About Me

My photo
I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Spiritual Life: One foot in the 'World', One foot in the 'Ether'

This really relates to the previous post called American Beauty: "But it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world".
Do you notice that when you watch that clip from yesterdays post about the movie American Beauty,, that it ? 'connects' you to another ? 'transcendent', 'ethereal' mind state?

Sometimes I call it being a 'space cadet'.
Sometimes I call it being 'tuned in'.
Sometimes I call it 'transcendent'
It feels a little ? 'ethereal', high or spaced out..
Like the veil between this world and ? Another world gets just a little bit thinner. Feels weird, but in a GOOD way.

Well that's what life is like when your MOTIVE is to be of MAXIMUM HELPFULNESS, and your life is about SERVICE. That is the ? 'magic fairy dust' I was talking about* that comes into existence when we think of what we can do for others, and go out of our way to REALLY help newcomers. Its VERY cool.
But I use this term a LOT (One foot in the 'World', one foot in the 'Ether') to describe what it feels like to be 'living along spiritual lines.'
Its ADDICTIVE once you get a 'taste' 'of it. Feels thoroughly blissful. I can highly recommend it!!

And what do you have to do to get this thing?
Well, my theory is
Constant thought of others in the form of a MOTIVE to be of MAXIMUM HELPFULNESS, 'in ALL your affairs'.

There is a LOT to this and I am in the process of TRYING to commit it to posts, but haven't finished it. Its the best part of my programme, and one of the most laborious to explain. Ah well. I will get it done at some point.
Anyway. Have yourselves a DANG good Tuesday!

*See post called "Magic Fairy Dust: Constant Thought of others, combined with MOTIVE to be of MAXIMUM helpfulness"

Sunday, July 29, 2007

American Beauty: "But it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world"

"I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me
... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world.
Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much,
my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst...

...and then I remember to relax,
and stop trying to hold on to it,
and then it flows through me like rain
and I can't feel anything but gratitude
for every single moment
of my stupid little life...

You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure.
But don't worry...

You will someday."

-From American Beauty Script (at the end)

"When you stop seeing beauty, you start growing old"
U2. Summer Rain Lyrics.

I really like this end bit of the film. It captures the ? Abandonment of ? 'reason' as such when one 'sees' beauty. It's everywhere really. If you choose to look for it. Its not something that comes from the mind. Its a ? 'seeing' that comes from the heart. Or something. Anyway. Its not the ? Brain' that's sees this stuff. It is not an 'idea'. But you know when you have it. Like most really good things in life, -Very hard to describe.
There is also a quality of timelessness that I really like about this segment of the film. It has an 'air' of the poem by William Blake.

To see a World in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour

Blake is one cool geezer. From early childhood he had visions of angels. He is buried very close to Old street station (Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, City Road) and you should go and see th grave if you happen to be in the neighborhood. Here is a website with some information about him and the grave.

"One of Blake's strongest objections to orthodox Christianity is that he felt it encouraged the suppression of natural desires and discouraged earthly joy."
(From wikipedia page about William Blake What a COOL guy. I LOVE his attitude to ? 'religion'. Right up my street!

Are you being a Control Freak with your Character Defects?: "The more we fought and tried to have our own way, the worse matters got." p66


Stop fighting your demons: (Control Freak. White knuckle. Self will)

For me its when I am essentially being a CONTROL FREAK that I get hung up on the TODAY's emotional 'outcome.' For example:

Whether I am impatient TODAY
Whether I am intolerant TODAY
Whether I have self pity TODAY
Whether I have inferiority TODAY

The 'outcome' is NONE OF MY BUSNESS. We all have a ?'dark side', a weak side to our personality. I just don't feel ? shame about that anymore. but that's shadow work really. Once you understand the shadow side of things, you stop feeling judgmental and bad about dark ? lurking parts of the mind.

By the way these are GREAT books on Shadow work:
Meeting the Shadow by Connie Zweig
A Little Book on the Human Shadow by Robert Bly
Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Doesn't mean I ENCOURAGE them. Just means I accept that EVERY human has them. The whole human condition is a bit weird really. Can be very dark and very light at the same time. There are so many facets to the mind. It never ends. Its when we stop 'fighting' the 'dark side' that a RELAXED ACCEPTANCE sort of 'kicks in' and everything calms down. Ironic really. 'the more we fight and try to have our own way, the worse matters got' as they say..

Life is just TOO SHORT. And besides, getting hung up on this stuff is too much like taking myself FAR TOO SERIOUSLY. Not wearing life like a loose garment.
I call it 'right effort'. Where I am putting one foot in front of the other, trying to do the 'next right thing', but at the same time, NOT BEING PREOCCUPIED WITH THE OUTCOME too much.
Yeah its a bit of a balancing act. Lots of effort. Going to ANY LENGTHS sometimes as a matter of fact, but not placing my mental energy in the OUTCOME. Why? Because IT'S NONE OF MY BUSINESS. I have no way of controlling the outcome, so it makes no sense really to get too concerned with it.
So yeah. Get busy going to ANY LENGTHS to have a FABULOUS life, but do not waste one iota of mental or emotional energy on the outcome of your efforts, as you have no control over the outcome anyway.

Whatever. That's just what I think.
Yeah I get frustrated at the speed of my improvements in some areas too. But that's normal to feel like that from time to time. I just don't have the mental energy to be 'fussy' about my recovery. Being pretty laid back has become the norm, so fussing over ANYTHING just feels ? 'odd'. So yeah, I want things quicker too, but by and large I just kind of plod on, and just get on with it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How I try to get over 'disillusioning behavior' from people in AA, and wherever really..


IMAGE_180, originally uploaded by Irish friend of Bill.

For me, the ? 'answer is in non duality and shadow work. Which are pretty much the same thing anyway. If you really do see that there is only ONE person, as Thich Nhat Hanh so eloquently describes in the poem Call Me By My True Names, you have to reach a point where you see:

"I am a frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond. And I am the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving."

Non duality is a TERRIFYING reality to admit to oneself. But it IS the true nature of things. So you, and that offender are one and the same. Intrinsically connected, just like Thich Nhat Hanh describes. What I find REALLY cool, is that AA was 'onto this' in 1935, when it told us to 'look for the similarities not the differences'. It goes much deeper than that, but essentially we have FAR more in common than we want to admit.

Yeah. Regarding the sexual abuse case in the papers, I know NOTHING about this guy. Saw him in meetings AGES ago and that's it really. For all we know he's been out on the piss. My ?(guess) theory is that he was not drinking, and for all we know he may have been going to meetings. There are plenty of sick puppies in meetings!! So that's not such a stretch. Plus this thing happened ? 10 years ago. So he would have been ? 5-7 ? Years sober at the time.
Gawd knows. Its not really important anyway.

Yeah I remember when I first got disillusioned with AA. 93? 94? Can't remember.. Thank GOD for the Buddhist monk that explained that disillusionment happens on EVERY spiritual path. Not just the AA one! Its a very respectable 'rite of passage'. You have to somehow keep your heart open and compassionate despite the few bad apples, and disheartening examples. But you also have to have some kind of compassion for the sick people, like Thich Nhat Hanh does in the poem Call Me By My True Names, or else you will go mad!

