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Old 06-10-2006, 12:59 AM   #1
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THE TWELVE PROMISES OF AA (Long Form)

THE TWELVE PROMISES OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

Readers of the Big Book (third edition) may be surprised when they come upon pages 83 through 84 where twelve promises of joyous living are listed.

A rewarding revelation lies in these promises. Sobriety alone is never enough to guarantee the spiritual progress that leads to serenity.

No mention of alcohol or other drugs is made in the promises. The promises stress freedom from addiction’s bondage. They teach that abstinence can be comfortable if "Easy Does It" is always followed by "But Do It."

Exploring the promises is an adventurous education that never leads to graduation. The primary reason is that sobriety does make promises – and keeps them.

1. WE FIND NEW FREEDOM

The first promise says, "We will know a new freedom and a new happiness." This is a vast change for the alcoholic who always insisted, "I’ll handle it myself when I’m good and ready." But the alcoholic agonized over lack of freedom of choice about drinking.

The first promise assures us complete freedom as our reward for staying with the winners. It encourages us to make wise use of our free choices.

Happiness comes with the peace of mind we experience after we surrender and accept the reality of our addiction. Now we understand the difference between the happiness of sobriety and the false joy the bottle brought. We find a happiness replete with laughter, contrasted with the despair we wallowed in while we were drunk.

The new freedom brings love, honesty, gratitude, humility, positive-ness, faith, hope and trust. Our choices become steps in spiritual growth.

2. OUR REGRETS SUBSIDE

The second promise tells us, "We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it." This assures us freedom from guilt over what we did, what we lost, whom we hurt and what might have been. We can remember the past to benefit from mistakes without dwelling on it.

By benefiting from past misdeeds, we reduce the chance of repeating them. Absence of regrets makes life possible in the now. When we confront the past horrors, we emphasize the lesson that "pain is the price of maturity." In sobriety, we would surely be distraught if the deep hurt we suffered while drinking had all been in vain.

Using the past as a tool for growth, we protect ourselves against slips by avoiding complacency and carelessness. We need not be ashamed or our past, because we know we can bring our character defects into the open, admit them and get help to rid ourselves of them.

When we compare the real joys of sobriety with the fancied pleasures of intoxication we can feel grateful.

3 . WE WILL FIND SERENITY

In the third promise we are told, "We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace." We once drank to kill pain but it only increased our agony. In sobriety, we find we can use our past suffering for emotional growth, healing and peace of mind. While Alcoholism is a disease of denial, recovery in A.A. is based on the truth of the Serenity Prayer, which teaches us acceptance of the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Serenity is not a passive attitude but requires constructive action that creates an ideal climate for spiritual growth. With peace of mind, we readily take inventories of both defects and assets in our characters. Selfishness does not grow in an atmosphere of serenity. We cannot be hateful and grateful at the same time. Serenity has been called a passport to the presence of a Higher Power. Serenity makes our forgiveness of others and ourselves possible. It frees us from excessive living and thinking.

4. OUR EXPERIENCES HAVE VALUES

The fourth promise states, "No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others." This promise pointedly reminds alcoholics to look for similarities not differences in fellow A.A. members.

This promise assures us that we belong. We rightfully share a sense of value within society with millions of other recovering addicts. As victims of alcohol, we felt we were less than others. We were full of shame and guilt for what we had become. In our first days in A.A. we believed none of those nice sober people would have anything to do with us if they found out what failures we were.

Surprisingly, we learn our sordid pasts and horrid behaviour can help others to relate to us. We think, "If they can make it, why not me?" Beginners are told, "Keep coming to meetings and you’ll hear your story coming out of the mouths of others." Our drunkologues are never so unique that they won’t be topped again and again by fellow alcoholics.

The practice of holding nothing back helps us identify with others, not compare. The caste system and generation gap go out the window in A.A. We quickly agree our common welfare comes first; personal recovery depends on our unity.

It becomes almost impossible for a recovering alcoholic to deceive fellow members who have already heard all the lies, cop-outs and alibis. Denial, the number one symptom of addiction, gets us nowhere with a group of recovering alcoholics.

One important idea behind this promise is that the realities of drinking will reach not only the "helpless, hopeless boozer" but also the "high-bottom alcoholic" who may be struggling to admit he or she belongs in A.A.

