July 20 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 7 Courage To Change Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: "shortcomings removed by asking for help…" My shortcomings, as I have come to understand them in this emotional and spiritual program: not understanding my emotions as they happen and a delayed reaction trying to work them out. Spiritually? Coping with reality and having "courage to change" "faith to speak up and ask the help when needed" "and confidence which develops through good times and adversity."
Video For Today:
Asking for help to understand how I feel about life in the moment of now was key to changing my life. Some changes were simply happening because I gave up drink, and emptiness and room to grow. The gap inside left by the removal of alcohol and oblivion was immense and could have been filled with all the old nonsense of times past. Today, I don't feel empty anymore, indeed I often need help to prioritise not only the fun activities, I often need help to make sure I keep safe and well physically and mentally from professionals, fellowship and "the man on the Clapham omnibus!"
There are over seven billion people on Earth today, each with an understanding of how God works in their lives. Whether we have a deep immersion and belief in God who helps every single day, to a mild immersion where there is belief and then there is a complete rejection of a higher power. What works for me, is knowing I am not God and I don't have the answers to everything and often nothing. What works for me is the wisdom of the universe and asking for help from those who have knowledge skill and ability to share in the moment and one day at a time…
Sometimes in the AA daily reflections, I don't agree with all the words and reflections shared. Indeed I sometimes vehemently disagree. And the words today include something about the AA elders in the fellowship. Some of the most loved AA elders in my area are completely bonkers, mad as Hatters and talk bollocks all day long. And there are others, newcomers with great wisdom, middle timers with great wisdom and old-timers who have great wisdom, wisdom of life and the universe and they would feel very uncomfortable to be called "elders." Some days I am a spiritual giant! The equal of you! Other days I haven't a clue and asking my neighbour and equal is just the ticket for a hint about what to do just for today…
AA Daily Reflections ~ "Shortcomings removed: But now the words "Of myself I am nothing, the Father doeth the works" began to carry bright promise and meaning.[12 & 12] When I put the Seventh Step into action I must remember that there are no blanks to fill in. It doesn't say, "Humbly asked Him to (fill in the blank) remove our shortcomings." For years I filled in the imaginary blank with "Help me!" "Give me the courage to," and "Give me the strength," etc. The Step says simply that God will remove my shortcomings. The only footwork I must do is "humbly ask," which for me means asking with the knowledge that of myself I am nothing, the Father within "doeth the works."
I thank my Higher Power for letting me know that He works through other people, and I thank Him for our trusted servants in the Fellowship who aid new members to reject their false ideals and to adopt those which lead to a life of compassion and trust. The elders in A.A. challenge the newcomers to "Come To"--so that they can "Come to Believe." I ask my Higher Power to help my unbelief."
People in high office, commerce, judiciary, politics and media are highly intelligent, paid highly and driven to succeed at all costs. When they see no evil, hear no evil and cannot remember any evil, most likely self-preservation and self-interest make them appear stupid. They are not, that is what they want to you see…
On people in high office “?"I am responsible when anyone anywhere reaches out for truth, I want the hand of my legal advisor always to be there, and for that I am responsible..."
Open, honest and willing to put in the footwork. Survival in recovery is about learning how to live to good conscience and the common good. Principles of unity service and recovery in fellowship and in practice steer us to a more fulfilling way of living. Progress not perfection…
Room for growth... As we put down extremes of using substance and behaviour to feel life, we need deal with an emptiness which gnaws us deep, lost and lonely old habits can haunt and taunt us. With daily courage, faith and confidence, we can pause, consider, and take time, not to fill the emptiness... We have room to live life as it may be today
Improving our courage, faith and confidence... Yes to the next drink, the next excess, the next project, work and relationships, being liked and loved, a hero? As Ghandi suggested "An emphatic NO is better than a half-hearted yes." Say yes to what is good for us, and feel right rejecting what is not... Just for today, to thine own self be true...
Publish July 20 2007
DonInLondon - Denial Can be a Healthy Part of Life ‘Day in the Life’
In my world of recovery we know that denial of our disease can be fatal, indeed it almost certainly is denial of alcoholism which makes us vulnerable to ravages drink offers any alcoholic.