What was weird, was that the thing that started me off on this 'dis'ing old timers was one online AA that I found horrifyingly ? Dogmatic and 'authoritative', for want of a better word. Without naming names I wanted people to see how !! dodgy the whole ''preaching' thing is. So there you go. I let AA's piss me off from time to time too. I'm sure they think they are doing the right thing, but I think it sounds a bit mad. I can't help but worry what people newer than me make of it. If they immediately assume this person 'knows' what they are talking about. I like to think I can spot a 'duff' one at 100 paces, but I don't think newer people can.. Whatever. Its none of my business either. But being someone with 20 odd years has really shown me how MEEK and SUBSERVIENT and TRUSTING some newer AA's are with long time sober people. To be honest I find it quite HORRIFYING how trusting some people are. I don't think I was ever like that. Oh well.

But yes. (in MY opinion) I think its VERY, I repeat VERY healthy, to see AA in the LONG term. (5 years and over) as 'spiritual kindergarten'. Step 11 should eclipse AA in spiritual power. Leaving AA as some kind of base camp. Step 11 is where you 'climb'. AA is much more 'grass roots' spirituality. A place to learn, humility, patience, tolerance, and generosity. Helping others. But the 'illuminations' belong to a GOOD (non AA) step 11. (Meaning you look OUTSIDE AA for examples of enlightened activity) I never learned Step 11 from Step 11 meetings, or from other AA members talking about THEIR experience of step 11. I went straight to the horses mouth so to speak. I found some of the most highly respected, world famous enlightenment teachers on my doorstep. There arent that many so they are pretty easy to track down. Plus some choose tp teach all over the world. 'Why speak to the monkey when you can speak to the organ grinder' sort of thing. So I learned about Step 11 in Monasteries, with senior monks and nuns from various religions. Mainly Buddhist. Obviously, thats a very personal preferenece, meaning its a free country and you can practice step 11 any way you wish. But I have to admit that sponsees who do the same, feel EXACTLY the way I do about AA after they meet some (what I call) 'Senior teachers' outside AA. but that's another story really..
I do my 'grass roots' with meetings and newcomers, but I get my direction and strength from step 11. That is what informs my actions, and tells me where to go next.

For me meetings are like being an auxiliary nurse. Real basic stuff, but hard work nonetheless. Its like a basic workout. A sort of once over. Like brushing my teeth every day. And the step 11 stuff. Well that's like SUPER-advanced yoga classes, or attending a lecture by the finest professor on the subject, that makes the most complex esoteric truth seem like common sense. In aa, I feel as though I am mopping up blood and vomit. Dirty work, but good for me, and thankfully does bring me closer to my higher power if I do it in the right spirit. Reminds me of when Gandhi insisted on the regular practice of cleaning the latrines as a way of maintaining humility. AA (for me) is the 'dirty work', but it gives me a great deal of pleasure when I do it right. And step 11 refines and pushes me in ways that AA meetings never could.
Whatever. That's just what I think.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The 'old life' loses its luster: "Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives."


IMAGE_213r, originally uploaded by Irish friend of Bill.

Hmm Regarding the 'old life'. The old stuff doesn't appeal to me either. When you find a real joy in ? Transcendent things that appear out of the ether after helping newcomers, it can make the rest of the world seem very unfulfilling and pointless.
You have to somehow learn to embrace the 'world' and all its ? 'hollow' things, knowing that the 'world' offers us NO real 'refuge' as such. Refuge can only be found in the ? 'realm of the spirit'. But we have to love the world anyway. We cannot turn our backs on it, just because it Is not ultimately satisfying. Besides, there IS beauty in worldly things. It is after all the place we are assigned to grow along spiritual lines. So yes, it is a bit of a 'downer' when you see the limitations of it. But that does not mean we cannot enjoy it in its own 'level'.
You are changing inside. That's all. The world looks different and feels different. This is a good thing. But yes, it places a responsibility on YOU to find ways of enjoying it that make sense to YOU.

"Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives." p83 Big Book
Why do you think the first 100 members said that?
The 'world' falls away. And all we have to hold on to, is spiritual principles. The highest of which is the desire to help other human beings get sober and stay sober. That's it I'm afraid!

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

Yeah I know it sounds grim, but if you really ARE living along spiritual lines. Initially anyway, the world can suddenly seem very LIMITED in terms of what it has to offer. That new job, new car, new house etc, can suddenly seem MUCH less compelling.

"The spiritual life is not a theory. We HAVE to live it." p83 Big Book
" We have entered the world of the Spirit." p84 Big Book

If you are feeling like this. Think of this as a 'transition phase' where your job is to find things that you DO enjoy. They are often little things. You just need to refocus. To adjust your viewpoint slightly.
But yes, the cars, houses etc are NICE, but no they DON"T really change how we feel at the end of the day.
Happiness IS an inside job. But the good news, is that if you ARE happpy in yourself, those cars, houses etc can be fun things! So do not despair! Ut gets better!
But yeah. Phone a newcomer as well. Give it away to keep it and see how you feel after.

Reminds me a bit of that old post I did called
Are you hoping that one day everything will be fine and you'll enjoy everything?
Where I posted something I heard which was:
"You can enjoy everything, nothing is too small or large to enjoy.
You should learn to enjoy, in all aspects of your life.
"Tell me one thing in the day you look forward to."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Quality not Quantity: TY show called Faking it: FURTHER proof that length of Sobriety ALONE counts for VERY little

"Quality not Quantity" is the slogan that tells us that the length of time sober ALONE tells us VERY LITTLE about a person. Nor is it an indication of skill or expertise in regards to the degree of wellbeing achieved. Not everyone uses the time in AA wisely! Some use the time to better effect than others.

Newcomers always seem to think I am pulling their leg when I say that. But I mean it with utmost sincerity. I never, repeat NEVER, assume that someone is in more impressive 'fit spiritual condition', simply because they have been sober longer than another person. There's just MORE to it than that I'm afraid.

Anyway, it just crossed my mind when I happened upon this TV programme called Faking it by Channel 4., that it illustrates this wisdom PERFECTLY. So I am drawing your attention to it.

Here's some blurb from the website for the show:
"Faking It is a transformational battle against the odds. Our faker is plucked from their natural habitat and given four weeks to master a skill well enough to fool a group of EXPERT judges."

OFTEN, the Panel of EXPERTS, conclude that the FAKE does a BETTER in 28 DAYS than others who have been doing the SAME thing for YEARS. DECADES in fact.
So what does that tell you?

See? Quality NOT Quantity.

Here. is a link to the Channel Four website for the show
And here. is a link to an episode of the show on google videos, about a posh history of art guy who becomes a grafitti artist in 28 days!!!!
How cool is that??

Helping others: Martyrs are INCREDIBLY !! UNspiritual

Relevant quotes:
"We (meaning the first 100 members) are SURE that GOD WANTS YOU TO BE HAPPY JOYOUS AND FREE" p133 Big Book
"WE (meaning the first 100 members) ABSOLUTELY INSIST on ENJOYING LIFE" p132 Big Book

"Get off the cross we need the wood"

Helping others does NOT involve, becoming a MARTYR. Because AA tells us VERY specifically that martyrs are INCREDIBLY UNspiritual. Martyr is synonymous with 'sufferance', and there is not a SHRED of that 'sufferance' ideology in the Big Book. So unless you are confident that you know better than the first 100 members, you will take that on board and work from the assumption that the 'martyr trip' is NOT in keeping with AA doctrine.
In fact you would be SERIOUSLY endangering your 'fit spiritual condition' if you were to decide to play the martyr.

So no. The AA 'Rules' are that:
A) GOD WANTS YOU TO BE HAPPY JOYOUS AND FREE,
and B) WE ABSOLUTELY INSIST ON ENJOYING LIFE. No exceptions.

