July 30 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 7 Courage To Change Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: "giving back…" Something I've always wished to do to the best of my ability, to always give without question and without seeking anything back for myself. Some may call it people pleasing, unless you know my motives which are enshrined in the twelve steps and traditions; open honest and willing, unity service and recovery…
Video For Today:
When I first got the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and heard what it was all about, I found it completely agreeable and the principles were sacrosanct. All my life to the best of my ability I had been open, honest and willing, until drink made me shut down become dishonest and unwilling to face the truth of who I was. Recovery put me back on track and I hoped it was doing the same for everyone else, it turned out some people don't change and remained quite corrupt…
Yes, open honest and willing I was, and also naive enough to think that other people were operating and living the principles of the program. Unfortunately some of humanity have defects of character and shortcomings which may be lifelong. In my first couple of years I was abused and used and misled by one or two people, which brought all my defects of character and shortcomings to the fore. I let go of toxic people and found good honest people prevailed in the fellowship and flourished one day at a time…
AA has principles which are on offer to everyone, the twelve steps and twelve traditions. These principles are a way of life to adopt to live a good life which will be good, bad and ugly as life is and how society is today. Open honest and willing, I find I can ask the help at any time and usually find other people can help me when I need them. And it takes courage to change, faith knowing that someone has the answer and building my confidence to face whatever might happen today…
Fellowship has been described as a spiritual kindergarten in the daily reflections. Which means in spiritual terms, "coping with reality as it is today" or living in the moment where our feelings fit what is going on. No feeling is wrong, we have all of them for a reason and if they fit our circumstances then we can cope with reality. Learning our emotional response, our feelings when they are happening rather than later is one of the greatest gifts I feel, and always in the moment today…
Some of those who give back generously are those who have had the hardest of times, been in jail, committed the most devastating criminal acts and are simply allowed out on "license." And some of them come to fellowship, keep on a level and emotional way of life utilising the twelve steps and twelve traditions. I don't know if they ever find self forgiveness or forgiveness from those they hurt in blackout. Some amends cannot be made to those who were killed. They share experience, strength and hope in often the most powerful way. Acceptance and punishment meted out as time served by society, they live the amends as we do to the end of their days…
AA Daily Reflections ~ "Giving back: he has struck something better than gold. . . . He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on giving away the entire product. [AA Big Book]
My part of the Seventh Tradition means so much more than just giving money to pay for the coffee. It means being accepted for myself by belonging to a group. For the first time I can be responsible, because I have a choice. I can learn the principals of working out problems in my daily life by getting involved in the "business" of A.A. By being self-supporting, I can give back to A.A. what A.A. gave to me! Giving back to A.A. not only ensures my own sobriety, but allows me to buy insurance that A.A. will be here for my grandchildren."
Serenity does not come from being right or righteous. Often we may feel so. Serenity seems to come from acceptance of life on life’s terms. Everything is as it is, we can change our attitudes and behaviour, we are hard pressed if we try the same with others…
A prayer for all seasons and time ~ a meditation in moments where life is joyful or sad, difficult or easy. The serenity prayer offers a reminder in any moment that life is just the way it may be now. That we can change some elements, other elements we cannot and the wisdom is knowing the difference. Acceptance of truth, love and wisdom of others...In good conscience or to the God of your understanding ~ God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change. Courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. The prayer and meditation, for me, a reflection of and feeling the truth of now and not to wishful thinking...
A better perspective on serenity... The truth as it really is can be: wonderful, difficult, denied or accepted. As truth is revealed and experienced by us, our feelings change our thinking changes. With a more sober outlook and maturity we face the consequences of our actions. We feel, we think. We respond as we may to truth...
Publish July 30 2007
DonInLondon - Life Matters July 30 2007
Indeed life matters! And listening carefully to others these last few weeks, seeking and getting good feedback, and hearing truth makes me feel more balanced today.
There are upheavals in my life, and in my family with a bereavement. I understand and have lived through bereavements before, and it makes it no less easy to deal with, other than knowing the process of grief, and becoming more able to face the unacceptable truth until I can accept it.
Life is our most precious gift. And in my experiences I have probably reason enough to complain like anyone that life is not so smooth most of the time. Actually life is never easy, there are consequences we may not really want from many things we have live through or with and still are here to share our experience.
