Meeting Topics

Adjusting …. Five As to adjust yourself for a productive sober life.

Taking the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous brings about change in the person taking the steps. Changing ourselves (more correctly, seeking to be changed by the Spirit) is precisely what is required. After all, we were the problem, and the defects in our character which cause our problem plagued existence need to be removed.
No matter what the defect requiring removal is, there is a pattern in the corrective process. We observed this pattern, or process, or formula as an adaptation of a selection of Steps four through twelve. Before we delve into these, however, it will be useful to examine the causes of our getting all messed up.
We are going to discuss seven layers of our behavioral makeup. We are not psychiatrists, and there may be far superior ways to describe all this. However, these 7 can still be a useful framework for analysis until you help us with a better route.
1. Our wretched state of being brings us to Alcoholics Anonymous. We come to A.A. in a wretched state. The conditions or description of our pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. We don’t usually think of ourselves in those terms, however. We just know we have horrible problems in the world, we cannot stand it any more and we are desperate for a way out. We are transfixed on the consequences or results of our lives. We want our state of being to be changed. We came into A.A. thinking that when the courts, our families, our bosses, our doctors, and the crooks in Washington, D.C. get changed by A.A., we will be OK again.
2. Our own actions created our wretched state. Where we are when we get to A.A. is the result of actions we have taken. Sure, the courts might be terrorizing us, but who committed the crime? Our spouse and family might have left or kicked us out, but who made them feel that way? Our doctor may have dire predictions about our health, but who did the drinking in the first place? We could continue this into our possessions, the workplace, our friends, and just about everything else. Therefore, instead of focusing on the results, we need to discover and change our actions which caused those results.
3. Our actions came from our decisions. Actions are the result of decisions we make. It is chic to think that we manage our lives, that we consciously choose based upon some kind of rational cost-benefit analysis. Sure, there is some of this. However, our decisions come from conscious, unconscious or habitual sources. As is turns out, very few decisions that we make are conscious.
4. Our decisions come primarily from our habits. Most of our lives are driven by habits and associated impulse. Habits, of course, are simply the actions we take when we don’t think about what we are doing. Good habits can be very useful. They can execute skillful tasks skillfully and without occupying the mind with repetitive material. They make sure our teeth get brushed every night before we retire, and they bring unconscious smiles to our faces when we see acquaintances. We are simply following the engrained mind-patterns that come from repeated reinforcement. Bad or harmful habits, though, can cause us to spiral downward into destitution or destruction. Any attempt to retrain the mind requires conscious intervention into our habit patterns until old habits begin to atrophy through disuse as they are overlaid with new ones. This is the difficult task of the alcoholic recovering from habitual drinking.
5. Habits originated in beliefs. Conscious actions come from conscious beliefs that an action is desirable. As the action is repeated it might become habitual. Even though the original belief is displaced with a different belief, our actions are usually still driven by the old habit. So, we jump to the conclusion that we can prevent the beginning of bad habits by having only valid belief systems. But, there is more.
6. Beliefs come from teaching, experience and motivation. When we were younger, much of what we believed came from what we were taught. For example, about 85% of all persons who go to church in the U.S. attend the same church that their parents attended. Religious beliefs can be very profound, and teachings about them can be intensive. In addition, as we grow, we have experiences that mold our thinking. If we are attacked by Mr. Smith’s dog every time we go down Elm Street, we probably come to think that Elm street is dangerous. In addition, we might be suspicious of persons named Smith. Obviously, some of our beliefs are incorrect or delusional. But, our old teachings and experiences are still in our heads, even if they are in hiding. They might still try to manage our lives unless they are contradicted by new teaching and experience. Sometimes psychotherapy is needed to help us migrate into adjusted beliefs.
7. Motivations underlie our beliefs. At the origin of our behavioral trail are motivations. These are the drivers of what we retain as beliefs and the perpetuation of actions that gratify our desires. We know a fellow who ran away from home at the age of 13 to join the carnival. There were times when he just didn’t have enough to eat. This experience, coupled perhaps by a high metabolism or hypoglycemia, leads him to feel panic when he hasn’t eaten recently. He is never without snacks at home, in his car, at work or at social functions. His motive is to avoid even the slightest hint of hunger. Some other motives one can have are a need for constant social approval, saving everything for a future need, having sex all the time, getting obliterated on booze, etc.
So, why not just deal with motivational adjustment to bring about constructive actions? This just does not seem to work with alcoholics. We seem to need to change the last of the seven links in the chain of behavioral events until we hurt. Then, we find out what hurts, and we fix that until the prior link acts up, and so it goes until we can eventually work on our motives.
You have probably heard in a meeting:
We don’t think our way into right actions,
we act our way into right thinking.
Why did we lay our the seven layers of behavior above? Because they provide a framework to understand the nature of defects in character better and to grasp the role of the 12 steps in bringing about change in us.
But, there is another reason for all this wonderful psychobabel. You might now appreciate a wiser and more lucid statement about cause and effect:

Anger… We must be rid of anger or it kills us.

