Core Beliefs

Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is very uncomfortable that is called cognitive dissonance. And, because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore, and even deny anything that does not fit in with that core belief. ~ Frantz Fanon

The fears and feelings that we hold onto are the ties that bind us to our past. Unless we are willing to let go of the past, we cannot live in the moment. Our history is not our destiny. Those fears and feelings are core beliefs that we have about life, ourselves, and how the universe is revolving around us. They are based on false assumptions many of us made in the small, insulated social bubbles like family, our schools, and our small home towns. They were formed mostly in our youth by immature minds who were just trying to survive. In order to recover and to grow into our genuine autonomous selves, we need to challenge these beliefs.

What is true for us as youths, is not true for us as adults. We are adults who can choose to see these differently. We can also choose how we act and react to what is presented. We are no victims, but rather we are active participants. I understand that life is challenging, things do get scary, and those in charge of our world can be pretty darn nasty and hard to like. If you list all that you are powerless over today, I assure you that you will run out of paper. The only things we are in charge of us are our feelings and our fears. We get to decide how we will respond each and every time. Choose wisely and keep plugging along. You are not alone.

Analysis is Paralysis

Analysis is Paralysis ~ anon

I spent a whole lot of money and time trying to get my head shrunk and figuring out why I was so miserable. There is no harm is getting outside help, but the real truth and answers came for me by taking my rightful spot in AA meetings, listening to others, doing that which I was told to do, and by not trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. Most of the pain I suffered was of my own doing. And, the solutions to that pain was right in the literature and meetings that AA offered for free. Such a deal I got.

In AA we discovered that humility is simply an awareness of who we really are today and a willingness to become all that we can be. Genuine humility brings an end to the feelings of inadequacy, the self-absorption, and the status seeking. Humility places us neither above of below anyone else on an imaginary ladder of worth. We can be on equal footing with the rest of humans. And, we can be just be one of 7+ billion other schmoes who occupy this earth. Recovery for me means waking up each morning sober and looking into the mirror knowing where I was, who I was with, what I said, and what I did the night before. Isn’t that what we all want? Such a deal we got!

Just One Little Thing

It is a sign of great inner insecurity to be hostile to the unfamiliar. ~Anais Nin

I have been told, and I am sure most new people in AA have been told this as well, that all I have to change is just only little thing: myself! The seventh step encourages us to draw closer to our original, genuine self…the untarnished, sober, and in your face self. The trick is to figure out who we are as individuals. The being that came into this earth came in naked and alone. It is a soul searching journey to figure out who, what, why, etc. while we are here. And, guess what. We leave the same way we came in: naked and alone.

Meantime, being sober gives us a unique opportunity that many folks never get. While others a busy living their lives, stuck in the same old rut, and trying to make a living; we get to examine and improve ourselves and our lives. We get to figure out why we are here, whether or not we believe in G.O.D., trust something bigger than ourselves, let go of that which we cannot handle alone, clean out our old heavy garbage, assess who we are and what we are willing to change, make amends so we can live without regret, keep our side of the street clean, pray and meditate for guidance, and work with others. What a deal! It is a small price to pay; and just one little thing that will pay off for the rest of our years.

What is Humility?

Humility is an action, not an emotion. ~ Jan W. 

We wonder what the heck is humility. It sure isn’t humiliation; but rather an awareness that we are not the only being on this earth, that others matter, and that there is a great deal of people, places and things that we have no power over. I like to think there is a universal order of things, that each of us has an inner clock that is ticking, and there is just so much life to live. That keeps me humble and ready to embrace each moment as if it were my last one. Frankly, there is not enough time in life to get all that I want to accomplish done.

I got this from a 12 Step newsletter in St. Louis. It is one person’s thoughts on what is humility:

spirituality                                          I don’t know                  spontaneity

Curiosity                                              innocence                      openness

child-like nature                                tolerance                         patience

integrity                                               detachment                     letting go.