So, as long as you are HJ&Free, you can help as many people as you like!
As SOON as your attempts to help others STOP feeling HJ&Free, then you KNOW you must be OFF TRACK in some way.
Either you are doing it WRONG, or you are doing it TOO MUCH. Could be one or the other.
Basically, if 'constant thought of others feels BAD, then you are doing it WRONG. Sorry! There are NO exceptions to that rule. Not in the Big book anyway! So if that id your experience..then back to the drawing board with that instruction, as you haven't quite figured it out yet.
(Well that's how I do it, and that's how I ? 'pass it on' to others. Seems to work for me AND for them.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Magic Fairy Dust: Constant Thought of others, combined with MOTIVE to be of MAXIMUM helpfulness

Relevant Big Book quotes are:
"Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of MAXIMUM helpfulness to others. p102 Big Book.
"OUR VERY LIVES, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our CONSTANT thought of others and how we may help meet their needs. p20 Big Book.
"If an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could NOT survive the CERTAIN trials and low spots ahead. p14 Big Book.
"How can I BEST SERVE Thee-Thy will (not mine) be done.” These are thoughts which must go with us CONSTANTLY." p85 Big Book.
"Then we resolutely TURN OUR THOUGHTS TO SOMEONE WE CAN HELP." p84 Big Book.
" Keep on the firing line of life with these MOTIVES and God WILL, (not might) keep you unharmed". p102 Big Book.

If you PRACTICE 'constant thought of others' plus, MOTIVE of maximum helpfulness, in your BRAIN. (Which is actually not NEARLY as difficult as it sounds), it FEELS like MAGIC FAIRY DUST is EVERYWHERE. Wel I find that to be the case anyway, and so do other people when they do the same thing. So there you go.
How cool is that!!!!

Whatever Its quite difficult to explain how to actually PRACTCE 'constant thought of others' combined with 'maximum helpfulness' MOTIVE, so I'm not going to do that just here. Suffice to say I will provide you with a recent case history that shows how POWERFUL this PRACTICE is.
I've seen it work its MAGIC, MANY times over the years, but this one is recent and fresh in my mind so I will share a bit of it.

Basically, I !! Bullied a AA lady I met recently into re evaluating the way she was doing the programme lately, and she is STUNNED by how DIFFERENT she feels in such a short time. The effect is INSTANT really, if I'm honest. But she said the same herself, AT THE TIME I EXPLAINED THIS TO HER FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME.
Weirdly enough, just HAVING THE INFORMATION as to how to practice 'constant thought of others' is ENOUGH to IMMEDIATELY ALTER YOUR MIND STATE. Cool!
That's why 'The Six Things' are SO powerful. And the cool thing is, you can do it from the VERY BEGINNING of your sobriety!! Right from the week of meetings. That's what's so great about 'The Six Things'. ANYONE can do them.

I was saying to her. "Can you see?, that when you do this stuff, it feels like 'Magic Fairy Dust' all the time or something? And she said ..'yeah..."
I said, "Well it STAYS like that, if you keep your thoughts kind of 'pointing in that direction', (The direction being, 'What can I do for others', 'What's the MOST I can contribute here?' etc etc)
Cool!! I am GLAD I 'confronted' her on her old approach. I ! Didn't like it much at the time!! But it was worth it. But then 'going to any lengths' "to give it away to keep it' ALWAYS is. Provided you MOTIVE is good that is..

Yeah I know I sound like a bit of a freak here, but you just have to bear with me on this one. I've seen it happen so many times now, that I kind of take it for granted.
Yes I PROMISE I will TRY to do a post explaining EXACTLY how I tell people to 'do' constant thought of others', but that will be a bit of work. So later! Trust me, Its quite a bit of work to explain it! Normally I do it verbally.

NONE of us will be able to say, 'oh yeah, you know I just don't have negative thoughts or behaviors', but what we CAN do is become REALLY good at getting on top of hem when they show up, and creating a mind state which is pretty DAMM !! Impenetrable to negative s**t. Good karma, or what I like to call 'constant thought of others' creates a FORTRESS of good energy around you, which protects you and insulates you from the 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune' LIKE YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE.
I love it. You can get sort of 'high' on it actually. Whatever. That's another post really.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Random snaps from my mobile phone on flickr


IMAGE_078r, originally uploaded by Irish friend of Bill.

I LOVE a gadget, so having just figured out (after QUITE some time!) how the DANG camera works on my mobile phone, I'm being a bit of a 'tourist' and randomly clicking as I go my merry way...
Anyway it's better fun than I thought it woud be, so I might just make a habit of it. Could just be becuase the weather is LOVELY over here. I dunno. But who cares. I like looking at other peoples photos, so I thought why not bung a few on flikr in case anyone is similarly inclined..
Knowing me, I might get bored of this in a week, but you never know.
Right. I'm off. Hope you are alll having a GREAT Thursday!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Quality not Quantity: Old timer (? As far as I know.?.) shagging a 14 yr old girl. Allegedly.

Disillusionment: Sexual misconduct: ? AA ? Old timer (? 60 yrs old) having sexual relations with 14 year old, over a year or so . Allegedly.

When I talk about 'disappointing' or 'disillusionment'. it sounds rather mild mannered, doesn't it? Well the REALITY of 'disappointing' and 'disillusionment' is actually rather RAW and depressing!! To say the least!!!! Here's an example for you so you can get my drift.
Here's an example of something disillusioning and disappointing..

Its a story in the paper I read the other day.
I read about a guy I knew from AA AGES ago (18 years ago or something) who as far as I know stayed sober but I don't really know, as don't bump into him very often and even when I did see him regularly, I never made an effort to get to know him or talk to him.

Basically there are VERY FEW guys in AA that I speak to or get to know. Partly because there are SO MANY I wouldn't have the time even if I DID want to, and also because a lot of them are lonely and MISINTERPRET friendliness as sexual interest. Basically its just MUCH easier if I stick with the women..

Well anyway, he ALLLEGEDLY had sex with a 14 year old. Blah blah blah. Yeah also cleared of looking at kiddie porn for 'research purposes'. Yeah right.
Whatever. I don't think his name or the details are important. The only reason I mention this is because I saw it in the paper, and just beforehand was ? Moved to post about 'beware of aa old-timers full of s**t' yesterday. So you could say there was a bit of a theme going on there!!

So do you see !! WHY you should never just assume that just because someone has been sober for a long time that they must somehow be ? Less fallible, or less likely to be full of CRAP than anyone else????

See????? QUALITY NOT QUANTITY!!!!!!!
I think this case history makes that !! abundantly clear.

Anyway, before you all start frothing at the mouth and despairing as to the general plight of the human condition nowadays, FIRSTLY
I've seen a TON of sexual misconduct by old timers since I've been in AA, so this is NOTHING NEW to me. Its called 13th stepping and it happens ALL THE TIME. AA has its fair share of (what I call) 'sexual predators' who look out for very new bewildered, and very impressionable new girls to get off with, after spouting a few aa clich├ęs and what have you.
Its EASY. Like shooting fish in a barrel. So it is an ongoing problem. Rather than whinge about it, I try to be part of the solution and 'brief' new women of this inherent risk AS SOON AS THEY COME TO MEETINGS. Whatever. That all I can do really. I can't 'change' the men's behavior, so I try to protect the women instead.

By the way I DO NOT HATE GUYS. Just in case you are thinking that. I have been very lucky in getting to know some really nice people in aa, but I have to admit, that by and large I am MUCH more 'at home' with people who are NOT alcoholics. Generally. That's a very personal thing, but its just how I feel. I feel more comfortable with non alcoholics. I RELATE more to alcoholics, but I would rather be with NON alcoholics.
Right I'm off.. Again. !

The human condition is pretty unflattering. We are quite infantile, petty creatures really.

