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Wed Mar 20, 2013, 12:15 PM

One of the Keys to opening the door to 12 Step Programs.. What is a Higher Power.?

So much about the God thing....so here is my take on it ...

Your higher power is your higher power. Any power greater than yourself................
.Yesterday, I attended an EA meeting, Emotions Anonymous..powerless over our emotions...at that meeting the following idea is presented in a reading...(not exact words)

Your higher power can be anything greater than yourself: the goodness in people, peace, faith, God, strength of the group, kindness, love, or any entity a member chooses as a power greater than themselves......

Let us get this clear....in 12 step programs... there is no higher power police ....no one defines a higher power for you..You define a power greater than you....Here is how it really works for me...................

I am walking thru the foodstore.....for some reason I have worked my way over to the liquor- beer department...So I start to think, gee that might be nice to have a cool beer, or a nice shot of chocolate liquor....(I like chocolate) ..so I think about what kind of advice the AA meeting might give at that point..
...This is what I get in my head.
....................well........that is not a good idea..why don't you go over and buy something you need..for your refridgerator...like some bread or milk...that idea really doesn't do you well.....you know what will probably happen......

...so I listen to that advice....and...that is it..Higher Power has talked to me, and given advice...which..I can listen to or not listen to....

That is it..so I listen.. It ain't rocket science.........If it was rocket science..., I wouldn't understand it..
..................................Stuart G

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Response to Stuart G (Original post)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 12:37 PM

1. I think they should call it a DEEPER power, because addicition can only be overcome

 

when one is doing it for oneself completely, which means from within, not from outside influence, perceived or real. Yes, they can be utile, but the core has to be from within.

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Response to Lionessa (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 20, 2013, 11:02 PM

2. while I agree with you...

when I first started in al-anon (and I was thinking about suicide at the time)
the only thing that kept me going was to try to be a better person so that I could still mother the child that I lost
to a miscarriage that put me under the table, and sent me to my bottom.

If someone can't get better for themselves at first, but it trying to do it for something or someone else at first...I think that is ok.
Because if it's keeping you sober or sane to work the program for another person, I say so be it.
If someone is trying to stay sober or sane to help their kids, I say fine...

The point being...
By the time you've worked the steps and done the deal, and keep doing the deal, you'll be doing it for yourself.

I certainly work the program for me now, but I didn't very much like myself at the time I came in the program.
I had to have a reason other than me, even though I don't think I really knew that at the time.

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Response to Stuart G (Original post)

Thu Mar 21, 2013, 04:36 AM

3. No higher power police, but a lot of talk of God God God (as a deity)

Last edited Thu Mar 21, 2013, 05:59 AM - Edit history (3)

And all of the alternative concepts of higher power, when plugged into some of the steps, particularly step 3 or 7 or 11, don't make any sense to me. Or, for me, they just seem to lack the power I need when dealing with a hard situation, like alcoholism.

(On edit, I got rid of the original first paragraph about using one's thinking as one's higher power as being dangerous. On reflection, when one hears good advice it only makes sense to at least think about it and consider it).

It seems there are regional differences in A.A. and Al-Anon. Just like the "no higher power police" thing, but we've discussed that one before. http://www.democraticunderground.com/1144174#post4

Some atheists I know, myself included, have been advised to "lie" and "fake it until you make it" -- very strange advice in a program based on rigorous honesty. I've certainly been told, and I know other atheists have, that having the group as a higher power was a good start, but only a start, and not enough to stay sober long-term.

I haven't been to a meeting in a long long time (although I keep putting the darn things on my calendar) because, well, about 80% of what I hear is stuff about a deity helping alcoholics and family members of alcoholics find a parking spot or getting into the left turn lane in time, or giving oomph to their car batteries, and I just think of people starving to death in the third world, or dying of a malnutrition-related disease, once every 3 seconds on average. I wonder why God is letting people starve and die from agonizing diseases (no morphine drips in a lot of places), while taking care of the cars of wealthy Americans and helping them drive (most of us are wealthy by the standards of about 80% of the world). Just not my idea of spirituality.