In my context the simple denial of my problems with addiction just compounded and got worse and worse over the years. When in my life did this really come to a head? Of course when there was no way to stop of hinder the disease. When did it start? If we are honest as the day is long, it happened any day you like to choose. Alcohol has been around for thousands of years, and some of us no doubt with evolution so easy on this planet, gave some of us a head start into addiction.
Why else would nations and religions swear us off the stuff? Is or was it to punish us? Not in the least. Because even back then in the days of yore, alcohol killed some by too much, and often without any form of control.
Denial can be Healthy
When we encounter the worst of times, when we cannot cope with reality, we are heading for denial and probably denying as fast as times change and make us feel grief from living.
Death and Denial
I spent quite some years on this experience and as I get older and belong to a fellowship where denial offers relief from life and all its problems, drink can seem an easy solution. It kills more than it ever cures.
Death, we will experience the loss of loved ones throughout our life. It is inevitable. And when we have to cope with feelings of loss we are hard pressed and need denial to help us make sense of things which can happen so suddenly we just need time to assimilate and appreciate the changes which have happened all too soon.
I learned much about denial from death in my family and separation from women in my life I have loved as deep as can be. And my way of helping and coping did often involve denial and sometimes most often drink to get over and make my way to the next part of my life.
When we lose a partner or close family we feel the loss profoundly as we have loved and then we have no love.
The emptiness is beyond our capacities to take on board all at once. We grieve in so many ways. Denial helps as we make sense what next, and sometimes there feels like there is nothing next.
We can react and become depressed, this is not a clinical depression merely a reactive depression. Although a merely reactive depression, it can make us want to die as much as a clinical depression. Where life has ,lost its meaning whatever makes us feel so, it is as bad can be.
Depression is part of the denial process. Before it we have disbelief, “I cannot believe it moments” and we have anger and frustrations we cannot get over in one go. And as we spin through our feelings from denial and disbelief to anger frustration and depression, we go round and round these feelings until we start to accept these awful changes to our lives.
Denial can help us deal with unacceptable truths as we make the journey in our feelings.
Denial for too long and we can be in real trouble.
Broken hearts we have felt it most likely you reading have felt loss of love sometime. That heartbreak is the hardest. Especially when partners and family are involved. The closer the bond, the harder to cope, the more likely denial keeps us safe as we make sense and regroup.
This is where we in my family are, not all in the same way, as the loss is most profound for those closest and so very sad these last few weeks and days.
We all need time, we need denial enough to help us work through our feelings and understand the loss we have. We need time to understand, to accept and then move carefully on in living. This is no easy time, it is not easy process. And we are all affected differently in relation to our loss.
Truth will rescue us as we learn to live with our loss. And time is as long as may be, denial as long as may be, and every emotion we all feel will come and go and hit us and make us recall as our feelings can allow.
Two meetings of AA for me and recovery today, and good for me, one at lunchtime and one in the evening. I went to Hinde St at lunchtime and Worlds End this evening.
The main discussion I related to were about resentments and mad thinking. Both so appropriate when dealing with grief.
So by this evening my mind was calm, I had no need to share in the meeting as a friend helped me by just phoning and asking how I was. So they got my day and my learning and doing, even though they may not have been ready for all of it, they let me share, and that’s all I needed. Human contact and friendship.
I also saw my Sister and shared some tea. I am glad I did, we help each other as we may, and also my mother during the day.
Would have been a wedding. It will be a hard day for feelings and we may lean as we need on each other and family. And for me with fellowship and friends, I am glad of companionship in these so sad days.
Last year seems I had many words and here they are..
July 20 2006
No Point In Standing Still For Too Long
When we are young we are agile and nimble of mind. We need to be, we are learning how to make sense of a new world and new living. We are simply new and we need to get with a programme of survival, sometimes slow and sometimes fast we develop to make the world as safe as we can. We are lucky when we are born into safe environments and can learn to live well. And when we are unlucky, as if by accident we find we are up against surviving at all costs from the moment we draw our first breath. There is no rhyme or reason for where we are born, only nature and as to choice and options, we don’t have any, we are dealt the cards of life, we start where we do and end up as we have been able to survive.
