Genuine Surrender – Andrea Wachter, LMFT

Having been around the spiritual book block a time or two (umm, make that more like 2,000!), I am no stranger to the concept of surrender. If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard it and read it a thousand times too: “What you resist will persist,” “Let it go and see if it flies back,” etc. I don’t know about you, but when I want something, the last thing I am inclined to do is let it go and see if it comes back. And yet, everything I have ever read regarding the laws of attraction and the foundation of spiritual principles has led me back again and again to this: Obsessing and excessive efforting equals misery and usually does not help in attaining my goals, whereas letting go and surrendering brings peace and is often accompanied by some pretty magical experiences. (And if nothing magical happens to occur, if there has… Continue reading

Changing Our Environment to Enhance Recovery – Nicola O’Hanlon

All living beings have the need and the ability to be sensitive to their surroundings to help them to survive and thrive. Humans, like all other beings, including plants, have an innate awareness of environment and seek out environments with certain qualities. For example, certain plants can only grow and thrive in certain environments. Some need lots of sunshine, some need shade. The soil they root into also has a huge impact; some need alkaline soil conditions, some need acidic and some need more water than others. However, once a plant is in the ideal environment it grows strong and thrives. Humans are no different. We have a strong need for safety and security and look for those attributes in our environment whether we are conscious of it or not. We also look for physical comfort and so things like the right temperature is important and just like plants we need the right… Continue reading

Yes You Are – Christine Beck

My Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings end with members stating an Affirmation. We began by using the list on page 329 of the Big Red Book. Those affirmations all begin with “It is okay.” Some examples are “It is okay to know another way to live.” “It is okay to say no without feeling guilty,” and “It is okay to say ‘I don’t know.’” Many of these affirmations mirror the statements that different meetings have developed into a Bill of Rights. Examples are “I have a right to say no.” “I have a right to take healthy risks,” or I have the right to expect honesty from others.” These affirmations are helpful, but they do not go to the heart of claiming who I am as a person in recovery.  They do not include statements such as “I am lovable just as I am,” “I am vulnerable in relationships,” or… Continue reading

Beyond Recovery Exceptionalism – Bill White

Oppression involves objectification and rendering the targeted person or group as the ‘other.” That distinctive “otherness” is then conveyed in caricatured images that feed stigma, social exclusion, and, in its most extreme form, genocide. The first task of the social reformer is to illuminate the humanity of those objectified and break down barriers between “they” and “we.” The machinery of oppression and strategies of liberation rely on these opposing scaffolds of belief and perception. By projecting recovery stories into the public arena, recovery advocates undermine the demonized addiction archetype. These stories are often first viewed by the public through a lens of exceptionalism—seeing these ennobled individuals as the rare exception to the rule, “Once an addict, always an addict.” As recovery advocates, we can inadvertently contribute to this perception by only thrusting our most attractive, most articulate, highest achieving members into the public eye and characterizing our own redemption as an… Continue reading

Facing Your Feelings – Nicola O’Hanlon

Many of us have been brought up to perceive certain emotions as a weakness. We come to believe that certain emotions are defective or not allowed. In turn, we suppress our emotions, which are indicators of what our true feelings are on any given subject, and instead take on the opinions and beliefs of others in an attempt to fit in or be accepted. In my own life it has taken profound courage to look at my deepest and most challenging feelings, and then attach these feelings to some of the most disturbing of circumstances in my life, past and present. Processing our feelings is terrifying sometimes. If we find we are experiencing what is societally a negative emotion, we can often be shamed and told there is something wrong with us. How many times, for example, do we hear that anger is not lady like. You must accept the… Continue reading