That is a good start. See how many more you can come up with. Have a good day. Stay cool. This too shall pass.

All too often, we seem as a culture to be at war with life’s transitions, viewing death as a failure to live, and aging as a failure to remain young. We do something grievous to ourselves when we buy into this cultural ideology.

~ John Robbins, Healthy at 100

One of the benefits of the 12 Step program for me is that I was able to unlearn much of what I was taught about life, religion, health, and culture. It is funny how what I thought was fact was actually learned behavior. What a joy to be able to reframe things to meet my own unique belief system and lifestyle. For too many years, I felt apart from and not equal to, and I was either too much of something or not enough of another. I always felt as if I came up short of others’ expectations of myself. What a relief to know that in the rooms of AA, I am not alone, and I never have to feel alone again. Such a deal.

This goes back to what I wrote about a few days ago: low self-esteem is the opposite end of of the spectrum from egomania. We addicts tend to think less of ourselves even when we are doing okay in life. Humility is thinking of oneself less; not thinking less of oneself.  So, it is a matter of turning our thinking around. Consider this: write down things you always say to yourself when you get upset, for instance: “I am such a dummy.” or “I am such a screw up.” Now, spend some time with your HP, and ask he or she or it to tell you the truth (clue: this is the first thing that pops into your head or what a loving parent would say). Now, I challenge you to make these into affirmations, such as “I am absolutely smart enough.” Put these on the fridge. Each time you catch yourself saying junk to yourself, say these instead. You are a precious child of the universe. Embrace this.


What we resist, persists. ~ Anon

Persistence used for the positive can keep us active in the program, helps us grow and learn each day, and is the only form of permanence in the universe. We alcoholics do not like change. When faced with the prospect of amending our ways and letting go of character flaws, we resist and think: what will be left of us if we change?  I offer this suggestion. Ask yourself: what is the worse possible thing that could happen? When you keep at this, you will see that the fear you are having is worse than any possible outcome of change. One gal came up with her worst case scenario, and that was to be stuck in her parents’ basement with no job or income. I suggested that at least she had parents and a roof over her head.

The universe wants what is in our best interest. I often say that HP has not dragged me this far through life to drop my on my head now. I don’t think Mother Nature stays up all night plotting how to upset anyone of us. When we use resistance on the negative side, we become stubborn and hard-headed. It seems that the whole world is run wrong, and nothing is going as we planned. We have to do a few things when faced with these feelings: Take a breath. Relax. Don’t do anything about it for 24 hours. Call someone. Write down what is the worst thing that could happen. Ask HP for direction and protection. The answers will come if your own house is in order. REMEMBER, IT IS ALL GOOD, EVEN THE BAD.

Soaring to New Heights

No bird soars high enough, if he soars with his own wings. ~ William Blake

It is often said that one cannot soar with the eagles if you are trotting around with the turkeys. I like both birds, so trotting is as good for me as soaring. Some days, I do well to just live and breathe, wake up sober (eventually) and get a few things accomplished. I was what is commonly called a “functional alcoholic.” I never lost a job or got put in the clink, although I should have a few times. I am still amazed I lived to tell about much of what I did. Back in the day, in small town Iowa, no one (including cops) would haul you in for public intox or DUI, etc. It was simply “normal” to be half looped most of the time. In fact, I remember clearly a few conversations had around me and at me that found fault in me getting in trouble, but the words drunk, alcoholic, etc. never were used.

To this day most of my family and friends of the past (still drinking; mind you) deny that I was “that bad”. They are bewildered that I thought I might need help. And, interestingly enough, I am sure they would not be phased one bit if I showed up half snockered at the local bar. Correct perception is the key to sane thinking. How we see the world as all drunks or all sane, healthy, functioning, and “normal” people is a matter of perception. Sobriety affords me the opportunity to appreciate soaring and trotting as all good and neither bad.


