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Here are some more Chuck D. Contributions

Risk being alive“I know nothing is going to last forever,” Charlie said. “But the key to life and being happy is acting as though it is.”

Many of us have had our illusions about security and permanency shattered. The longer we’re alive, the more it gets beat into us: nothing is forever. We can plan on many things, but the only thing we can plan on with any certainty is change.

At some time in our lives, we may have convinced ourselves otherwise. We surrendered ourselves to that job, that project, or that relationship with all our hearts, only to have it crash to an end.
Some of us may have decided, after enough cycles of beginnings, middles, and endings, that the way to deal with this was never to fully give our hearts to any person or circumstance, never to let ourselves fully be present and enjoy the moment.

If I don’t get in completely, I won’t get hurt when it ends, we think. Maybe. But you won’t experience the pleasure and joy, the rich, sweet full taste of those moments, either.
Okay, so you’re wiser now. You know nothing lasts forever. You know the moment something happens, the ending has already been written,too. People are born. They die. A job or project begins. Then it ends. But there’s an entire luscious middle waiting, inviting you to jump in fully and see how sweet life can be. Besides, when the ending does come, you’ll also have been given enough wisdom, courage, and grace to deal with that,too.
What are you waiting for?
Go ahead. Stop holding back. Jump in.
Live your life.
God, give me enough faith and a well of letting go so I can live each moment fully.
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Panic

Don’t panic!
If panic strikes, we do not have to allow it to control our behaviors. Behaviors controlled by panic tend to be self-defeating. No matter what the situation or circumstance, panic is usually not a good foundation. No matter what the situation or circumstance, we usually have at least a moment to breathe deeply and restore our serenity and peace.

We don’t have to do more than we can reasonably do – ever! We don’t have to do something we absolutely cannot do or cannot learn to do!

This program, this healthy way of life we are seeking, is built on a foundation of peace and quiet confidence – in ourselves, in our Higher Power, in the recovery process.

Do not panic. That takes us away from the path. Relax. Breathe deeply. Let peace flow through our body and mind. From this base, our Source shall supply the necessary resources.

Today, I will treat panic as a separate issue that needs immediate attention. I will refuse to allow panicky thoughts and feelings to motivate me. Instead, I will let peace and trust motivate my feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
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He is a man whom it is impossible to please, because he is never pleased with himself.
–Goethe

Many of us grew up trying to please our fathers and feeling we never got the approval we needed. Perhaps our fathers couldn’t feel pleased with themselves. Now it is time to take stock of ourselves and ask whether we are perpetuating the pattern in our own lives. If we still feel unhappy with ourselves, we may never be satisfied with anyone else either. Spouses, children, bosses, even the parking lot attendant may receive the brunt of our self-disapproval. We don’t totally change these patterns in an instant. We change them one day at a time.
Today, we have before us a small piece of the future. We can begin by treating ourselves decently. Maybe we can’t feel a strong sense of personal approval yet, but we can give ourselves some basic respect. We can start by remembering we have the love of God. We can affirm at least one positive thing about ourselves. After some positive reflection, we will have more to give to others.
Today, I will give myself approval for at least one thing.
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MORE CHUCK D.

Balance

Strive for balanced expectations of others. Strive for healthy tolerance.
In the past, we may have tolerated too much or too little. We may have expected too much or too little.
We may swing from tolerating abuse, mistreatment, and deception to refusing to tolerate normal, human, imperfect behaviors from people. Although it’s preferable not to remain in either extreme too long, that is how people change – real people who struggle imperfectly toward better lives, improved relationships, and more effective relationship behaviors.
But if we are open to ourselves and to the recovery process, we will, at some time, begin another transition: it becomes time to move away from extremes, toward balance.
We can trust ourselves and the recovery process to bring us to a balanced place of tolerance, giving, understanding, and expectations – of others and ourselves.
We can each find our own path to balance as we begin and continue recovery.

Today, I will practice acceptance with others and myself for the way we change. If I have had to swing to the other extreme of a behavior, I will accept that as appropriate, for a time. But I will make my goal one of balanced tolerance and expectations of others and myself.

