How a Group Conscious got me Back to the Right Size

How a Group Conscious got me Back to the Right Size

“Tradition Two talks about bleeding deacon and elder statesman… a bleeding deacon, sits in the problem.. a “it’s my way or the highway” type… (while) an elder statesman sits in the solution… open-minded, willing to listen and accepting for change… (as) an elder statesman, I have a better chance of staying away from selfishness and self- centeredness…the root of my problem in the first place.” – Working the Traditions in your Daily Life, ca.org

This morning I was talking to a member in the program about this tradition and how easy it is to feel like I’m running the show, and I should be, whether it be at work, with my family or in a meeting. But that attitude always ends up keeping me imprisoned in my own misery. Here’s a quick example.

Years ago I started an AlAnon meeting and was quite proud of myself. I decided on the format, how it ran, and most other details. I loved it. But after leaving on a trip I returned to find that when I came back it had changed. Some of my favorite parts of the meeting were changed around. I was told a group conscious had been taken and the group decided to change a few things.

“How dare they!!!” Although I didn’t say it out loud at that moment, later while talking with a friend I complained that it’s wasn’t fair. “That’s my meeting. I started it!” He reminded me that I am just a trusted servant in the program. So as punishment to them all, I chose not to go back to the meeting for over a year. By depriving them of my supreme leadership and contribution, they’d be sorry.

Guess what happened? They did just fine without me. The only one missing out was me.

Today, 15 years later, the meeting now barely resembles the meeting I had started. The time of the meeting has changed. The format is different. It’s even at a new location. About the only thing that’s the same is the day of the week. But you know what? It’s one of the best meetings on Maui, and one of my favorites, hands down. Without me the meeting actually got better. Can you believe that?

Thanks to that lesson and others, I’ve gained a bit more humility along with a deeper appreciation of Tradition 2. I really do want the best for everyone, and I really don’t always know what that is. But through a group conscious, by having the majority decide together what’s best for all of us, the decision that reflects what most of us want is made. And today, thank God, I’m ok if that decision is not the one I agree with.

I’m grateful that learning to be teachable and open to learning is something that will go on for the rest of my life. Because the more willing I am to grow, evolve and change for the better, the more ILML!

– JamieQ

It’s Hard not to be Happy

It’s Hard not to be Happy

“Prayer is nothing more than being joyfully attentive to life.” – Matthew Fox, In God’s Care

This is a beautiful way to invite the word, idea and practice of prayer into our lives, particularly if we’re not allied or comfortable with specific religions.

In a way, this is what I do when I shout out “I love my life” each day, and insist on loving life, regardless of my circumstance.

I simply am so grateful to have been born. To have gotten to live 56 years of glorious life. On top of that, to have had the use of my legs, arms, feet, hands, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and brain is, well, over the top.

You have to admit, it’s hard not to be happy when you think about all the blessings you’ve been given. And walking around in awareness of gratitude for our incredible lives, could, at least according to Fox’s definition, be construed as living in a state of prayer.

Today I’ll make an effort to be more joyfully attentive to the little things in my day, because when I’m living in the attitude of gratitude… ILML!

— JamieQ

The Solution to Every One of my Problems

The Solution to Every One of my Problems

“My problems are like shark teeth. When one falls out, another one pops right up in it’s place.” – Chris K., A Sponsee

My mind persistently tries to take me into the problem. It says: “If I look at the problem it will help me because I can find a solution and be happy.” I don’t believe it works like that.

Instead, I’m much happier, and my life runs much better, when I apply the AlAnon slogan “Awareness, Acceptance & Action” as follows:

When a problem arises, I first recognize that I have a problem. This is my awareness. 

Next, I accept that when it comes to problems there are only two possible actions: I can solve it or let go and let God. I recognize that those are the only real solutions. This is my acceptance.

And finally, if I have the answer to the problem, and can fix it right now, all by myself, I’ll do that. But if I don’t have an immediate solution that 100% in my control, I let go of it, give it to God, and focus my attention on things I have control over, like doing things that make me happy. This is my action.

By applying this simple practice to any problem in my life, I’m actually working the principles of the program. And when I do that, instead of trying to manage, direct and control people, places and things that are definitely out of my hula hoop… ILML!

— JamieQ

Pure Love

Pure Love

“Today Pure Love will be the center of all my activities.” -— Adapted from In God’s Care

What if we thought of God as Pure Love? 100% Pure Love? Nothing but Pure Love? What if we then substituted the word “Pure Love” every time we saw the word “God” in our literature or anywhere else? And when anyone else mentioned the word “God” we translated it to “Pure Love“?

It might sound something like this…

Came to believe that Pure Love could restore us to sanity.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of Pure Love.

Admitted to Pure Love, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Were entirely ready to have Pure Love remove all these defects of character.

Humbly asked Pure Love to remove our shortcomings.

