Tag Archives: AA

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I've been thinking.

Sometimes that gets me into trouble, but sometimes....it is highly productive.

Lately I've been thinking about how life sometimes just kicks us in the ass over and over again.  Those of us who have a strong foundation of the steps under our belt can usually handle such beatings with relative ease.  After all, look at where we have been, and we survived that didn't we?

But have we really handled it?  Have we really moved on?  And what is UP with the repeated beatings anyway?  This is not some sort of "the beatings will continue until morale improves" situation! Or is it?  From a New Thought perspective, the overall trend of our thinking tends to create what happens in our lives.  So....if we have had a lifetime of drama and trauma, even if we have a good foundation in recovery, what is to stop that tendency from continuing to happen?

Turns out there is a lot.  The appendix at the back of the AA text defines a spiritual awakening as a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery.  To me, that suggests that such a personality change is possible.  Inevitable if we do the work.

In New Thought we like to say that we change our thinking to change our lives, and Ernest Holmes puts it like this:  "Man’s experience is the logical outcome of his inner vision; his horizon is limited to the confines of his own consciousness. Wherever this consciousness lacks a true perspective, its outward expression will lack proper harmony. This is why we are taught to be transformed by the renewing of our minds."

And there have, and continue to be, many scientific studies that say that our brain chemistry changes because of all that early trauma and drama, but that there are things we can do to change it.

I don't know about you, but when science and spirituality both say that we can effect deep and lasting change within ourselves to live happier lives, I believe it.  And I believe that such deep and lasting change means we are no longer subject to the regular beatings, because something within us has declared, "I am done with that kind of life."  It reminds me of a tiny little awakening I once had, when I was a kid.  Someone told me that my mother was a strong woman, she could handle this.  "This" being the latest dramatic trauma.  And I remember thinking, "I do not want to grow up to be strong like that.  I don't want to be known as the person who can handle that kind of stuff."  Today, I think we can be strong...and not attract that kind of stuff into our lives, simply by doing the inner work necessary to effect deep and lasting change within us.

Then there is good old fashioned faith.  I was chatting with a person recently who was lamenting that her daughter was a tweaker (addicted to methanthetamine) and she was worried because she thought no one could ever come back from that.  She said she took a lot of comfort when speaking with another person who said, "I was a tweaker, and I came back."  This is faith.  When we haven't had the experience, but others have.  We can draw on their faith.

So, faith, inner work, action, repeat.  This is how we change our lives for the better.

"We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it."  AA textbook

"Never limit your view of life by any past experience." Ernest Holmes

Statements such as these teach us that we should not base our current lives on what happened in the past.

It is tempting, I know, to look at something that happened in the past and tell ourselves that we will never do THAT again, because look what happened!

If we do so, we limit our future.

What if instead we looked at the events of the past as stepping stones to our next greatest and highest good?

All those shitty things that happened are not something to be ashamed of.  Shame and guilt only keeps us in the problem.  Fear and attempts to prevent it from happening again only keep us in the problem.

Instead, try to view it from a different perspective.  If we look at those things as necessary for our greatest good, then we can thank them, do our grief and forgiveness work, and move on.  This is why this particular promise is stated after completion of the 10th step in the textbook.  There is work to be done before we can stop blaming ourselves for past events.

In New Thought, we are taught that God is everywhere present, all good, all the time.  This means not that we should put our heads in the sand and declare that all that bad stuff was really good.  It means that we take a look at it and glean the nuggets of wisdom from them; therein lies the good.

So...we take a good look at our past, without shame and blame and condemnation, and use it to move into our greatest good.

How has your past served you?  I would love to hear your thoughts.


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I get asked all the time:  what is God's will for me?

Indeed...this can be one of the most difficult questions to successfully answer, at least in the beginning of recovery.

On the surface, it would seem, from the traditional language, that we are asking to know the will of something outside of ourselves.  Something we can't understand, can't define and really have no clue about.  And yet, this Something, we are told, is what guides and shapes our lives.  If we let it.

It can all be very confusing.

I know for me, in the beginning of my recovery, I looked at the language:  "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God as I understood him, praying only for the knowledge of his will for me and the power to carry it out."   I looked at that and thought, "my god is not a him, and he isn't separate from me, and I've learned that I can pray for all sorts of stuff besides just will and power."  And I took it a step further, "I'm NEVER going to be able to stay sober!"  I did not have a traditional christian upbringing.  I was brought up being taught New Thought principles:  that god was within me, it was everywhere present.  I had just hidden it's presence by the use of drugs and alcohol.

Luckily, I had a sponsor who reassured me.  She asked me what I was doing every day.  I said, "I go to meetings, I call you, I'm working the steps, I read that daily meditation book."  She said, "honey, you are going to be just fine.  Don't worry about the language."

She was so wise!  What she told me, and what I heard over and over again, was that my understanding of the principles wasn't as important as my actions:  I needed to simply do the work.  And so I did.

Fast forward to now, 30 years into this deal I have a pretty deep understanding of the principles.  Today I know that my understanding of god is still not based in the traditional language.  Today I know that back then, they  had no other way to talk about spirituality other than traditional religion.  Today I am grateful for New Thought, that takes the traditional language and translates it into something I can understand, that bears the weight of deep spiritual truth.  Today, I know that through the process of introspection (steps 4 and 5), setting things right, communication and knowing my truth (steps 8 and 9), and prayer and meditation (steps 11), I KNOW god's will for me, because I can feel it.  God's will feels right, even if there is sometimes grief (for letting go of what no longer serves) involved.  Not doing god's will feels forced, like a battle, and sometimes manifests as a feeling of having a basketball in my stomach.