Our Big Book tells us that “…resentment is the number one offender”, and “If we were to live, we had to be free of anger”. It assures us that unless anger and resentment are removed from our minds, that we shall surely drink again. Hopefully we get the point and take action as directed.
This little paper talks about synonyms of resentment, discusses their relationships, and quotes some 34 instances in which they appear in the Big Book or the 12 &12.
Anger, resent, resentment.
All of these words, to put it mildly, describe negative feelings the alcoholic might have toward other people, ideas, or institutions. They range from high intensity (hate) to low intensity (displeasure). Some of them are outwardly observable (rage) and others smolder inside (resentment). These distinctions make no difference in the long run. This negativity will corrode our very beings—spiritual(shutting out the sunlight of the Spirit), mental and physical (The medical profession knows well the impact of negative thinking upon common diseases such as stress, arthritis and ulcers.)
But, when we discuss with fellow AA’s the need to get rid of anger, we hear a number of contradictory remarks, such as:
• Anger is a natural human emotion. Everybody gets angry sometimes.
• You tell us to get rid of anger, but we know that stuffing it inside of ourselves is not healthy.
• What is important is the manner in which we deal with our anger.
• Anger can stimulate a person to great deeds that they would not otherwise perform.
These contradictions have much to be said for them. Yet they can lull us into a comfort with our anger, and we might try to live with rather than eradicate anger.
If we are to be true to the directions of AA, then:
1. The first task is to set the right goal, which is not accommodation with anger. The necessary objective is its removal.
2. Next, we must learn to recognize our anger when it arises. An unmistakable flag needs to pop up at the onset of resentment or anger, which says, “Whoa. I am getting angry. This must be stopped right now.”
3. The first damage control task is to prevent acting out of anger. Our good judgment, even if painful, needs to take charge to assure that none of our words or actions will injure others or ourselves. We avoid adding to our 8th step list at any emotional cost. In addition, some folks believe a non-destructive release—such as counting to 10 or punching a bag—can be helpful.
4. Now, we go to work trying to understand why we began to get angry or resentful. The format of the 4th step matrix on page 65 can be helpful here. Who or what triggered my anger? What did another person do (or not do) which made me angry? Which of my buttons, or triggers, got pushed? In what way was I frustrated? Which of my character defects again got in the way of my useful living?
5. Finally, we take further action in cleaning up our act. Do I need to make an amend? Am I ready for my character defect to be removed? Meditation might help in answering these question. I then go to the source of all power, asking again that I be made free of resentment and anger and become whole to be of service to my Creator and my fellow man.
It does not matter what we think the therapists say. Anger is an intolerable ingredient in the psyche of the recovered alcoholic.
1. They sound like the philosophy of the man who, having a headache, beats himself on the head with a hammer so that he can’t feel the ache. If you draw this fallacious reasoning to the attention of an alcoholic, he will laugh it off, or become irritated and refuse to talk. [Big Book, page 23, line 16]
2. In some circumstances we have gone out deliberately to get drunk, feeling ourselves justified by nervousness, anger, worry, depression, jealousy or the like. But even in this type of beginning we are obliged to admit that our justification for a spree was insanely insufficient in the light of what always happened. [Big Book, page 37, line 20]
3. It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. But with the alcoholic , whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die. If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison. [Big Book, page 66, line 20]
4. The question of how to approach the man we hated will arise. It may be he had done us more harm than we have done him and, though we may have acquired a better attitude toward him, we are still not too keen about admitting our faults. Nevertheless, with a person we dislike, we take the bit in our teeth. It is harder to go to an enemy than to a friend, but we find it much more beneficial to us. We go to him in a helpful and forgiving spirit, confessing our former ill feeling and expressing our regret. [Big Book, page 77, line 19]
5. As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day “Thy will be done.” We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves. It works—it really does. [Big Book, page 88, line 4]
6. Try not to condemn your alcoholic husband no matter what he says or does. He is just another very sick, unreasonable person. Treat him, when you can, as though he had pneumonia. When he angers you, remember that he is very ill. [Big Book, page 108, line 14]
7. 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. In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry. We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So we were sore. We were “burned up.” [Big Book, page 64, line 31]
8. When a person offended we said to ourselves, “This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.” [Big Book, page 67, line 7]
9. The first principle of success [for the wife] is that you should never be angry .” [Big Book, page 111, line 2]
10. We made a list of people I had hurt or toward whom I felt resentment . I expressed my entire willingness to approach these individuals, admitting my wrong. Never was I to be critical of them. I was to right all such matters to the utmost of my ability.” [Big Book, page 13, line 16]
11. I was not too well at the time, and was plagued by waves of self pity and resentment. This sometimes nearly drove me back to drink, but I soon found that when all other measures failed, work with another alcoholic would save the day. [Big Book, page 15, line 12]
12. It [alcoholism] brings misunderstanding, fierce resentment, financial insecurity, disgusted friends and employers, warped lives of blameless children, sad wives and parents—anyone can increase the list. [Big Book, page 18, line 7]
13. Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity? Selfishness—self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt. So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. [Big Book, page 62, line 7]
14. We began to see that the world and its people really dominated us. In that state, the wrong-doing of others, fancied or real, had power to actually kill. How could we escape? We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how? We could not wish them away any more than alcohol. This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. [Big Book, page 66, line 30]
15. If we have been thorough about our personal inventory, we have written down a lot. We have listed and analyzed our resentments. We have begun to comprehend their futility and their fatality. We have commenced to see their terrible destructiveness. We have begun to learn tolerance, patience and good will toward all men, even our enemies, for we look on them as sick people. [Big Book, page 70, line 23]
16. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code. And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone—even alcohol. [Big Book, page 84, line 24]
17. When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? [Big Book, page 84, line 24]
18. Never forget that resentment is a deadly hazard to an alcoholic. [Big Book, page 117, line 29]
19. As each member of a resentful family begins to see his shortcomings and admits them to the others, he lays a basis for helpful discussion. These family talks will be constructive if they can be carried on without heated argument, self-pity, self-justification or resentful criticism. [Big Book, page 127, line 26]
20. The greatest enemies of us alcoholics are resentment, jealousy, envy, frustration, and fear. [Big Book, page 145, line 18]
21. Common symptoms of emotional insecurity are worry, anger, self-pity, and depression. [12&12, page 6, line 12]
22. Anger, resentments, jealousy, envy, self-pity, hurt pride–all led to the bottle. [12&12, page 8, line 11]
23. In A.A. we slowly learned that something had to be done about our vengeful resentments, self-pity, and unwarranted pride. We had to see that every time we played the big shot, we turned people against us. We had to see that when we harbored grudges and planned revenge for such defeats, we were really beating ourselves with the club of anger we had intended to use on others. We learned that if we were seriously disturbed, our first need was to quiet that disturbance, regardless of who or what we thought caused it. [12&12, page 47, line 13]
24. To avoid falling into confusion over the names these defects should be called, let’s take a universally recognized list of major human failings–the Seven Deadly Sins of pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. [12&12, page 48, line 24]
25. When the satisfaction of our instincts for sex, security, and society becomes the sole object of our lives, then pride steps in to justify our excesses. All these failings generate fear, a soul-sickness in its own right. Then fear, in turn, generates more character defects. Unreasonable fear that our instincts will not be satisfied drives us to covet the possessions of others, to lust for sex and power, to become angry when our instinctive demands are threatened, to be envious when the ambitions of others seem to be realized while ours are not. We eat, drink, and grab for more of everything than we need, fearing we shall never have enough. And with genuine alarm at the prospect of work, we stay lazy. We loaf and procrastinate, or at best work grudgingly and under half steam. These fears are the termites that ceaselessly devour the foundations of whatever sort of life we try to build. [12&12, page 49, line 5]
26. The most common symptoms of emotional insecurity are worry, anger, self-pity, and depression. These stem from causes which sometimes seem to be within us, and at other times to come from without. To take inventory in this respect we ought to consider carefully all personal relationships which bring continuous or recurring trouble. It should be remembered that this kind of insecurity may arise in any area where instincts are threatened.[12&12, page 52, line 4]
27. Practically everybody wishes to be rid of his most glaring and destructive handicaps. No one wants to be so proud that he is scorned as a braggart, nor so greedy that he is labeled a thief. No one wants to be angry enough to murder, lustful enough to rape, gluttonous enough to ruin his health. No one wants to be agonized by the chronic pain of envy or to be paralyzed by sloth. [12&12, page 66, line 9]
28. Self-righteous anger also can be very enjoyable. In a perverse way we can actually take satisfaction from the fact that many people annoy us, for it brings a comfortable feeling of superiority. Gossip barbed with our anger, a polite form of murder by character assassination, has its satisfactions for us, too. Here we are not trying to help those we criticize; we are trying to proclaim our own righteousness. [12&12, page 67, line 7]
29. It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also. But are there no exceptions to this rule? What about “justifiable” anger? If somebody cheats us, aren’t we entitled to be mad? Can’t we be properly angry with self-righteous folk? For us of A.A. these are dangerous exceptions. We have found that justified anger ought to be left to those better qualified to handle it.
30. Few people have been more victimized by resentments than have we alcoholics. It mattered little whether our resentments were justified or not. A burst of temper could spoil a day, and a well-nursed grudge could make us miserably ineffective. Nor were we ever skillful in separating justified from unjustified anger. As we saw it, our wrath was always justified. Anger, that occasional luxury of more balanced people, could keep us on an emotional jag indefinitely. These emotional “dry benders” often led straight to the bottle. Other kinds of disturbances–jealousy, envy, self-pity, or hurt pride–did the same thing. [12&12, page 90, line 6]
31. Finally, we begin to see that all people, including ourselves, are to some extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong, and then we approach true tolerance and see what real love for our fellows actually means. It will become more and more evident as we go forward that it is pointless to become angry, or to get hurt by people who, like us, are suffering from the pains of growing up. Such a radical change in our outlook will take time, maybe a lot of time. [12&12, page 92, line 13]
32. As we glance down the debit side of the day’s ledger, we should carefully examine our motives in each thought or act that appears to be wrong. In most cases our motives won’t be hard to see and understand. When prideful, angry, jealous, anxious, or fearful, we acted accordingly, and that was that. Here we need only recognize that we did act or think badly, try to visualize how we might have done better, and resolve with God’s help to carry these lessons over into tomorrow, making, of course, any amends still neglected. [12&12, page 94, line 4]
33. As the day goes on, we can pause where situations must be met and decisions made, and renew the simple request: “Thy will, not mine, be done.” If at these points our emotional disturbance happens to be great, we will more surely keep our balance, provided we remember, and repeat to ourselves, a particular prayer or phrase that has appealed to us in our reading or meditation. Just saying it over and over will often enable us to clear a channel choked up with anger, fear, frustration, or misunderstanding, and permit us to return to the surest help of all–our search for God’s will, not our own, in the moment of stress. At these critical moments, if we remind ourselves that “it is better to comfort than to be comforted, to understand than to be understood, to love than to be loved,” we will be following the intent of Step Eleven. [12&12, page 102, line 19