Don’t be afraid of giving./Everything passes away except God.

Giving

Don’t be afraid of giving.
For a while, we may need to back off from giving as we learn to discern the difference between healthy giving and caretaking, which leave us feeling victimized and others feeling resentful.
This is a temporary spot.
To be healthy, to do our part in this spiritual way of life, to be part of the endless cycle of the Universe, guided by our Creator, we need to give and receive.
Both parts are important.
What is healthy giving?

This is a fine lined behavior each of us must seek to understand for ourselves. It is giving that feels good and does not leave us feeling victimized.

It is giving that holds the giver and the receiver in high esteem.

It is giving based on a desire to do it rather than from a sense of guilt, pity, shame, or obligation.

It is giving with no strings attached. Or it is giving based on a clean, direct contract.

Whether it is giving our time, efforts, energy, comfort, nurturing, money, or ourselves, it is giving that we can afford.

Giving is part of the chain of giving and receiving. We can learn to give in healthy ways; we can learn to give in love. We need to keep an eye on our giving, to make sure it has not crossed the line into caretaking. But we need to learn to give in ways that work for us and others.
Today, God, guide me in my giving. Help me give to others in healthy ways. Help me give what feels right, what feels good, what feels clean, and what I can afford.
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Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything passes away except God.
–Saint Theresa

Learning to detach may be the most demanding and difficult part of this program. Detachment means being filled with closeness and love toward someone, yet knowing we cannot fix or protect that person. It means we can be in emotional contact but don’t have to react to someone else’s issues. We respond from our own center with what is fitting for us. Being detached means we allow others to be in the hands of God because we cannot live their lives for them. Detachment gives us an inner calm, an acceptance of our limits, and the freedom to live our own lives with integrity.
Detachment is a skill in living, and like other skills, we can practice it. Gradually, it becomes a natural response. True detachment takes root and grows within us over a period of time as we deepen our relationship with the Steps and with our Higher Power.

Today, I turn to God as my eternal rock for strength in learning to become detached.
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Here is a couple from Chuck

I like a man with faults, especially when he knows it. To err is human – I’m uncomfortable around gods.
–Hugh Prather

We are more comfortable around someone who has faults and knows it. We respect such a person. So why do we have such a hard time admitting our own faults? This matter of honesty comes very gradually and only with hard work. We may have to force ourselves to admit a fault because we expect to feel unworthy. In fact, what we do feel after admitting a fault is peacefulness and self-respect. We may expect to be rejected and judged by friends, but usually friendships grow more solid when we admit our faults. A true friend does not need to trust that we will always be right, only that we will be honest.
At this moment are we being nagged by some fault? Is there something about the way we have talked to someone that doesn’t seem right? Have we been unfair or dishonest? This is a program of progress, not perfection. So, to make progress we admit our imperfections, and as we do, we become more fully human.

God, in this moment when I feel my human mistakes, help me to be open to your love.
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God’s Will

Each day, ask God what God wants us to do today; then ask God to help. A simple request, but so profound and far reaching it can take us anywhere we need to go.

Listen: all that we want, all that we need, all the answers, all the help, all the good, all the love, all the healing, all the wisdom, all the fulfillment of desire is embodied in this simple request. We need say no more than Thank You.

This Plan that has been made for us is not one of deprivation. It is one of fullness, joy, and abundance. Walk into it.

See for yourself.

Today, I will ask God to show me what God wants me to do for this day, and then ask for help to do that. I will trust that is sufficient to take me into light and joy

CHUCK DENMARK

Seldom, or perhaps never, does a marriage develop into an individual relationship smoothly and without crises; there is no coming to consciousness without pain. 
–Carl Jung

We don’t seek perfect relationships in marriage or in other places in our lives. What we seek instead are real and honest connections. Perfection has a picture-book form, but it has no depth and no personality. This means that sometimes we will get upset with others, or they will get upset with us. We need a basic commitment to stay in the relationship dialogue, to continue returning to it as long as both people are willing to work on it. Working through crises is how a relationship grows from simply being an idea to having its unique reality.
We will be frightened by the rough spots. We will wonder if there is something wrong with us or with the other person, or the relationship. We cannot escape such questions. To run from the difficulties cuts off the possibilities for growth. It is a frightening thing to become real, to come into consciousness.

