PP 58-59 How it Works (Give our SELF to the program?)

The book Alcoholics Anonymous, aka The Big Book, is the basic text for the AA program of sobriety. "Alcoholics Anonymous" Copyright 2012 AAWS, Inc. All Rights, Reserved. Short excerpts used by permission of AAWS

PP 58-59 How it Works (Give our SELF to the program?)

Postby Karl R » Wed Oct 08, 2008 6:35 am

Good Morning,

A prayer for beginning.

"God, I offer myself to Thee--to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.

May I do Thy will always!"



Yesterday we started the chapter 'How it Works" with the idea that we must "completely give themselves to this simple program". For me I eventually understood after finishing several steps that this was not the program of meetings, or fellowship, or time with my sponsor. It was the simple program of the steps and what that means.

In today's passage I see the end result of the steps-we must be willing to share with others what we were, what happened and what we are like now. One of the attractions of AA for me is that it is not a self help program. We help ourself by helping others. The only way to get at that goal is to start the program of the steps fearlessly, with complete honesty, and with a willingness to give up our old ideas and self-will in favor of our HP's will. This giving up of my own will is something I work on daily.

This reading says "at some of these (steps) we balked. Anyone care to share of their ES and H about places in the steps that they balked or became blocked? What was your way through this?


Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps.
At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.
Remember that we deal with alcohol-cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power-that One is God. May you find Him now!
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Postby dwelling » Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:30 am

Hi,
The place where I usually "balk" is at getting rid of the old ideas.
The old ideas like to resurface, disguised in fear, anger and pride.
The steps provide a way for me to keep the old ideas at bay and to recognise and get rid of the newer versions of the old ideas.
There is one "old idea" that must never be acted on: The idea that I can drink safely.
As long as I am relying on a power greater than me to keep me restored to sanity concerning this "old idea",it will be possible for me to work on the rest of the defects(old ideas).
I can eat an elephant one bite at a time they told me.

dwelling,"it is usually because he is warped and sickened that he says and does these appalling things. "
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Postby Oliver » Wed Oct 08, 2008 2:17 pm

Again, an awesome reading from our text. The "How it works" has been read at every meeting of AA I have ever attended and I love the way the words just wash over me, absolutely pregnant with meaning. There is just so much that I could say about what these words mean to me.

When it says "at some of these steps we balked", I identify 110%. When I came in, there was very little of our programme that I wanted to do, and if I did want to do it I wanted to do it for the wrong reasons (for example, there were a number of old acquaintances I wanted to make ammends with quickly in the hope that I could rekindle the friendships thus selfishly relieving my own boredom).

I am the kind of guy who wants to get where he's going, but doesn't want the journey. I wanted all of the promises and four of the steps. I remember some guy - who had been sober for more years than I have been alive - telling me that if it was possible for him to give me the promises in my life in an instant, he wouldn't do it, because he wouldn't deprive me of the journey. I thought that man was nuts. But it turns out the journey isn't so bad after all.

The steps that really upset me at first were Step 5 (specifically telling someone else my defects and admitting I was wrong), Step 9 (specifically talking to someone else my defects and admitting I was wrong) and Step 10 (specifically talking to someone else my defects and admitting I was wrong).

Interestingly, I actually find Step 6 very difficult. I quite enjoy some of my defects of character and I don't readily want to give them up... you get the picture, I'm sure. Yet if I am to survive, then I must give them up. I must deflate the selfish self-centred arrogant self-pitying proud ego within me.

I find it very comforting that I have come to believe that God does not require perfection from me - he just requires my willingness. For me, Step 3 - taken daily - is a great enabler. I have found a great paradox - I initialy refused to spent half an hour a day in prayer and meditation because I had too much 'stuff to do'. I have found that when I give an hour to prayer and meditation each day I end up achieving more in that day than when I don't. It's things like that - my mind tells me that I shouldn't, that it's a bad idea, but when I put the action in I find that God's plan is very different to mine.

Oliver from England
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Postby jujub » Wed Nov 26, 2008 1:44 pm

hi everyone,

i have never balked at much. only the unmanageability in the 1st step, the insanity idea of the 2nd step, the turning over stuff in 3, the searching inventory. and oh yeah, the exact nature really didn't need to be discussed, i certainly didn't need god to remove my defects--i'd do it myself, thank-you. i'd make a list, no problem. but i didn't really need to make amends to everyone, did i? continued to take an inventory--why? i just did that in step 4. besides, as long as i wasn't drinking, i wasn't wrong. i also didn't have much use for god's will because it was obvious my ideas served me better. okay, i'd try to carry the message because people stroked my ego, but forget about the in all my affairs idea. wasn't it enough i could talk the talk in meetings? guess what? i didn't stay sober either! an example of i get out of this program what i'm willing to put into it. :shock:

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Re: 10/8/08 BB How it works pp 58-59 (give ourself to the prog.)