Before Drinking … Tempted to take a drink? Take these actions first.

1) POSTPONE THE DRINK. You have undoubtedly had character defects such as procrastination, sloth, laziness, denial and fear. So, USE THEM right now in a constructive way by postponing that drink. You know you can hold off for 10 minutes, an hour, or even more. And, while you are delaying the destroyer, take the remedies listed below:2) STAY AWAY FROM ALCOHOL. If you are in a bar or a place where liquor is available to you, go somewhere else where there is no booze for a while, at least.3) PRAY. Ask God to keep alcohol from entering your body and to remove the obsession to drink. This action can and should be done repeatedly while you are following the rest of this survival plan.4) CALL SOBER PEOPLE. Tell them that you want to take a drink. Give your sponsor a chance to relieve the insanity of taking a drink. Or, call anybody who can help, even Central Office (818) 988-3001. In anticipation of finding a lifeguard, hopefully you have been collecting phone numbers and saving phone lists from meetings. If you are in a strange town, Alcoholics Anonymous is usually listed in the white pages of the phone book.5) GO TO AN A.A. PLACE. Head for a meeting or an A.A. gathering place, such as a clubhouse, a sober living house, or an after-meeting hangout. Sometimes a church or a parish will help.6) READ A.A. LITERATURE. Try the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous) chapter 2, the 12&12, pamphlets or other material.7) VISIT SOBER.ORG. Download and read step guides. Visit sobriety chat rooms. Go to Google.Com and search on “stay sober” (107K hits), “sobriety” (97.5K hits), or “sober” (344K hits), for example.8) WRITE A GRATITUDE LIST. We get so hung up on what we don’t have or want to get rid of, we fail to “count our blessings”, which we have in abundance.9) WRITE A HARMS PREDICTION. If you drink, who is going to get hurt? Besides yourself, how about your family, your work, and those who depend upon or respect you?10) WRITE A “REWARDS” FROM RELAPSE LIST. If you are or might be alcoholic, you have reasons to not drink alcohol. If you are gripped by the desire to drink, put the burden of proof on that drink. What is it going to do for you that is worthwhile? How long will that benefit last? How much are those desired moments of ease and comfort worth? Are you really ready to throw away your sobriety for a drink?