Well that's what it seems like anyway. Perhaps it is ? Different for 'normal' non alcoholics? The people that just seem to get things done and not react very much at all? I dunno. But this is something I have been noticing a LOT lately.. Seems to be EVERYWHERE...

The more I get to know my head, the more ? 'small' and pathetic it looks. I call it, petty, childish, pathetic, defensive, grandiose, lazy, reptilian, 'cornered rat syndrome'. what I'm trying to say is that it is NOT very sophisticated. No 'big' words for it. I thought getting to know my mind would be 'interesting' and ? academic or something. But instead it seems very basic and a bit petty and embarrassing.
I can sort of see now why a wise person told me that I didn't need a therapist and I would do a much better job of it on my own. most of the time I see my outlook as very basic. an attempt to avoid 'grown up' things. stay a child, and shift the blame onto someone else.
I think you get used to it after a while. but at the moment I am surprised at how petty and small the human condition is. I'm sure I will reach a point where I have more compassion for this, but its a big disappointment to see it the way I do. (By the way if I am disappointed, it just means my previous expectations were too high)

Don't get me wrong. I can see there is good stuff in my head as well,but the 'small', lazy, petty, hiding, avoidant, shifting blame part, just looks SO disappointing. There are grand aspects of the human condition, but the 'small' bit looks SO lame. Oh well.
I think what I find disappointing, is that because there are layers of more sophisticated thought, its like I think we should 'know better'. But I suppose alongside the sophistication and more developed ideas, is a much more ? Reptilian part of the brain. Hey I will get used to it, but for the time being this is my current ? Disappointment I am coming to terms with.
I think to myself, 'why isn't it second nature for people to employ their OBVIOUS intelligence in the pursuit of the destruction of this childish pettiness? And why are these very capable minds still being run on some level by an inner infant? I would like them to be more impartial and less at the mercy of these basic childish instincts.

Whatever. Its none of my business. I don't know WHY I thought looking in my brain would reveal something 'interesting' or 'impressive', any more than you should expect to be 'impressed' when you cut open a body (surgery etc) to examine the contents. Well inside the mind is no more 'impressive' to look at than examining the contents of a body. Both are impressive from the point of view of the miraculous functions they are able to perform. A liver, for instance is an incredible piece of biological engineering, but I don't WANT to LOOK at a liver or HOLD one in my hand. Why? Because there's something very BASIC and very VISCERAL about it. It does not look 'grand', if you know what I mean. Well that the same way I feel about my mind. I can see there are aspects of its functioning that are transcendent and drawn to elevated ideas, but at the same time, I can see that it is THOROUGHLY BASIC in its nature too. That seems to me to be the FAR more obvious part of it.
So there you go. That's what's been on my mind lately. I am coming round to the idea. But I'm not quite there yet. I am in the process of getting used to the idea that our intelligence does not save us from our childish (ego driven) tantrums.
Now I can see why 'restraint of tongue and pen' is such a HIGH teaching. Because it essentially ROADBLOCKS this 'pathetic' part of the brain. Which, now I can see, is a HUGE part of the mind. So when you take that on, you are being pretty brave!

It sort of makes me want to be a marine, or a Shaolin monk, or spend three hours a day in the gym or something. Meaning I want to develop something inside me SO tough and SO strong, that I rarely have to observe this SMALL, PETTY bit of my mind. Or that if it does raise its head that I have the coolness or the impartiality to see it for what it is and not give in to it.
By the way I'm not saying that all marines or fitness freaks are enlightened. I'm just saying I could do with 'some of what they have' to deal with this part of the mind I am noticing a lot more these days.

Ah well . I will just have to look at developing more willpower and discipline. Or something!
Right off to the gym . Have a nice Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Supposed 'Authorities' in AA: Don't be INTIMIDATED by them. Make your OWN mind up.

And yes. That includes me. (Just in case you have the MISFORTUNE to either put me on a ? 'pedestal', or conclude that I am any less FALLIBLE than any other human being)

Why?
Tradition 2:
2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; THEY DO NOT GOVERN.

Tradition 12:
"ever reminding us to place principles BEFORE personalities."

Yes on the one hand, if people are VERY new, or I have GRAVE, IMMEDIATE concerns about them, I MAY choose to suggest something VERY clearly. But OUTSIDE of that, (after step 9 really) I would MUCH PREFER people to think for themselves.

That's one (of the many) reasons why I prefer not to sponsor formally after step 9. I want people to START THINKING FOR THEMSELVES.
Ok , if they REALLY want to ask me about something in particular, fair enough. But what I DON"T want them to do, is to end up thinking that they are SOMEHOW INCAPABLE OF FIGURING THINGS OUT FOR THEMSELVES.

Apart from the fact that I would have NO FREE TIME WHATSOVER if I chose NOT to do that. I strongly believe that it is in THEIR best interests to learn to start to trust their OWN judgment.
I just don't think its right if you end up thinking that you are ALWAYS wrong, or that you cant make a decision about something without asking a dozen people.
Basically its all about balance.
Yeah, some cant make a decision for love nor money and end up asking a TON of people. And then others think they know everything!!! And are a bit peculiar in my opinion!
Yeah, and the ones that are angry, depressed, or fearful, well they cant see the wood for the trees so they have a lop sided view which isn't very good when trying to make decisions. Oh well.

I mean the 'normal' ones. (after step 9 really) They need to be FAR more confident of their perceptions and their ability to figure things out. Yes, of course they will make STUPID mistakes, but that's going to happen anyway. Life involves taking risks. You cant avoid that. And with risk comes the possibility of embarrassing failure.
Personally I LOVE asking cool people questions about how to go about my life. (Any excuse to talk to them really) But there are not many people that fall into that category I'm afraid to say.

What I was TRYING to say before I got HOPELESSLY sidetracked, is
DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED BY PEOPLE IN AA (or any other 12 step programme) WHO PROFESS TO BE AN 'AUTHORITY' ON ??? ANY ASPECT OF RECOVERY.
I may be infuriatingly clear in the manner in which I choose to express myself, but I do NOT, I repeat.. NOT
THINK I HAVE GOT IT ALL FIGURED OUT.
And in fact I go to a LOT of trouble to try VERY HARD to communicate that to people. In fact it ANNOYS me when anybody makes that assumption about me, or any other member of AA. I find admiring comments quite ikky too..
So there you go.
So, Don't EVER let ANYBODY talk DOWN to you. EVER. (Talking down to you is SUPERIORITY, not humility.)
Or I will send the boys round!! Heheh..
See? I can be intimidating TOO when I try!!. Were you scared???
Oh well. Never mind. Maybe next time...

PS: Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against expertise. I think when I say 'authority' here I mean something that appears to be 'superior, or 'better than', in a way that INHIBITS one from including ones own version of events. Sort of like when you dismiss your own concerns because you think 'they know better'. That's what I mean. What Im trying to describe here is arrogance and superiority, not expertise.
For instance I really like Bill gates, and he is very much an expert, but I do not perceive him as presenting himself as 'the final word' on matters regarding computers. He does not strike me as 'superior'. Or an 'unquestioned authority'.
Anyway I hope that makes it a little clearer..

Monday, July 16, 2007

What I DO aim to do as 'standard' when I Sponsor

Some sponsors have a very unstructured approach with sponsoring. Fair enough. It's up to them. Each to their own, but I thought I'd just share a bit about how I approach it. Its the ONLY way for me to do it without getting very resentful!
Basically I find you have to be VERY organized to be a sponsor, otherwise you end up HATING it and resenting the demands on your time. Unless oyu are a lady of leisure! And have a TON of free time..

