P 60 How it Works (The Starting Place)

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

P 60 How it Works (The Starting Place)

Postby Karl R » Fri Oct 10, 2008 6:14 am

Good Morning all,

A prayer for beginning.

"For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it."

Yesterday our text presented the 12 steps in their complete form for the first time in the BB. This is how it works. Thanks Avaneesh for the original manuscript. It offers a different flavor of the same message.

Today's text tells us how to get started with "how it works". I've posted below in red. Everything up to this point in the Big book was there to get me to the point when I could start to seriously examine these three points in my own life and become convinced about them. After that, a decision was required and then I had the gift and freedom of exploring what that decision meant and what I was supposed to do as the result of that decision.

Anyone care to share from their own ES and H how they became convinced of these three points? Also...the results from making the decision at the end of today's reading?

thanks for being here today all,
Karl


Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

Being convinced, 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?
Last edited by Karl R on Sun Oct 12, 2008 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Oliver » Sat Oct 11, 2008 2:59 pm

Pertinent idea (c) is important to me.

At this point in my development I had a faith in higher power - an all poweful God who COULD relieve me of my alcoholism. The big question in my mind was whether he WOULD.

I had prayed many times during the course of my drinking that God would either (a) send me a sign to tell me to stop drinking; (b) stop me from drinking; (c) cure me of my addiction to alcohol etc. Yet this has failed. To my mind, this demonstrated that God was unwilling to assist me in my quest to beat the demon alcohol.

"Faith without works is dead", as the Big Book says. It never crossed my mind that I might have to take some actions, to co-operate with God or to let a Higher Power into my life, to seek an awakening or a new relationship with them.
Oliver
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Postby jujub » Sat Nov 29, 2008 3:30 pm

hey all,

this is one of my favorite sections of how it works. there are days i believe it wholeheartedly. and there are days when i think--hey maybe there is some way i can figure out how to manage circumstances to get what i think is best for me. maybe hp really won't relieve my alcoholism, no matter how "good" i get.

those are the days i need to redouble my efforts at sobriety. because any impartial observer would indeed agree that i've not managed my life well. that there has in fact been a hp involved all along--evidence being, i'm not dead yet. i heard a speaker say once, in describing her coming to in alcoholics anonymous, "i don't have to be 'good' for god anymore". meaning to me the acceptance of my humanity and human frailities and flaws. my utter inability to fix my alcoholism.

judi, alcoholic
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Postby ann2 » Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:59 pm

Thanks Karl and all, this was an excellent thread. Being convinced of these 3 points -- well, I guess just living through recovery has been the proof for me. I didn't guess in advance that these things would happen, that i would discover that I am just like the rest of you, that none of you alone could keep me sober, or that there is a God who really cares about simple things like whether or not I drink. Those were things that happened along the way to wanting out of the mess I'd gotten myself into. And I'm very grateful for the signposts and the lists that the BB provides for me to check off, knowing where i'm at so to speak.

The result of making the decision of turning my life and my will over to the care of God -- well, initially, just a lot of relief. All that mad attempt to fix things could just stop. It wasn't in my hands anymore, I was just along for the ride. So I did what I had to do because it was in front of me -- because, well, my understanding was that my hp put it in front of me -- and I simply let go of what happened. I mean, I was hospitalized twice in early sobriety in a psych unit. The first time I received a diagnosis and the second time I had some reaction to the medicine that took a couple of weeks to figure out.

Let me tell you, taking time off from work to go into the looney bin did not do wonders for my reputation on the job. But that wasn't my concern -- it had to be done and what other people thought of it wasn't my concern. The only thing I thought about was, is this what you want from me God? Then thank you for letting me see what you need for me to do.

In the same line of thinking, i basically believe that my higher power put me on a specific path to get me to the point where I could take my first 4th step in some kind of clarity. Sure, it would have been great to have gone forward with my inventory in early recovery, but for some reason my first sponsor said maybe I ought to wait, and then it wasn't until 16 years later that the subject came up again.

By that time my mental illness was in remission, I had a family that meant something to me and I was in contact with people who really were ready to tell me how the program works in a way I would understand. I'm not recommending this to anyone except in the sense that you got to trust your higher power, and see the good in everything that comes -- or doesn't -- including yourself. That's basically my experience with step 3.
"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada
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Re: 10/10/08 BB How it works p 60 (The starting place)

Postby Karl R » Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:28 am

It took internalizing 60 pages of the book "alcoholics anonymous" to get me to this point of "being convinced" of these three things.

I was an alcoholic. When I wanted to quit I couldn't-when I drank I couldn't control how much. There were various facets of unmanageability that went with that untreated alcoholism.

I knew from internalizing those 60 pages that I didn't have the willpower within myself to fix the physical, mental, and spiritual causes of my alcoholism. It wasn't within me. I also was too wrapped up in self to hear other human's dire warnings and imprecations concerning my rather precarious position in life. No human power....

Through listening to your stories of what you were like, what happened, and what you were like now I was able to come to believe that a HP could and would help me if I asked. So....I asked for healing.

I was convinced.

An admission...and a "coming to believe" that healing was possible.

Then....on to a further convincing.....the convincing and decision of step 3.

cheers,
Karl
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Re: P 60 How it Works (The Starting Place)

Postby Marc L » Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:44 am

Yes indeed, we are all alive and deserve has nothing to do with it.
It's about grace.