12) [your sponsor’s custom action]

All of the diversions above can be done within a short time of having a serious thought about drinking alcohol. On the reverse side are some things to do that will take a little longer, but they will reduce and eventually eliminate the desire to drink.


a. LEARN TO PRAY AND MEDITATE. Pray a minimum of three times each day, upon awakening, upon retiring, and before eating. Ask others how they pray. Experiment. Ask your Higher Power how you should pray. Become a student of meditation techniques. Practice the one(s) that work for you.

b. TAKE THE TWELVE STEPS. Make the 12 steps an integral part of your life. Take steps 10, 11 and 12 every day. Take steps 1 through 9 in order. Try to be well into step nine for your first sober birthday.

c. LEARN TO TAKE DIRECTION. You got yourself into your drinking pickle. Doing your very best on your own will probably not get yourself out of it and into a quality sober life. Pick a person to take you through the steps and follow their suggestions.

d. ENJOY THE FELLOWSHIP OF A.A. We have lots of fun in A.A. Introduce yourself to the winners who are making it. Join up with them before and after meetings.

e. FULFILL A.A. COMMITMENTS. Get to meetings early. Leave late. Take on obligations to do something for A.A., such as bring supplies, setting up/cleaning up the meeting place, making coffee, taking care of literature, greeting at the door, introducing yourself to newcomers, etc.

f. STUDY THE BIG BOOK, ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. Weekly membership in a Big Book Study or a Step Study is essential.

g. SPONSOR SOMEBODY. Get out of your own problems and into those of somebody else. Develop a deep understanding of the A.A. message by carrying it.

h. GET A JOB. Sometimes we have too much idle time on our hands. The truly sober alcoholic is not a burden upon others.

i. VISIT THE SICK. An alcoholism ward in a public hospital will show you where you might wind up.

j. PRACTICE THESE PRINCIPLES IN ALL YOUR AFFAIRS. Your family, friends, employer, neighbors and all those you meet should be better off because of you.

Forgiveness …Forgiveness – The missing step.

This is a discussion of forgiveness. First we point out, as if you didn’t already know, that alcoholics tend to feel victimized by people, places, things, and the cosmos in general. As if this were not enough, we alcoholics also carry a grudge about what has been done to us or not done for us.
In the paragraphs that follow, we explore the implications of carrying resentments around with us. If we cannot get rid of our resentments any other way, we are sometimes faced with the ultimate resentment eradication tool – to forgive those whom we resent. The nature of forgiveness is investigated, and, finally techniques to achieve forgiveness are presented. Our discussion of forgiveness is elaborated upon through links into four additional pages below. It is best, we think, that they be viewed in the order listed.ALCOHOLICS ARE RESENTMENT-PRONE.Most alcoholics have a deep—almost pathological—sense of justice. If we are wronged (meaning often that we did not get what we wanted), or we even conjure up the notion that we might have been wronged, we find full justification to express anger or harbor resentment. It then seems almost a duty to carry a justified resentment. Otherwise, those who have wronged us would get off scot-free. And that wouldn’t be right, would it? So, we waste our God-given lives judging and punishing our fellows. Relinquishing a justified resentment is one of the most difficult experiences known to the alcoholic.If you explore the origins of the resentment word in our dictionary your will find:
Resent has also been used in other senses that seem strange to us, such as ” to feel pain ” or ” to perceive by smell. ” The thread that ties the senses together is the notion of feeling or perceiving…again.For the alcoholic, resentment is a reliving of the offense that injured us in the first place. Think about it. We perceive that we are punishing that person for their wrong when, in fact, we are simply willing ourselves to feel the hurt again, and again, and again – get the point? Resenting makes no more sense than our drinking did. Something is twisted in brainsville, we think.METHODS OF RESENTMENT REMOVAL.How are resentments removed? Here are the customary methods, and they are presented in increasing order of difficulty (to the alcoholic, that is):

Neglect. Yes, benign neglect removes most of our thoughts of the day. We simply forget about things that are not important to us. As we grow in our sobriety we are less interested in harboring resentments, and they follow a natural order of elimination unless they are captured by our perverse habits.

Reflection. If we are aware of our resentment, and if we wish to get rid of it, we are wise to think about it. Did we really hear what the other person said? Did they really say what they meant? Was what we heard just a rumor? Does the offending action fit a pattern, or might it have been a fluke? Was the offender in distress? Are we giving this person the benefit of the doubt? If not, why are we better off carrying a resentment?

Investigation. Maybe we need more substantiation or facts? Is there independent verification of what happened? Have we mentioned to the potentially offending person that we we taken aback by their possible action, and we would like to see if we understood correctly? Do the facts substantiate that we were really harmed on purpose? If not, why not just drop the whole thing?

Benefit/Cost Analysis. If there was a real harm, especially an intentional one, what is the benefit to us of carrying a resentment? Should it be a big resentment? What should be its ranking among the other justified resentments we already have? Will its insertion into our resentment inventory mean we should discard a resentment of lesser injury? How long should we carry this resentment? Does it justify vengeance? Are we willing to suffer loss of friendship, destruction of property, expense, arrest, or social disfavor as a consequence of being judge, jury and executioner? Would it not be nicer to simply be rid of the resentment?

Forgiveness. Yes, it is possible to be rid of residual resentments through forgiveness. The reference links below will describe how this can be done. Here are a few pointers, though:

Anonymity. The person you resent need not know of your resentment. In fact, it is much better and simpler if they do not know. A grudge nurtured in secret is much sweeter anyway.
Privacy. Unless the person whom you resent has asked for your forgiveness, or if you are absolutely certain that they will cherish your forgiveness, you should keep your forgiving private. It can be a gross form of arrogance to approach another person in order to tell them that they are forgiven. Usually they will have no idea of having committed an offense, and they will wonder who the dickens you think you are forgiving them – God, perhaps?
Finality. Once you have forgiven another person, the act is final. It need never be repeated, nor should you permit the resentment to recur.

And, of course, there is the old standby, prayer. After the discussion of each step in the Big Book, a number of methods to alleviate or remove problems are set forth. The persistent and fundamental tool “suggested” to us is prayer. Prayer should have been in the list above, but we didn’t know how to rank it in order of difficulty. For some of us, prayer is the easy and natural tool for straightening out our lives. For others, it is an alien, even hostile prospect. Whatever one’s feeling about prayer might be, there should be steady effort to make it a primary ingredient in consciousness.


The Dictionary on FORGIVE
for-give (fuhr giv’) v.
1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, sin, etc.); absolve.
2. to cancel or remit (a debt, obligation, etc.): to forgive the interest owed on a loan.
3. to grant pardon to (a person).
4. to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one’s enemies.
5. to pardon an offense or an offender.


There may be a bit of our personal theology here. If yours is different, please don’t be offended. You might just be right.

When we commit an offense (or fail to fulfill and obligation) the wrong is recorded. The party(s) we have offended, if any, might keep score — most people do. We also add to the bag of guilt, shame, remorse and self-loathing that we haul around with us.

But, the real recorder has been built into the system of the universe by its Creator. It is automatic and inevitable that all wrongs are recorded. And, the one and only thing that can remove them is amendment (correction or repair) of the wrong. Period.

In the East, they call this system Karma. In metaphysics they might call it the Akasha. Whatever it is called and where ever it is located (most likely within us), it works, and it always works without fail, especially for we alcoholics, it seems (joke).


