Tag Archives: 12-Step Recovery

Principles Before Personalities

25 Nov

There is no place for personal prejudices, squabbles, etc., in the rooms of recovery. That is a sacred space where people come to stay sober, addiction free, more sane and/or to help others do the same. For over 70 years the Traditions have guided people from all walks of life, all religions, races, creeds; the believer and non-believer in their quest for recovery from their particular addiction through the unified focus of “singleness of purpose.”

A friend of mine recently experienced a personal attack from another member of AA, whom we’ll call “Miss Self-Importance.“ The attack came in the form of gossip outside the rooms, but the repercussions have spilled back into the room. It’s a small town with few meetings and everyone pretty much knows everyone – in the meetings, as well as in the town.

The good of this situation is that a good number of people have approached her and said “Miss Self-Importance” had tried to spread her story to them and they simply told her they weren’t interested – referencing the Traditions.

The unfortunate part of this situation is that there is a tension there that others have picked up on. In addition, this individual has felt so compelled to enlist a local free-lance reporter to her “cause” of exposing my friend(her issues) who has come to the meetings as a recovering alcoholic. So Tradition 3 states that “the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” Only the individual can determine whether or not that applies – and it’s not up to anyone else to question. My friend has expressed her concerns to me, and feels there are some telltale signs of deception – but there’s no place that she can go with that right now.

In the meantime, she has maintained herself in accordance with the 12 Traditions and has gone back to staying on topic as far as the discussions go. There have been several very good discussions lately about the Traditions, the “I am Responsible” statement and the right of each to determine their own relationship with the God of their understanding.

My friend has acknowledged the gossip within the meeting without naming names, and the response has been rewardingly “Traditional” amongst the members present. So it’s back to the business at hand – helping each other stay sober one day at a time.

As my friend was relaying this experience to me the other day, she blurted out, “Thank God it was me…and not some new person, or someone more fragile in their recovery. I’ve been blessed with the gift of a solid foundation by many sponsors and Sisters and Brothers in recovery who have shared their experience, strength and hope with me as they faced life challenges. So I wasn’t about to go off and drink.” But she was forthcoming that she had provided some “rent-free” space to “Miss Self-Importance“ in her head for a bit. Also, admittedly, she’s had to really work at what she feels has been a gross disrespect of the 12 Traditions (also her issue).

But what if the object of “Miss Self-Importance” had been a new person, or someone on rocky ground? No one is responsible for another person’s using, but those present need NOT be contributing to someone else’s self-doubts, or sense of belonging in the fellowship.

One has to THINK about how what they do or say is going to affect others in the rooms. There is NO PLACE for personal attacks, not according to the 12 Traditions.

The main purpose is to help each other achieve or stay in sobriety. That’s called support. You don’t have to like everyone in the rooms – and if you have personal issues with someone, park them at the door!

My friend has done everything she can to keep things at “Principles before Personalities” and stay within the tenants of the 12 Traditions. That’s all she can do. Bottom line is: you can’t control anyone else, you can only take care of our own behavior. For my friend, as well as for the others, it’s definitely been an exercise in growing, “practicing these Principles in all our affairs!”

I welcome your response, or sharing of solutions to any similar experience. 🙂

©2014 Deborah Adler and Silverstream Corporation. All rights reserved. (NOTE: ALL quotes and/or materials from other authors or sources remain the sole property of the original authors/source.)

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Every Day is a New Life

11 Nov

One of the greatest examples of intelligent and courageous living I’ve learned in my association with Parisha Taylor, simply stated, is she greets each new day as a new life. Really.

That means not carrying forward any judgement, any drama…a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g…from the previous day’s interaction with an individual. Ever try that? It’s no small feat!

I don’t know that I’ve honestly been able to accomplish that yet. I try – but it takes a lot of practice to just wipe the slate clean from the day before and give a person the clear opportunity to be a different, better person.

Some might judge that as being weak, but I have witnessed time and time again, a power that has come with that practice that I am in awe of and am continually amazed.

