Recently at a meeting an old timer was talking to a newcomer. The old timer said to the newcomer, “do you know what the difference is between us”? The newcomer seemed a little perplexed by the question. As far as he was concerned there were many differences between the two. The old timer quickly followed up his question with the following response. “The only difference between you and me is that you believe that your thoughts are true”.
This is actually a profound insight on the part of the old timer. When people first come into the program their minds are in a state of confusion. They have lived in denial for years about their dependence on their drug of choice. This denial also extends to how it has affected them personally as well as it’s effect on family, friends and co-workers.
Newcomers also find that they are often in a constant state of fear. On a daily basis they ruminate about the future. These future projections rarely have a positive ending in their rumination process.,The doctor needs to send them for more tests, so they think they are dying. The boss asks to see them, so they will walk round for days thinking they are going to be fired.
In the program we make efforts to be in the here and now. If we start to obsess about the future, we stop because we know that we have allowed fear to kidnap our serenity.
Personal Reflection: Do I believe my fearful thoughts?
Sometimes you walk out of a meeting in total amazement. When people tell their stories it is almost impossible to believe that the person sitting in front of you sharing a cup of coffee is the same one whose actions were just described. How could a person who had been sleeping on subway grates now be seated before you in a business suit? How could a person who had served time for armed robbery be the same one who is talking about emotional sobriety. Something must have occurred in the lives of these people to profoundly alter the course of their lives. Given their described history, willpower alone could not be the sole explanation.
In the cases mentioned above and in countless others the turning point was the discovery of a G-d of their understanding. When these people developed a conscious contact with a Higher Power their lives began to change. In addition, experience has shown that this conscious contact needs to be ongoing. As soon as we believe that we can go it alone so to speak, we are opening up a door to trouble. Before we know it, we will revert to our old ways of thinking and acting.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to revitalize my conscious contact?
When we first entered the program many of us felt like our eyes had opened for the first time in a long time. We began to see how so many of our past behaviors had been wrong or harmful. We also began to be honest about our own character defects. These facts were very helpful in our recovery. As our minds cleared we began to see some glaring defects of character in people both within and outside the program. This one was too prideful, that one was in denial and a third was totally lost in being a victim. These facts were so obvious to us that we immediately wanted to share our insights with these and other people.
Experience has shown us that to do so would be a mistake. One of the major tenets of 12 step program is one of personal reflection and self discovery. Most people will not be open to those insights that we wanted to share. There is a good chance that they will immediately become defensive and even angry about our so called insights. If we have to the ability to think back to when we were in denial about our drug and alcohol usage or about our character defects; we will immediately comprehend why we should remain quiet. What we can do now is pray for them.
Personal Reflection: Do I give people the space to recover at their own pace?