When the Ego rules

By Jamie Moon Living from the ego, simply means living by a set of beliefs that has convinced us that we are leading and uncomfortable life. First our ego (these beliefs) tells us to drink (or use whatever the latest manifestation of our addictive behavior is)—making us restless irritable and discontent—so we drink or distract ourselves with our latest obsession. Just to take the edge off you understand, not because we have a problem with this stuff really!

Then to our chagrin we can’t stop after one and we get lost in it. The next day the committee (another name for the ego) is there with remorse, guilt and self-condemnation—our dear friend the ego. What a pal. According to Dr. Harry M. Tiebout, MD, a psychiatrist, the “characteristic of the so-called typical alcoholic (or as we see it any addictive personality) is a narcissistic, egocentric core, dominated by feelings of omnipotence…”[i] In other words, we think we are God, or at least think we should have power over these things on our own. When we look back at our lives we see that “(we’d) grown physically at the customary rate of speed, and (we) had acquired an average (or greater) amount of intellectual training in the intervening years, but there had been no emotional maturity at all. (We) realize now that this phase of (our) development had been arrested by (our) obsession with self, and (our) egocentricity had reached such proportions that adjusting to anything outside (our) personal control was impossible for (us).”[ii] So, how do we change? How do we deal with our addiction, stop and stay stopped? How do we become a good spouse or mate? How can we be a good parent to our children? How do we become good employers or employees? How do we ever find and live “the good life”? Out of that first meeting between Bill and Dr. Bob we have been given one of the most powerful solutions to life’s problems that has ever come along. The Twelve Steps are a therapeutically sound process of dynamic power to change the direction of one’s life. Victor Hugo put it succinctly, “Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come”. The Steps are an idea whose time has come. The Twelve Steps are certainly an “idea whose time has come” for it has given millions of people a solution to their addictions. Also an answer has been given for the elimination of obsessive behavior of many types for those of us with “grave emotional and mental disorders.”[iii] Therefore, we have an answer to the first of our “three major problems.” As for the second, our experience tells us that relationships are at the root of our problem, also resolved by the Steps. Finally we ask what about money? It seems that for many when if we focus on our spiritual life that too is resolved with the program of Twelve Steps.

[i] AA Comes of Age – Page 311.2 [ii] Alcoholics Anonymous – Page 547.1 – 4th Edition [iii] Alcoholics Anonymous – Page 58.1

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IS THEIR AN ANSWER FOR US IN OTHER SOLUTIONS?

By Jamie Moon

Why is it that so many diversified solutions work for so many people and seemingly have little lasting help for addicts? What have we tried already to improve or fix these “Problem areas”? (E.g. churches, therapy, positive thinking, mind control, acupuncture, hypnosis, NLP, EST, Zen, etc.). Did any of these have lasting success? Is there anything we have left to try? Why don’t they work? There certainly is nothing wrong with any of them. Many people use these techniques to great success. So, what’s the problem?

Since we already know everything we know, and have tried everything we have, where do we go from here? “Even a man with everything from the material standpoint, a man with tremendous pride and the will-power to function in all ordinary circumstances can…find himself as hopeless and helpless as the man who has a multitude of worries and troubles.”[i]Now I personally have witnessed people who “just quit” their addictions—though I must say I wouldn’t want their lives. We all know how we want to be but we can’t or don’t, act on it. Why? Lack of Power is our dilemma. We only turn to God or a Higher Power if you prefer, when we have unbearable pain, pain over some want, weakness or failure. Only at those times when we believe we have lost the battle of life, one more time, do we try God. We don’t understand that the very ambition to change ourselves is in itself the problem. Where does the actual struggle lie? It is in our lack of acceptance of ourselves. Who or what is doing the struggling? The ego (the committee), that’s who. But we cannot trust the ego.And what is this ego anyway? A definition that has brought relief too many of us who thought that the ego was some kind of entity, it is not, is that the ego is simply a set of beliefs that defines the world in which we live. These beliefs have convinced us that we need them—and not only that we need them, but that we are them. This is probably the greatest benefit found in the Steps—a new way of life. Not just the same life without an addiction but a new healthy, vital life. We find a life of healed relationships, a life of possibility instead of lack, a life of happiness instead of misery. And most importantly we find a life of Higher Power instead of powerlessness. And guess what? We find that all the things that we were unable to use to get out of our addiction we can now use to great benefit. As long as (in my sad experience) we do not try to replace the Twelve Steps with those things but fit them to our Program.