Would I ask someone new to recovery to automatically know that god's will is within them?  No.  Remember that the original textbook of AA was written for newcomers.  People who have been under the influence of a substance have no clue how to do an accurate introspection of themselves.  They rightly do not trust themselves or their thought processes.  I say rightly because that thought process has been altered by drugs and alcohol.  It takes time and work to set it right.  Doing the steps the first time around is really about making amends to ourselves.  There is a reason the god's will thing doesn't come up until the 11th step.

Fortunately, by then, self trust has begun to return, and the concept of an inner god that we are one with can then be considered.

So, if you are uncomfortable with the concept of god's will, consider that the solution is one of two things:  do the process of working the steps at a deeper level, or.....find a new god, like it encourages us to do in the 11th step.



I wrote my book because I have experienced the power of the 12 steps and I have witnessed too many people deny themselves that power.  And because I want everyone to experience the absolute freedom and happiness that can be experienced in recovery.  Recovery does not have to be a struggle.  In fact, I believe it should NOT be a struggle.  These steps are the way to move from struggle to rest.  From lack and limitation to prosperity.  From fear based lives to love based lives.

These simple tools have the power to turn fear based lives into love based lives full of joy and freedom.  And yet...I know so many people who live unsatisfactory lives because they refuse to employ this power.  They say things like, "I can't get past the religion."  Or, especially in New Thought circles, "I'm not powerlesss."

I think these are self imposed obstacles.  What if...just think about it...what if you thought of the obstacle as simply something that is getting in the way of what you want or need?  Instead of embracing the obstacle and saying, "no, I won't do these steps...they are not for me because....".  You could instead say, "I will give it a try.  It can't hurt."

So...let me just address the two most common arguments I hear.

Let's take the powerless one first.  Working these steps is a process.  You get your power back in the tenth step.  And, I submit that if you are drinking when you don't want to, or eating when you don't want to, or fighting the urge to consume that substance, whatever it is...isn't that a type of powerlessness?  If you are experiencing a life that is unsatisfactory in some way, isn't that a type of powerlessness?  What's so wrong about asking for help?  Especially if that help could facilitate a movement into a life greater than you ever dreamed of?  Especially if asking for help could move you into a state of power?

Declaring powerlessness isn't an obstacle, it is a doorway.

Now...let's take the religion piece.  It is written right into the literature of every 12 step program:  it is spiritual not religious.  And yet, it talks about God.  I know.  I had the same problem when I first entered recovery.  In fact, I crossed the word God out everywhere I encountered it and replaced it with a word of my choice.  I have news:  god isn't religious.  It's just a word.  There are as many words for god as there are for the color blue.  More in fact.  All are valid.  Perhaps you have been wounded by religion.  Many of us have.  This is where the struggle with the words come from, usually.  Wouldn't you like to be healed of that struggle?  This is where New Thought comes in.

New Thought recognizes that there is great wisdom in the ancient writings.  All of them.  Not just the Bible, but also the Torah, the Koran, the Bagavad Gita, the Buddhist writings.  All of them.  Unfortunately, the wisdom is hidden because of the way the people spoke when those things were written, and the way they taught back then.  The 12 step literature is the same.  The founders of AA, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, came from an era when religion was the only way to speak about spirituality, but they were beginning to realize that there were other ways to speak to this profound wisdom.  I have evidence that Bill Wilson and Ernest Holmes, the founder of one of the biggest New Thought organizations in the world, Centers for Spiritual Living, had conversations.  I have found similar or exact phrases in the writings of both of them.  In the original text book of AA, called the big book, written by Bill Wilson (with collaboration) there is a reference to "The Great Reality deep within us."  In a book written by Ernest Holmes called How to Use It, he has the phrase, "the Great Reality within."  This is not the only time I've found examples of this.

So.  If you are living an unsatisfactory life, try this path.  I don't care why the living is so unsatisfactory.  What I care about is that it becomes so much more.  What I care about is that you are empowered to live a life beyond your wildest dreams.


If you are an artist, you know that there are as many ways to interpret something as there are people. It doesn't change the thing, it simply enlarges it, makes it more accessible.  I happen to enjoy painting photographs, it is something that gives me a lot of joy.  I took the photo of the pansy and it was nice.  I'm sure a lot of people like photos of pansies.  But when I painted it, it became alive for me.  I enjoy this image much more!

Perhaps it is that way for you when we begin to talk about the steps.  The capitalized male religious words, the dreaded powerlessness.  Well, just like the photo of the pansy, there are many different ways to translate those words.

The concepts are strong, powerful, and will enrich your life if you live them.  This has been true for me.  But I am not powerless, never was.  And I don't believe in a separate "out there" male God, I never have.  So I had to come up with a way to navigate the steps so that I could get the gifts they offer, and that is what this book is about.

New Thought is not about disavowing any belief systems; rather it is a way of thinking that allows for happy and joy filled lives.  We teach in New Thought that there is much wisdom in ancient writings.  But sometimes getting through that language is a bit of a bear.  That's where the translation comes in, and where the term New Thought comes in.  New Thought is a new way of thinking and teaching about ancient wisdom.  While the original AA textbook isn't all that ancient, the wisdom there is indeed powerful, but again, if the language prevents you from accessing it, then maybe "A New Thought Journey Through the 12 Steps" is for you.