We claim spiritual progress … – Episode 72

By Haragayato (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can't go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. (Alcoholics Anonymous)

Mara joins Spencer again to talk about perfection, progress, and topics in between. The quote, above, from the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous formed the foundation of our conversation. Here are some of the questions we may or may not have ended up addressing.

  • What does it mean to be perfect?
  • What is your perspective/understanding on character defects? Are they what keep you from perfection?
  • How did you feel about perfection before the program vs. now?
  • What do you consider to be progress?
  • How does your outlook and attitude change when you look at your progress (how far you’ve come) instead of your shortcomings (how far you have to go to be perfect)?
  • How do you see your progress?
  • By taking a periodic inventory?
  • When you see yourself facing or responding to an old situation in a new way?
  • When someone else points it out to you?
  • How do you feel or react when something does not work out the way you wanted it to?
  • What tools can you use to get past that feeling or reaction to resolution or completion?

Spencer closed with this prayer he got from a Facebook friend, by which he tries to live every day. “Lord, help me to hold myself and others to a standard of grace, rather than perfection.”

Our topic for next week is Tradition 5, which says “Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of AA ourselves, by encouraging and understanding our alcoholic relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics.”

Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here. Continue reading “We claim spiritual progress … – Episode 72”

Tradition 1 – Episode 55

20130814-130029.jpgSpencer and Maria are joined by special guest Ruth to discuss Tradition 1, which says “Our common welfare should come first; personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity.” We are guided by these questions:

What does “common welfare” mean to you?
What does “unity” mean to / for you?
How do you think that this tradition supports personal progress.?
What are some ways you observe this tradition in your group(s)?
How does this tradition inform or affect the “rules” your group(s) use in meetings?
How does a group or meeting suffer when one person shares to long or otherwise dominates the meeting?
Have you been affected by that behavior? Have you done that?
How can and do you use this tradition outside the program, in your personal life?
The reading in Pathways suggests that “a loving, spiritual community” provides the best chance for personal recovery. How does Tradition 1 help to build and maintain such a community?
Do you share your experience, strength, and hope in your group meetings?
Do you give others the opportunity to share equally? Do you listen when they share?
How do sharing and listening attentively help to unite the group?
How does taking control destroy unity?
Does this tradition mean that everyone in the group must be happy or satisfied with a decision? Why or why not?
How can you use what you have learned about this tradition to bring balance into your relationships?

Ruth is in Germany, so we asked her to read Tradition 1 in German, which is “Unser gemeinsames Wohlergehen sollte an erster Stelle stehen; persönlicher Fortschritt für möglichst viele hängt vom Einigsein ab.” (http://www.al-anon.de/grund/programm/12traditionen.htm)

Our topic for next week is communication. Do you have trouble communicating your needs and feelings to your loved ones? Do your attempts to ask for what you want always degenerate into an argument? How have you learned to communicate better in this program? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading “Tradition 1 – Episode 55”

Progress, not Perfection – Episode 29

Today, we’re going to talk about progress, not perfection. Ever feel like no matter how much you try, you fall short? Ever just want to give up because perfection just seems too hard to achieve, so why bother? Ever feel like the strides you do take forward just aren’t good enough? Join Kelli, Swetha, and special guest Wendy for this journey.

How do we see perfection or perfectionism? It seems that perfection is never achievable, because if we reach it, we must not have defined it correctly. We keep on moving the goal posts. Or, maybe you can relate to this statement: “Perfectionism is what I’m not. It is something better than what I am. It’s always got to be one level above, no matter where I’m at.” Maybe you tie it to control: if I could just get everything to fall into place … if I could only get everyone to do what they are supposed to do…  I can’t get there because there are so many things out of my control. Perfectionism leads us to do things only when we know we are good at them, otherwise we say “f— it. I'm not doing that.”

Perfection is not rooted in reality. Is progress rooted in reality? Is it reachable, tangible? It is more real, more attainable, kinder. Perfection is rooted in anger and sadness, while progress is rooted in elation and happiness. But it can be hard to see our own progress. The program has brought us a measure of self-awareness that lets us start to see our progress. It also lets us see when we are falling away from who we want to be and to get ourselves back on track, and to see our progress.

Swetha shares an affirming definition: perfection is who you are right now, progress is what you need to do so you can be perfect for tomorrow. You are exactly right now who you need to be so that you can be of maximum use to yourself and your fellows, and your higher power made it that way. (You may not like it, but that's how it is.)

How can we measure, or even just see, our progress? What tools do we have? Our 4th step and 10th step inventories can show us our progress, especially if we compare a current inventory to a past one. I can take time during our daily prayer and meditation to look at where I at today. I can get feedback through my sponsor or other program friends. Someone might come up to me after a meeting and say “I really liked your share. I want to try that in my recovery.” And I will see my progress in a new light. We might find ourselves reacting in a new way to an old situation. We can support each other by complimenting others on their progress, when we see it. And when we see (or are shown) our progress, we can congratulate ourselves — not only is this OK, it is encouraged. Laughter and humor can be a great tool when we find ourselves reaching for perfection instead of being satisfied with progress.

Kelli shares a tool she uses. When she finds herself faced with an old trigger, she “hits pause” and then “plays the tape forward”, seeing how it might turn out if she reacts in her old behavior, or how a new response can lead to a more positive result. Then she can choose progress. And of course, she uses the Serenity Prayer to help her choose progress (what she can change) over striving for perfection (what she cannot change).

Wendy shared a quote by that prolific writer, Anonymous. “As I journey through recovery, more and more I learn that accepting myself and my idiosyncracies, laughing at myself for my ways, gets me a lot further than picking on myself and trying to make myself perfect. Maybe that’s really what it’s all about: absolute loving, joyous, nurturing self-acceptance.”

Our topic for next week is Program in the Workplace. Do you have a hard time setting boundaries at work? Do you find yourself staying late even though it affects your self-care? How do you use your program in the workplace? Please call us at 734-707-8795, use the voicemail button at the right, or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading “Progress, not Perfection – Episode 29”