[i] Experience, Strength, & Hope – Page(s) 34.3

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LACK OF POWER IS OUR DILEMMA The Final Chapter

It is interesting to me that in our discussion of “Lack of Power” the areas of powerlessness that I have pulled from Alcoholics Anonymous material have all been turned into fellowships of their own. The final one mentioned Work and Money is no different. C.  LACK OF POWER—IN WORK/MONEY (earning, debts, etc.) “Never was there enough of what we thought we wanted. …We lacked the perspective to see…that material satisfactions were not the purpose of living.”[i]

1) “The chief activator of our defects has been self-centered fear—primarily fears that we would lose something we already possessed or would fail to get something we demanded.”[ii] 2) “Although financial recovery is on the way for many of us, we found we could not place money first. For us, material well-being always followed spiritual progress; it never preceded.”[iii] In these areas of powerlessness where other groups have sprung up we find that the intent of the Steps is sometimes either ignored or re-defined in ways that I wonder if they fulfill their original purpose? That purpose was to focus on what is the real problem, not the addiction. The real problem has been, is, and always will be our discomfort with life itself. To learn to live with “life on life’s terms” is the key to a happy productive life. Once we have done that the need for our many different addictive substances and behaviors becomes mute. Now I certainly am not saying that the physical nature of our illness will be eliminated. The physical problem is handled simply by stopping the use of our addictive/obsessive behavior. It is the mental and spiritual aspect that the Twelve Steps actually deals with and those are identical in all addictions. That does not mean that we are all alike. The identical aspect is that we all have mental problems that drive us to drink—so to speak. These mental problems are dealt with through what Chuck C. called uncovering (the fact of a problem with our thinking becomes glaring when we are without our “drug of choice”) discovering (through the first Five Steps we discover what those problems are) discarding (we then discard that problem thinking through Steps Six through Nine) and recovering (the process we learn for a daily treatment of those old ideas in Steps Ten, Eleven and Twelve). Now these other groups have added a lot of tools for dealing with their specific addictions and those tools are very useful. However, they are not a replacement for the Deep Soul Cleansing accomplished via the Twelve Steps and their original purpose. Most of the Step work I’ve seen that has come from many of those groups seems to miss the point. Once we have handled the mental twists that has had us use our many addictions, the blocks to a truly spiritual life have been removed. Our spiritual life can then be practiced, practiced, practiced…

[i] Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions – Page 72.2-3 – British Edition [ii] Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions – Page 77.4 – British Edition [iii] Alcoholics Anonymous – Page 127.2

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Lack of Power is Our Dilemma Continued

By Jamie Moon

So, as we continue our discussion of our dilemma of lack of power we broaden our understanding of our problem with relationships… B.  RELATIONSHIPS WITH… 1.  People “It is from our twisted relations with family, friends, and society at large that many of us have suffered the most. We have been especially stupid and stubborn about them. The primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total inability to form a true partnership with another…”[i] “The hardest place to work this program has been in my own home, with my children, and, finally, with (my wife).”[ii]

a.  Sexual (spouses, lovers, sex, self, etc.) We seldom gave love freely; there was always a price tag. We never recognized that we can give love without expectation, “love—which depends on the capacity of the giver, rather than the acts of the recipient…”[iii] This capacity, we found, was built through the Twelve Steps. b.  Other people—Family (children, parents, and siblings), friends, self, etc.

Places/Things (Cities, Countries, Cultures, etc.) “What happens outside of me is far less important than what’s happening inside. My being does attract my life; repeated work with each of the Twelve Steps generates changes within me that are reflected in improvements around me. Simple, but not always easy, the… program gives me everything needed to become what I should be. …There is no you or me or them. Everything is connected to everything else, and the salvation of each of us is linked to the salvation of all of us.”[iv]

3.  God (Spiritual bankruptcy) “The words ‘ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free’ have echoed through time for two thousand years…I have only gradually come to view truth as the most beautiful and accessible aspect of Harmony, or It, or God... The world of truth is the world of what is… “Truth is multifaceted, because it is reality. Your truth and mine are different, because we are different. Your beliefs are your truth, as mine are mine. When that is accepted, any cause for conflict is resolved. Neither of us is right or wrong… Today—now—is truth.”[v] In Step Four we begin to learn how “We subjected each relation to this test—was it selfish or not?”[vi] “This self-centered behavior blocked a partnership relation with any one of those about us.”[vii] We therefore begin using the tools that are essential to the healing process. As you will see in this material I have studied and integrated much of the writings found in Alcoholics Anonymous material. I hope that you will study them as thoroughly as I have and gain your own understanding of that and other material and experience of the Twelve Steps.