Relating and identifying will always be key words in reaching a drinking, still-suffering alcoholic, because recovering drinkers who tell their past experiences abound with sincerity. Words that come from the heart always reach the hearts of those who need to hear them.

5. SELF-PITY DISAPPEARS

The fifth promise seems improbable to those who are still drinking. It tells us, "That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear." We actually do find our lives becoming manageable.

Before we surrendered to reality, we alcoholics considered ourselves failures. We felt inadequate, undeserving, rejected, unlucky, betrayed and unimportant. "What’s the use? Who cares?" summed up our views on life and death. Self-pity was our only solace.

Self-respect during sobriety will come slowly but steadily. We learn to be patient. The miracle of rediscovering purpose in life comes to us, if we give it time. We find the joy of living, a second lifetime – one filled with caring and sharing and love and service. As we progress from useless to purposeful living, our thinking becomes positive. We act with gratitude and humility.

Constructive thinking reveals we are always basically what we think we are. When we believe ourselves failures, we are failures. When we live free of self-pity and with a positive outlook, we build our open-mindedness and our willingness for spiritual growth.

The antidote for self-pity is action. Self-pity is revealed as selfishness, unwarranted pride and an unhealthy ego. Self-pity is an extension of self-absorption and leads losers to depend on "cop-outs" to explain why the program failed to work for them. Self-pitiers never grasp the truth that a recovery program has few failures but many quitters.

We start feeling sorry for ourselves when our demands are rejected for everything on our terms. We ultimately understand that we can’t work this program our way. We stop trying easier, softer ways and stop holding onto old ideas. Growth becomes easier after we develop a willingness to go to any length to arrive at solid sobriety.

6. INTEREST IN OTHERS GROWS

Any person, whether suffering from an addiction or not, would feel rewarded with "the key to happy, fruitful living" if he or she were the recipient of sobriety’s sixth promise. It states, "We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows."

When we give up the bottle, we also relinquish our envy and self-centeredness. We were extremely colourful liars about our successes. How our hungry egos thrived!

Alcoholics are expert people-pleasers, always hoping to influence others to respond with material or emotional rewards. Kindness merely for the sake of feeling good was an unthinkable waste of opportunity. Most or our drinking was done to benefit only ourselves. We reveled in the false feelings of pleasure, power and importance that alcohol brought us. Alcohol made us believe we were somebody. Even when misery followed a binge, we usually felt the lift we’d experienced was worth the price. Sadly, the agony got progressively worse.

It is a drinker’s self-centeredness that disregards the symptoms of our disease and the warnings of loved ones. Our egos, a potent factor during drinking, can continue to retard our spiritual progress. Few things in life are more rewarding than the realization that we enjoy helping others and sharing solutions instead of working overtime to attract attention to ourselves. We find that generosity without thought of return is a cure for problems. It becomes evident that people who share freely seldom sink into depression. We become aware that faulty thinking can be the root of our depression.

Since reaction to people, places and things is a source of depression, positive thinking depends on close contact with other people. That requires action. We need to focus outside ourselves on the mainstream of life.

Sharing is the key to enjoying the sixth promise. We begin to practice the slogan, "We can do what I can’t." By exchanging ideas and experiences with one another, we rid ourselves of emotions that enable selfishness to flourish – pride, vanity, self-righteousness, jealousy, self-pity, resentment and condemnation. Interest in others that prompts giving and sharing takes us far from that drunken existence where complained that the world owed us a lot and never paid off. When sober, we do more than make friends; we understand how to be friends.

7. GRANDIOSITY DISAPPEARS

The seventh promise of sobriety is, "Self-seeking will slip away." This promise becomes one of the benefits of sobriety, when we are aware that we have made spiritual progress.

Before recovery, we always insisted our drinking was nobody’s business. Our attitude constantly put us on the defensive. We were sure we had to protect our rights. Self-seeking and self-indulgence seemed wholly justified.

In recovery, we realize self-centeredness created that stubborn denial that kept us from surrendering. We realize how much help we need. Our grandiosity has to go.

It was natural while we were drinking to exalt our egos. If we are self-made successes in a professional field, we can easily begin to worship our creators – ourselves. Egotists devote little time to character growth. Any potential change for the better is restrained by a lack of humility, even when a drinker grows tired of misery. An active alcoholic lacks open-mindedness. Though often wrong, drinkers never doubt they are right. Only when an admission and acceptance show them they are just human, no more or less, are they ready to welcome helping hands.