Postby Karl R » Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:54 pm

If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps.


What a wonderful If....And.....Then.....statement. Points out the importance of having to satisfy the If and the And statement before the Then statement becomes operative.

Comments anyone?


cheers,
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Re: PP 58-59 How it Works (Give our SELF to the program?)

Postby avaneesh912 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:23 pm

Yes, in order to have a peaceful life, today the single most important deed in my life is to be of maximum use to others and show love and tolerance towards fellow beings. But initially I had to clean the deep rooted garbage within me and then work on keep the inner space clean every moment. The moment negativity crops up, I have tools to break out of it. And tomorrow I will be in a New years eve party where there is going to be lot of drinking and am pretty confident that my HP has my back covered. I am there to be of maximum service to the other people there and invite the new year with other beings. Thats the 10th step promise.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: PP 58-59 How it Works (Give our SELF to the program?)

Postby Ken_the_Geordie » Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:47 am

[quote="avaneesh912"]I am there to be of maximum service to the other people there ...quote]

That is a good frame of mind to be in. When I remember consciously to think, "How can I be of service here?', it's not others that I'm helping, its MYSELF. The thought that I am willing to be of service makes me feel good. I'm fairly sure that's how its meant to be.
I'm more commonly known as Tosh (it's a nick name, but everyone I know in real life calls me it); just in case there's any confusion; I tend to use Tosh or Ken interchangeably and it confuses some; including me. ;-)
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Re: PP 58-59 How it Works (Give our SELF to the program?)

Postby John Boy » Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:17 pm

Anyone find it ironic that the 12 steps are listed in the chapter "How it works"
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Re: PP 58-59 How it Works (Give our SELF to the program?)

Postby avaneesh912 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:26 pm

I don't see the irony. But would love to hear what is ironic about it?

I am told the whole book was meticulously planned and presented. The Problem, Remedy and the Program of Action. The first 3 Chapters deal with Powerless ness and Chapter 4 talks about where you can find the power and the rest of the Chapters deal with how to reach the goal and sustain the power.

Being convinced (After reading the doctors opinion, there is a solution, more about alcoholism and We agnostics), we were at Step Three, which is that we decided to turn our will and our life over to God as we understood Him. Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do?
====================================================================================================================

And in step 10 is when you are restored to sanity. And then we grow.......with 11 and 12.......
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: PP 58-59 How it Works (Give our SELF to the program?)

Postby BB Kate » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:24 am

"But there is one who has all power. That one is God. May you find him now!"

I find this wording very difficult, because it reflects the specific concept held by the author(s) - the God of my understanding does not exist. And the power greater than myself which i turned to does not have all power.

However, "Turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as i understood Him" poses no problem for me. I turned my will and life over to the care of powers that are greater than myself, and commenced to take Action.
~ I see no reason to believe; extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence ~
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Re: PP 58-59 How it Works (Give our SELF to the program?)

Postby Steven F » Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:43 am

Aren't you making it all a bit complicated? If you believe in a higher power, and you open yourself up to guidance from that higher power, you are well on your way. Time will tell if you can find that this higher power has things to say in areas of your life you today don't believe it has.

Or like a dear friend told me once: "take a chill pill on the God thing" 8).

Did you read the post by "jujub" higher, by the way?
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Re: PP 58-59 How it Works (Give our SELF to the program?)

Postby avaneesh912 » Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:15 am

I find this wording very difficult, because it reflects the specific concept held by the author(s) - the God of my understanding does not exist. And the power greater than myself which i turned to does not have all power.

There is a reason why its called the TEXT book. You will have to study the book in its entirity. The book explains how to find GOD. Its by looking at the resentments, fear, relationship....and look at the selfishness and self-centeredness and then you get to experience the power of god. Not somebody elses god but your own.. Unfortunately many people get turned off just by hearing the word GOD. But pain helps people overcome that obstacle.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: PP 58-59 How it Works (Give our SELF to the program?)

Postby leejosepho » Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:37 am

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now.

Here is one place where things heard in meetings and things shared in our book seem (at least to me) to almost never match. Instead, we hear people speak of what "it" was like, what happened (typically by telling war stories) and what "it" is like today ... and that is just not what we are about (even though we do occasionally share details of our pasts). Rather ...

