Addiction Treatment Center
Owen Sound, ON
Mens Withdrawal Management Centre – Hamilton
Addiction Treatment Center
Owen Sound, ON
Mens Withdrawal Management Centre – Hamilton
Tired of hearing the word god in meetings? Freaked out a little bit because you need to get sober, but it appears that the 12 step meetings you are going to is a religious experience?
It’s going to be okay. As said, relax the hoop you have to jump through is a lot bigger than anyone may realize.
According to Google, God is defined as, “a superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes; a deity, or the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.” – Source: Google Query
While all of that is fine and dandy, how does that affect things inside of a meeting? If I were not a religious person, and I needed these meetings to change my life, how does all of this come into play?
In my experience, the word god was attached to negative experiences I had with that. Some with a certain denominational church, some with others “acting in the name” of god. I had to change the meaning of God, so Good Old Drunks and than later Good Orderly Direction. God, in the sense associated with 12 step groups is a word used to sum up your experience with a power greater than yourself. That is how I associate it. The word God for me is now attached to all things worthwhile that have contributed to my experience in recovery. The sharing circle, used in meetings, is a power greater than myself, and that works just fine for a higher power.
Simply put, the beauty of 12 step groups is it is, <b>God as you understand it</b>. If your God is a Turnip then it is a Turnip. If it is Nature, then it is beautiful. If it is a religious deity that feels right for you, than embrace it. The best way I had it explained to me is, that I could choose my own higher power, and that I could make that higher power anything I wanted. William James describes in a variety of religious experience, that each person’s spiritual experience is unique unto their own. So, embrace God as you understand it. Go with what feels right for you, don’t let anyone tell you that you must believe a certain way. What works for someone else spiritually, might not work for you, and vice versa. Everyone experiences spirituality differently.
The keys are this. What matters is to be willing to believe in something bigger than you, stay open minded to new ideas, and focus on honesty by staying true to yourself.
Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous – Appendix II Spiritual Experience page 567
Much can be said about Willingness, Honesty and Open Mindedness, and the first thing that comes to mind is quite simply the acronym of HOW. Rearranged slightly, yet the same three words we have the solution to the steps. How to do the steps? Apply HOW. Honesty, Open mindedness and Willingness.
Honest with myself first. Honest with myself about whatever it is that I am struggling with, honest about the situation with me on the inward level first. Once I begin to be honest with myself, then I can begin to be honest outward. This is not to be confused with cash register honesty. most of us will do the right
thing if someone makes a mistake. Most of us generally tell the truth to the best of our abilities. This deeper honesty that I am referring to, is inward only. I could lie to myself about something. Rationalize it. Hmm, Rational Lies. I can rationalize and justify a situation or a behavior to myself, to make it acceptable to me. When upon self-appraisal, upon being honest with myself, I could see how I was lying to myself about the truth of something. The type of Honesty required here is Self-Honesty.
Next is Open Mindedness. If I am closed minded to anything, then I begin immediately to shut down to growth, potential and change . Open mindedness led me in the beginning to try my substance to change how I felt. I had the open mindedness to try the substance. It changed how I felt. I liked that change so I continued to use that substance. I developed a problem. So now, the type of open mindedness I am looking at will again lead me to change. I am looking at trying a spiritual solution for recovery. If I identify a problem in being Honest with myself, if I then consider being Open Minded to new ideas, then I begin to position myself for new experiences. If I am closed minded to trying something new, then I will never have new experiences. So Open Mindedness is very important.
This leads to the final clause, however in my opinion, it is the most important. Willingness. If I am not willing to try something, then I won’t it is that simple. Usually, in my experience, willingness comes when I get tired of living my life a certain way. That tiredness sometimes comes in the form of pain. Pain is a great teacher, and usually motivates me to change. In effect pain creates willingness. So as a result of wrong living, I ended up in some painful situations, and in turn willingness to change was created. I developed the willingness through pain, through suffering through making mistakes.
When I no longer wished to be in the situations that were happening, when the pain was greater than the reward and I could see that. It was then I became wiling. When I became willing I could see the truth inside of me, thus I became more honest. Once I could be honest about the situation, then I could look at options. Find alternatives, become open minded.
It’s no mistake that even though I am referring to the acronym of HOW, that when Bill wrote appendix II, he put them in the order of Willingness, Honesty and Open mindedness. It took pain to create a desire for change, which leads naturally to being more honest and open mind. The beauty of the quote I just mentioned, the sexiness of it all is this. It states that these are the essentials of recovery. Then it reinforces that fact by saying they are indispensable, in the next separate sentence.
This is concept is hit home twice, that willingness, honesty, and open mindedness are fundamental principles for change.
– Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Page 58
This is actually only a partial sentence from the first paragraph of How it Works, which is commonly read at many meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. The larger sentence reads, “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” – page 58 AA Bigbook.
The larger sentence carries one point, however inside the sentence are a few other statements. I have found in the past, when I focus on a particular clause, it can change my perspective slightly on recovery and help me understand a point a little better. For example, think of the weight that is carried when looking at the simple statement of “completely give themselves to this simple program”. This implies first that If I give myself fully, completely to this simple program, then I will begin to understand recovery a little bit better.
I can actually translate this statement into an action. With ‘completely give’ with the phrase completely give being an action, I can simply give myself to the steps 100 percent. The moment I do this, I begin an entirely different approach to life, an entirely different mindset develops inside of me.
When I completely give myself to this simple program, then I have let go of my old ways. Then, I am open to new ideas, then I have developed the quality of willingness that is necessary to do the steps. When I completely give myself to this simple program, then I am teachable. I am in a position to learn new and interesting things about me.
The steps, the 12 steps of recovery, they are actually quite simple statements to live by. Guides to life, stepping stones to spiritual principles, a solution to live by. This much I am certain of. While initially this program may not seem simple, once I am willing to completely give myself to it, that willingness, that openness, helps to create the simplicity found in 12 step living.
Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Appendix II page 567
Here is a little piece that ends up in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, as probably one of the more famous quotes that exists in Alcoholics Anonymous today. That is “contempt prior to investigation”.
This particular quote, has a few statements in it, that are certainly worth investigating further. First of all, contempt is defined according to Google as a disregard for something that should be taken into account. How many times have I been too quick to judge something, too quick to come to a conclusion without having all the facts? That is the purpose of this quote, in context to the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is in reference to spiritual matters.
Quite often, many of us will judge religion, or spirituality, or in fact, another persons belief system without looking further into the spiritual matter in question. Before disregarding spiritual experiences, investigate them with an open mind.
This quote, in its entirety, states, that contempt prior to investigation is a principle that blocks us against truth and keeps us in the dark. What this quote is saying is, this. Before you claim to know all the facts, or have all the facts, understand that there is always more facts that arise. There is always the other half of the story. So try to be open minded to the facts. When I can do this, when I can be more open minded that I might not have all the facts, then I I become teachable.
For an interesting read on how this ended up in the big book, please enjoy this article that I found on thefix.com.
Here it is:
Joe and Charlie talk about the chapter We Agnostics.
Joe and Charlie, going through Bills Story from the big book.
Bill Wilsons story, as told by him.
One thing’s for certain, these guys are pretty good.