[i] Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions – Page 54.3 – British Edition [ii] Alcoholics Anonymous – Page 419.5 – 4th Edition [iii] Best of the Grapevine – Page(s) – 26.6 – 27.1 [iv] Best of the Grapevine – Page(s) – 129.1 [v] Best of the Grapevine – Page(s) – 133.2,9, 134.1, 135.2,6,7 [vi] Alcoholics Anonymous – Page 69.3 [vii] Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions – Page 55.1 – British Edition

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Lack of Power is Our Dilemma

By Jamie MoonThe following series of articles are based on and excerpted from my book Deep Soul Cleansing, with additional comments for the purpose of this conversation.When we come to these many Programs or treatment centers we find ourselves to be powerless. So, what exactly does that mean? “They told me lack of power was my dilemma and that there is a solution.”[i] “Our human resources, as marshaled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly. 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?”[ii] We find this “Lack of Power” in three major problem areas in our lives:A.  LACK OF POWER—IN OUR ADDICTION(S) or Obsessions of the Mind (whatever our so-called primary may be—alcohol, drugs, food, people, sex, etc.) It doesn’t seem to matter what it is, most of us find we quit one and another rears its ugly head. There have been many Groups grow out of the original Program but there is really only one 12 Step Program with many applications.B.  LACK OF POWER—IN RELATIONSHIPS—In Three Areas of Life—People, Places and Things, and most importantly, our relationship with God. “My basic problem was a spiritual hunger.”[iii] For example, alcohol is called ‘spirits’ for a very good reason; it fills the hole where God goes. This hunger is fed by first dealing with our other relationships, which automatically heals our relationship with God. (1) “Nothing can be more demoralizing than a clinging and abject dependence upon another human being.”[iv] (2) Then of course, “We have also seen men and women who go power-mad, who devote themselves to attempting to rule their fellows.”[v] These people are just as dependent on their victims as those dependent ones. It has been said that “if one would scratch the surface of an addict we would find a co-dependent underneath.” We think that before co-dependence was ever isolated as a problem it was well defined in the phrase (3) “a frightened human being determined to depend completely upon a stronger person for guidance and protection.”[vi] Within these three quotes one finds the co-dependent dance.We shall continue with our discussion of our powerlessness over our relationships in the next article.[i] Alcoholics Anonymous – Page 510.1 – 4th Edition[ii] Alcoholics Anonymous – Page 45.1-2[iii] Alcoholics Anonymous – Page 546.2 – 4th Edition[iv] As Bill Sees It – Page 72.1[v] Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions – Page 45.2 – British Edition[vi] Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions – Page 44.4 – British Edition
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Can the Twelve Steps Solve More Than Addiction?

By Jamie Moon

The true indication that we have real sobriety, of the kind defined later as "a peaceful, calm, contented, serene and well-balanced life," is reflected in how we live our lives outside "the rooms." If we are demonstrating anger in or out of meetings we have not truly acquired the promises. The ability to practice The Program in meetings and with those in the fellowship is easier than in our other relationships like in our family and work lives. The Buddhists call this cloistered virtue. It does not create a "bridge to normal living."