In my current situation of coming into contact daily with an individual who has determined that I am some kind of “mortal enemy” that has to be destroyed…looking into those eyes “ain’t easy”! But to do so having released all thoughts, judgement, and conclusions from the day before…I’m still at the “watch my back” phase of development. But I can always strive to practice “A New Day, A New Life.”

After all, it’s in the intention of creating a new behavior, forming new neural nets, or “re-wiring” as they say in brain science these days, that the seeds of achieving that change exist. By being consciously aware of the desire to change, I am one step closer to breaking those old patterns and forming new ones.  Awareness, desire and willingness are key elements.

In the meantime, I smile, I look her in the eye, and I strive to remember that she is a child of the Creator.

-Deb Adler

 

 

 
©2014 Deborah Adler and Silverstream Corporation. All rights reserved. (NOTE: ALL quotes and/or materials from other authors or sources remain the sole property of the original authors/source.)

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On Gossip Mongering and the Truth

8 Nov

October 10, 2014

I stood before two people today and outstretched my hand to the husband. He smiled and the wife instantly threw her arm across him as though she were saving him from falling forward because he had no seat belt restraint in the car.

Are you serious? I asked her incredulously

Yes, I’m serious she shot back. You’re dangerous!

My head was going WTF? But I managed to calmly thank her husband for being willing to shake hands.

Then as I went to sit down I watched her lean toward her husband with her hand cupped and whispering to him like a little girl in third grade. She then leaned to her opposite side and repeated the same behavior to the man sitting next to her.

As the meeting progressed it became increasingly obvious that she had been contacting as many people as she could to “warn” them about me.

The REAL people in the meeting spoke to the issue of “Principles before Personalities” in a way that I knew they were trying to reach out. I knew she wouldn’t hear any of it, but then that’s not my territory to supervise.

 

 

 
©2014 Deborah Adler and Silverstream Corporation. All rights reserved. (NOTE: ALL quotes and/or materials from other authors or sources remain the sole property of the original authors/source.)

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Sharing an “Aha!” Moment…

16 Feb

It was 10:35 am this morning and I had just finished a half-hour conference call I’m on every morning with other businesswomen from around the country.  It’s a combination coaching, accountability and prayer call. I love it!

But I’ve been feeling frustrated lately – even though I’ve been doing all the right things as far as “filling my pipeline” (making new sales contacts) and reviewing my goals each morning and night; following other “success tenants” – because I’m still not seeing results. There’s a “Slight Edge” Principle that says if you do just a few things consistently – every single day – that effort will compound over time and produce results.

But there’s a period of “doing the do” that you have to put in before you start to see the measured results come back to you. That’s where I’m at – in the middle of the new course of action. It usually takes 90 days to show results…and A LOT of people quit before they reach that point of return.

So when I got off the call, even though I love the energy and the camaraderie and the coaching, I was feeling restless. I’ve been feeling restless for a while now.

I began pacing rapidly back and forth between my kitchen and living room – which in a one-bedroom apartment is NOT a very large space!

I often pace. I pace to think. I pace to pace. I pace to calm down. I pace to ramp up. It  helps me expend energy. I pace.

I started talking aloud (as I often talk to myself).

“Restless,” I kept repeating aloud…”restless in mind…restless in body…restless in spirit… restless in soul…”

I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at the manual treadmill standing in the middle of my dining-living room.  “Well,” I thought, “if I going to do this furious pacing thing I might as well turn it into exercise and get on my treadmill!”

So I put on a lecture by Dr. Joe Dispenza, the author of Evolve Your Brain – The Science of Changing Your Mind and his newest release, Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One.

At first I had it on my computer speakers, but I couldn’t really hear it over the noise of the manual treadmill belt. So I donned my mp3 player and earplugs and mounted my treadmill for a workout – physical and mental.

I started hearing little snippets of wisdom in-between my conscious readings from the display in front of me…watching and mentally logging numbers of “how far, how many calories, how fast,” etc.