Just who is being forgiven, and by whom?

Forgiving others. If an act of courtesy on our part will help others feel better about themselves, then perhaps we should let them know we have no negative feelings about their actions. But we should never believe that we can, in fact, interfere in their being forgiven in accordance with God’s plan for them. Our beliefs and actions are not part of that plan.

Being forgiven by others. The same logic applies as with forgiving others. Cosmetic forgiveness between humans can be a compassionate act. However, genuine forgiveness is a very personal matter.

Being forgiven by God. God does not keep records, nor does He carry grudges. The universal system of justice He has created takes care of correction and forgiveness automatically. He does not intervene. He simply loves us all the time.

Forgiving ourselves. Just as humans cannot truly forgive each other, self-forgiveness is not possible, either. There is more to be said here, however. We assuredly agree that many, if not most, alcoholics know guilt, shame, remorse and self-loathing to excess. We MUST be rid of these before we can truly see the perfection of the Creator within ourselves as we are intended to do. We must also be enabled to look into the mirror and smile at the creature emerging from the slime of self-centered assertion into the service of the Father through his fellows. Knowing that we are forgiven is a requirement for the sober life.

The first thing to do is to clear away the false crimes of which we have convicted ourselves. A solid Step Five will produce a list of our defects of character and a preliminary list of persons we have harmed. If we feel bad about ourselves for anything not on these lists, the lists are either incomplete or we are caught up in the defect of senseless self-condemnation. Feeling bad about oneself, which might have been justified when we were doing our damage, is often an emotional hangover that needs to be discarded. You can create a self respect (not pride) list. It might be next to the mirror, and it might say, “I have cause to respect myself today because I have … (list of good deeds, steps taken, persons helped, prayers, etc.).” But, be sure never to put yourself on your Step Eight list.

The second thing to do is to take Step Nine (after one through eight with your sponsor, of course). Why? Because amendment is the only means of gaining forgiveness.


We feel that when a wrong is committed there is an immediate creation of a record of the act. This record cannot be prevented NOR can it be eradicated through forgiveness. The injured party cannot remove the record, and God will not do so, either, because He created the system of records in the first place. It works just fine for Him.

So, how are you and others absolved from our wrongs? You guessed it, Step Nine. Amendment (repair/correction) of the offense removes the record automatically. Forgiveness plays no part whatsoever in absolution.

Why all this talk about forgiveness, then? The fact is that we are not forgiving offenses against ourselves in the sense of removing the need for amendment on the part of the offender. That we cannot do. Only amendment can do that. Our act of forgiving is to clean out ourselves. That’s right. We remove from ourselves the curse we have imposed upon ourselves to punish the offender. Our forgiveness absolves not their act but removes our own personal reaction to it.

Wow, what a concept. It is not their karma we correct, but our own!

Here are some additional sources we have found genuinely helpful. You might notice that some of them don’t agree completely with what we have said. That doesn’t make them or us wrong. It does make it necessary for you to dwell deeply upon your own convictions.



Meetings … Reasons why A.A. meetings are good for your sobriety.

© All rights reserved by the Big Book Bunch,

It seems easy to take some of the statements we hear in meetings as trite or superficial. For example:

We hear this in meetings:

There are three ways we stay sober in A.A. They are meetings, meetings, and meetings.

You gotta go to these meetings until you wanna go to these meetings, and then you don’t gotta go anymore.

I go to meetings to see what happens to folks who don’t go to these meetings.

I recently relapsed because I stopped coming to meetings.

When you are new, go to 90 meetings in 90 days.

If you drank every day, then you should go to a meeting every day.

Etc., etc., etc.

We have learned, though, that these slogans just might save our lives.

Our Big Book does not encourage “meetings” as a necessary activity to retain sobriety. Of course, there were not that many meetings around in 1939. On the contrary, it emphasizes cleaning house (via the steps), trusting God and working with other alcoholics. But even though “meetings” are not a common word, the Big Book does say:

I know I must get along without liquor, but how can I? Have you a sufficient substitute?” Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship and so will you. “How is that to come about?” you ask. “Where am I to find these people?” You are going to meet these new friends in your own community. …..Among them you will make lifelong friends. You will be bound to them with new and wonderful ties, for you will escape disaster together and you will commence shoulder to shoulder your common journey. Then you will know what it means to give of yourself that others may survive and rediscover life. You will learn the full meaning of “Love thy neighbor as thy self.” [Big Book page 152]

Today, in just Los Angeles, there are thousands of meetings a week. Most of us had our first direct encounter with A.A. at an A.A. meeting.

Elsewhere, we (the Big Book Bunch) point out that the A.A. program is like a tripod (or, a three legged bar stool, if that is more familiar) of three essential components:

The 12 steps of recovery, which define the “process”.

A fellowship of recovered alcoholics (meetings are a primary manifestation)

The presence and direction of God.

We have put our heads together to figure out just why meetings can and should play an essential part in our recovery and that of newcomers. Here are the primary reasons we identified.

SANCTUARY. We rarely encounter demons in A.A. meetings, except, of course, for the ones we bring with us in our heads. We can be free of the pressures of family, work, and the streets for a while.

ABSTINENCE. (For at least and hour). We have heard stories about folks who bring a pint with them into a meeting for medication in the rest room, or who tipple from a bottle in the car during the break. None of us have witnessed these foolish actions.

SOBER COMPANIONS. Instead of hanging out with the old drinking cronies, we have adopted new associates. We have in common at least two things: we are alcoholics, and we are recovering from the disease of alcoholism.

SCHOOLING. A.A. meetings are like the old country school house. The more advanced students teach the newer ones what they have learned. We have a common text, our Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous (and 12 Steps and 12 Traditions), as well as pamphlets and meeting directories. But, during the meeting our primary means of learning is from the experience of our fellows. We identify. Both their successes and failures are laid out for our inspection. We can adjust our own lives from their experience. It has been said that experience is a dear(expensive) teacher. And it is a fool who learns by no other. We discover we no longer need to be fools.

EXAMPLES. From our learning we observe the winners and the losers. Our basis for discerning success changes slowly from the physical to the spiritual.

CONTACTS. One aspect of sobriety is an evolution to successful living.

Sponsors. From those we deem winners we select guides to take us through the steps. With them we also can have a private partner with whom we can discuss just about anything. If we are open to change, we incorporate their suggestions into our thoughts and actions, and we learn to take their direction.

