For the first 20 years of our lives, we spent much of our time sitting at desks in school. The learning experienced was a very formalized one. The teacher, who was the expert stood at the front of the room and passed on the information to us; the students. There were other experts in our lives who passed on information as well. Religious leaders were the experts who gave sermons which taught us how we should behave. Doctors were the experts we went to see when we were sick. Wherever we turned there was someone who was going to educate us. It seemed like we were always on the receiving end of information and wisdom.
Of course it’s important for us to listen to the advice of others who have knowledge. What we learned in the program was that everyone had wisdom. Sometime we would be sitting in a meeting and see someone who in a million years we wouldn’t think we could learn anything from. Then he or she opened their mouth and we were blown away by their story or by how they incorporated a Higher Power into their life or how they worked the steps on a daily basis. We also learned that we had important things to say as well.
Personal Reflection: How am I both a student and a teacher?
Walk into any 12 step room and you are almost guaranteed to see a collection of small signs. This is true for every single branch of the fellowship; AA to NA to OA to DA et. al. Go to a meeting anywhere in the world and you will see the same signs. They might be in French or Dutch or Hebrew or Japanese; but they all carry the same messages. Some of these include, One Day At A Time; Easy Does It and Think (upside down of course).
When we first came into the program these signs were a perfect prescription of information and wisdom. Quite frankly, for many of us, we had been talked to death by well intentioned friends and family members. At that point in our lives, we needed to keep it simple. Short aphorisms were easy to remember when we needed to draw upon them. As we gained some time; we noticed that the signs were still in the rooms, and that their messages had become part of our vocabulary. More importantly, they had become part of our belief systems. They were a compass which guided us through some of our more difficult days. They invariably helped us find true north and to find our correct path.
Personal Reflection: Which slogan gives me the most sustenance?
For many reasons many of us had difficulty simply admitting that we were wrong. For some of us it was based on a streak of perfectionism. Were we to admit to being wrong, we would be conceding that we were no longer perfect, something we could not do. There were others who suffered from low,self esteem. They were afraid to publicly show how they really felt about themselves. They would wear the mask of perfection; for to admit to being wrong would just confirm their negative feelings towards themselves.
Over time we learned in the program that admitting we were wrong did not reflect negatively upon us. In fact it was a sign of personal growth. It demonstrated a level of self examination which was praiseworthy. After personal reflection, to admit to an error in judgement was highly laudable. It also demonstrated a,level of courage to be able to admit tor our mistakes. In addition, it showed a degree of personal honesty which did not exist before our sobriety. Over time, it got easier and easier to admit to our mistakes. We took to heart the 12 step statement, “when we were wrong we promptly admitted it”. Paradoxically, as we grew in wisdom, it became easier for us to admit our lack of knowledge and our fallibility.
Personal Reflection: Do I promptly admit it when l’m wrong?