I went for a quarter mile and it felt really good – especially considering I am still dealing with a tear of the medial meniscus from a work-related injury that’s all tied up in Workman’s Comp hearings! (Part of my sense of frustration). I look a lot like Frankenstein when I walk – still – but part of my restlessness comes from knowing that I’ve been stuck too long in “injury mode.”  I realized that I need to get on with healing my leg. I followed my “walk” with some modified lifting of weights (arms) and stationary punches (I’ve REALLY missed my Tae-bo Gold Routine!).

All the while I was listening to Dr Joe’s lecture – one that I have been listening to repeatedly lately. When I finished my physical exercise I felt really good. “Exercise” had been on my days’ list of accomplishments that I had written out the night before. It felt good to have that already done.

Then I sat down and started to write. He was talking about addictions and personality – about how 95% of who we are is acquired from the influences of others, which I know from previous studies with Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha. But I got really excited when Dr Joe started talking about habits – and the definition of a habit as “when the body is the mind.”

When we feel stuck – we have to look at “what have we memorized?” What feelings and experiences have we cemented in – even though we may say we want to change? If we’re not changing it’s because we’ve hard-wired past body-mind programs which then become habits.

If we memorize (hard-wire) an emotional reaction and stay there for a few days – it becomes a “mood.”  If we prolong it further it becomes our “temperament.”  Over a prolonged period of time that temperament – “living by the same emotional reaction” over and over again turns into a personality trait – which means we’re totally living in the PAST!

THAT was my “AHA!” MOMENT!

The 12-Step Recovery Programs refer to a person’s “defects of character.”  I’ve always maintained that I am NOT defective. I am a child of God and God doesn’t make junk!

BUT then I made the connection to what Dr. Joe is talking about…and realized that the “defect” is the faulty emotional reaction that has been hard-wired in our brain based on a past experience that we haven’t been able to free ourselves from. Why?

All emotions produce chemicals in our bodies and in the brain. We can become addicted to those chemicals in the same way we have been addicted to alcohol or other drugs, food, or gambling, or sex, or any destructive behavior. We try to change but we hit a wall because, as Dr. Joe describes it, “I can’t go beyond this emotion because the chemicals are so addictive.”

We can’t go beyond the emotion because someone or something knocks us so far out of balance as to prevent us from being able to make our way back.

That’s living in the past. What is it that the recovering person has to do in order to live sober, happy and free? CLEAR AWAY THE WRECKAGE OF THE PAST! That’s where the 12 Steps come into play.

One of the greatest pitfalls I have seen in working with some alcoholics over the last 32 years is the seeming inability to let go of the guilt and shame of their past. Recovering alcoholic/addicts are reminded to remember their last drunk/usage – so that they don’t return to using. But that doesn’t mean we have to LIVE there!

We don’t have to DWELL in the past to learn from it. In order to liberate ourselves, we MUST Let It GO.

This is true for ALL of us – because our habits are hard-wired memorized emotional reactions from past experiences that no longer serve us except that we’ve become addicted to the chemicals produced by them. (And then we wonder why we keep repeating the same behavior over and over again, even though we set goals and swear off, or swear on – determined to change, yet we don’t).

Dr. Joe asks, “What emotion have you memorized – that you’re living by day after day – that you think is you? That’s not who you are…that emotion is just a record of your past experience.”

So what are “defects of character?” Memorized emotions that we think are us. But they aren’t us – they aren’t who we are – they are what we are holding onto.

So we are not bad people trying to get better – we are good people who have gotten off course. What’s “defective” is our memory of past events – of what we are holding onto – and that can be changed. It’s a choice.

To be continued!
DISCLAIMER: All the opinions expressed in any articles, blog posts and Internet content written by me are my own and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of any individuals or organizations with whom I associate.

©2012 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved. (NOTE: ALL quotes and/or materials from other authors or sources remain the sole property of the original authors/source.)