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with Pure Love, praying only for knowledge of Pure Love’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

Having had a Pure Loving awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

It appears, at least to me, that the abscess of Pure Love was, and still is, the root of my disease. Whether it’s an inability to completely love myself or others, it’s this lack of trusting in the power of Pure Love, and instead thinking, acting, and speaking from a place other than Pure Love, that seems to create all my problems.

When I’m living life from a place of Pure Love, no matter what happens around me, chances are much greater that… ILML!

—JamieQ

No Longer a Dry Drunk

Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.” —Alcoholics Anonymous p.64

A symptom, as described by Miriam Webster, is “subjective evidence of disease or physical disturbance.” Therefore, our drinking and using was evidence of an underlying dis-ease. Without getting to the root of that illness, and treating it, we never really heal.

In AA we call this a dry drunk. I know all about it—I was one for many years. Some people believe that eliminating alcohol and drugs is enough. I personally don’t think it’s possible to really love our lives, or play well with others, unless we dig deeper.

Over the last three decades, I’ve begun to discover the source of my personal dis-ease—the one I used alcohol and drugs to treat. But to do so has taken hundred of hours in self-examination, reading and writing in recovery books, and working one-on-one with my sponsor. Slowly I began to see why I struggled in life, particularly in relation to others, and how my reactions to them frequently made my problems worse.

Through the program I’ve discovered how to completely reverse both my dis-ease and the effect it had on me and those around me. And making amends is at the very top of my list of solutions. By taking responsibility for my actions, and sincerely attempting to stop engaging in behaviors that hurt myself and others, I’ve learned how to become a better man. I’ve gained some self-respect, and being proud (instead of ashamed) of my behavior, definitely makes me happy.

The other tools of the program, namely prayer, meditation, affirmations, service work, meetings, fellowship, sponsorship, journaling, gratitude lists, self supporting behaviors, hobbies, and self-care all contribute to a building and maintaining a strong immunity against my dis-ease. Through self-discipline and consistency in these daily actions, I get to stay in the middle of the lifeboat, where I’m safe, protected and… ILML!

—JamieQ

Listen, Learn & Grow

Listen, Learn & Grow

“It takes a rare person to want to hear what he doesn’t want to hear.” —Dick Cavett

My mind, after childhood and before the program, was pretty much set in stone. Although I was open to learning new things, I wasn’t a big fan of being told what to do, how to act, or how to think. Neither did I care much for other people’s opinions, because I thought so highly of my own.

In fact, I was so sure that my opinions were better than everyone else’s, that I spent countless hours attempting to convince other people that I was right, and they were wrong.

This behavior not only pushed people away from me, it also prevented me from evolving into a really good man.

The first time I became aware that my behavior was a problem was when I heard the quote, “There is a principle which … cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

Shortly thereafter, at a meeting, it dawned on me that the second part of the serenity prayer suggested that I get up “the courage to change the things I can“—meaning me and my attitudes.” After that, the evolution was on.

Today I’m open and willing to listen, learn & grow. I no longer practice contempt prior to investigation, and I try hard to catch myself if I’m acting righteous or like a know-it-all. It’s not always easy—believe me, I have plenty of slips—but I’m getting better all the time.

Today I know that as long as I’m actively trying to evolve into a better version of me… ILML!

— JamieQ

Awaken with Abundance

Awaken with Abundance

“There are some who live day to day concerned about not having enough for happiness and security. This causes anxiety, worry and stress. But this doesn’t have to be. Instead, if we trust the intelligence of the universe, and practice living carefree, we can live fearlessly, without worry or focusing on lack.” — Living Carefree, A Meditation with Deepak Chopra

Wow. Can you imagine never having to fear lacking anything? I felt like that way as a child, but since having my own children, the overwhelming sense of responsibility has put (and kept) me in financial fear.

The voices of fear and faith can have an overwhelming effect in my life. Faith says “Everything’s going to be great!” When I believe this, I feel so good. But Fear says “This is going to be terrible. Your in big trouble.” And when I’m listening and believing it, I feel scared, exhausted and upset.

Deepak’s meditation suggests that we encourage the kinder, more loving message to dominate our thoughts by repeating this: “I move through my day lighthearted and carefree, knowing all is well.”

I’ve been listening to this meditation on YouTube everyday lately, along with his meditations on Overcoming Obstacles and Gratitude, and I must tell you that its awesome! I’ve been more optimistic, efficient and have had more energy since I began doing this. I start off listening in bed, and eventually take it into the bathroom while getting ready for my day. I awaken and fill my mind up with good thoughts, before the bad ones can even start up.

When take the time, first thing in the morning, to intentionally focus on positive messages that reaffirm the boundless abundance and love in, and all around me, I awaken with the belief that it’s going to be a great day, and ILML!

— JamieQ