Wisdom does not come easy. Hard work in all matters seems to be a key. And knowing limits and knowing boundaries is always good learning. I have had to learn all over again, I can push myself just so far and then be in much pain., and this was never quite the case before.
It matters not that I have limits, it matters if I ignore them and push on. Seems these days, some things take longer, some things are in repair, some things may never work again. I am still here though and life although hard, is still worth it, life does matter.
And it’s true we do keep adding to our learning provided we engage in living.
Living well, means we get everything in our emotional range and capacities. As I am probably well past my sell by date, I am pretty lucky all round to be here at all. Strange times too as our world seems to be suffering from climate change. And the worry I guess is how fast will these changes be?
Will I see big changes, or just changes locally. How may I respond and keep to the good of living. I don’t know yet, but it’s obvious we have messed up a lot on this planet and we have been less than good custodians of life for the future generations. We may have some circumspect moments and lifetimes for others to endure with less than before rather than plenty.
Recent days have been full of a roller coaster of emotion, over loss and grief. At the same time much to be happy for. That is to feel the sad and the joys of living. We get our range of emotions and breadth and depth as we encounter more living. Better with a clear head than one soaked in all manner of libations and attitudes formed in less sober days.
Temperate and not Obstinate
Yes more temperate these days, less pig headed and less driven to insane extremes to look right or feel there is something to prove. More in mind as a conservator and utility comes with a smaller carbon footprint.
I have learned much in the last few years and my usefulness has grown for myself and family and hopefully just spreading a message we can be ourselves and find our choices if indeed we let go old thoughts and notions. Knowing ones limits as much as ones potential is a real lesson they days..
So less driven and more accepting tonight.
Time spent with my Sister and Mother, a Sunday Lunch so rare in recent years was just delicious and in the best of company. It was a joy to have lunch, be helpful albeit in a small way, and just be able to chat and discuss recent family events. And of course talk about the world and what is interesting these days. We are all finding our feet after a loss. And still we need more time, even a lifetime to accept, as we do a manageable chunk of grieving as the days go by.
Some events and losses take eternity I feel. What we recall in the end is the good of life as has been and life to be lived. We may never replace anyone, we cannot forget the best of times, we can let tragedy fade as our minds follow and see the days unfold. We are lucky to have life to live. And these days me too, different certainly, and far from any life plan I ever envisaged.
Tonight great pleasure to hear and be part of a meeting of AA. A lot of us out and about. Alcoholics in recovery are often great company, endeavouring and making the best of what is in the day. A sombre lot we are when there is reason, happy and full of joy, now and then, and also capable of great understanding and support.
Life without the filters, is pretty much the best thing that ever happened to me. And along the way I have many fond memories as well as hardships. And I am just here one day only, and then start another, if it’s to be.
I am learning the pleasure of company, diversity of endeavours and beliefs in a fellowship as eclectic as any I have never joined! I have found this a little late in the game, it matters not one bit.
Forgiving and accepting so important right now, of me too I realise. At last a bit of balance as can be. We can celebrate life, and also those we miss, with gentleness and forgetting as we do, recalling good moments and tears shed for loss, it just as may be today…
Last Year much turmoil and still pretty angry in many ways as reflected in words below. As we go on our path we learn the importance of all experiences in this turbulent world, forever changing we need change with it..
July 30 2006 [ last year ]
Light and Dark of Living is not always to Egos’ Drift
Strange when we look at our living, we do so many things to make life work. It’s our natural instinct to preserve ourselves and keep safe from harm’s way. And we are so complicated we don’t realise how we manage our perils. Easy perils of life come from natural origins like accidents and all manner of dangers we encounter. And there are many that are manmade. And most man made perils these days come in the form of our upbringing and learning in our society and community. We find more danger from ourselves than we do the natural world. And our inside selves are most likely in the greatest peril.
I mention fellowship more often than not. Where I go to listen and hear the answers to my questions of life and living. A place where I find my own story told over and over, as if a ritual, I am part of a fellowship which shares experience strength and hope for living on a daily basis. And we are merely ordinary humans with a lot to learn to make ordinary lives more connected and work a day at a time.
