ACCEPTANCE (from the Big Book of Alcholohics Anonymous)
This passage more than any I've read in recovery has kept me sober and from stinkin' thinkin'.
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When I stopped living in the problem and began living in the answer, the problem went away.
And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place or thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my addiction, I count not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, all the men and women merely players.” He forgot to mention that I was the chief critic. I was always able to see the flaw in every person, every situation. And I was always glad to point it out, because I knew you wanted perfection, just as I did. The program and acceptance have taught me that there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here. When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God’s handiwork. I am saying that I know better than God.
For years, I was sure the worst thing that could happen to a nice guy like me would be that I would turn out to be an alcoholic. Today, I find it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. This proves I don’t know what’s good for me. And if I don’t know what’s good for me, then I don’t know what’s good or bad for you or for anyone. So I’m better off if I don’t give advice, don’t figure I know what’s best, and just accept life on life’s terms, as it is today – especially my own life, as it actually is. Before the program, I judged myself by my intentions, while the world was judging me by my actions.
Acceptance has been the answer to my marital problems. . . . “the courage to change” in the Serenity Prayer meant, not that I should change my marriage, but rather that I should change myself and learn to accept my spouse as she was. The program has given me a new pair of glasses. I can again focus on my wife’s good qualities and watch them grow and grow and grow.
I can do the same thing at a meeting. When I try to see what I can add to the meeting, rather than what I can get out of it, and when I focus my mind on what’s good about it, rather than what’s wrong with it, the meeting keeps getting better and better. When I focus on what’s bad I have a bad day. If I focus on a problem the problem increases; if I focus on the answer, the answer increases.
When I communicate with my wife about how I feel rather than how I think, I find that it’s hard to argue with feelings. I can tell her that she ought to think a certain way, but I certainly can’t take away her right to feel however she does feel. When we deal in feelings, we tend to come to know ourselves and each other much better.
The hardest place to work this program has been in my own home, with my own children and, finally, with my wife. It seems I should have learned to love my wife and family first; the newcomer to the program last. But it was the other way around. . . . I now try to think of my wife as a sick program member and treat her with the love I would give a sick program newcomer. When I do this, we get along fine.
Perhaps the best thing of all for me is to remember that my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations of my wife and other people are, the lower is my serenity. I can watch my serenity level rise when I discard my expectations. But then my “rights” try to move in, and they, too, can force my serenity level down. I have to discard my “rights,” as well as my expectations, by asking myself, “How important is it, really? How important is it compared to my serenity, my emotional sobriety?” And when I place more value on my serenity and sobriety than on anything else, I can maintain them at a higher level – at least for the time being.
Acceptance is the key to my relationship with God today. I never just sit and do nothing while waiting for Him to tell me what to do. Rather, I do whatever is in front of me to be done, and I leave the results up to Him; however it turns out, that God’s will for me.
I must keep my magic magnifying mind on my acceptance and off my expectations, for my serenity is directly proportional to my level of acceptance. When I remember this, I can see I’ve never had it so good. Thank God!