Today, I pray for courage to remain honest and faithful to real relationships through the crises.
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When the Time is Right

There are times when we simply do not know what to do, or where to go, next. Sometimes these periods are brief, sometimes lingering.

We can get through these times. We can rely on our program and the disciplines of recovery. We can cope by using our faith, other people, and our resources.

Accept uncertainty. We do not always have to know what to do or where to go next. We do not always have clear direction. Refusing to accept the inaction and limbo makes things worse.

It is okay to temporarily be without direction. Say, “I don’t know,” and be comfortable with that. We do not have to try to force wisdom, knowledge, or clarity when there is none.

While waiting for direction, we do not have to put our life on hold. Let go of anxiety and enjoy life. Relax. Do something fun. Enjoy the love and beauty in your life. Accomplish small tasks. They may have nothing to do with solving the problem, or finding direction, but this is what we can do in the interim.

Clarity will come. The next step will present itself. Indecision, inactivity, and lack of direction will not last forever.
Today, I will accept my circumstances even if I lack direction and insight. I will remember to do things that make myself and others feel good during those times. I
will trust that clarity will come of its own accord.
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Wants and Needs

Wants and Needs

So many of us have been brainwashed to think that we can’t have what we want in life. That is the belief of the martyr. It is born of deprivation and fear.

Identifying what we want and need, then writing it down, sets in motion a powerful chain of events. It indicates that we are taking responsibility for ourselves, giving God and the Universe permission to supply our wants and needs.

The belief that we deserve to have a change in character, a relationship, a new dimension to an existing relationship, a possession, a certain level of health, living, loving, or success, is a powerful force in bringing that desire to pass.

Often, when we realize that we want something, that feeling is God preparing us to receive it!

Listen. Trust. Empower the good in your life by paying attention to what you want and need. Write it down. Affirm it mentally. Pray about it. Then, let it go. Give it to God, and see what happens.

The results may be better than you think.

Today, I will pay attention to what I want and need. I will take time to write it down, and then I will let it go. I will begin to believe I deserve the best.

Science and Religion

The most important function of art and science is to awaken the cosmic religious feeling and keep it alive. 
–Albert Einstein

There is no need to be concerned about a conflict between science and the spiritual life. People have turned to the spiritual in many ways since the beginning of humanity. Some are tribal and primitive, some very emotional, some focused on ideas and philosophy, some centered on tradition. Perhaps in the very center of our humanness is a spiritual compass. When we disown that orientation, do we lose some of our humanness? This program did not invent the spiritual outlook. It only tells us recovery will come through awakening of the spiritual within us.
We are on an exploration. We give ourselves over to it and only discover where our awakening will lead as it unfolds. The Steps tell us to engage with the God of our understanding, to develop a relationship of trust, total openness and humility, and to improve the contact. As the center of our humanness is restored, we come alive and our daily tasks take on new meaning.

May I be awakened again to that cosmic feeling we all inherit.

The 12 Concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous

The 12 Concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous

The 12 Concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous

To understand the concepts of AA you have to dig deep or attend a workshop/step speaker series on these important components of the program.
A lot of groups don’t teach the concepts and a number of Alcoholics Anonymous members are not familiar with them. It is best to have some sobriety under your belt before you attempt to familiarize yourself and study the concepts because they are complex.
Here, then are the 12 Concepts of AA as referenced on Page 574 of Alcoholics Anonymous’ textbook, also known as “The Big Book”:

Concept 1 – Final responsibility and ultimate authority for A.A. world services should always reside in the collective conscience of our fellowship.
This means that the fellowship is guided by rules and regulations that may not be changed by any authority other than the main headquarters’ trusted servants and that the proper channels have to be gone through for any changes to take place.