The "bridge" is The Program. Our experience shows that, even when sober, without a strong, powerful Program we become as crazy as we ever were, if we don't relapse or take a sojourn into other addictions. The Twelve Steps have been used to deal with other personal demons, obsessions and addictions. Members have found that once one addiction was "handled" with the Steps, another would often rears its ugly head. With all the other Twelve Step fellowships now, it is truly a wonderful thing. We no longer have to feel sorry for those we see suffering outside our specific program, thinking to ourselves, "You poor guy. I feel so sorry for you. You're not an alcoholic. You can never know the pure joy of recovering within the Fellowship." Today, there seems to be a "nut for every bolt," or maybe a program for every nut? We must acquire honesty, humility, and service and all of the Principles we find in the Steps. We need also eliminate self-centeredness to keep our peace and sobriety. For those who are willing to accept the Twelve Step Program as a means of recovery from any addiction, I recommend a close study of any of the myriads of material written on the experience of the Twelve Steps. Don't just read them, study them repeatedly. These books were written by addicts for addicts and are based upon the trials and experiences of our members of many fellowships. Yes. I dare to suggest that we look at the experience of those in many different Twelve Step Programs. Each edition of the Big Book includes updated experiences of current members with contemporary problems. Just maybe we can learn something from a broad range of experience. The original text of any Twelve Step Program, the Big Book, suggests that, we know only a little. An open-mind is the only way to greater understanding and growth.

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Do the Twelve Steps Work for Emotional Sobriety

By Jamie Moon

After Bill Wilson wrote the "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions," he "coincidentally" came out of an eleven-year depression the following year. When he finished that book,he wrote in a letter to a close friend:

I think that many oldsters who have put our AA "booze cure" to severe but   successful tests still find they often lack emotional sobriety. Perhaps they will be the spearhead for the next major development in AA—the development of much more real maturity and balance (which is to say, humility) in our relations with ourselves, with our fellows, and with God.[i] Bill was learning, starting with the revelation of some truths about himself, that alcoholic drinking may in some people mask deeper psychological and emotional disturbances.…coming to Bill through the vehicle of his own depression…to find healing for sober alcoholics for whom sobriety alone…was insufficient to provide a comfortable life.[ii] The prescription he kept returning to: "Part of the answer lies in a constant effort to practice all of the…Twelve Steps. Persistence will cause this to sink in and affect the unconscious from where the trouble stems.[iii] It is my belief from close investigation into the writings above that Bill already had made the "next major development," which is a continued and powerful "emotional sobriety." It is not a coincidence that Bill came out of that debilitating depression and gained emotional sobriety while making a deeper study of the Twelve Steps with Father Dowling. He had also found that "the 'all-or-nothing' attitude is a most destructive one. It is best to begin with whatever the irreducible minimums of activity are."[iv] I further believe that a small effort to practice the Steps may assist in the readers' quest for emotional sobriety. On a personal level, I certainly have made great progress, via that work, towards no longer being run by "grave emotional and mental disorders."[v] It is my desire that as many people as possible realize the power and wisdom encapsulated in the Twelve Steps.   "Never before did so many notable clergymen proclaim how the…Twelve Steps could be used for almost any human problem."[vi] In fact many religions have now adopted the Twelve Steps as their own. We have been using these methods for many years now.   They have never failed to bring about relief for those of us who have looked deep within our souls to see our part in the creation of our life's problems.   Our mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual relief has been immense.   We trust that the student of The Program will find the same.   We have discovered that we can choose to be "happy, joyous and free."[vii]

1 Language of the Heart – Page 236.3 [ii] Pass It On—Bill Wilson and the AA Message – Page 299.4,5 [iii] Pass It On—Bill Wilson and the AA Message – Page 299.2 [iv] As Bill Sees It – Page 308.2 [v] Alcoholics Anonymous – Page 59.1 6 Language of the Heart – Page 135.4 [vii] Alcoholics Anonymous – Page 133.1

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We Are Responsible for Our Beliefs

By Jamie Moon

Too often we look back in our lives and blame our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, for our beliefs. When the process for the creation of our beliefs begins, yes early in our childhood, when we make decisions as to what is to be believed. Long before we have any idea that we are making decisions and even more importantly long before we realize the effect those decisions will have upon our lives.