Marc
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12th Step work ain't just a job... It's an Adventure.
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Re: P 60 How it Works (The Starting Place)

Postby Bright Spot » Thu Apr 08, 2010 1:51 pm

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
Who wants to be an alcoholic? Not I. I was angry and didn't want this life sentence. As I stayed in AA and listened to the people at meetings, I slowly came to accept the fact I was an alcoholic. It took time for my mind to clear and be able to look at my drinking. I came to realize how unmanagable my life was. I had tried for many years to fix myself by way of new jobs, new houses, new towns, new states, new loves, etc. The trouble was I always showed up with a bottle in my hand. Then the humiliation of not being able to stop drinking for even one day. Finally drinking and not being able to get drunk. Drinking to pass out for a couple of hours. Getting up and drinking again. I came to AA hopeless. I had seen my future and it was black, only darkness lay in front of me. As sick as I was I still didn't want to be an alcoholic. With the help of other alcoholics who took the time to share their experience, strength, and hope, I learned I didn't have to like being an alcoholic. I didn't have to like not being able to manage my own life. But I did have to accept it. With no emotion. It is the way it is. I'm an alcoholic and can't manage my life. Now what am I going to do about it?
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
I knew no person could help me. Many people had tried in my life to help me and failed.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.
Finally after much fighting and crying I came to accept the fact that God was the answer and he would help me if I sought him out. I felt like I was back at the beginning of my life. Once again the judging God of my youth was standing before me. A long time sober man talked to me one day. I told him I thought people silly who said their God was a chair or a door knob etc. He told me my God was to be as I understood him. In order to succeed my God needed to have one trait that his God had. My God had to be an all loving God. I will say this again! MY GOD HAD TO BE AN ALL LOVING GOD. As I continued in doing the steps, I always kept this thought in the back of my mind. The angry God of my youth was replaced by a loving father who guided and loved his daughter. Who was all powerful. Who could manage my life for me. All I had to do was Let Go of the old and walk forward into the light of Hope.
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Re: P 60 How it Works (The Starting Place)

Postby Steven F » Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:59 pm

In the original 1938 manuscript (before the first print), this was worded as follows:

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after, have been designed to sell you three pertinent ideas:

(a) That you are alcoholic and cannot manage your own life.
(b) That probably no human power can relieve your alcoholism.
(c) That God can and will.

If you are not convinced on these vital issues, you ought to re-read the book to this point or else throw it away!

If you are convinced, you are now at step three, which is that you make a decision to turn your will and your life over to God as you understand Him. Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do?


The way my mind worked when I first saw these lines, the idea of someone basically telling me "if you don't get it, get out" made me re-read the whole thing again. It broke the last of my resistance. Strange to think how insecure and unsure of myself and my place in the world I was just a short while ago...
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Re: P 60 How it Works (The Starting Place)

Postby leejosepho » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:34 am

Our description of the alcoholic ...

The essence of Step One from "The Doctor's Opinion", Chapters Two and Three.

... the chapter to the agnostic ...

Trying to make Step Two possible for anyone at all.

... and our personal adventures before and after ...

"Bill's Story" and other personal stories in our book.

... [hopefully altogether] make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

Here is one place we can find some insight related to "decoding" Step One as summarized on page 59:

"(a) ... we ... could not manage our own lives."

Or in looking from a different angle:

"We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn't there ...
"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously." (page 44)

No matter how many people might believe alcohol is our problem, no such thought is ever shared in our book. Rather:

"Leaving aside the drink question, they tell why living was so unsatisfactory ..." (page 51), and that turns out to be related to our inability to manage our own lives successfully and our powerlessness to change either "it" or ourselves. Hence ...

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking this world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

-- Reinhold Niebuhr (edited slightly)


So, where can we find "grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed"?

In my own experience, that began just a little later on, in Step Four:

"We began to see that the world and its people really dominated us ...
"... We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend." (pages 66-67)

Then, where can we find "courage to change the things which should be changed"?

Also from Step Four:

"The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be." (page 68)

Are we now beginning to experience a bit of "wisdom to distinguish the one from the other"?! ;)

We cannot change life as we know it, and we cannot change other people ... but by taking the Steps, we can be enabled or "empowered", if you will, to live one day at a time in this world as it is without having to insanely return to drinking ...

"Trusting that [God] will make all things right" in the end. But returning to the matter at hand ...

Being convinced [that (a) we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives, (b) that probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism and (c) that God could and would if He were sought], 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 [turn our will and our life over to God], and just what do we do? (emphasis added)

In my religious past, I thought yet another "nose dive" (my first sponsor's term) at the altar might take care of that, but we are about to see something much different suggested here in A.A.
=======================
"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: P 60 How it Works (The Starting Place)

Postby PaigeB » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:49 pm

From the original manuscript draft (again)

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after, have been designed to sell you three pertinent ideas:

(a) That you are alcoholic and cannot manage your own life.
(b) That probably no human power can relieve your alcoholism.
(c) That God can and will.

If you are not convinced on these vital issues, you ought to re-read the book to this point or else throw it away!


Thank Goodness for sponsorship! Going through the book with my sponsor was immensely helpful and I did not have to go back to start!
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
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