Anyway here are some 'structures' I have in place when I sponsor. I am flexible, but this is the general structure.

What I DO aim to do as 'standard'
5-10 min calls Mon to Friday preferably in the morning. (7.30-8.30am type thing)
2hr weekend bookings either for:
2hr evening bookings Mon-Thurs either for:
Reading out step one or two written work
Reading out step four as part of step5
'Out of hours' calls if it is an emergency or it cannot wait.
Mobile text queries at any time, but whether I answer them or not is at my discretion. But if you send me too many I will ask you not to.
Email. Anytime. Same as text really. Answers are at my discretion, and if you send too many I will ask you not to.
I will make exceptions if the circumstances are such that you cannot do the stuff I mentioned above, but I do NOT like to make a habit of it.

Coffee after meeting. Once a week. With other Sponsees.
See them at a meeting once a week. Ie make an effort to be at one meeting as a definite arrangement once a week. Otherwise meetings are 'off the cuff'.

Examples of stuff I do NOT do as ''standard' when I Sponsor

Basically you have to be VERY organized to be a sponsor, otherwise you end up HATING it and resenting the demands on your time.

Examples of stuff I do NOT do as ''standard'
but WILL do AT MY OWN DISCRETION:
Random time calls
Random length calls
Weekend calls (What I call 'time off')
Evening calls (What I call 'time off')

I never do 'random time' calls. in fact it surprises me that ANYONE with a busy lifestyle COULD do that. I arrange 5-10min calls at set times. ideally in the morning. but other times if that's not poss. mon to fri only. other than that it would have to be a VERY important reason to call. ie calling me on my ''time off'. I will take calls on those times, but only if it is VERY important, or urgent and cannot wait.
Put it this way. would YOU want Sponsees to call you at random times throughout the day? I wouldn't! I don't think I know ANYONE that would welcome that arrangement.

What I consider to be 'Bad' Sponsors

To be honest I get a bit fed up listening to stories of people who have sponsors who:

Change plans at the last minute. Or don't show up.
Are never available.
Say they are going to do stuff and then don't do it. Ie unreliable and flaky.
Cannot be got hold of on the phone.
End up talking about THEIR OWN STUFF instead of the Sponsees stuff.
Are totally inflexible.
Get pissed off with Sponsees when the approach they are using is partly responsible for causing friction. Ie blame the Sponsee instead of reappraising the method they are using. Hey don't get me wrong, all Sponsees can drive you NUTS, but by and large it is WRONG to always assume that the fault lies with the Sponsee. That's all. Sometimes a different approach is needed. A tougher approach, or a softer approach. It all depends. Again this is at the discretion of the sponsor. If you simply do not have time for constructing another approach, then you have no choice but to suggest they find a different sponsor.

I have a list a mile long !!! of (what I consider to be) bad sponsorship, but I have focused here mainly on:
Flakiness
Unmanageability
Basic inability to get to grips with the Sponsee.

There are very common complaints. But there are many others!

I pretty much aim to let go of Sponsees after step 9

I pretty much aim to let go of Sponsees after step 9, so I never let them 'build up'. Meaning I would never have more than 5 or 6 doing the steps at any one time. Plus I try to do ALL 1-9 in 9 months if poss. So I'm always recycling Sponsees. I don't 'keep' them for long. But that's a very personal approach. I could never do that thing where you have 50 Sponsees or something. Jeez. What a nightmare! I don't mind the occasional query from someone who has done the first nine steps, but I don't want to 'baby-sit' them through various life decisions on some kind of permanent basis, if I can help it.

Basically you have to be VERY organized to be a sponsor, otherwise you end up HATING it and resenting the demands on your time.

Quality not Quantity

There are PLENTY of nutcases in AA as you probably know by now, and there's no reason why sponsor might not be a bit nutty too!! You can't put them on pedestals! Just because they've got some time DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING. You'd be surprised how disappointing the human condition is!
Either find someone with more structure in the way they sponsor people, then hopefully they will have more free time. Either that or get someone who has no job, no hobbies, no friends so plenty of free time!!

I ALWAYS say "QUALITY NOT QUANTITY"
Meaning the QUALITY of their 'wellbeing' and their ability to cope with life, is FAR more important than HOW LONG THEY HAVE BEEN SOBER. Mind you the quality of wellbeing has a different value over time. Dizzy idealism may 'look' positive in the early years, but is replaced with a more mature 'benign wellbeing' in later recovery. So yes, positivity 'looks' different over time. But that's a different post really.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Turns out I've spent (approximately) 47% of my life not drinking in 12 step recovery..

Cool huh? I thought I would try to calculate it because Doc a pointed out I had 7500 days today. (Thanks Doc as I hadn't noticed till you said..)
It will be nice when it is 50%!!

Yeah so why do I STILL not know everything then???
I think I should go ask for my money back eh?
Never mind. Maybe NEXT year, I will have figured everything out..
You never know!

By the way I am being facetious!!! Hey I don't mind. Keeps me on my toes. But that's why I like talking to people who've been around a bit longer, because they have LONG since shed the ILLUSION that at some point they will have ''arrived'. Only newer people have that kind of expectation. Poor things! Its always a bit disillusioning when the truth of that reality finally sinks in. oh well. Learning how to deal with disillusionment is a VERY important part of ANY spiritual journey you know.
When people experience it, they often think there is something 'wrong'. There isn't . Its 'business as usual'. You still go to meetings. You just alter your expectations. Or better still have none. Have ASPIRATIONS or INTENTIONS instead. Much better! What you should NOT do is 'ditch the baby out with the bathwater' and quit meetings, or quit AA.
Right gotta go! GYM!!

Nip in and say Hi to SE at The World of an Addict..

Ah bless. Another new blogger. 6 months! Cool. Another alkie on the mend! Always a nice thing to see. Its called The World of an Addict.
I don't know if its a he or a she, but I dare say that will figure itself out in due course! Meantime its just SC. I kind of like using initials because they all sound like rappers names to me. You know like J Lo and all that nonsense..
Anyway just thought I'd let you know we have a new alcoholic blogger on the block!
Anyway hope you all are having a relaxing Sunday. For some strange reason I am POOPED and have been reading a book on the couch instead of going to the gym FIRST. Bah!!!
That's the problem with being mellow, you have to MAKE yourself do things. Bummer. All these things were SO much easier when I was driven by a neurotic desire to prove? something to ?? somebody. Ah well. You can't have everything! Sometimes I wish I had some sort of Nazi life coach to yell at me to do things...never mind.
So, Please,. if there are any recovering alcoholics with Nazi-like powers of bullying, you are very welcome to become a life coach on my behalf, as I am FAR too comfortable for my own good. WAY too mellow. Ah well. Right I think I need some STRONG coffee from the Algerian Coffee Store and haul my alcoholic ass to the GYM, before it is in danger of eclipsing the sun. Besides, there might ! be some cute guys in there. One never knows! Its always a bonus when there is a little eye candy to take ones mind off the (!!) grueling cardio..
Right I'm off! Have a nice Sunday!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Politicians and all that, who knows anything these days

Just thought I'd throw that one in, just in case you had any faith whatsoever in them to 'figure it out'. Oh well.

More to the point, none of us know REALLY. Its all a bit confusing to say the least. (!) Its better if you look at it from the point of view of how much you DON"T know instead of how much you DO know. Gives you a much more accurate assessment of how much of a grip of the situation you have. Ie NONE really.
Oh well. Never mind eh?
Hahahaa
Yeah I know it sounds depressing, but its the truth, and it saves yourself tying yourself in knots trying to figure the whole DANG thing out. Well that's what I think anyway..
Hey I have no idea why I decided to post this. But it IS how I see it, and I just thought I would share that with you..