In my study and understanding of the human psyche. I have found that we make decisions for what we believe, at the time; to be the best (or only) decision possible to survive whatever situation we happen to be in. then the human mind gathers evidence from that moment on to prove that we were right. I have found no situation where the human mind gathers evidence to prove it is wrong. Unless of course by doing so it is proving that it is always right about being wrong. Being as most of the time these decisions were made by us as very young children it is unlikely that we were right. With all the people I have worked with they have gathered this evidence, real or imagined, since those very early childhood decisions. We are experts at being right. The weight of this evidence by the time we are in our thirties, forties, fifties, and in my case sixties can be absolutely overwhelming. This is why those beliefs feel so immovable. One of the mistakes we make is to try and argue with these beliefs (the ego-mind). We have little or no defence against the enormity of the evidence we have gathered over the years. What are the beliefs we are talking about? Well almost any but the main problems are those general beliefs that create beliefs like, “men are better off than women.” Or those that create prejudices. I am ashamed to admit that I use to be a bigot. I actually believed that there were some humans that were of a lower species. Now I had lots of evidence to prove this, evidence that I had acquired from faulty sources. But evidence just the same. Its like all the so called evidence that one of the founders of AA was a womanizer. There is no actual evidence but there is a lot of gossip that has been past from one to another to prove these claims. None backed up with facts but only rumours and gossip. The human mind is capable of proving to its own satisfaction just about anything it wishes to prove.

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We Are Also Responsible for Our Actions

By Jamie Moon

When discussing our responsibility for our feelings I neglected to mention the so-called spiritual axiom relayed in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. Where is says, “Every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.” The reason I bring it up here is because it is usually when we feel we were “made” to feel this, that or the other thing that we feel justified in whatever actions we have.

For example someone says something stupid to us like, “You’re an idiot.” We then get angry and punch them. Some would call this justifiable. However, even the law would call this “aggravated assault.” You would still be jailed for the assault. The person that called you an idiot would still be free. We are responsible for our actions, which are often re-actions. How about our in-actions? We often blame many outside forces such as being too busy to practice our Program. Or one of my favourite (around the Program) “This is, a Program of a Bridge to normal living.” This statement is often used as an excuse for discontinuing the very Program practices that brought us any kind of “normal living.” Cutting out meetings, (where once we have been around for any length of time we understand that meetings are a place we give back the Program) thinking we don’t need to go because we are feeling fine. The Big Book often speaks of the dangers of “resting on our laurels.” Just exactly what does that mean? It means resting on yesterdays Program practices, expecting them to carry us through today. “I’m too tired to go to a meeting.” This is a statement that I’ve found to be untrue because meetings and giving of my time to give back is not tiring. It is only tiring when I get my ego involved and when I think I know something that must be conveyed. If we pray and trust that a Higher Power will give us the right things to say, it is not tiring. Taking in-action outside of the rooms I had a great lesson about parking fines. I almost always received tickets when I simply did not read the signs posted. When I skimmed over what was written I often misread the signs. And isn’t that true in many areas of our lives. We misread the signs out of not being conscious of what is going on around us. So, we are responsible for our actions, re-actions, and in-actions.

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You Are Responsible for Your Feelings

By Jamie Moon

Too often we feel that they made us feel the way we do. We say things like “He hurt my feelings.” Or “She made me angry.” Is there any truth in this? People certainly say and do stupid things but are they responsible for our pain? Yes I know people say hurtful things, untrue things, things that are just wrong. Don’t we all. Doesn’t that give the world and its people dominion over us?

On the Twelve Step Retreats that I facilitate each year I often give an example when someone says something like the above. I say to them, “You are a Purple Penguin.” Inevitably they look at me and smile. I ask why they are smiling and they say, “Because that is ridicules.” I then ask “Why is that ridicules?” Then they respond, “Because I certainly am not a purple penguin.” Where I say “Exactly.” It is not what people say to us that is the problem it is our own underlying belief in the possibility that they are right. If for example someone calls us dishonest it is simply because we have been dishonest (not necessarily in this situation) and are already angry with ourselves for being dishonest. The only cure is to fined the buttons that are being pushed within us and eliminating those buttons. Controlling our feelings does not mean stuffing them down or “Holding our mud.” As it is some times referred to. We eliminate those faulty beliefs within us that is really the cause of our upset. I am very clear that we live in a world that has many many people that say and do stupid things. I certainly am one of them. So do I just allow every wind that blows contrary to the way I think it should, interrupt my peace of mind? Or do I make myself capable of living in such a world—in a peaceful, calm, contented, serene and well balanced way of being. When we take responsibility for our feelings we have taken the first steps toward freedom of choice. I use to be one of those that all you had to do was look at me sideways and I would jump like a puppet. Thanks to the practice of a Daily Program presented to me via the Twelve Steps that is mostly no longer true. We become more able to be in control of the only thing we really have Power over—ourselves. Our Serenity Prayer tells us to accept the things we cannot change—others feelings, actions and beliefs. And asks for the courage to change the things we can—ourselves. This is the wisdom of the Program.