Concept 2 – The General Service Conference of A.A. has become, for nearly every practical purpose, the active voice and the effective conscience of our whole Society in world affairs.

Concept 3 – To insure effective leadership, we should endow each element of A.A. – the Conference, the General Service Board and its service corporations, staffs, committees, and executives – with a traditional “Right of Decision”.

Concept 4 – At all responsible levels, we ought to maintain a traditional “Right of Participation”, allowing a voting representation in reasonable proportion to the responsibility that each must discharge. This translates into meaning that every decision from whether to add a meeting to a schedule to changing the format of meetings has to be pre-approved through a business or group conscience meeting.

Concept 5 – Throughout our structure, a traditional “Right of Appeal” ought to prevail, so that minority opinion will be heard and personal grievances receive careful consideration. This usually takes place at the business meeting which any member is welcome to attend.

Concept 6 – The Conference recognizes that the chief initiative and active responsibility in most world service matters should be exercised by the trustee members of the Conference acting as the General Service Board. This board is the final authority that our fellowship turns to in all matters, controversial and not.

Concept 7 – The Charter and Bylaws of the General Service Board are legal instruments, empowering the trustees to manage and conduct world service affairs. The Conference Charter is not a legal document; it relies upon tradition and the A.A. purse for final effectiveness.

Concept 8 – The trustees are the principal planners and administrators of overall policy and finance. They have custodial oversight of the separately incorporated and constantly active services, exercising this through their ability to elect all the directors of these entities. This would apply to secretary and treasurer positions among others.

Concept 9 – Good service leadership at all levels is indispensable for our future functioning and safety. Primary world service leadership, once exercised by the founders, must necessarily be assumed by the trustees.

Concept 10 – Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority, with the scope of such authority well defined.

Concept 11 – The trustees should always have the best possible committees, corporate service directors, executives, staffs, and consultants. Composition, qualification, induction procedures, and rights and duties will always be matters of serious concern. The definition of this concept is that our program takes seriously all responsible members of each committee and the duties they perform.

Concept 12 – The Conference shall observe the spirit of A.A. tradition, taking care that it never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power; that sufficient operating funds and reserve be its prudent financial principle; that it place none of its members in a position of unqualified authority over others; that it reach all important decisions by discussion, vote, and, whenever possible, by substantial unanimity; that its actions never be personally punitive nor an incitement to public controversy; that it never perform acts of government, and that, like the Society it serves, it will always remain democratic in thought and action.
This means that we don’t have anyone “in charge” in AA; that we are all but trusted servants.

Dr. Bob’s Last Message

Dr. Bob’s Last Message
Presented at The First International Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous
July 28 – 30, 1950 at Cleveland, Ohio

In Memoriam Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith August 8, 1879 – November 16, 1950 Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous

“My good friends in AA and of AA. I feel I would be very remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to welcome you here to Cleveland not only to this meeting but those that have already transpired. I hope very much that the presence of so many people and the words that you have heard will prove an inspiration to you – not only to you, but may you be able to impart that inspiration to the boys and girls back home who were not fortunate enough to be able to come. In other words, we hope that your visit here has been both enjoyable and profitable.”

“I get a big thrill out of looking over a vast sea of faces like this with a feeling that possibly some small thing that I did a number of years ago, played an infinitely small part in making this meeting possible. I also get quite a thrill when I think that we all had the same problem. We all did the same things. We all get the same results in proportion to our zeal and enthusiasm and stick-to-itiveness. If you will pardon the injection of a personal note at this time, let me say that I have been in bed five of the last seven months and my strength hasn’t returned as I would like, so my remarks of necessity will be very brief.

“But there are two or three things that flashed into my mind on which it would be fitting to lay a little emphasis; one is the simplicity of our Program. Let’s not louse it all up with Freudian complexes and things that are interesting to the scientific mind, but have very little to do with our actual AA work. Our 12 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 bear 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.”