In between being born and expiration we are most definitely subject to the chances and events which occur, we have no power over most our environment and mostly no power to choose a safe way to live, only the limited choices we have open to us. This powerlessness is not complete, for wherever we are, we do have some choices and options about what happens, not much but some. And the outcomes around the choices we can have are ours and we can choose, sometimes though we get stuck in bad choices and bad outcomes and get stuck. So some of living is predetermined by prevailing living conditions but within this framework we do have options. Our "prison" size varies we might reflect, depending on so many impossible variables, we might prefer to believe we are dropped into living with something to learn beyond the here and now, that we are part of something bigger than the immediate life we have, that there is more to life than this. And obviously if we are having a particularly bad life, we might wish for another and believe redemption is in death and another phase of living in the beyond, beyond now.
Well I prefer to make the best and most of what is now, simply because whatever might come next. In death, it is a different story and believing that an afterlife is going to be better than this, what if we had to do it all again? Is this true it’s a bonus, and I am better not to give up on this one life I have, until time and circumstances lead to my end, whatever the reason. And my end like everyone’s is guaranteed. Some of the things I know, with the chronic conditions I have, the end is most likely sooner than anticipated if everything had been perfect and life had been more fair than it is! And as things are, that matters not if I have the right outlook and keep as well as I can. Out of the three chronic conditions I experience on a daily basis, provided I keep myself in order and practice good living, I can keep well a long time, and the living between now and the end of me can be pretty darn good. Emotionally and spiritually I can be the best that I can ever be and physically do what I can and endeavour to keep as fit as is possible. All I know is a safer way forward for me is about a clear path and good steps to keep myself maintenance in check. And that is something I have learned as life has taught.
It’s as simple as any form of maintenance we might carry out on a car, a bicycle, an airplane, on animals we keep and things of that kind. Being healthy is knowing our routines and maintenance. It seems we need a set of steps to ordinary living, beyond those nature gave us as survival, because the way we live today is moving so fast, our nurture is far faster than nature ever has us pegged for, we are developing far beyond where nature intended in its form of natural development. Mankind has changed the rules and we need some basics to keep ourselves going beyond where nature is playing catch up.
If we relied on nature to keep us going, civilisation would crumble and we would disappear as a race and part of the world. Mankind is surviving beyond evolutions touch and we could make use of some simple guides. We do have them, like health and our physical wellbeing and bibles and holy words passed on and recorded in one form or another for our spiritual and emotional development. We have though belief systems in mysticism. We are tethered to old fears and philosophies, we are fearful and wary of the future and hold great store in our storehouse of life beyond and Gods and things we needed when we were cold and miserable humans in caves and unable to explain our world through science. So strong is our belief in more than just now, we have God to the core of us. Even when we might not believe in God, God features large in our language and arguments about life and living. I would not reject any higher powers than me, I see them every day. And refer to God in my own way through the operation of good conscience and the collective conscience of mankind as being a higher power. The higher power in knowledge and science and understanding, and this collective good conscience to the good of all mankind.
And to the good is the good in all and good conscience. Some people are not endowed though and we will encounter those who have more self-awareness and self-obsession than good conscience every day, after all we are evolutionary, slow and sure as nature determined, we are only just on the brink of genetics and modifications we can control. Super humans are not far away. Nature plays catch up, mankind makes dynamic leaps. Let us hope the balance is there somewhere, or many of us will face redundancy far sooner than many might like. And life will revolutionise again and we face the prospect of being left behind. Science fiction and science fact is not too dissimilar these days and we are in a revolution even now. It is fantastic to be part of it, and I don’t fear too greatly where it will end, well not today at any rate.
But there are some ways to live well, and I have been learning about this all over again. As I approach fifty years of living, and still alive to new times and opportunities, it is a miracle I am still here. With thanks to those who have shown me the way so far, and with anticipated thanks to those who will keep me safe some more time, however short or long that it might be, there things I need do daily to keep well and safe.
My fellowship helps me. And it’s particularly important for me to relate this because without the fellowship I have, life would be worse or indeed I might have no life. In fact I believe I am a "lifer" in my fellowship, a fellowship of sobriety and modern living. The fellowship is there to help me and others find a way to make life work, a sort of life skills fellowship to keeping well and avoiding the excess of what we can do as humans.