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Practicing These Principles in All our Affairs

By Jamie Moon

When I started these articles four months ago now I said that they would be centred on the Twelve Steps and it is my intention to continue on that theme. This is my forty-fifth article and the last twenty-five have been on the Principle found within the Practice of the Twelve Steps. The more we practice these Principles in all our affairs the better our lives become.

When we first come to live the Twelve Steps as a way of life we come to the rooms believing that the foundation of the Program is the first three Steps. That is certainly true in the beginning and of course not using alcohol, drugs, sex, or any other behaviour to dampen our unmanageable lives will always be necessary—the foundation shifts to our Daily Program. If we have worked the Twelve Steps and do not have a Daily Program to Improve our Conscious Contact with a Power greater than we are. A Program for handling the daily ups and downs of life by Continuing to take personal inventory which includes cleaning up our mistakes as we go. A Daily Program that maintains our Spiritual Awakening. One that we Practice these Principles, which we have been discussing, and others you may fine helpful—in all our affairs. And finally we need a Daily Program where we learn to be of Service in all areas of our lives. If we do not have such a daily Program it is my experience that we have not understood the actual purpose of the Twelve Steps. Un my life it has only been since I have developed a Daily Program that I have been able to maintain the promises in my life. Dr. Bob said that if we are not happy then we may as well not bother being sober. Happiness is an inside job and the Twelve Steps provide the tools to correct those faulty areas inside. The Steps give us a guided tour of our responsibilities in our lives and the Power to be found in accepting our responsibility. Let me remind you of exactly what we are responsible for in our lives. Firstly we are responsible for our feelings and emotions. No one makes us feel anything. The next area we are responsible for is our actions, which automatically includes our re-actions and in-actions. Similar to our feelings, no one makes us DO or NOT do anything. We are one hundred percent responsible for all of our actions, re-actions, and in-actions. Even when we claim that, “we never would have done what we did if it wasn’t for what they did.” The last area of responsibility is our beliefs, which we have learned in our inventories came from our early childhood decisions. Decisions made long before we even knew we were making them. These are the things we will talk about in the next few articles.

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The Overriding Life Principle of Gratitude

We cannot have any chance of being “happy, joyous and free” without the Principle of Gratitude for alcohol addiction, drug addiction or any other addiction. I personally am embarrassed to say that after three attempts (the first being 1 ¼ years, the next twenty-two years, and this time sixteen years) to get what these many Programs have to offer, I knew little of Gratitude until a little over two years ago now. Oh, if you would have asked if I was grateful I would have said, “sure I’m grateful.” And the words would have come out just about the way they are written here. They would have been very small and even mumbled.

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The Principle of Unconditional Love

unconditional loveUnconditional Love, is this even possible? In fact are any of the Principles of addiction recovery we have been discussing really able to be practiced perfectly. I think not. The Big Book tells us that, “we are not saints” but goes on to say that, “we are willing to grow along Spiritual lines.” Now my experience has shown that in order to grow I must strive for perfection—though recognize that I may never reach it. So what would “perfect” Unconditional Love look like?

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The Principle of Service

In Step Twelve most of us believe we understand to a degree what the Principle of Service is. Though do we really? To often we believe that this Principle is simply carrying the message of the Program to other alcoholics, addicts, gamblers, co-dependents, or whatever group we belong to. My friend Chuck C. believed that this Principle applies to every area of life. In fact he built a very successful business by honestly asking how he could be of Service to his clients. If he could not he would say ado and move on to someone he could Serve.