“And one more thing; none of us would be here today if somebody hadn’t taken time to explain things to us, to give us a little pat on the back, to take us to a meeting or two, to have done numerous little kind and thoughtful acts in our behalf. So let us never get the degree of smug complacency so that we’re not willing to extend or attempt to, that help which has been so beneficial to us, to our less fortunate brothers. Thank you very much.”

RESENT SOMEBODY/the spirit of judgment/Letting Our Anger Out

RESENT SOMEBODY
 
The moment you start to resent somebody you become their slave. They control your dreams, absorb your digestion, rob you of your peace of mind and good will, take away the pleasure of your work.
They ruin your spirituality and nullify your prayers. You cannot take a vacation without them going along! They destroy your freedom of mind and hound you wherever you go. There is no way to escape the person you resent.
They are with you when you are awake. They invade your privacy when you sleep. They are close beside you when you eat, when you drive your car, and when you are on the job.
You can never have efficiency or happiness. They influence even the tone of your voice. They require you to take medicine for indigestion, headaches and loss of energy. They even steal your last moment of consciousness before you go to sleep.
So if you want to be a slave, harbor your resentment.
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No one can get rid of the spirit of judgment by an effort of the will. 
–Paul Tournier
 
In the past, we applied our wills and tried to bring about the changes we wanted. We may still unconsciously try to create self-improvement by an effort of will. But, as long as we do that, we continue the same circles of frustration and defeat we knew before recovery. The way to growth is in directions we cannot fully imagine for ourselves. We can become ready for change and then pray for help. The one who simply became ready to have God remove his judgmental attitudes was surprised to find God’s answer was to make them more trusting of others and less judgmental of himself.
The wonders of recovery are miracles because we tried before and couldn’t recover by ourselves. Miracles are surprises that come upon us because God’s will for us is more creative and far reaching in its renewal than anything we can think of.
Today, I pray that I may know the will of God and forgo my limited willfulness.
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Letting Our Anger Out
It’s okay to be angry, but it isn’t healthy to be resentful. Regardless of what we learned as children, no matter what we saw role modeled, we can learn to deal with our anger in ways that are healthy for us and for those around us. We can have our angry feelings. We can connect with them, own them, and feel them, express them, release them, and be done with them.
 
We can learn to listen to what anger is telling us about what we want and need in order to take care of ourselves.
 
Sometimes we can even indulge in angry feelings that aren’t justified. Feelings are just feelings; there is no morality in the feeling, only in our behavior. We can feel angry without hurting or abusing others or ourselves. We can learn to deal with anger in ways that benefit our relationships instead of ways that harm them.
 
If we don’t feel our angry feelings today, we will need to face them tomorrow.
 
Today, I will let myself feel my anger. I will express my anger appropriately, without guilt. Then I will be done with it.
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On Gratitude:

On Gratitude:
“To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives – the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections – that requires hard spiritual work. Still we are only truly grateful people when we say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let us not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.”
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Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together. 
–Thomas Carlyle
Silence does not draw attention to itself. It is the ultimate in letting go and letting be. It is the opposite of the great dramatic event, so we easily forget silence is a basic means by which we grow. We live in a “can do” society that applauds a man of action who gets a job done. Perhaps we learned to think that being alone in silence is empty time with nothing happening.
In truth, some great things happen only by decisive action, but other great things happen only when we get ourselves out of the way and simply allow them to occur. It would be foolish to believe only in action and miss the benefits that come from quiet moments. When we withdraw from the hubbub of the world around us and quiet our minds, we are making room for great things to fashion themselves together.
 
Today, I will remember the importance of silence in my growth. I will set aside some of my busyness and be still.

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Humility is just as much the opposite of self-abasement as it is of self-exaltation. 
–Dag Hammarskjold
 
In our struggles with self-hate and guilt, we may have thought we were humble – or perhaps even too humble. But self-abasement, which often alternates with feelings of superiority, is not the spiritual quality of humility that we strive for in our program.
With humility, we respect ourselves and our place in the universe. Humility is having ourselves in perspective, knowing we are connected to the whole world, accepting how small and powerless we are, and accepting the power and responsibility we have. With this spiritual feeling comes a sense of awe for the world we live in and a feeling of gratitude for the life we’ve been given.
 