Pigeons. We also find others, newer to recovery, with whom we can share our own experience, hope and strength. These folks have been called sponsees or babies. We prefer the old A.A. term, pigeon, though.

Sober friends. People offer us rides to meetings, and we might go out for a bite after the meeting. From some of these encounters deep friendships can arise. A common distress of alcoholics is loneliness. What a joy we find in acceptance.

Sober professionals. All sorts of professions and skills are encountered in A.A. Even though some of our members continue to exercise their character defects even into sobriety, many of us prefer to patronize and enjoy the personal attention of other A.A. members in our outside lives.

Sober “relationships”. Yes, few of us refuse to notice that many A.A.s are very attractive people. Some of us even habituate meetings where those who “turn us on” are likely to attend. We even knew a fellow who hit three meetings every night – at the first he watched which ladies would arrive in the first 10 minutes, then he scooted over to another place, and he wound up with the Lord’s Prayer in a third. Some of us used to go to the bars in much the same manner. The last we heard, this guy was still dry, but we never did notice if he “scored”, so to speak.

More on relationships. Another member we knew used to say, “Beneath every skirt you might find a slip”. His wife (who had 10 years on him) often followed with, “Behind every zipper there lurks a slipper”.

Relationships — the final word. Without fail, we never ever fool around with persons new to A.A. or who are too young or clearly not competent to have physical experiences. To do so not only invites censure and condemnation, but it might drive a newcomer away from recovery, and we will experience a very obvious sense of shame, guilt, remorse and self-loathing. There is no step thirteen. Period.

Well, almost. In any event, A.A. is a good place for us to meet enduring friends and to find intimacy. It is necessary, however, that we remember to keep our (and their) sobriety uppermost in our priorities.

SERVICE. Every meeting needs its coffee, setup, tear down and leadership. For some of us, meeting service provided an early opportunity to feel accepted, useful, and necessary. A few continue into Intergroup, General Service and the speaker circuit. Don’t miss this chance for constructive growth. Also, don’t pass up the chance to carry the message to other alcoholics. This is done in our overall example, statements in meetings, in one-on-one discussions and sponsorship.

REPUTATION. Having some semblance of pride is not always a defect of character. We are supposed to develop a sense of our own dignity, to have self-respect, and to be grateful for our sobriety and our achievements. These are a natural, proper and necessary consequence of taking the 12 steps. Once we feel pretty good about our progress, we don’t want to throw it away. We don’t want to be the butt of gossip or to envision ourselves describing a relapse in a meeting. Having a reputation to cherish happens in A.A. Keeping it untarnished is a healthy practice.

EXPERIENCING THE SPIRIT. Our Big Book explains in at least three places that God is to be found deep within ourselves. Whenever two or more persons are gathered for the purposes of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous, the amount of Godness present is multiplied over that within any one individual. If the meeting is one of those which is obviously spiritual, we sense the power of the Spirit. It can be almost electric during the final prayer. We have all felt this. We cannot get enough!

So, here are ten or more reasons to attend A.A. meetings – to get INTO A.A. instead of just ON A.A.

For those who stay home to watch Monday Night Football, we ask, “Is there really any TV program that that can compare with an A.A. meeting?” In fact, A.A. members quite often display their mechanical ineptitude when it comes to the revelation that they cannot figure out how to operate their TV recorders. Just think of the advantages: You can replay the exciting moments of the ball game and fast forward through the dull moments. Commercials can be made less obnoxious, and the total time consumed by watching a tape can be less than half that of watching in real time. Now that we don’t drink beer and we go easy on the snacks it is never an excuse to miss a meeting for the telly, we say with a grin.



Prayer … For the person with no God.

A Prayer from one who is willing, but does not yet believe.

I want desperately to refrain from using alcohol and drugs.
I am willing to follow the path taken by those who are already sober.
They say I must come to believe in a Spiritual Power.
I would like to do that.
So, here I go…..

Dear Spirit,
It is not for me to say there is no God, but
I do not know of your existence. Please reveal yourself to me.
I do not know your name. Please tell me what to call You.
I do not know your nature. Please help me to not worry about that right now.
I do not know your church.
Please help me not to be concerned with theology
until, if ever, You think it is important to me.

I do not know how to pray.
Please teach me.

I ask that my prejudice about things spiritual be removed.
I ask that I be willing to be willing to accept the reality that is You.
Help me to learn from those who already know You.
Above all, though, at this time, keep me sober.

May this beginning be the beginning of my knowing You.
Help me to be willing always to see and know You.
Let me see Your works.
Let me be open to Your working within me.
I invite You to be alive within me.

Please show me Your path for me.
Please help me to climb onto Your path.
Please turn me in the right direction, and
Please prod me gently to move toward You.

Help me to pray better next time, and
Let that be soon.
Thank You.



Preamble … An alternative meeting preamble.

An Alternative Meeting Preamble
[This is the text of a preamble that is purported to have been used in prior years at AA Meetings. It was found floating around USENET. From what we can tell it was never “official” AA literature. If anyone has a better idea of where it came from, please E-mail us (at bottom of Table of Contents page) and, who will pass it along to their other readers.]******************************************************************************************

We are gathered here because we are faced with the fact that we are powerless over alcohol and unable to do anything about it without the help of a Power greater than ourselves. We feel that each person’s religious views, if any, are his own affair. The simple purpose of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is to show what may be done to enlist the aid of a Power greater than ourselves regardless of what our individual conception of that Power may be.

In order to form a habit of depending upon and referring all we do to that Power, we must at first apply ourselves with some diligence. By often repeating these acts, they become habitual and the help rendered becomes natural to us.

We have all come to know that as alcoholics we are suffering from a serious illness for which medicine has no cure. Our condition may be the result of an allergy which makes us different from other people. It has never been by any treatment with which we are familiar, permanently cured. The only relief we have to offer is absolute abstinence, the second meaning of A.A.

There are no dues or fees. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. Each member squares his debt by helping others to recover. An Alcoholics Anonymous is an alcoholic who through application and adherence to the A.A. program has forsworn the use of any and all alcoholic beverage in any form. The moment he takes so much as one drop of beer, wine, spirits or any other alcoholic beverage he automatically loses all status as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. A.A. is not interested in sobering up drunks who are not sincere in their desire to remain sober for all time. Not being reformers, we offer our experience only to those who want it.