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Soft or Hard? Open or Closed?: The beauty and bravery of vulnerability

Doctor a posted this on his blog called Relationships in Recovery
and I just LOVED it:

"This means allowing ourselves to become more vulnerable, more exposed"
Balance comes when we learn to accept being off balance, not when we hold ourselves aloof."

I LOVE both those statements because they 'champion' 'the beauty and bravery of vulnerability. I have made big inroads into this faculty in the last 2-3 years. I must say I like it. Its a bit of a weird new balancing act, but its do-able. .
I'm not sure what I 'do' as such to make it happen. Its just something I 'feel' more and more as time goes on. A 'softening' if you like.
Maybe its because I am a woman and I know how easy it would be for me to be a Queen Bitch, I dunno. But I HATE the 'aloof' thing in women. YIK!!

So what I don't like is:
Not 'gentle'
Hard faced
Queen bitch
Aloof
'held in'
Controlled
Just 'so'
'Closed'
'Spikey'
Tough
Opinionated
Forceful
Conviction
'Perky': A slightly ? 'lively' amount of energy
Derogatory observations of others
Appears as an ''authority'. Meaning 'someone who KNOWS the answers.
Arrogant.
Complacent
Confident
Spiritual Pride.

What I DO like is:
Gentle
'Open'
Soft
Not 'spikey'
No 'toughness'
Everything is open to question. Open-minded.
Appears NOT as an 'authority', Meaning does not look like they know ALL the answers. Looks as though there might be MANY answers, and that the 'right' choice is FAR from obvious.
Humility.

Bleh! I have seen this trait can develop with SOME women over a long time sober. Lets see..?.. 11 years or so and after. It happens SOMETIMES if they have a VERY structured and effective programme. The less effective ones are never afforded the luxury this kind of ? Superiority. (As far as I know) It is something you 'feel' rather than what they say.
The only reason I mention this is because I have found the success rate with the method I was shown is VERY high, and if you are not careful, that 'success' can go to your head and make you VERY complacent and basically give you a COMPLETELY FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY. I've seen it happen quite a few times with former members of my old home group. Its an easy trap to fall into. The more successful you are, the more likely you are to suffer from arrogance.

Mind you, I don't want to be completely accessible, as I would be overwhelmed by other peoples problems. I need SOME boundaries!

Yeah and don't get me wrong, that DOESN"T mean that I think people are doing GREAT if they are weeping all the time either!! Or falling apart at the seams. I'm just saying this in relation to the people that become just a LITTLE TOO GOOD sometimes at being 'well'.
The way I see it, is you spend the first 8 years or so learning how NOT to be a miserable B*****d. Then you spend the NEXT 8 years learning how to be UTTERLY OPEN TO EVERY SHADE OF EMOTION, WITHOUT JUDGEMENT OR 'INDULGENCE'.
It can seem sometimes like you are going 'backwards'. But its not the same as the uncontrolled emotional chaos that you experienced before you came to AA. Hmm lets see. One could call it a 'Controlled explosion'. Yeah I know. Perhaps not the best choice of word, but I can't think of another one.

Actually here's a phrase which probably explains it better
Going to Pieces without Falling Apart by Mark Epstein (Book)
You know I bought this book and it was a bit of a disappointment, but I LOVE the title. Perhaps if I read it now I would like it. Who knows. I think I like reading monks and nuns best. The only prior monk I like reading is Jack Kornfield.

Whatever. Its like 'Stage 2' of emotional growth,, is learning the VERY FINE balancing act of 'Neither repression or Indulgence'.
But Stage 1, is just like learning how not to HATE people. Including yourself. How not to be a MISERABLE COW and all that. Basic stuff about how to be positive instead of HORRIBLY NEGATIVE.

Whatever. That's just what I think.
Yeah Stage 1 and Stage 2. That's what I should call it from now on..
Stage 1: Steps 1-9. How to not be a Miserable COW.
Stage 2: Step 11. Learning how to "Go to Pieces without Falling Apart". The FINE art of 'Neither Repression nor Indulgence"

Cool! Sorry for thinking out loud there. Hope that makes some sense to you!
Have a GREAT Thursday!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tradition 2 and Step 12: The good is the enemy of the best ..In ALL your AA affairs

This is a 'principle' of AA mentioned in Tradition 2. Which is:
For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

I have shown here how I "boiled it down to the principles in the passage. Its just how I do it. It makes sense to me, if nobody else! Its just the way I have come to study the contents of the AA message. I kind of pick bits out and apply them later or something. Anyway here's the jist of it. In case you find it useful..

First: Here is the section from Tradition 2 that mentions it:
You tell us that Charlie's proposal is ethical. Sure, it's ethical, but what we've got won't run on ethics only; it has to be better. Sure, Charlie's idea is good, but it isn't good enough. This is a matter of life and death, Bill, and nothing but the very best will do!' Challengingly, by friends looked at me as their spokesman continued. `Bill, haven't you often said right here in this meeting that sometimes the good is the enemy of the best? Well, this is a plain case of it.

Second: My emphasis on this version:
You tell us that Charlie's proposal is ethical. SURE IT'S ETHICAL, BUT WHAT WE'VE GOT WON'T RUN ON ETHICS ONLY; it has to be better. Sure, Charlie's idea is good, but IT ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH. THIS IS A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH Bill, and NOTHING BUT THE VERY BEST WILL DO!' Challengingly, by friends looked at me as their spokesman continued. `Bill, haven't you often said right here in this meeting that sometimes THE GOOD IS THE ENEMY OF THE BEST? Well, this is a plain case of it.

Third: And boiled down even further:
Sure, it's ethical, but what we've got won't run on ethics only; it has to be better.
Sure, 'X''s idea is good, but it isn't good enough.
This is a matter of life and death, and nothing but the very best will do!'
Sometimes the good is the enemy of the best? Well, this is a plain case of it.

Combine this with Step 12 " practice these principles in all our affairs." Doesn't say say, 'except when practicing the principles of recovery outlined in Tradition 2'.
So this applies to choosing a sponsor, choosing a home group, choosing how to work the steps, anything really.

So in other words, when it comes to MAKING CHOICES as to how to go about your programme, deciding which fork in the road to take..:
'Ethical' is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. It HAS to be better than that. Nothing but the VERY best will do. Why? Because this is a matter of LIFE and DEATH. Just because an idea is 'good', does Not mean it is good ENOUGH. Why? Because the good is the enemy of the best.

You could say "Don't be silly, then you'd end up being a PERFECTIONIST."
Nope.
If you are REALLY slavish about doing the AA programme, you would have obediently ! followed the "progress not perfection' suggestion. It is only the LESS diligent AA students that think they can get away with ignoring that instruction. So no, being VERY exacting, does NOT neccesarily lead you to perfectionism. In my opinion anyway. I think the basic instructions are VERY exacting in their outright dismissal of any perfectionistic tendencies. So perfectionism is in BREACH of AA suggestion. "Doing your lousy best", is MUCH more in keeping with AA Doctrine. It allows for effort, but stops short of perfectionism.