The humility I feel today goes hand in hand with my self-respect and gratefulness for being part of life.
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Accepting Love/Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them. 

Accepting Love
Many of us have worked too hard to make relationships work; sometimes those relationships didn’t have a chance because the other person was unavailable or refused to participate.
To compensate for the other person’s unavailability, we worked too hard. We may have done all or most of the work. This may mask the situation for a while, but we usually get tired. Then, when we stop doing all the work, we notice there is no relationship, or we’re so tired we don’t care.
Doing all the work in a relationship is not loving, giving, or caring. It is self-defeating and relationship defeating. It creates the illusion of a relationship when in fact there may be no relationship. It enables the other person to be irresponsible for his or her share. Because that does not meet our needs, we ultimately feel victimized.
In our best relationships, we all have temporary periods where one person participates more than the other. This is normal. But as a permanent way of participating in relationships, it leaves us feeling tired, worn out, needy, and angry.’
We can learn to participate a reasonable amount, and then let the relationship find it’s own life. Are we doing all the calling? Are we doing all the initiating? Are we doing all the giving? Are we the one talking about feelings and striving for intimacy?
Are we doing all the waiting, the hoping, and the work?
We can let go. If the relationship is meant to be, it will be, and it will become what it is meant to be. We do not help that process by trying to control it. We do not help the other person, the relationship, or ourselves by trying to force it or by doing all the work.
Let it be. Wait and see. Stop worrying about making it happen. See what happens and strive to understand if that is what you want.
 
Today, I will stop doing all the work in my relationships. I will give myself and the other person the gift of requiring both people to participate. I will accept the natural level my relationships reach when I do my share and allow the other person to choose what his or her share will be. I can trust my relationships to reach their own level. I do not have to do all the work; I need only do my share.
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Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them. 
–Alan Watts
 
As we live our very busy lives we might say, “How full and rich my life is!” But are we stopping long enough to look, to take in experiences, digest them, and grow from them? Or is our attention always focused upon the next event? Are we running from one thing to another, never truly being present in the current moment?
For spiritual deepening, many of us do not need to enrich the events in our lives as much as we need to simplify and quiet ourselves. We need to slow down and look at what is here. At a banquet, we might appreciate a few fine foods served in a tranquil atmosphere more fully than a lavish variety served in a frenzied atmosphere. For today, we are not able to stop the hectic pace of the world, but we can slow ourselves down and notice and reflect upon our experiences. Then they will have meaning and value for us.
  Today, I will slow down. I will notice what my experiences are and give myself time to look.
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AA Grapevine – September 1948

The Fundamentals–In Retrospect –
Dr. Bob

THE feeling that one belongs to and has a definite personal part in the work of a growing and spiritually prospering organization for the release of the alcoholics of mankind from a deadly enslavement is always gratifying. For me, there is double gratification in the realization that more than 13 years ago, an All-wise Providence, whose ways must always be mysterious to our limited understandings, brought me to “see my duty clear” and to contribute in a decent humility, as have so many others, my part in guiding the first trembling steps of the then infant organization, Alcoholics Anonymous.

It is fitting at this time to indulge in some retrospect regarding certain fundamentals. Much has been written, much has been said about the 12 Steps of A.A. These tenets of our faith and practice were not worked out overnight and then presented to our members as an opportunist creed. Born of our early trials and many tribulations, they were and are the result of humble and sincere desire, sought in personal prayer for Divine guidance.

As finally expressed and offered, they are simple in language, plain in meaning. They are also workable by any person having a sincere desire to obtain and keep sobriety. The results are the proof. Their simplicity and workability are such that no special interpretations, and certainly no reservations, have ever been necessary. And it has become increasingly clear that the degree of harmonious living which we achieve is in direct ratio to our earnest attempt to follow them literally under Divine guidance to the best of our ability.

