This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou ‘canst not then be false to any man.
– William Shakespeare
To thine own self be true. A grounding statement for those of us who get caught up in the storm of needs and feelings others. Listen to the self. What do we need? Are those needs getting met? What do we feel? What do we need to do to take care of our feelings? What are our feelings telling us about ourselves and the direction we need to go? What do we want to do or say? What are out instincts telling us? Trust them – even if they don’t make sense or meet other people’s rules and expectations. Sometimes, the demands of other people and our confused expectations of ourselves – the messages about our responsibilities toward others – can create a tremendous, complicated mess. We can even convince ourselves that people-pleasing, going against our nature and not being honest, is the kind, honest thing to do. Not true. Simplify. Back to basics. Let go of the confusion. By honoring and respecting ourselves, we will be true to those around us, even if we displease them momentarily. To thine own self be true. Simple words describing a powerful task that can put us back on track. Today, I will honor, cherish, and love myself. When confused about what to do. I will be true to myself. I will break free of the hold others, and their expectations, have on me.
I had a strong sense of denial about my alcoholism, and was very sure that I had the right to live as I chose to, regardless of the consequences. I never thought of myself as being an alcoholic. I had a preconceived notion of what being an alcoholic looked like, and I worked hard at being just as opposite as I could be from that “idea.” I had a job, a home and a car – and I dressed the part I played, which fooled both me and everyone else I met. Seeing my image in the mirror the morning after was a sure wake-up call, but it happened so randomly that it was easy to tell myself that it was not the behavior of someone identified as alcoholic. I truly thought that an alcoholic was someone who drank every day, who drank vodka from a paper bag, or someone who drank all day and night. The only problem I had was not being able to stop drinking once I got started. I lost control of my drinking when I drank – that’s what makes me an alcoholic, today I understand that. Did you have preconceived notions of what an alcoholic looked like?
Each of us serve as examples of how the Program works. We look to other members for answers to questions, and for solutions to life’s problems. Those with a period of sobriety use the principle of attraction by relating “success” stories, at group level. I wanted what others had, initially, that’s what made me keep coming back, time and again. It’s not my place to tell others what they should do, but I can relate how I handled the same problem through working the Steps, and honoring our Program’s “suggestions.” As a practicing alcoholic I did not want to hear all the “advice” I got about my problems in life. What were some of the suggestions YOU TOOK?
Quote is from “Stepping Stones to Recovery” pp. 30-31: “Gratitude”
Many times during the attendance of meetings, I hear the words grateful and gratitude. I have no doubt that when people say these words they mean them. For me having gratitude or being grateful is not always easy. For one thing, problems you don’t have, you don’t consider. Another is the tendency to take things for granted. And another is the habit of looking at what you don’t have (materially) rather than being grateful for what you do have.
In order for me to be truly grateful, there are a few things that I must do. The first is to stop. The second is to become reflective, look at my past, and see where I am today. The third is to stay in the present and try to get materialism out of the picture. The fourth is to think of all the problems I could have and don’t. The fifth, think of how much better I feel physically and mentally. Sixth, realize that my recovery is only a gift based on my spiritual growth from my Higher Power on a daily basis. Seventh, realize that in order to be truly grateful, I must gain more humility. I must know that I have to become more patient, tolerant, understanding and forgiving. Eighth, I must learn to turn it over, learn acceptance of myself and others, become more honest.
When I do all these things, then I can become grateful and have an attitude of gratitude.
The title cites that we should “go back to the basics.” For me, an alcoholic, that means working the Steps, making more meetings, prayer and meditation, and talking with others – sharing my feelings, thoughts and troubles. The Serenity Prayer talks of acceptance of things I cannot change, courage to change what I can, and from these – wisdom to know what to change. There are many “tools” in the Program, tools that help me to repel the negative feelings, and to encourage the positive feelings. Acceptance of my present circumstances enables me “feel the feelings” and then move on into some type of action. I am capable of change, I am capable of growth. Both gratitude and acceptance have become part of my recovery. I have come to know that staying sober is so much more than not drinking, the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous is a program that teaches me how to live a sober life, one that embraces both acceptance and gratitude.
People who symbolize causes and ideas fill a deep human need. We of A.A. do not question that. But we do have to soberly face the fact that being in the public eye is hazardous, especially for us.
— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 181
As a recovered alcoholic I must make an effort to put into practice the principles of the A.A. program, which are founded on honesty, truth and humility. While I was drinking I was constantly trying to be in the limelight. Now that I am conscious of my mistakes and of my former lack of integrity, it would not be honest to seek prestige, even for the justifiable purpose of promoting the A.A. message of recovery. Is the publicity that centers around the A.A. Fellowship and the miracles it produces not worth much more? Why not let the people around us appreciate by themselves the changes that A.A. has brought in us, for that will be a far better recommendation for the Fellowship than any I could make.
I hope you all had an amazing time on Thanksgiving. Now, back to reality…
“As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day ‘Thy will be done.’ ”
(p. 87-8 BB)
God, I’m agitated and doubtful right now. Help me to stop and remember that I’ve made a decision to let You be my God. Give me the right thoughts and actions. God save me from fear, anger, worry, self-pity or foolish decisions that Your will not mine be done. AMEN