The Al-Anon program is a precious gift; I want to share it. I will not deprive myself of the opportunity of helping those who need it.
I have no room for resentment in my new Al-Anon way of life. I will not fight it with grim determination but will reason it out of existence by calmly uncovering its cause.
An Al-Anon member wrote: “The best antidote for resentment is the continual practice of gratitude.”
A program of self-recognition and self-change “reads easy and does hard.” Many failures come from trying to do too much too fast – and from expecting results overnight. I will search out just one fault, one bad habit, and work to eliminate that. As I observe the changes this effort brings about in my outside circumstances, I will find the courage to keep on changing myself for the better.
It should not be so hard for us to accept the obvious fact that few of us know what we really want, and none of knows what is best for us. That knowledge remains in the hands of God. This is the best reason for limiting our prayers to requests for guidance, for an open mind to receive it, and for courage and confidence to use it.
Do I lack the confidence and the courage to do the things that will improve my situation? Am I afraid to let go of another person’s obligations? Can I refrain from doing what can only hinder improvement? I may not have the necessary strength and confidence, but I can find them by turning to God and asking for His guidance.
The miracles I hear of in Al-Anon do not happen to people unless they use their minds and hearts to bring them about. Freely-shared experience, strength, and hope are at hand to save me from discouragement and confusion. Do I want this help? If I do, I will use a spiritual pattern of living for the solution of all my problems.
I will take every opportunity to be courteous to those nearest me, as well as those outside my orbit. The warmth and kindness of courtesy will take the sting out of resentments, and give dignity and importance to the members of my household, making them feel secure and loved.
Giving love is a fulfillment in itself. It must not matter to us whether it is returned or not. If I give it only to get a response on my terms, my love is canceled out. If I have the capacity to give love, any return I get for it is a special bonus. It is through giving love, freely and without expectation of return, that we find ourselves, build ourselves spiritually.
I will pick out just one character defect I can freely admit, and reason it away, right out of my whole being. Let’s say I analyze my impulse to resent. If I convince myself of its futility, I will see unexpected, welcome changes in my experience.
I will examine my real reasons for every decision I make that involves taking action. If this shows me I am deceiving myself as to my true motives, I will try to correct this self-deception at its source.
Al-Anon’s challenge to me is this: deliberately to cancel out my thoughts of grievances against others, especially the alcoholic; to face the real causes of much of my misery, and to believe that I can do a great deal to improve my life by rooting out my own shortcomings.
I cannot simply shrug off the responsibility for facing my problems, however great they may be. True, I need God’s guidance, but acting upon it is my job; I cannot evade it without turning my back on life itself.
I want to remember every time I’m tempted to take a heavy, somber view of a happening, that it may not be so bad after all. Maybe, if I look closely, it has an element of fun – fantasy, absurdity or even a relieving silliness. My mood makes it look black when I could spark it with a dash of rosy pink.
I’ll try to look for things that can add gaiety to my life to offset the solemn or troubling ones. I’ll cultivate a knack for recognizing and enjoying humorous moments. This could be a really constructive way of detaching my mind from my daily difficulties.
How often, in a crisis, we find it better to wait patiently for a problem to work itself out through a natural, inevitable process, than constantly to inject our own, perhaps misguided, control into it.
I will set aside a time each day to center my thoughts on the Twelve Steps. I will take them one at a time and observe how constant study changes my point of view.
It is no easy assignment, but life without them isn’t easy either. My choice will be to take this beneficial medicine and let its healing magic work in me.
I understand that the First Step demands that I surrender the reins of control over other human beings. It reminds me that my life has become unmanageable; my first task is to set it in order. If I earnestly want to manage my life, I will have no time to manage anyone else’s.
In my great need of comfort and reassurance, the Second Step suggests I surrender my will to the wisdom of a loving God in my effort to find a sane and reasonable way of life.
The words, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him,” could make life so easy for me if only I could subordinate my will to His. This is a stumbling block for so many of us: we feel obliged to apply the force of our will to our problems. No solutions can be found in this way.
A total inventory of my good and bad qualities can be interesting and useful as a start on my work with Step Four. But when I am ready to dig in and correct my shortcomings, I will work on only one or two at a time and for as long as it takes to satisfy me that I have made real progress in erasing them.
As I understand the difficult task of facing myself and my faults, I will guard against self-justification and self-righteousness. I am well aware how easy it is to make excuses for myself, and to blame my misfortunes on others, and particularly on the alcoholic.
The “defects of character” I want to be rid of are sure to have deep roots in habit. My daily conscious cooperation will be needed as I accept God’s help in removing them. I will try to deal with them patiently, one by one. If I am truly willing, I will see them replaced gradually by impulses of a different quality, that I can live with, comfortably free from self-reproach.
I will not expect too much of myself, nor expect to accomplish my improvement all at once, nor without the help of my Higher Power. I must keep reminded myself to accept His help in all I am trying to do.
If, for instance, I concentrate on being tolerant and kind at all times, with everyone, it will soon become an automatic reaction, no matter how trying the circumstances may be. This new attitude will color whatever I do and make me more acceptable, to myself as well as to others.
Whom have I injured? Surely those closest to me – my family. I know that my hostile reaction to the alcoholic has been hurtful. Have I also damaged my children by subtly indoctrinating them with contempt for their alcoholic parent? Have I communicated my anxiety and resentment to them? Have I taken out my frustrations on them?
Step Nine, taken with care and prudent judgment, will relieve me of a burden I have no need to carry.
The Tenth Step is essential to the Al-Anon promise I make to myself to live one day at a time. Although I cannot expect to achieve perfection, I can observe my progress and enjoy the deep satisfactions it can bring me. It may have little obvious effect on my outward circumstances at first but keeping myself receptive to solutions will guide me to them.
Am I too busy to pray? Have I no time for meditation? Then let me ask myself whether I have been able to solve my problems without help. As I face them day by day, I want to acknowledge my need for His guidance. I will not let this day pass – not any day from now on – without making myself consciously aware.
I will keep myself ready for the spiritual awakening which is certain to come to me when I have surrendered my will to God’s will. It will throw new light on many things. It will give me the ability to make my judgments and decisions on the spiritual level where I will be governed by God’s goodness and wisdom.
Our children are a first thing to consider first. Our attitude is the key to a successful family relationship – and their normal growing up.
Very little that happens in my daily encounters is worth my worry, resentment, or feeling sorry for myself. If I am always ready to take offense and be hurt, I’m selling my contentment very cheaply. I must remember to be good to myself.
I will avoid making judgments in private contentions there is self-deception on both sides which I cannot evaluate. I will guard against advising anyone to take a radical step he or she is not emotionally ready to take.
Regrets for hurtful things I have done to others may be healed by making amends as well as I can. Regrets for missed opportunities will vanish as I try to make wise choices today. Let me fill this one day with thoughts and actions I will have no need to regret. Let me undertake only as much as I can accomplish well, without haste or tension.