All humans have capacity to overindulge in anything and everything. We were made to live in nature and make the best of what nature offered. And survival was key and life was even shorter than it is now. As with modern living, we have found we can overindulge and find our capacity to indulgence means we feast and feast until we drop dead early from greed, one of our more unfortunate characteristics. We are not greedy by intent, we are merely greedy for more of what makes us feel good. Food, sex, drink, drugs, happiness, love. Oh yes love, it’s at the root of everything.
Love of self, and not enough, love of others and not enough, we have ways to compensate, and when we are impaired in love our compensations are to rapaciousness and consumerism to fill the gap. We can consume anything and everything to fill that love gap. And as we fill our gaps and fears, we can be lost to love and shame and guilt and all other things get in the way back to repairing our good selves. Our confidence in living or our lack of confidence helps or hinders us as our modern world excels and develops. And we are left out in some way. Our underdeveloped sense of love is the gap that leads us to nightmares and more exclusive self harm. Exclusion is most often the vehicle which drives us mad. And we as civilisation use exclusion to punish wrong doers and place prejudice firmly on those who break our laws. We do it to kids and adults, we don’t have time or effort to rehabilitate those who fall outside normal living. And when we are excluded excesses are natural consequences, and I am merely another statistic of that.
And with my fellowship mostly populated by sensitive types who feel exclusion more than most, if it were not for routine steps to wellbeing, our exclusion and addictions would lead to early death. In fact my fellowship is merely an extension of a way of life made possible through good conscience and emotional support. It has everything to offer and nothing to stop anyone from joining in. It is a principled and well run fellowship, well run to the abilities of those in it, people like me and entirely different people who are not like me, other than our sensitivity to our indulgences and most often unloved status. Unloved by ourselves and unloved as useless by society. Just not able to love or be loved is probably the defining characteristic of those who join our fellowship and what we learn is how to love again, or love for the first time, and then some simple steps to keep us safe, well and happy, just a day at a time.
Last night, well just a few hours ago, I went to a meeting of my fellowship and its getting more interesting, as I get to know myself better. And get to know others and be a fellow in my fellowship. The more I understand my equal status in my fellowship the more I enjoy being in it and part of it, with just enough of a say. I can say what I like and it’s just enough, it is equalised as a part of what everyone says and we all have a voice when we choose to share. So last night…
Yes it was good. We have meetings about steps to living well. How to keep our heads and minds clear, how to keep well as we can physically, to whatever level we can be as ordinary people, and work at maintaining our wellbeing through daily routines maintenance. We actually spend time discussing how to do this. We get complicated sometimes, and we get confused, but overall and always, we seem to get on together!
So the meeting was about a step we take to keep our heads well and us on track. In our fellowship most of us get angry about anything and everything, we get angry at ourselves and others, we find things unfair and can real moaners because of it. In fact we can get real mad inside and be at war with the world, even when we present the world with a smile, inside we are full of anger. We hide our feelings and sit on them too often. We need somewhere to vent and complain, and we do this inside our meetings. Expressing our feelings and pain helps us make sense of lots of stuff to do with our life, and we find it helps to really get down to the reality of what is going on. Being prone to anger and internalising it and hiding it from those who might have caused it, we come away and sort it out and then go back and live better, and make good where we can the situation which caused the problem in the first place. Yes you might say we complain a lot, but we sort it and move on with support of fellows with experience and wisdom, we learn and learn.
So we get back to learning again, what we missed and what we forgot along the way to our fellowship. Its good because often we just need to get perspective and get on with sorting stuff out. Some things can take years to sort, some things, most things can be sorted out day to day. Whichever way they are, our fellowship is there where we get experience and wisdom and tools to do something. We also know some things are set and we cannot change them, so we learn to accept what is stuck and we cannot change.
And last night focussed on sorting things out as we go. We are good, all of us at absorbing crap from others and not letting on what we feel. It seems we have this fear of sharing when we are so low in confidence we hear and accept crap from others and worse we accept our own crap behaviour as well. But we learn in the fellowship to sort crap out. And then we learn some new steps to living.