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Life as a Paradox

11 Mar

Definition: “something (such as a situation) that is made up of two opposite things and that seems impossible but is actually true or possible.”

I’m studying the Tao Te Ching. There are 81 verses. It’s possible to spend a lifetime studying these verses, which for the most part don’t have even twenty lines to them – but boy, do they nail Truth.

Of course, I can’t really explain what I’m reading, but when I read it there’s an innate recognition – I feel an “Ah-hah.” Somewhere deep in my Being, I recognize Mystery.

Paradox.  Know it, but can’t explain it. Recognize it, but never saw it before. I do know that when it starts talking about the Master Teacher, I recognize my spiritual mentor and Elder of 25 years, Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha. It’s uncanny.

It seems the more we seek something the more it eludes us – whether it be prosperity, position, relationship – whatever. Perhaps it has to do with the Principle of Attraction.

When we concentrate our thoughts on what we don’t have – our focus is on what we lack. We give so much attention to that that we end up creating more lack.

Even when we’re carefully crafting goals in totally positive terms, if we’re concentrating on creating results, we are probably blocking our own success. We’ve become accustomed to plotting out the course to our goals. Quantum Physics tells us if we clearly define our beginning point and end point, the Universe will fill in the details. Another paradox.

“The Master leads

by emptying people’s minds

and filling their cores

by weakening their ambitions

and toughening their resolves…”*

There’s an old Chinese proverb about a Teacher and student. The teacher starts pouring tea into the student’s cup but continues pouring even as the tea overflows and pours all over the table. When the student questions why, the Teacher responds that the student’s mind is like the full cup of tea. The student has come to the Teacher pretty full of himself. Only when the student would be willing to let go of what he thought he knew, i.e. empty his mind, would the Teacher be able to work with him.

Recovery from addiction is a lot like that. We tend to walk in thinking we know what we need to do to “beat this thing” – and slowly we learn from the shared experiences of others present that in order to triumph over our addiction we need to “surrender,” form a partnership with the God of our understanding, and empty out what we think we know so we can really learn.

Another Paradox.

If my best thinking got me in a place of dire straights, it’s highly likely that only by building my core values will I transcend my predicament. Empty out in order to receive.

My ambition in life might be to rise to a particular position or status or income level – whatever – but only when I resolve to live a life of service will I achieve all that I want through helping others.

That’s not my wisdom. I’ve been hearing it from my Elder for 25 years, only to be reinforced in recovery rooms, by inspirational speakers and business motivators.

Now I’m reading it in the Tao.

I guess when we finally quit complicating life we find the simple solutions. If you find yourself thinking about something, “It can’t be that simple!” – you probably need an Ego check. Lose your self-importance and gain Wisdom.

Another Paradox…. 🙂

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” –Oprah Winfrey

“Allow each second of your time to be filled with a kindness to all and include yourself!” -Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha

-Deborah Adler

*Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

©2011 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved. (NOTE: All quotes remain the sole property of the original authors.)

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Letting Go to Allow the Flow

8 Mar

“Holding on to anything is like holding on to your breath. You will suffocate. The only way to get anything in the physical universe is by letting go of it. Let go & it will be yours forever.” -Deepak Chopra

I spent some time with a friend tonight who is fearful of losing his job. The details aren’t really important. What really matters is that he’s convinced that his Union is going to have him canned. He was talking about moving to …somewhere else…to start over again…somewhere where no one knew him.

I shared with him that in 12-Step rooms we often talk about the problem with running away is that you take yourself with you. “Geographical cures” may seem desirable, but they’re totally ineffective.

More than one person tried to remind him that sometimes Life has a way of closing a door for us that we weren’t able – or willing – to close for ourselves.

He couldn’t really hear any of it. He was too committed to his fear. In his mind, a determination has already been made. He’s already packed his bags – in more ways than one.

Active addicts – and some recovering ones, too – know all about running. We also know the futility of trying to hang onto something, or someone or trying to control an outcome through manipulation or deceit. “Resistance,” as the Borg of Star Trek would say, “is futile.”