Acceptance in recovery is without reservation, but never with the feeling we are simply resigned to our disease. We see self-seeking as only an inferiority complex turned inside out. As our self-centeredness slips away, humility will make a quiet entrance. The recovering alcoholic becomes teachable and will never stop learning new truths.

As our self-seeking diminishes, humility allows us to listen. Arrogant persons are not ready to hear. Unless we hear, we cannot grow. One early lesson for us is that sobriety does not make A.A. members "fellows in virtue" but sharers of character defects who are helping one another lose those faults.

We find that change is a must for us. Without it, we cannot take the vital inventories that identify our shortcomings. Without change, old ideas will dominate our lives. All change must come from within us. Nobody else can alter us. Not even A.A. plays that role; it simply gives us the tools to change ourselves.

Results depend on how much we want to change, how hard we are willing to work and how open to advice from experienced friends our minds are. If we take the suggested Steps of Recovery, it will be impossible not to change. In making changes, it is well to remember the adage; "You must first empty the old, dirty water from the pitcher before you can fill it with new, clean water."

8. OUR OUTLOOK BRIGHTENS

The eighth promise is far-reaching. It states, "Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change." As drinkers, the only important changes for were external – different watering holes, different drinks, different mixes, different friends. We blamed everything but alcohol for the pain we suffered and the mishaps we encountered. We didn’t even admit the one obvious change: Our lives grew progressively worse, no matter what we tried.

In recovery, we begin to accept life as it happens, not as we would like it to be or as we believed the bottle would make it. With our new attitudes, we no longer seek others to validate our behaviour and our opinions. We no longer seek compliments, knowing that such praise is really fragile and short-lived. We learn that the less we seek approval, the more we receive. We see the importance of satisfying ourselves instead of inviting applause from others. We strive to live up to our potential while making sure we work wisely within our limitations.

We discover in a fellowship like A.A. that our true worth remains after all material things are gone. The things in life with lasting value can never be taken from us. We become aware that truth is unchangeable. Our approach to truth, however, can change for the worse if we permit old ideas to dominate our outlook on life. We must remember no one can hurt us unless we permit him or her to. We cannot prevent what happens to us but we are always responsible for how we react to our experiences. A positive attitude will determine our responses.

In recovery, we change our approach from hostile and negative to positive and friendly. It becomes obvious that a wrong attitude will build as much guilt within us as a wrong deed. A changed attitude will not lead us to believe everything will be perfect but we will confront life on realistic not fanciful terms. Furthermore, the self-loathing of our guilty drunken selves will give way to higher self-esteem.

Our new attitude will include looking at line one day at a time. Thus, we escape the persistent guilt from the past and the fear of the future. This outlook includes examining each day as it ends. This always produces an active gratitude within us. We find it is not enough to feel grateful; we must express gratitude through love and service to others.

9. OUR FEARS DECREASE

The ninth promise strikes down unwarranted fear. It states "Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us." Since courage has been described as fear that has said its prayers, we become accustomed to praying for God’s will for us. The insight this brings convinces us our fears come from within ourselves, not from others. We will no longer have to be defensive or blame people, places and circumstances for what we do or say. We will discover we may have become our own worst enemy, but we don’t have to be this way. It is rewarding to make and keep friends instead of antagonizing everyone around us because we fear confrontations. We used to be quarrelsome drinkers, unaware that anger often covered fear.

In sobriety, decreased fear reduces envy, low self-esteem, resentments and feelings of rejection and frustration. In A.A., we lose our loneliness, our starting point for fear of others. We can find love and trust in new friends who remind us, "Everything is going to be all right…This, too, shall pass…Things will get better and better."

Involvement with others is the magic that dissolves fear. Where there is unity, there is no room for conflict. There are no strangers in caring and sharing programs, only new friends not yet met. In a fellowship of recovering addicts, we are all people who need people.

Love in sobriety is demonstrated by wishing someone else well; being available; having interest in others and sharing sympathy, understanding, kindness, honesty and humility.

The ninth promise also assures us freedom from the fear of financial insecurity. This does not mean we will be showered with possessions or become affluent. We will not always get what we want, but we will receive what we need to enjoy sobriety.