When I talk of Ego’s drift what do I mean? Well… we all know we have ego somewhere inside us, and my version or defining of ego is really a negative way of exerting my will and preference on my living, and to an extent without thinking about others needs and desires. In this sense I put my needs and desires first, and so when I drift towards ego, I feel in many ways I do not work to the best of what I can do, I merely work to my agenda and most likely don’t even consider yours. So ego’s drift, that melancholy lonely move toward selfish outcomes rather than those which let selfless outcomes work. Ego’s drift where all my negative assertions come out and I might be less than the human I would want to be. Ego’s drift, where sanctimony and judgment hang me and condemn me with my God like take on world affairs, that is the drift to Ego I often mention. And in my world, the drift to ego is my place of denial where I don’t accept the outcomes life has dealt me, that place where I take over my world, and my small world works in separate splendour to the main event, the big world and real life with all it has to offer me, most of all choice to live in freedom from obsession and in confident knowledge that whatever happens is as it will, not through my will.
In truth when I see my drift to ego, it is denial of reality and how we live. As King Canute found he could not push back the tides of any sea, and so in life which works on happenstance as much as anything else, we need accept life on life’s terms. And that means in some degree of confidence we accept that life has ups and downs, is not meant to be fair to us and we are in as much peril and danger as the next human. And that luck does have a lot to do with chances we have. And some chances are less likely to happen as often for everyone.
But the chances are we all get a fair share of good and bad in living. It’s just how we deal with it. And the drift to denial can lead to ego. But there are other parts of human spirit which don’t comply to being confident or having ego rule our lives. There are many other elements we have which protect us from this world and other human doings.
We have a world of fantasy, we have dreams which hold us to our goals, we have many memories we cherish and hold in our imaginations eye. And imagination makes for other worlds we inhabit when our real world is full of pain, and joy, for indeed our fantasy worlds exist where life turns out much to our detriment or even to our good.
Fear can drive us to our other worlds where safety works and keeps us safe from real harm and harm’s way. As if in shock from real life we can construct another world to live, and that is not part of ego’s drift. And certainly does not come from our confident being in a world that offers dangerous harms.
Which is why in our formative years, when we are young and making sense of all we see. There are times where our fantasy world will help us cope and keep us safe from perils we encounter. And when the peril is as bad can be and when our dangerous experience lends itself to shock us from the real world, we can make another to keep us safe till danger passes by. But some of us get stuck.
And when I was a kid and danger came my way, I found another me to place in this world as if in reality. And what I did kept me safe inside for many a long year as truth is told now, the little boy was kept away from harm. And another me grew up and dealt with real world events and living. It was me, made by me and not actually me, for indeed if I exposed myself the real me to truth, I would surely place myself in peril yet again and in harm’s way.
This is a tale of sadness, for I only used a part of me, to get on and live my life, and the whole of me kept from view, was safe from harm and being harmed by you. And this has sadness as I see my real self emerge decades later and find my path along this journey of life. And this is above all joyful, for I have found myself out!
Why hide and keep myself from harm experienced so long ago? Surely it passed me by a long time since? When we are young the bogeyman is there and waiting and keeps us fearful and in shame. As if in some way we feel inadequate we give ourselves a shell to wear, our mask for others to see.
And as we wear that mask each day, we bury in our deep inside the real human being we are, in case it’s not enough. As surely as we learn these habits, it costs us dear and we are lost if we never break that shell and let that mask fall away. We fear the vulnerability if we show our truth, and actually some us only learn about our way of living, when we are completely broken and need to find a way to mend ourselves, with help of course, for we are less likely to mend on our own as we find our way to ego’s drift…
For me my truths to come are about exploring beyond a breakdown so complete it took all the mask away, so carefully constructed over years, it takes some years to get to grips with finding out the truth of me, and let go the awful past, and cherish good memories in truth for we are surely as full of good we can be behind that mask we use.
And in that awful past, from being so small and hiding from my perils, I never really gave myself away to any human I might meet. And now I see the why of it, I can value what has happened along the way. There have been fantastic ups and downs in living, there have fantastic times and wonderful relationships, with others, and sadly not all of me was ever shared to the full extent. Except in rare moments where love was shared so deep and women who could let me be the real man and not the ever so clever me with a mask in place. Those moments cherished and quite rare I realise, and sadly those women no longer share my life as it is today. How could they live with me? I could barely live with myself…
It is not surprising in my realisation of times past and masks worn along the way. And that I am not the only one wearing masks to hide the truth of who we are and might be. Indeed we all wear masks in life, as we face common perils along the way.