My P’s and Q’s

My mom used to tell me (yes, many times!) to “mind your own P’s and Q’s”. I did love to mind others a lot! I used to wonder: what the heck were P’s and Q’s? When I came into the 12 Step program, I was given this assignment: Go through step # 7 in the 12 X 12 and see how many “P” words you can find. That kept me busy for about an hour. So, it effectively kept me sober for one more hour. I think most of the early days were filled with such assignments for that very reason: keep Jo busy and out of the bars. These days, I know when my character flaws are not in charge of me, I have a new meaning for P’s and Q’s: Peace and Quiet. For that I am grateful! When I am not practicing my old behavior patterns, I have peace of mind, and no one is steaming mad at me. It makes life so much nicer!

Later on, I learned that there are 6 P’s to recovery: perspective, pain, prayer, patience, process, and payoff. Gees, there is so much to learn. No wonder I am never bored. I get a new perspective by talking things over with a sponsor, reading, meditation, and journaling. Experiencing pain is my teacher. It teaches me that I am human and have feelings and limits. Prayer humbles me to hand things over and recognize that I am not in charge. Patience is necessary because it helps me slow down and realize that this is a process, not a race. There is no graduation. The process is in incremental steps for a reason: we cannot expect to change over night, and we need each step in succession in order to build upon the prior ones. A good foundation is necessary to have a stable and secure footing on which to build. And, finally, the payoff keeps us coming back. Those are laid out in the Promises of AA. Make a copy of these promises and put them on your fridge or mirror. Read them daily. That is what we are shooting for. May you find peace and quiet in your life.

Good Judgement

Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience

comes from bad judgement. ~ Rita Mae Brown

I sure wish we could live life backwards. I am pretty sure what we chose as 20 somethings is nowhere near what we would choose later in life. One sponsor told me once, “Wait 24 hours. There is a whole lot can happen in one day’s time.” I was fairly new in recovery and deep into rescuing loved ones from their own messes. I got an emergency call to come bail my sister out of jail and appear as a witness to plead her innocence. She was in her mid 40’s, and completely adult enough to stand up for herself. When I called my sponsor, she said, “Do nothing” and I was told to wait 24 hours before I returned the call.  That was on a Friday.

I cried the whole weekend. What if this and what if that plagued me. It seemed an eternity; but I did as I was told, went to meetings, shared my pain, and cried. By her court day on Monday, the decision on her case was made, she had consequences (heaven forbid!), and I was saner and healthier for not running interference. I learned that many things can happen within 24 hours. And, I learned that G.O.D. is working on others as a much as he/she is working on me. What a huge relief that I do not have to carry the whole world and it’s problems on my little shoulders. Good judgement is a direct result of hard lessons learned. Thank goodness for AA and solid sponsorship.

Still True

I still believe that love s all you need. I don’t know a better message than that.

~ Sir Paul McCartney

We learn in step #7 that low self-esteem is the opposite end of egotism.

E.G.O. = Edging G.O.D. Out. Both low self-esteem and egotism keep us apart from others and the solutions found in working the steps. When we buy into the notion that we are nothing, that we are the mistake when we make mistakes, and that we are not good enough; we are actually grabbing the reins and playing a god. We are harming our opportunity to know what is is to be truly loved and accepted. It is a soul sickness. I know society tells us differently, but  wise person once said, “It is no sign of mental health to be normal in a sick society.”~ anon

It is estimated that over 70% of families in modern day society are effected by at least one addictive process. How can we expect to know how to be and act “normal” when most of us never witnessed this in our childhoods? I do not blame parents. Most folks can only give what they were given. Our task going forward is to avail ourselves of the solutions offered in the 12 Step of AA program. While we are busy attending meetings and doing service, the disease of alcoholism is out there in the hallway doing one arm push ups. We have our work cut out for us. Newcomers need sponsorship and a place to heal. Be the voice of recovery. One person at a time, we can stem the tide of generational pain. Love is all we need.