Tough? Well yeah! 'Simple but not easy" as they say! Why do you think they keep saying things like..
"Half measures availed us NOTHING"
"Any lengths"
"The result was NIL until we let go ABSOLUTELY"

..and stuff like that?
See, theres the clue! So the 'Lousy best' approach comes in VERY handy if you ask me!
You may already know I am a BIG fan of the phrase 'You snooze you lose' and to me 'the good is the enemy of the best' is pretty much saying the same thing. I find this SO many times in life. Near enough, is just NOT good enough. If I want to get something RIGHT, there are VERY few shortcuts. I've said this before, but for me, life is THE toughest disciplinarian I know of. It just doesn't seem to offer many 'easier softer ways' for ANYTHING. Including AA. But there you go, thats just how I find it. Any lengths seems to be ONLY way for THIS alcoholic to get anywhere. I have to go to any lengths to 'pause when agitated' for gawds sakes.. never mind the rest! Its a permanent habit of going AGAINST the grain. Doing the opposite of old habits. Ah well!
Whatever. Thats just how I understand it. Hope that makes sense! I'm off to the gym! Have a great tuesday!

Hamster in a wheel or Duvet Diver? Too fast or too slow?

The hamster in the wheel types, prefer perpetual motion. Busy busy busy! Never a moment to stop and think. No down time. No time to reflect. Its a form of avoiding feeling as it is much harder to feel when you are busy all the time.

The duvet diver, always feel like having a nap. Too MUCH down time. Never actually get round to DOING stuff. Avoidance, procrastination, lethargy. When an onerous task presents itself, suddenly you feel tired, sleepy. Like in the middle of double geography!

Sometimes you get people who switch between the two.
When you are TOO busy, it is helpful to MAKE some time for yourself.
And when you are suffering from inertia, it is helpful to try to keep active, in whatever way you can. Just keep moving basically!

Some people are hamster in the wheel types, other are duvet divers.
I tend to err on the inactive side when things are difficult. So I really liked the Fifth suggestion on Daaves post called SIX BEHAVIORS THAT INCREASE SELF-ESTEEM that included this suggestion.Heres a link to the article posted online. I LOVE it! Thank you Daave for finding it and bringing it to my attention! Here is a section of the article:

"Fifth, respond to difficult times or depressing moments by increasing your level of productive activity. When your self-esteem is being challenged, don’t sit around and fall victim to “paralysis by analysis.” The late Malcolm Forbes said, “Vehicles in motion use their generators to charge their own batteries. Unless you happen to be a golf cart, you can’t recharge your battery when you’re parked in the garage!”

Sixth, choose to see mistakes and rejections as opportunities to learn. View a failure as the conclusion of one performance, not the end of your entire career. Own up to your shortcomings, but refuse to see yourself as a failure. A failure may be something you have done — and it may even be something you’ll have to do again on the way to success — but a failure is definitely not something you are.

Even if you’re at a point where you’re feeling very negatively about yourself, be aware that you’re now ideally positioned to make rapid and dramatic improvement. A negative self-evaluation, if it’s honest and insightful, takes much more courage and character than the self-delusions that underlie arrogance and conceit. I’ve seen the truth of this proven many times in my work with athletes. After an extremely poor performance, a team or an individual athlete often does much better the next time out, especially when the poor performance was so bad that there was simply no way to shirk responsibility for it. Disappointment, defeat, and even apparent failure are in no way permanent conditions unless we choose to make them so. On the contrary, these undeniably painful experiences can be the solid foundation on which to build future success."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Lets try it and see what happens: What I do at the VERY beginning of Sponsoring someone

I do NOT do 'Temporary Sponsorship' as such.
I DO on the other hand, start out with Sponsees on a 'lets see how we get on' sort of way. This is for me (and her) to find out:
If we get along.
If she is receptive to what I am telling her.
If she is able to understand what I am saying.
If she is able to 'take instruction'.
If she is willing to go to 'any lengths'.
Whether she can DO the things I suggest.
Whether she WANTS to get well or not.
(And a whole bunch of other things, but that's some of the main ones.)

But I do NOT call that 'Temporary Sponsorship'. I tell them something along the lines of:

Lets try it and see how we get on. I will give you some stuff to do, if for WHATEVER reason you are unable to do the things I suggest, I will be FORCED to conclude that I am NOT helping you, in which case, I would advise you to find yourself another sponsor. There are MANY different sponsorship styles out there. I do NOT think the approach I use it for everyone, it is NOT. It suits certain personality types but not others. Also it is more suited to the more 'desperate' types. If you have 'the gift of desperation', you are more likely to succeed with this method. If not you may prefer a more laissez-faire, less structured, style of sponsorship, which happens to be a VERY common sponsorship style, so you will have a GREAT many alternative sponsors to choose from. My style of working with people is NOT typical, so may seem unusual at first, but like most things, I suggest you TRY it first and decide LATER whether or not you think this is working. I have no way of knowing myself, if this will work until I try it, so that is what I intend to do. This is why I will call this a 'try-out' period. The beginning is always rather difficult, but don't let that put you off. It also happens to be the most labour-intensive for me, so please try to take that into account when I work with you. You will make this easier for me if you try VERY HARD to do as I say. And I prefer to work with what I call 'easy' Sponsees. Why? Because it takes me LESS time to 'teach' them this stuff, and as a DIRECT result, I get to help MORE PEOPLE. And that's the bottom line really. Its a numbers game in the end. This will all make sense to you a bit more, once you get started, so don't worry if all this seems like double Dutch at the moment.

Then I give them the 6 things to do, (Listed in the sidebar on the right hand side) and
I look at what meetings they can get to, depending on where they live and work.
I arrange a time for them to call me, every week day if possible. Morning if possible.
And arrange to see them for coffee after the meeting in a weeks time or so, to see how they got on with the things I have told them to do. Ideally I would tell them to bring along their written work to see ho wthey have got on so far.

Also I try to find out a bit about their personal situation. Work. Home. Family. Health. Other addictions.

And I tell them to start writing a 'Drinking CV'. Which is actually more like a potted history of EVERYTHING. But very much a BIRDS EYE VIEW. Very much a LOOK BUT DON'T STARE sort of thing.
Names, dates, addresses, family, school, work, any other compulsions, addictions. How the drugging/drinking/compulsive behaviour started, what happened, where it ended up. What brought them to AA. The 'high' points, meaning the 'high drama' points throughout the course of their entire life. The whole thing really. I tell them, when it is finished, they will come round to mine and read it out, and that I would like to be able to do that in about 3 hours. I'd like to get it all read out in one go if possible.

I expect them to include a ROUGH THUMBNAIL SKETCH of any or all of these things if they are relevant:
Prison, police, psychiatric admissions, if any, shoplifting, gambling, sex addiction, drugs, prescribed and 'street', anti depressant use, suicide attempts if any, thoughts of suicide, self harm history, anorexia, bulimia, any violent behavior, occult fears, occult experimentation in the past, hauntings, (if any), hospital admissions, illnesses, bereavement, abuse (all kinds), battered wife, assault, previous psychiatric diagnoses, panic attacks, bullying, therapy history, counseling history, motor accidents, what they think the 'worst thing is that has happened to them so far, what they think is the most painful thing that has happened to them so far, what they fear most, any previous attempts a staying sober, what happened and how long it lasted, Religion history. Family background. Basically the whole nine yards.

This is just ONE part of step 1. I'm not going to explain it all here, but it is the way I do step one. Its essentially a 'getting to know you' exercise. Amongst other things. Now you see why I find Step 1 so EXHAUSTING!