I encountered perilous times and kept myself hidden for decades as a consequence, and only now emerge to find out what I might become. And this is my hindsight and my benefit from fellowship and listening well to others stories and making good on life on life’s terms for this day. Fantasy is there when needed now, to fill a part of me, but as I open and reconstruct, with less of my mask in place these days, I find the strength to let me be a vulnerable learner yet again. And so I grow inside my mind , that spiritual self and let the world come in, and deal with peril every day, to love and loving life.
It’s not as if I am half witted, for my mask kept me safe for many a year, but in reality, it kept me safe from finding me! And all along the way, with broken hearts and heart-breaking times, I see the harmful outcomes there. And wish it had been different, but hold myself to trust to new understanding and what might happen as I grow up. It does not change the good of my life and the better living I made, and much of what I did was good…
I know now where life can take me on this journey, to discover who I am. And in good conscience tread the path with careful steps for you and me along the way. And indeed those perils have not disappeared from life, its merely how I deal with them now and in the future. I take with cautious optimistic breath, another day to find out more about the real me. And share my secret with myself and you as well as I discover who I really am. Just a day at a time will do. And make friends with me and you. And maybe find love along the way as life may let me see there is hope and choice to let me share more and intimacy… Let’s just keep it in the day and keep a little fantasy too, or life would be out of balance..
So there is always ego’s drift, where we assert our negative take on life, where we hold our world and those in it to ransom so we get our will and way. It’s not my preference I see, and yet I know it’s there in all of us as indignant selves feel its pull as our world goes tits up.
And in truth, I could not change my past, but recognise the journey as it has been, and see my relative successes along the way, for in hindsight’s myopic grip we can focus on selective parts and concentrate to good or bad. Its better with a balanced view to accept where we get to and what we are. And then make choices with reflection and responses to what we find is real. And know the world is the same for everyone, all learning or not as life has thrown them this way and that. We are broken and make repairs as safely as we dare, or don’t and remain broken and unfulfilled and fix ourselves with more despair. Or just never get the meaning of living ever. And we cannot fix others or fix ourselves in quick time as our world may prefer, we have to take due care, and take the time it needs to resolve who and what we are.
The journey is a lifetime long, and merely a day to go, it’s always so if we know the truth of living to the good we can encounter, and the opposite as life deals in happenstance and not predictions from ego‘s drift.
The more we impose our will on life the more we predict our outcomes. The more we narrow all our choice and keep ourselves confined to myths we have inside our heads. Those predictive wilful messages and horrid turbulent nastiness we can encounter as our will determines our fate, its surely quite predictable. That is ego’s drift, and we buy into horoscopes we read as ego plays its way and spoils our opportunity to find the being we can be. There is my judgment there, and not for me to ego’s drift, I prefer my happenstance and let my being free to roam and in good conscience operate to make this one day work for me and you.
We are forever being, and we become our true selves as we open up our inner reality and share with the world. Hard knocks will come and set us straight to hell or heavenly outcomes, or just to enjoy the moment of now in the ever present. Or sadness as happenstance offers.
Not knowing anything more of who I am than now, in good conscience I can be me, and find out more of me as time moves on. And with hindsight and an understanding of my living and the perils I may encounter, the inner me comes out to be, whoever that will be.
I find for years of pleasing others it hard to understand my fears of some emotions deep in me. About the understandings I have formed and suspended judgments for too long on who I might include in my living. And as surely as I wish to be open to everyone I meet, the doors may close more rapidly when I encounter ego’s drift and harsher peoples of this world who may never get life’s meaning ever. And their journey is not my business, what is mine is mine to work alongside those who are of similar mind. And let people be themselves. After all, I am merely here to understand on equal footing with all mankind. And as life has made it so, some are in and some are out, experience makes it so.
Equal to life and the equal of it? Some days yes and some days no, for my experience has shown my human qualities are there working as they may. And some days I don’t work too well and other days well indeed. I have a dark inside of me, it is there forever more. And serves to keep me from harm’s way, just some days and not every day, and not today unless some harm comes my way, and with serendipity I never know, but keep a more open mind to every element I encounter, as best I can and with wisdoms touch and decades of experience. That will do for now...
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