We talk a lot in our fellowship and this can lead us to doing a lot of talking when we need to, and action when that is appropriate. Our steps to sorting crap out are to first understand the crap and then do something. Some things can be turned round fast a lot though is about letting time heal our wounds and then sort out new ways of living without so much crap around us. And that means letting go crap people too!
Our steps, well they are called steps, because it’s about action at the end of the process. We need to take steps to clean ourselves up and make new actions to keep ourselves safe from harm’s way. Steps are about action, and last night it was brought home again.
We need to remind ourselves that we often need to stop doing harmful things and living in harm’s way. We need to move away from harm. And when we move away from harm, we need to do new things to keep well. These are simple steps, most of us forget we can do. Steps are actions not inclinations, steps are new ways to living, not living old ways. Steps mean making movements and not standing still.
Steps are prime to how we learned to live in the first place, and getting over old inertia and staying the same as where we were driven mad by the world and our own behaviour towards ourselves. Our steps are to live well, without indulgence in bad behaviour, to find better ways to live.
Steps, simple movement to good things, and let go bad things. When we put it like this its bloody simple! In reality, changing anything is hard work, simple steps are frightening when we let go things we depend on but harm us. Simple new steps keep us well and moving to good days and good futures, but we need just take care of today.
Modern living moves so fast we forget these simple steps to routine self maintenance because we are too busy doing everything, we have no time to sit and think and feel. Mostly we forget our feelings in our modern world and go along with where life takes us and wonder about our unhappiness. In our fellowship we find out where we are unhappy and do something to change it. We work out what is harming us and how to move on and let go old habits and hard times.
Now as simple as that is in theory, the practice of giving up anything is hard, we don’t like to give up anything, especially if we find it hides or keeps out those hard feelings of exclusion and failure. And most humans detest any feeling of failure, as love is lost in the process. Self-love lost and love we don’t feel from others. But we find if we do some simple steps, we can find our confidence again and our appreciation of others and ourselves. That is the nature of our meetings and our fellowship.
Sounds too good to be true? Well on a daily basis, its often horrible and real. That we deal with all the crap of life, and there is plenty of crap. From all the stuff you might feel, to all my feelings too. We discuss it all and work out what can be done, and especially what we cannot do or change. And we work out what we can do and change for the good.
So it’s not a bed of roses when we meet mostly, but we find ourselves and our way forward in the world. And we do this a day at a time. And nothing beats the process of sorting out shit. Because once its dealt with we can find new and interesting things to do, and meet new likeminded people we can admire and be the equal of. We also work out what to do with new shit and new shit people we might meet along the way as this world is far from perfect or will ever be.
Meetings take time to make sense, where we have made no sense for years most likely. We are so different in our backgrounds, we have most every experience to share and resolve. We get on with living as we take new steps. And new steps to suit our new way of life.
Everyone takes their new way of living as their way, not a particular way as we are all different with unique lives. Nothing is the same, but we are so similar we can take the good we learn and apply it to our way of life. We don’t care how different our beliefs may be, we just help each other get on with good living.
And last night helped remind me more than anything we don’t just talk we make changes and make different ways of life. Damn! It was worthwhile...
Step 7 "Step 7 Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings" "The way we have come to look at humility is that it is a virtue, one of the principles that AA teaches us to live. The definition we have adopted pictures us as standing naked before God, without pretence nor reservation. It means hiding nothing, being our real selves, both good and bad. A good synonym for humility is honesty." BB Bunch
July Video Reading Step Seven Into Action Link:
Step 7 "Courage To Change" Reading Video Link:
I do not speak for Alcoholics Anonymous I speak for myself. Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of unique and authentic people who speak for themselves where they will to share experience, strength and hope about recovery on a daily basis. Anonymity affords sanctuary to find how to live sober and be open, honest and willing to learn life day by day. For me "truth," "love" and "wisdom" offer the best spiritual experience by living reality today. Into the fabric of recovery from alcoholism are woven the Twelve Steps and the Traditions: steps to be open, honest and willing to learn, traditions to live unity, service and recovery.
Spiritual principles ~ Forgiveness Acceptance Surrender Faith Open-mindedness Honesty Willingness Moral-inventory Amends Humility Persistence Spiritual-growth Service