YET, withal, there are no “shibboleths” in A.A. We are not bound by the thongs of theological doctrine. None of us may be excommunicated and cast into outer darkness. For we are many minds in our organization and an A.A. Decalogue in the language of “Thou shalt not” would gall us indeed.
Look at our 12 Points of A.A. Tradition. No random expressions these, based on just casual observation. On the contrary, they represent the sum of our experience as individuals, as groups within A.A. and similarly with our fellows and other organizations in the great fellowship of humanity under God throughout the world. They are entirely suggestive, yet the spirit in which they have been conceived merits their serious, prayerful consideration as the guidepost of A.A. policy for the individual, the group and our various committees, local and national.

We have found it wise policy, too, to hold to no glorification of the individual. Obviously, that is sound. Most of us will concede that when it came to the personal showdown of admitting our failures and deciding to surrender our will and our lives to Almighty God, as we understood Him, we still had some sneaking ideas of personal justification and excuse. We had to discard them but the ego of the alcoholic dies a hard death. Many of us because of activity have received praise not only from our fellow A.A.s but from the world at large. We would be ungrateful indeed to be boorish when that happens yet it is so easy for us to become, privately perhaps, just a little vain about it all. Yet, fitting and wearing halos is not for us.

WE’VE all seen the new member who stays sober for a time, largely through sponsor-worship. Then maybe the sponsor gets drunk and you know what usually happens. Left without a human prop, the new member gets drunk too. He has been glorifying an individual instead of following the Program.

Certainly we need leaders but we must regard them as the human agents of the Higher Power and not with undue adulation as individuals. The 4th and 10th Steps can not be too strongly emphasized here–“Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves . . . continue to make personal inventory . . . promptly admit it when we are wrong.” There is your perfect antidote for halo-poisoning.

So with the question of Anonymity. If we have a banner, that word, speaking of the surrender of the individual–the ego–is emblazoned on it. Let us dwell thoughtfully on its full meaning and learn thereby to remain humble, modest, ever-conscious that we are eternally under Divine direction.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS was nurtured in its early days around a kitchen table. Many of our pioneer groups, some of our most result-full meetings and best programs have had their origin around that modest piece of furniture with the coffee pot handy on the stove.

True, we have progressed materially to better furniture and more comfortable surroundings, yet the kitchen table must ever be appropriate for us. It is the perfect symbol of simplicity. In A.A. we have no V.I.P.’s nor have we need of any. Our organization needs no title-holders nor grandiose buildings. That is by design. Experience has taught us that simplicity is basic in preservation of our personal sobriety and helping those in need.
Far better it is for us to fully understand the meaning and practice of “Thou good and faithful servant” than to listen to “With 60,000 members you should have a 60 stories high administration headquarters in New York with an assortment of trained ‘ists’ to direct your affairs.” We need nothing of the sort. God grant that A.A. may ever stay simple.

Over the years we have tested and developed suitable techniques for our purpose. They are entirely flexible. We have all known and seen miracles–the healing of broken individuals, the rebuilding of broken homes. And always, it has been the constructive personal 12th Step work based on an ever upward-looking faith which has done the job.

IN as large an organization as ours, we naturally have had our share of those who fail to measure up to certain obvious standards of conduct. They have included schemers for personal gain, petty swindlers and confidence men, crooks of various kinds and other human fallibles. Relatively their number has been small, much smaller than in many religious and social uplift organizations. Yet they have been a problem and not an easy one. They have caused many an A.A. to stop thinking and working constructively for a time.

We cannot condone their actions, yet we must concede that when we have used normal caution and precaution in dealing with such cases, we may safely leave them to that Higher Power. Let me reiterate that we A.A.’s are many men and women, that we are of many minds. It will be well for us to concentrate on the goal of personal sobriety and active work. We humans and alcoholics on strict moral stock-taking must confess to at least a slight degree of larcenous instinct. We can hardly arrogate the roles of judges and executioners.

Thirteen grand years! To have been a part of it all from the beginning has been reward indeed.

Dr. Bob
AA Co-Founder, Dr. Bob, September 1948
The Best of the Grapevine, Volume 2
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