So, what does the Principle of Service in our daily lives really mean? Dictionary meanings of Service that would apply are, a helpful activity. It is also a provider of maintenance. It is also being of Service at work for a person or company or employer. In the dictionary I am using there are thirty-seven definitions. I don’t want to go on from it. I’m sure you get the point. Being of Service is a way of being as much as an action. To me it simply means being useful. So if what I have to say or do in not helpful in the situation it is of no use to it. As we know even a spiritual or religious talk is called Service. And those that minister those Services are said to have had a calling to Serve. This is exactly the way I feel about my constant study of the Twelve Steps. I also believe that a life of Service is one where we simply try to be helpful (when asked) where ever we are. Even driving in traffic if someone pushes to be ahead of me I am willing to give way—not fighting anyone or anything. I sometimes laugh when I am holding the door for someone and four or five others push there way through. Oh and when I do something like this I do not believe I am truly being of Service if I expect anything from them—like thank you. In fact doing something and needing others gratitude is one of the many signs of co-dependency. It really demonstrates a selfish attitude. Truly being of Service is only accomplished when it is given unconditionally. However, like everything in life there are degrees. When we work at our job for instance we do expect to get paid. But when we do our job well or at least better than some slacker in the office, we should not expect more than our pay—we are paid to work. It is our attitude of Service that eventually has our life improve greatly. We may not think it is being noticed but leave it to our real employer to advance us.

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The Principle of Spirituality

To practice Spirituality today—One Day at a Time here in Step Eleven takes lots of practice. A lifetime of practice is in front of me but the only practice that really matters is that which I do today. Spirituality is the quality or fact of being Spiritual. It is also a predominantly Spiritual character as demonstrated in thought and life—a Spiritual nature or tone. This is as opposed to living from character defects or defences. I would also call it a life guided by Higher Power rather than ego-power. A proper use of the Steps has shown us that ego-power brings us powerlessness. My physics teacher taught me that Consciousness is the Ground of all being. This means that all is made of Spirit. In the Big book there is a statement that says that, Either God is everything or God is nothing. And it goes on to say that it is our choice. Therefore if God or HP is Spirit then we are Spirit. Each of us individualized expressions of God.

According to the above definition we practice Spirituality by creating a Spiritual character or attitude. Since I Consciously chose to believe that God is everything and that I am one with It, I fond more and more evidence of this fact. Spirituality is now a way of life not just another set of beliefs that dominate me. What is it that I have to do to increase my Spirituality or as pointed out in Step Eleven—Improve my Conscious Contact? Each morning I pray often reminding myself of the prayers of Steps Three and Seven. I also pray for knowledge of God’s will for me, and the Power to carry that out. I then read for anywhere from ten minutes to an hour or more—depending on the state of my mind. The worse my state the more I do. After which I meditate on what I have read, shifting from the old faulty ideas I once created to now more Conscious and relevant ideas I now choose to replace them with. I do not leave the house in a state of disturbance. In the evening I pray and read again more Spiritual books. These Practices have in part changed my life. However, without the cleaning up of my past (and present) behaviour I cannot keep this connection. I love my practices and I love my life. I no longer wake up with the “four horseman” waiting for me. I am free because of my Practices.

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The Principle of Consciousness

In Step Eleven we, Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our Conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the Power to carry that out. And Step Twelve talks about, Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps… The Practice of these Steps brings us into an awakened or conscious state of being. And it is our Consciousness that must lean toward an awakened state each day if we are to have a “life beyond our wildest dreams…” So, exactly what is Consciousness and how do we maintain an awakening?

The dictionary tells us that Consciousness is, the state of being conscious (awakened); awareness of (or awake to) our thoughts and sensations. It is the collective thoughts and feelings of us individually or of an aggregate of people such as a culture. It is also an awareness of something for what it is—acute awareness. Consciousness is the mental awareness of our mental activity as opposed to living from our unconscious mental activities—unaware. So it is clear to me that our efforts in Step Eleven are for the express purpose of being Conscious. My definition of being Conscious has changed over the years. Being Conscious is, knowing exactly what I am doing and exactly why I am doing it. To often in life we lash out at someone for example and have no idea really why we are lashing out. We think it is because of what they did. When the real reason is that we are trying to work out childhood trauma. That would be being aware of something the way it actually is—acute awareness. It is awareness of what’s really going on in our mind instead of doing the same things over and over again and having no real idea why. So as I understand it we raise our Consciousness and Spirituality through our practice of Step Eleven. To raise our Consciousness is to improve our Conscious contact not only with our Higher Power but also with our Higher Selves and to understand of our own needs, behaviours, and attitudes. I really appreciate this opportunity to write these articles. It has had me be much more Conscious of my own understanding and gives me a chance to solidify that understanding into a more coherent set of Principles that I not only live by but they help me truly comprehend the Twelve Steps and their benefit more all the time. The more I study the Steps the more I learn.