We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree and on which we can join in harmonious action. Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our program. Those who do not recover are people who will not or simply cannot give themselves to this simple program. Now you may like this program or you may not, but the fact remains, it works. It is our only chance to recover.

There is a vast amount of fun in the A.A. fellowship. Some people might be shocked at our seeming worldliness and levity but just underneath there lies a deadly earnestness and a full realization that we must put first things first and with each of us the first thing is our alcoholic problem. To drink is to die. Faith must work twenty-four hours a day in and through us or we perish.

In order to set our tone for this meeting I ask that we bow our heads in a few moments of silent prayer and meditation.

I wish to remind you that whatever is said at this meeting expresses our own individual opinion as of today and as of up to this moment. We do not speak for A.A. as a whole and you are free to agree or disagree as you see fit, in fact, it is suggested that you pay no attention to anything which might not be reconciled with what is in the A.A. Big Book.

If you don’t have a Big Book, it’s time you bought you one. Read it, study it, live with it, loan it, scatter it, and then learn from it what it means to be an A.A.

Principles … The principles of recovery.


Principles of the 12 Steps:

STEP: (The steps are printed on pages 59 & 60 of the Big Book.)

1. Surrender. (Capitulation to hopelessness.)

2. Hope. (Step 2 is the mirror image or opposite of step 1. In step 1 we admit that alcohol is our higher power, and that our lives are unmanageable. In step 2, we find a different Higher Power who we hope will bring about a return to sanity in management of our lives.)

3. Commitment. (The key word in step 3 is decision.)

4. Honesty. (An inventory of self.)

5. Truth. (Candid confession to God and another human being.)

6. Willingness. (Choosing to abandon defects of character.)

7. Humility. (Standing naked before God, with nothing to hide, and asking that our flaws—in His eyes—be removed.)

8. Reflection. (Who have we harmed? Are we ready to amend?)

9. Amendment. (Making direct amends/restitution/correction, etc..)

10. Vigilance. (Exercising self-discovery, honesty, abandonment, humility, reflection and amendment on a momentary, daily, and periodic basis.)

11. Attunement. (Becoming as one with our Father.)

12. Service. (Awakening into sober usefulness.)



Promises … Over 100 Big Book Promises.


How many promises await us as we trudge this road of happy destiny? Some folks think they are limited to those following Step 9 on page 83. There are 20 there (not the 12 often mentioned). But, you will find promises for each step and in many other places as well. We are sure you want to know what they are.

Here are well over 100 presented as of today:

Big Book page #25


1) There is a solution. Almost none of us likes the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet.
2) We have found much of heaven and
3) we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.
4) The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe.
5) The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous.
6) He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.

Big Book page #27:

7) Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences. To me these occurrences are phenomena. They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements.
8 ) Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side,
9) and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them.

Big Book page #28:

10) We, in our turn, sought the same escape with all the desperation of drowning men. What seemed at first a flimsy reed, has proved to be the loving and powerful hand of God.
11) A new life has been given us or, if you prefer, “a design for living” that really works.

Big Book page #46:

Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider another’s conception of God.
12) Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach
13) and to effect a contact with Him.
14) As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps.
15) We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him.
16) To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek.
17) It is open, we believe, to all men.

Big Book page #47:

18) Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you. At the start, this was all we needed to commence spiritual growth, to effect our first conscious relation with God as we understood Him.
19) Afterward, we found ourselves accepting many things which then seemed entirely out of reach.

20) That was growth, but if we wished to grow we had to begin somewhere. So we used our own conception, however limited it was. We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. “Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?” As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way.
21) It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.

Big Book page #48:
22) Faced with alcoholic destruction, we soon became as open minded on spiritual matters as we had tried to be on other questions. In this respect alcohol was a great persuader.
23) It finally beat us into a state of reasonableness. Sometimes this was a tedious process; we hope no one else will be prejudiced for as long as some of us were.

Big Book page #50:
24) Here are thousands of men and women, worldly indeed. They flatly declare that since they have come to believe in a Power greater than themselves, to take a certain attitude toward the Power, and to do certain simple things, there has been a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking.
25) In the face of collapse and despair, in the face of the total failure of their human resources, they found that a new power, peace, happiness, and sense of direction flowed into them.
26) This happened soon after they whole-heartedly met a few simple requirements. Once confused and baffled by the seeming futility of existence, they show the underlying reasons why they were making heavy going of life. Leaving aside the drink question, they tell why living was so unsatisfactory. They show how the change came over them. When many hundreds of people are able to say that the consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith.

Big Book page #55:

27) We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up, just as much as the feeling we have for a friend. Sometimes we had to search fearlessly, but He was there. He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us.

Big Book page #57:

28) Even so has God restored us all to our right minds. To this man, the revelation was sudden. Some of us grow into it more slowly.
29) But He has come to all who have honestly sought Him.
30) When we drew near to Him He disclosed Himself to us! [contributed by Joe Mc.]

Big Book page #63. [contributed by Kay G. and Jon T.]

31) When we sincerely took such a position, all sort of remarkable things followed.
32) We had a new Employer.
33) He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well.
34) Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs.
35) More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life.
36) As we felt new power flow in,
37) as we enjoyed peace of mind,
38) as we discovered we could face life successfully,
39) as we became conscious of His presence,
40) we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter.
41) We were reborn.
42) an effect, sometimes a very great one, was felt at once.

Big Book page #68. [ contributed by Kay G.]

43) At once, we commence to outgrow fear.

Big Book page #70. [ contributed by Tom T. of Omaha.]

43a) We have begun to learn tolerance, patience and good will toward all men, even our enemies, for we look on the them as sick people.

Big Book page #75:

Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing,
44) we are delighted.
45) We can look the world in the eye.
46) We can be alone at perfect peace and ease.
47) Our fears fall from us.
48) We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator.
49) We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience.
50) The feeling that the drink problem has disappeared will often come strongly.
51) We feel we are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe.

Big Book page #78:

52) If our manner is calm, frank, and open, we will be gratified with the result.
53) In nine cases out of ten the unexpected happens. Sometimes the man we are calling upon admits his own faults,
54) so feuds of years’ standing melt away in an hour.
55) Rarely do we fail to make satisfactory progress. Our
56) former enemies sometimes praise what we are doing and wish us well.
57) Occasionally, they will offer assistance.