But the futility comes from the paradox of life that you can only keep something by giving it away. No matter how adept one is at “creating their day” or mapping out their life, at some point there is a handing over to God-Creator-The Source for the ultimate unfoldment.

In my experience, God-Creator-The Source has always delivered a much more magnificent outcome than I could have imagined. Of course, that would be from the “hind-sight is 20-20” perspective, but even so, when I can remember I’m working in partnership with the God of my understanding, I can “let go” of the results and appreciate the journey.

The flow of energy can only happen through a clear pathway. If we try to contain it, we stop it – like a giant circuit-breaker. Whether it’s a job, a relationship, money…if we allow for a flow of energy, a freedom, we create the pathway for it to return to us. If it doesn’t, it wasn’t ours to begin with.

“Generosity is the outcome of faith.  Give and you will receive.  Give how you want to receive.  Generosity heals poverty.  Generosity helps us to be free of material attachments that we will never own.  They own us; they do not serve us.  We serve them.  Give when you have very little for yourself, or you will never be free.  Non-attachment does not mean you need to live in poverty.  It guarantees wealth.” – Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha*

*Follow the Question Inward ©  1994 Pa’Ris’Ha  © Copyright 2007 Parisha Online. All Rights Reserved.

-Deborah Adler

©2011 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved. (NOTE: All quotes remain the sole property of the original authors.)

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Confessions of a Positive Thinker

2 Mar

I’ve had a couple of challenging days. And I have a confession to make. As much as I write about and expound the virtues and benefits of “positive thinking” – it’s not always my first instinctual response to adverse circumstances.

Sometimes I have to work my way around to that “silver lining,” that hidden gift, that blessing in disguise – well, you get the picture. Sometimes staying positive feels like hard work!

I’m pretty sure my spiritual mentor and Elder is laughing as she reads this. When I first met her and stated my desire to commit to the path of personal and spiritual development, she looked at me and said, “It’s going to take work.”

I remember feeling slightly offended and confused. “What does she mean?” I thought to myself. “I am a hard worker.” I laughed nervously and just shook my head up and down in agreement, but twenty-five years later, I have at least a glimpse of what she was trying to forewarn me.

“Taking the high road,” as I have come to call it (borrowed from an actress who has inspired me with her ability to make the best of the adversity in her life) doesn’t always necessarily come easy. But the rewards are obvious.

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” –Oprah Winfrey

Every day we wake up we face choices:

How do we start our day? Giving Appreciation for the gift of a New Life? (As is the traditional practice my spiritual mentor and Elder, Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha).

Do we see everyone in our life as mere reflections or aspects of ourselves?

Do we embrace the opposition or resistance and transform that into the creative energy we need to break through to victory?

These are all choices. There are so many more – moment to moment –  that comprise our day.

“Want success? Just count the good things of each day and give grateful acknowledgment that you have allowed it to be part of your day!” Pa’Ris’Ha Taylor

Sometimes I need to rely on “tools” – like the slogans of the 12-Step Programs – to help me into “right thinking.”

“Let go and let God.”

”Live and let live.”

“One day at a time.”

“First things first”

“How important is it?”

Sometimes I have to talk to myself – like the Observer, and say, “So, Deb…is that really what you wanted to do?” When the answer is “no” I get to make a course correction, or “re-take” as Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha refers to it.

The point is that personal growth is about stretching. It’s work. At least for me. Being positive doesn’t always come naturally to me, but if I commit to the process of transforming my mental state to a positive one, the rewards extend to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

The ultimate reward is that the ripple effect of one person choosing to be positive has an exponential effect upon humanity.

“Just one optimistic person, with a willingness to allow people to grow from mis-takes, can affect 90,000 others. That’s what one person can do.” Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha

That’s cool! – Deborah Adler

©2011 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved. (NOTE: All quotes remain the sole property of the original authors.)

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