What we were like: We could not control our drinking once we started and could not remain sober after we stopped;
What happened: We took the Steps laid out in this book;
What we are like now: "We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others." (page 132)

If you have decided you want what we have ...

A man who had come to a few meetings in a small town where I used to live once spoke up in a meeting and asked what we have that he might want ... and when he heard we have a spiritual manner of living that has resulted in recovery, he said he definitely did not want any of that ... and he left.

Maybe his suffering later helped him change his mind and return? I do not know.

Some folks want recovery "at any cost", so to speak -- "a price had to be paid" (page 14) -- and are willing to do whatever is necessary, and some folks want nothing to do with anything related to "God" and seem willing (at least for a while) to pay an even a greater price (as some religious folks would allege) for that. So, we just respectfully share this:

If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps.

Some of us take a little longer than others to get to that point, but that is where spiritual recovery -- "the consciousness of the Presence of God" (page 51) -- can begin here in A.A.

At some of these [Steps] we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.

In one of Bill's early manuscripts, he had worded that directly:

"At some of these [Steps] you may balk. You may think you can find an easier, softer way. We doubt if you can ...", and so ...

With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

We were begged to "lay aside prejudice, even against organized religion" at Step Two in Chapter Four, and now we are being begged "to be fearless and thorough" as we consider the overall program designed to show us how to "clean house" (pages 83, 98) and come on into "the Fellowship of the Spirit" (page 164).

Point: Nothing is being pushed or forced upon anyone. Rather:

Remember that we deal with alcohol-cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us (Step One). But there is One who has all power-that One is God (Step Two) ...

... and now a simple prayer offered by those who have come before us as we approach Step Three:

May you find Him now!
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================
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Re: PP 58-59 How it Works (Give our SELF to the program?)

Postby PaigeB » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:52 pm

Karl said: the idea that we must "completely give themselves to this simple program". For me I eventually understood after finishing several steps that this was not the program of meetings, or fellowship, or time with my sponsor. It was the simple program of the steps and what that means.


we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start.


I do not know if I can find and approach the man I heard in a meeting (when I had about 7 days) whose words may have been the cornerstone of my recovery. But that is what happens in AA - in meetings & at this forum - we say things from the heart and we may never know who & how we helped. This anonymous man in a meeting said, "I have never heard of a person getting drunk who was honestly & rigorously working a Step." (something to that effect). It was very early in my recovery and it brought home to me that it was the Steps that saved our lives. I bought a 12&12 and I set about immediately to work the Steps. Granted, it wasn't for a few months that I got a sponsor who was willing to work the Steps with an atheist, but I tried my best everyday to be studying a Step! And I still consider the Steps and Traditions everyday.

I also heard in my inner-self, the ES&H of those who had gone before me in this dis-ease & recovery process... they begged me to be fearless and through NOW... not later when I was working Step 5, but from the very start - now, or yesterday even!
*********

Where I balked? BB Kate says it for me!

BB Kate » Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:24 am

"But there is one who has all power. That one is God. May you find him now!"

I find this wording very difficult, because it reflects the specific concept held by the author(s) - the God of my understanding does not exist. And the power greater than myself which i turned to does not have all power.

However, "Turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as i understood Him" poses no problem for me. I turned my will and life over to the care of powers that are greater than myself, and commenced to take Action.


My sponsor convinced me that there was no good use in magnifying the differences between my HP and your HP. What mattered was that I was able to take Step 3 without bringing ANY BAGGAGE from my brain (arguing).
Then commence to take ACTION - i.e. "and GO to any length..."
(I love what Karl said about the "if...and...then" statement!)
*********************************

In my area, it is customary to say, "What it was like, what happened & what it is like now" when opening as a speaker at a speaker meeting. I have always had mental trouble with long drunkalogs and little iteration on the next 2 parts of this. It is one thing to identify, but for Pete's sake (!) tell me what happened and give me hope!

I am SO going to use this as Joe has said:
Rather ...What we were like: We could not control our drinking once we started and could not remain sober after we stopped;
What happened: We took the Steps laid out in this book;
What we are like now: "We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others." (page 132) emphasis added


It will make for a very short meeting, but I should get a laugh when I try to walk off after 3 sentences! There is such truth in this simplicity though! Get it? Got it? Good! :lol:
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
The e-AA Group's 7th Tradition link: www.e-aa.org/group_seventh.php
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