Copied from A Study Guide For The Twelve Steps
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Alcoholism is a disease – a family disease. The alcoholic’s physical allergy and mental obsession to alcohol is his/her disease. Our disease as Al-Anons is an obsession with the alcoholic and/or people, places, and things. We are the “fixers” of the world. We believe we can fix the people in our lives if they would “do it our way” (mind us), and if they would obey our directions our lives would be okay. We are not okay as long as the people in our lives are not okay. Slowly we begin to realize that we have an obsession to manipulate, manage, and control. Only through total defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation, strength, freedom, and a quality of life few of us have ever known. We must be open-minded and willing to do whatever is necessary to life our managing and controlling obsession; in other words, we must be willing to go to any length to break this obsession.
Denial: Our ability to lie to ourselves or deny the truth or reality of a situation is a symptom of the disease of alcoholism for both the alcoholic and the al-anon. Denial is a major stumbling block to recovery. We hide what we feel and know when it is too painful to deal with or accept. The paints a result of fear and the total lack of a workable solution to the problem – “since there’s no solution, we deny there’s a problem.” It’s like being in hell, yet saying “it’s not hot and I’m not here”. It’s the elephant in the living room that everyone sees, walks around, but no on mentions – denial.
Once we’ve become willing to admit that the problem exists, we are opening the door to recovery. We are standing at Step One. The admission or surrender to our powerlessness regarding the alcohol or alcoholic (people, places, or things) is our beginning and this brings several necessary principles of recovery into play.
HONESTY – What is the problem? What is the reality or the truth of the situation; coming from a state of denial where we see things and hear things as we want them to be and entering a state of realization of what is really happening; no more fantasy.
HUMILITY – Our willingness to stop rationalizing and justifying our actions and becoming aware them at what we’ve been doing in reality “doesn’t work”. Our discontinuance of blaming others; self-pity disguised in “why me”, etc. is just not helping the situation or working for us anymore and the awareness that we truly “need help”.
OPEN-MINDEDNESS – Being open to new ideas and suggestions; becoming flexible to doing things differently. We learn here to take action against our thinking. If we do the right actions, our thinking and feelings will follow in time.
WILLINGNESS – The ability to respond instead of fighting change. Being willing also means becoming vulnerable – being open. When we combine the honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness we have the how of the program.
ACCEPTANCE – Our powerlessness over not only alcohol, but the alcoholic as well as people, places, situations, and many times our own thoughts and feelings. We can’t get people and things to “mind us” or do it our way. True acceptance is our only real source of serenity and peace of mind.
Acceptance is the essence of Step One. Acceptance is to “Live and Let Live”. Acceptance is to “Let Go and Let God” give good orderly directions and solutions to the questions of our lives. Remember, we do not have to agree with something or even like it in order to accept it. Acceptance is not a sea of approval on unacceptable behavior, etc. it merely means that we understand and surrender to the fact that we cannot change the behavior of anyone except ourselves. And that we will opt even try to do so. Each and every one of us is responsible only for his/her own behavior and not that of others as we have no control of others; we are powerless over them. Also acceptance is not trying to change people or force solutions on them. Acceptance is a state of being and not an action directed to others.
The Serenity Prayer is a simple and practical formula for acceptance. In it we merely ask God to give us the ability to take people, life, and situations as they are if we cannot change them. We rarely have the ability to change people. Only God is powerful enough to control people, places, and things and He usually prefers to allow them freedom of choice.
Resistance to acceptance is very painful – the more we try to change others, the greater the barrier in our relationships. We just accept that we have not been given the “know best” ability by the management fairy. We rarely know what is best for ourselves, much less for others. Trying to force solutions we will be met with rebellion and resentment, while at the same time we become hurt and cod used because, “after all, we were only trying to help”.
Powerless means that we have no control of – that we are unable to produce a positive effect upon – that what we are doing just isn’t working. We have not the power to get someone or something to change for us. Lack of power is our true dilemma.
“That our lives had become unmanageable” means that we have drifted away from the normal ways of thinking, action, and reaction. Just what is normal you may ask? Webster defines normal as regular, natural, well-adjusted to the outside world; a common natural condition, the usual or accepted rule. Unmanageable also refers to our feelings – we have often lost the ability to control our feelings and emotions. Emotions will control us if we cannot control them.
This particular slogan is very difficult for managers and controllers of the world… “everything” is their business.
You will note that we are asked to “live” first before we “let others live”. When we are living through other people this is impossible to do – since our lives depend upon what they do or don’t do, we have to control them in order to live. However, when we begin to learn that we have a life of our own and that just trying to live it is a full-time job, we ar more easily able to allow others to live without our instructions or assistance.
Minding our own business isn’t difficult when we come to accept that our business ends where someone else’s begins. We are not here on “divine assignment” to take care of everybody else – taking care of ourselves is a full-time job if it is done well.
We see, upon careful examination of our past adventures that many times we have tried to manage and control others – of course we failed, but more than that, we removed from them the ability to choose their own courses for living … we seemed to think, “we knew best”. However, whenever someone tried to manage or control us, we became very frustrated and angry and many of one resentful and full of self-pity – “look at what they did to me”. We must learn to live ourselves and not be manipulated by others, our fears, our desires, etc. as we learn to use and relish our own freedom to live, we can grant that same freedom to other. It becomes easier to let things happen without trying to direct the other people involved and control the outcome. We can genuinely accept that it is none of our business if others do things differently. And especially, we can lovingly and openly appreciate people as they are, without trying to change them. We are all free individuals, taking responsibility for ourselves, we can live fully.
STEP ONE QUESTIONS
ASK YOURSELF HONESTLY
- Have you accepted alcoholism as a disease – a family disease and as such you are powerless to cause, cure, or control this disease? My Answer
- Do you allow what others say or do or don’t say or do to upset you and your serenity? What kinds of things frustrate and anger you? My Answer
- What is the difference between “submission” and “surrender”? My Answer
- Have you accepted the fact that you cannot control another person in any way (their actions, thoughts, behavior, feelings, drinking, etc.) and many times are powerless over even yourself and your own thinking and actions? My Answer
- Do you understand that by trying to change people to fit your standards you are playing God? My Answer
- Do you realize that you alone are responsible for your own actions, feelings, and thoughts – that these are your choices and you cannot blame others for them? My Answer
- Do you realize the people you try to control will resist you and many times develop deep anger, hostility, and resentments towards you? My Answer
- Can you accept that we are all individuals and as such our habit patterns, characteristics, and ways of acting and reacting to daily happenings are different form each other as no two of us have lived each day of our lives exactly as someone else has? My Answer
- Do you realize and accept that changing yourself and your attitude is the only way you can find true peace, freedom, and harmony? My Answer
- Can you accept that “life isn’t fair,” and that at times ALL of us can be mean, arrogant, self-seeking, dishonest, spiteful, and revengeful, etc.? My Answer
- Can you accept for today that things are exactly the way they are supposed to be and that nothing happens by mistake in God’s world? My Answer
- Many times we meditate on the negatives of our lives. What have you got to be grateful for today? A practice of gratitude can turn your attitude around. List a minimum of six things for which you are truly grateful today. My Answer