I don't really 'pray' for other people as such

I believe all thought forms and feelings have the same power as prayer. More like, all thoughts and feelings ARE prayers.
The film The Secret explains this idea pretty well.
For reasons I have not really given a great deal of thought to, I tend not to focus on one particular person in prayer. Perhaps I am mean spirited? I dunno. I think 'god' knows what every persons destiny is, and it is none of my business. I feel like if I pray for something specific, its like as if I went up to my boss with a letter from a client and said, I really think you should look at this first. Just seems wrong. But what the hell do I know. I have a TON of 'wrong perceptions' and this could be one of them. But the other reason, is that I feel my authentic concern and ? Feelings, thoughts about that person are a healing influence in themselves. I also think that ? Naturally occurring thought forms are pretty powerful, because they arise spontaneously and are utterly authentic. I think the more authentic a mind state is, the more powerful it is. I feel that if I have to sit down and think about a certain person, that there must be not much real feeling there to begin with. It sort of endorses the fact that I am a thoughtless b*****d. To be honest I have no idea if this is utter s***e or not, That's the thing with delusion. You can never really tell if you are right or not. Which is a shame. But I have a strong feeling that my thoughts and feelings heal others whether I pray formally or not. Actually I think is is BECAUSE I know how powerful prayer is that I have reservations about wielding its power. Formal practices scare me a bit because I think I am interfering with the course of events. I ALWAYS use the 'disclaimer' IF IT BE YOUR WILL at the end of ANY request, because I am TERRIFIED I will mess something up if I don't.

I think I tend to think I am contributing to the overall 'pool' of healing energy available to the ?? gods, devas, beings etc if I try to have as much wellbeing as I possibly can. Its like I am contributing to the 'energy bank'. I feel the ? gods, devas, beings and what have you are in a better position to allocate healing energy to the right places. My job in this lifetime is much more mundane. I am a spiritual pawn if you like. I am very limited in the work I can do to help people, so that's what I'd rather stick to. Its like I am the spiritual equivalent of an auxiliary nurse, and the real 'energy experts' ie the ? gods, devas, beings and what have you, they are the top surgeons. So I kind of just get on with my job of chatting to newcomers and what have you, and leave all the hardcore energetic work to them.
Besides I have such a limited view of the chain of events and future possibilities, that how can I POSSIBLY know what is best??
I also think that if I just get on with the messy business of trying to be useful in a more 'earthly' ways that the ? gods, devas, beings etc, will take care of me while I do that.

Like I say this is a very personal viewpoint. So don't think I'm saying you SHOULD do this. This is just where my feelings guide me, but like I say I have NO way of knowing if it is the right thing or not. (Like most things in life!) It just feels right. But I don't for one minute think that that means I AM right. My feelings have been wrong before. So gawd knows.

Generally, it goes like. 'Hands off'. "Leave it to the Pro's to figure out'. "Get on with helping people get sober'. "Back to work'.
Its like "Here's the mop, Back to work" "Look you missed a corner".

Some of you might think that sounds a bit harsh, but I have a VERY !!!! Clear picture of HOW LITTLE I KNOW, and I also have a VERY!!!! Clear picture that others know a GREAT !!!!! Deal more than me.
Which is just a way of saying that humility feels very real to me a LOT of the time. Which I actually like. It sounds crap, but I LOVE having faith in a 'power greater than myself'. Feels cool. Like having a 'proper' parent.

Go say Hi to Mary at Letting go

..In case you don't already know, just thought I would mention Mary a with !! 105 days! (Bless her little cotton socks). Her blog is called Letting Go.
So go pop round and say hi. Bring a packet of biscuits if you like. I always find that goes down well. Have a nice Sunday!

Pride creates judgment which roadblocks emotion. But its not a free-for-all. Indulgence is no good either.

I can still find myself telling myself things that 'disallow' some sort of emotion on the basis that ? ..
It is not 'spiritual',
it is 'wrong'
I am just being 'negative'. Etc etc.
Various reasons that all amount to the same thing.
'This is WRONG, and you shouldn't be doing it'

This is what I call 'Judgment'. Or a value judgment.
When I say ANYTHING is RIGHT or WRONG I am essentially making a JUDGEMENT.
For me I first learned about judgment in step 4 and 5. The way I was shown how to do step 4 and 5 meant that I learned that Pride was the defect of character that made judgment possible. I'm not going to explain step 4 here, as that would take too long, but I'll explain how my understanding of that relates to my emotional life.

In order to get round this ? Booby trap'. I think a lot of it comes from being able to suspend judgment. I first learned it in step 4 when I learned how to identify and take stock of my pride. As for me pride is the root of judgment. Its not like a magic wand, but basically I am to 'practice these principles in ALL my affairs". So that means it applies to my emotional life too. All I know is I have to 'practice' suspending my judgment (stemming from pride) to my emotional affairs. Basically not find fault with them. If I do that I can feel emotions guiltlessly.

Fear is the wrong word but I am 'wary' of the danger of 'indulging' a negative mind states. But striking the balance between repression and indulgence is not easy. Like most things in life, the more you practice, the better you get.
To be honest, I'm not sure if you would do a very good job of this BEFORE the end of step 5, as I think you might be too ? Unstable. I think you need a bit of strength to do this. So don't try this if you are new. You will tip almost immediately into 'indulgence' and cause more harm to yourself. Best wait till you are on more solid spiritual ground, and can 'hold steady' better.

Also, it is unwise to have TOTAL faith in emotion. Sometimes emotion is pure KACK. For some reason we have this idea that all emotion is reliable. Often it is NOT. It comes from our BAGGAGE. So don't go putting emotions on a 'pillar', thinking they are always right, or 'true', or useful. Even when they ARE 'true', there can be times when they are a TOTAL LIABILTY. For instance when you step outside your comfort zone. Jeez. If we let our emotions dictate our lives at THAT point, we would never do ANYTHING. So like I say, sometimes they are total BS, other times they are true AND useful. Other times they are true but totally USELESS. Sometimes they are true but we are ''learner driver' and this vehicle is just a bit too big for us to try driving just yet.
You see? Its NOT THAT SIMPLE. Ha! Like most things in life..
Yeah, I get fed up too with the 'no shortcuts'. 'no easier softer way' thing. Jeez I would LOVE it if life were simple. BUT IT ISN'T.
Just when you think you have figured something out, along comes something ELSE which proves pretty much conclusively that you DON'T.
Ah well. Nothing wrong with being a work in progress. EVERYONE is evolving. Even the Dalai lama is evolving. (Bless im). So there's NO SHAME in it.

I see MYSELF much more clearly in OTHERS, than I do when I look at myself

Trying to be objective and the tendency to practice One rule for you, one rule for me.

Its easier to be compassionate toward others than myself. A good way round it is to imagine the same thing in another person, and apply the same reaction to my situations as I would to the other person, even if it feels 'wrong' or doesn't make sense. In other words, use other people as a benchmark as to how to be more compassionate toward myself. Yeah. Its often a case of 'act as if'. But that's ok. Just because something feels a bit 'odd' or wrong, doesn't mean its the wrong thing to do. I kind of learn what the right thing to do is, from observing others, and apply it to myself. Instead of examining myself as such. To be honest, when I am looking at my own stuff, I often visualize my emotions as if I were another person, and this helps me see it more clearly. I see another person in my mind experiencing EXACTLY what I am experiencing at present, and that helps a great deal in gaining some kind of objectivity. But that might be a bit difficult for some people. If its to difficult, don't bother.

As regards seeing others differently than oneself, we all are like that. Our ability to be objective about ourselves is much less than our ability to be objective about others. We 'see' more clearly when we look at others, than if we look at ourselves. That's why helping newcomers invariably teaches us so much about OURSELVES. They are a 'clear view' of a shared psyche. We aren't really that different in a very basic sense.
Yes of course there will be differences between us and other people, but the AA instruction is to "look for the similarities, not the differences', so that's what I do. Otherwise I would conclude I was terminally unique.