Big Book page #83:
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development,
58) we will be amazed before we are half way through.
59) We are going to know a new freedom
60) and a new happiness.
61) We will not regret the past
62) nor wish to shut the door on it.
63) We will comprehend the word serenity and
64) we will know peace.
65) No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
66) That feeling of uselessness (will disappear)
67) and self-pity will disappear.
68) We will lose interest in selfish things and
69) (We will) gain interest in our fellows.
70) Self-seeking will slip away.
71) Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
72) Fear of people (will leave us) and
73) (fear) of economic insecurity will leave us.
74) We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
75) We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
76) Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
77) They will always materialize if we work for them.

Big Book page #84 :

64) And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone —even alcohol.

65) For by this time sanity will have returned.

66) We will seldom be interested in liquor.

67) If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame.

68) We react sanely and normally, and

69) we will find that this has happened automatically.

70 We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it.

71) We are not fighting it,

72) neither are we avoiding temptation.

73) We feel as though we had been places in a position of neutrality—safe and protected.

74) We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us.

75) We are neither cocky nor are we afraid.

76) That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.

Big Book page #86:


On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions
77) we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use.
78) Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.
79) In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.

Big Book page #87 :

80) What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind.

81) Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration.
82) We come to rely upon it.
83) We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends. Many of us have wasted a lot of time doing that and it doesn’t work. You can easily see why.

As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day “Thy will be done.”
84) We are then in much less danger of excitement,
85) fear,
86) anger,
87) worry,
88) self-pity,
89) or foolish decisions.
90) We become much more efficient.
91 We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.
92) It works—it really does.

Big Book page #97 :

93) PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.
94) You can help when no one else can.
95) You can secure their confidence when others fail.
96) Life will take on new meaning.
97) To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends—this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.

Big Book page #100 :


98) Both you and the new man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen. [contributed by Kate O.]
99) When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned. [contributed by Kate O.]
100) Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world, no matter what your present circumstances! [contributed by Beth]
101) Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. [contributed by Kate O.]

Big Book page #102 :

102) Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such an errand. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed. (contributed by Beth)
103) The power of God goes deep! [contributed by Kate O.]

Big Book page #114:

104) But sometimes you must start life anew. We know women who have done it. If such women adopt a spiritual way of life their road will be smoother. [contributed by Kate O.]

Big Book page #116:

105) how much better life is when lived on a spiritual plane. [contributed by Kate O.]

Big Book page #117:

106) These work-outs should be regarded as part of your education, for thus you will be learning to live. [contributed by Kate O.]
107) You will make mistakes, but if you are in earnest they will not drag you down. [contributed by Kate O.]
108) Instead, you will capitalize them. [contributed by Kate O.]
109) A better way of life will emerge when they are overcome. [contributed by Kate O.]



Purpose … of the Big Book.


It is common to hear in a meeting what the purpose of the Big Book is when the enlightening member reads a quote setting forth the purpose he has in mind. The purpose we usually hear is number 1 or 5 below. By now, you will note that we have found not one, but eight purposes the authors of the Big Book had in mind for it.

It is likely that the authors were sincere in all of these objectives. So, have fun, and achieve the purpose, too, if you will, please.

To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. [Big Book, page xiii, line 5]

We of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the reader will be interested in the medical estimate of the plan of recovery described in this book. [Big Book, page xxiii, line 1]

We have concluded to publish an anonymous volume setting forth the problem as we see it. We shall bring to the task our combined experience and knowledge. This should suggest a useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem. [Big Book, page 19, line 20]

You may already have asked yourself why it is that all of us become so very ill from drinking. Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in the face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body. If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking—”What do I have to do?” It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done. [Big Book, page 20, line 11]

Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power? Well, that’s exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem. That means we have written a book which we believe to be spiritual as well as moral. [Big Book, page 49, line 9]

In the following chapter, there appears an explanation of alcoholism, as we understand it, then a chapter addressed to the agnostic. Many who once were in this class are now among our members. Surprisingly enough, we find such convictions no great obstacle to a spiritual experience. Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered. These are followed by forty-three personal experiences. [Big Book, page 29, line 3]

To return to the subject matter of this book: It contains full suggestions by which the employee may solve his problem . [Big Book, page 143, line 32]

We have shown how we got out from under. [Big Book, page 152, line 11]



Relapse …. Causes.

Causes of RELAPSE (according to the Big Book)

7 .. a. Failure to grow spiritually
4 .. b. Fighting with or harming others.
3 …c. Failure to work with other alcoholics
2 .. d Failure to take step 5.
2 .. e. Attempt to shield from alcohol.
2 .. f. Failure to make amends.
1 .. g. Selfishness.
1 .. h. Resentment.
Causes of RELAPSE (as offered in AA meetings)
1. Failure to go to AA meetings.
2. Failure to take the 12 steps.
3. Involvement in an emotional relationship.
4. Association with the old crowd.
5. Failure to get a sponsor.
6. Failure to read the Big Book.
7. Failure to get a job.
8. Desire to achieve oblivion.  


Selfish … AA is NOT a selfish program.


How Bill W. refuted that ‘A.A. is a SELFISH program.’

…. Another correspondent complained directly that he had been “disturbed to hear some A.A. speakers say, ‘A.A. is a selfish program.'” The co-founder’s response was eventually published in “The A.A. Way of Life”:

I can see why you are disturbed…. The word “selfish” ordinarily implies that one is acquisitive, demanding, and thoughtless of the welfare of others. Of course, the A.A. way of life does not at all imply such undesirable traits.

What do these speakers mean? Well, any theologian will tell you that the salvation of his own soul is the highest vocation that a man can have. Without salvation – however we may define this – he will have little or nothing. For us in A.A. there is even more urgency.

If we cannot or will not achieve sobriety, then we become truly lost, right in the here and now. We are of no value to anyone, including ourselves, until we find salvation from alcohol. Therefore, our own recovery and spiritual growth have to come first – a right and necessary kind of self-concern.
From “Not-God, A History of Alcoholics Anonymous”, pp. 243-244, by Ernest Kurtz.

If they then persist in their error or want to argue with you, the explanation may fall into one of these categories:

They simply do not know what the word “selfish” really means, and they don’t want to find out.
They are mentally deficient
They are uneducated and unwilling to use words correctly
They are terribly stubborn
They are preoccupied with other things
They are in the habit of saying it, and they just haven’t thought it through
They hadn’t realized they could make their point without lying
They are attention-starved, and they need the opportunity to explain themselves
They really need a justification for selfish behavior.



Virtues … in a sound relationship.


The Suggested Virtues of sound Relationships:





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