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The Principle of Perseverance

Perseverance is keeping on, keeping on despite our addiction. If in Step Ten we, Continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong promptly admitted it, we must Persevere. A dictionary definition of Perseverance says that it is persisting on a course of action or purpose, in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. There is a myth in the 12 step program that all the work I did yesterday is some kind of insurance for today and tomorrow. The only real insurance premium is paid today—for today.

It is warned many times in the AA literature against resting on our laurels. Well what does that mean? As I understand it simply means resting on yesterday’s practices to keep me OK today. Experience has shown that it just does not work. Oh one may “get away with it” for a day or so but in the long run resting on yesterdays Program Practices does not work. The ego (a set of beliefs that thinks it is us) will always bring up old faulty beliefs. Faulty ideas that when working our Program we recognize as faulty. We see that to handle some situation today we must use our Program—today. Using the dictionary definition of Perseverance, we persist, whether “too busy, too tired, etc.” to Practice our maintenance Steps today—One Day at a Time. A working Practice of Step Ten includes, spot-check inventories, reviewing our day maybe using a daily balance sheet, and annual or semi-annual retreats where we review how we are doing on our Perseverance with our daily Practices. One of my most difficult obstacles to Perseverance was getting back on the horse after I had fallen off. I had such a built in habit of giving up that it was extremely difficult to start again. Yes, I was a quitter. Now I never would have called myself that (unless I was beating myself up that day) but I simply believed something that wasn’t true. That belief was that I was incapable of creating new behaviour in my life. Today I very seldom miss my daily practices. However, I do them the moment I realise that I have not done them. Immediately, if you will, getting back on the horse—today. I mostly “stop fighting everyone and everything” even my old belief—I just do it. Creating the new habit of a life lived by Principles instead of character defects (defences) brings me a peaceful, calm, content, serene, and well balanced life. That takes the use of the Principle of Perseverance.

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Inspiring Pictures of the Week

Here at Life Works, we want our blog to inspire as well as inform. To help us achieve this, we will be posting our favourite pictures and quotes from each week. Please feel free to send us any of your own suggestions via our Facebook or Twitter. Thank you and enjoy. Interested in learning more about eating disorders or alcohol addiction, check out this great resource.
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Inspiring Pictures of the Week

Here at Life Works, we want our blog to inspire as well as inform. To help us achieve this, we will be posting our favourite pictures and quotes from each week. Please feel free to send us any of your own suggestions via our Facebook or Twitter. Thank you and enjoy. Interested in learning more about eating disorders or alcohol addiction, check out this great resource.
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The Principle of Forgiveness

by Jamie Moon

Since the 12th of February 1968 when I first was introduced to the Principles of the addiction treatment Program, I was under the childish belief that to forgive someone meant letting them off the hook. Today I believe that Forgiveness actually lets the one forgiving—off the hook. The longer I truly look at this Principle of the 12 steps, I wonder if there is really only one person I need to forgive—me. I am my harshest judge. For example, I have just had what I thought would be a rather simple orthopedic surgery on my left foot. Well on my big toe on my left foot. Now I knew they were going to use a saw to cut out a triangle of excess bone growth and screws to straighten and fix the toe in a more normal position.

I also had enough sense to ask not to be conscious during this procedure. So good so far—right? Well that was nearly two weeks ago and I am still lying on my back, keeping my foot above my heart level to manage swelling. In fact this is my first attempt to sit for any length of time to write this article. And I was not able to complete it that day. Now what does this have to do with Forgiveness? I feel stupid for thinking that this would be a “simple” procedure and that I could just get up and start my daily routines right away. Self forgiveness has been much more difficult than the forgiveness of others. I have always expected more from myself than I now do of others. Fortunately I have learned to forgive other folks for their mistakes and errors in life. Although I must admit it was not until Sept. 11th 2001 that I truly understood what Forgiveness really is. For me, it is impossible to forgive anyone that I feel either, superior to, or inferior to. Once I realize that there is nothing that anyone has ever done that I could not have done under similar or some kind of circumstance. There is a line that I sing in the morning that says, “I love the world the way it is ‘cause I can clearly see, that all the things I have judged were done by people just like me.” This is a reminder that I am no better or no worse than anyone else on this plain of existence. My understanding of self-forgiveness is coming round as time goes on. I am now practicing NOT demanding more from me though I do intend to try to be better than I was yesterday.

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