10. COPING BECOMES EASIER

Although our recovery program is simple, it is not easy. The tenth promise addresses this: "We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us." Experience teaches us to stop complicating everything. We are told, "If it works, don’t fix it."

As drinkers, life was never easy or unhurried. In recovery, we grow emotionally through countless lessons that are a joy to experience and live the philosophy of Easy Does It or One Day At a Time. Time is a great teacher and each approach to life that we master stays with us forever. Like riding a bicycle, recovery may be puzzling at first but, once we learn, we will never forget.

The tenth promise guarantees that, as our sobriety continues and strengthens, we will grow spiritually. An intuitive know-how indicates change and change means progress. Even though change is constant, we will never reach perfection because humans never attain perfection.

In early recovery, a major change we experience is our growing concern for other people. It is said all humans are born selfish and addiction accentuates this trait. In sobriety, we begin to care about others. Changes come – sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly – but always surely.

Working the Steps of Recovery will be the foundation for our intuition in solving problems. We can benefit from the advice others give us and we can replace old useless ideas with workable ones. A large part of intuition involves faith. We experience an awareness of reality and our thought process becomes more mature. We instinctively begin to do the right thing at the right time.

11. OUR SPIRITUALITY GROWS

The eleventh promise assures us spiritual growth will be a part of our sobriety. This promise states, "We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves." When drinking, we had little faith in prayer. Our impatience never allowed us to understand good things must come in God’s time, not ours. Grandiosity kept us from turning anything over to God. Even when we felt a need for help, we were usually resigned to our drinking problem. Our ego told us if we got out of the driver’s seat, we’d lose control.

Yet, once we permit God to do what we cannot, we find happiness we never before knew existed. We learn what it is to share with love. We discover that once we recognize God’s will for us, we still have the responsibility of changing ourselves and carrying out His will.

The eleventh promise informs us we must completely over problems that are beyond our control. As this promise materializes for us, we will have better understanding of God and His power. Finding God may seem to great a task, but a sincere search for Him will sustain our spiritual progress. God will always be too great an entity for humans to understand entirely, but all our efforts at awareness will build a strong faith that unlocks to doors to acceptance. When we have faith, we have made the first move toward letting go and letting God do for us hat we cannot do.

In this relationship with a Higher Power, faith leads to trust. The less we press at being spiritual, the more spiritual we become. Once we find a satisfying relationship with a Higher Power, we will know we can never again ‘play God’ with the lives of others.

Obviously, contact with God must be through prayer and meditation, our communication system with our Higher Power. So long as we have faith that the eleventh promise will be part of our sobriety, we will develop confidence and we will make the spiritual progress necessary for continued sobriety. Trust in this promise will make us aware that we will never walk alone, not matter where we travel in sobriety.

12. THE PROMISES EVOLVE THROUGH EFFORT

The twelfth promise sums up all the others and is probably the most rewarding of all. It asserts, "All the promises of Sobriety will always materialize if we work for them.

Whether the promises materialize quickly or slowly depends on the amount of work we do. It is like taking a picture; we get back what we focus on. Unless we follow instructions in every effort, we are going to lose more than we win. Patience is a necessity to complete each step of spiritual growth. Patient people see the difference between true solutions and circumstances that are nothing but problems in disguise.

In our growth process, we discover winners are tenacious listeners in any ‘learning’ group while losers are usually impatient to express their opinions. Growth comes through love. Recovering alcoholics find it is more important to give love than to be loved. Haphazard action will never bring these promises to fruition. We must direct our efforts carefully by knowing what is happening and being among those who are constantly making things happen.

N.B. These were written by the man who wrote the original Twenty-Four Hour A Day meditation book.
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Old 06-29-2010, 01:59 PM   #2
Carol87
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I just found this while looking for something else .. this is the first time I realized there was a long form of the promises ... Caution: I suspect this is not conference approved particularly since it was written by the author of the Twenty-Four Hour a Day book and a Hazelden publication.

Anyone have an insight here? I find it a thoughtful and interesting read.


P.S. I did a google ... it is a booklet by Cecil C.

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Old 06-29-2010, 02:20 PM   #3
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No insight--just pretty much think they speak for themselves and I do believe the promises come true when we work the twelve steps!

Thanks for posting!

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