And all I hear is God this and God that and God God God, and from what they say, the vast majority are using that word in the context of a deity, and not some alternative concept like Group Of Drunks, Good Orderly Direction, or Gift Of Desperation. I'm sorry, but I just can't relate to it. I try hard to focus on the other 20%, but, well, I haven't been able to get enough out of the 20% to make up for the 80%.

If it was just a matter of adopting the concept of a higher power, it would be easy, I already have -- the help and wisdom of others. But when its little different than a church service for some generic non-denominational God, but a deity God nevertheless, then I feel more and more that I'm in the wrong place.

I guess why I write this is that you make it sound like all one has to do is get the higher power thing, and once one picks some higher power concept, there is no other reason to be hung up about the program / meetings. Well, I've got higher powers, but I'm still hung up and wish I wasn't, but I am.

Anyway, I hope all is well with you




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Response to progree (Reply #3)

Thu Mar 21, 2013, 04:05 PM

4. I don't let people off easy when they start spouting God this and that in a meeting

and Dawg forbid they quote "the other Big Book" when I'm around. I feed it to them. Hard. With both barrels.

My first higher power was a 6 foot tall invisible white rabbit I named BOB (Big Omnipotent Being) and that HP (and meetings and fellowship and fear and a high sugar diet) kept me sober for months.

I use "The Universe" now. and it seemed once I was willing to believe, 'The Universe' (for lack of a better term) came in to support me in concrete ways. Parking spots. Overheard conversations with answers I needed at the time. A feeling of belonging to something.

While AA is definitively written as a spiritual program, it's program of action is suitable for anyone of any persuasion. That's my humble opinion and experience, YMMV

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #4)

Tue Apr 16, 2013, 02:30 AM

7. The whole program and Big Book is God this and God that. Explicitely. Over and over.

[font color = blue]NMDemDist>>4. I don't let people off easy when they start spouting God this and that in a meeting
and Dawg forbid they quote "the other Big Book" when I'm around. I feed it to them. Hard. With both barrels. <<[/font] (emphasis added)

This only confirms my impression that there are enormous regional differences between meetings. In Minneapolis, if you objected to someone sharing about "God this and that" in a meeting, virtually everybody would be giving it to you. Hard.

After all, the Steps are full of God this and that, as is Tradition 2. Kind of hard, when the topic is Step 3, 6, 7, or 11, to avoid talking about God this and God that.

Or in groups that read "How It Works", as many do, up through the Three Pertinent Ideas (BB p. 58-60). In that 2 1/2 page reading, the word "God" appears 6 times, and reference to him (namely Him and His) appear 3 times, not counting those that appear in the same sentence as "God" or each other.

Or in Big Book meetings - the word "God" appears in the first 11 chapters 136 times. That doesn't include Him, His, He, Maker, Creator, Employer, Principal, Father, or various descriptions of Him like assigner or our roles, giver of our sex powers, provider of our needs, something other than our well-loved A.A. group, no human power, nor any other human being, accomplisher of the humanly impossible, divine, Providence, has all knowledge and power ... for that list, with all documented quotes, please see http://www.democraticunderground.com/1144174#post32

Also at that link is all the ways the Big Book pushes a clear deity version of God, and repeatedly makes clear that it's not something human. And hurls insult after insult at agnostics (kind of strange in a program that is supposedly non-religious, to bash non-believers in deities and the supernatural, don't you think?).

[font color = blue]NMDemDist>>'The Universe' (for lack of a better term) came in to support me in concrete ways. Parking spots. Overheard conversations with answers I needed at the time. A feeling of belonging to something. <<[/font]

I'm sure glad it works for you. I've long and closely considered Universe, and Nature (both are suggested as a possible "God" in "The Helpful Concepts of the EA Program". But neither in my mind have intelligence or awareness of me or a kindly (or unkindly) disposition to me, or anyone else, or anything that's going to give oomph to a dead car battery. If they did, that would be another form of deity and supernaturalism (frankly religion), which I don't believe in. I also can't help but think of hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes (they are indeed higher powers, but definitely not anything that will aid my recovery. I'm definitely not going to turn my will and life over to a tornado if I can help it). But if "the universe" works for you for 21 years, by all means stick with it!

[font color = blue]NMDemDist>>While AA is definitively written as a spiritual program, it's program of action is suitable for anyone of any persuasion. <<[/font]

I don't have any problem with "spiritual". I am very spiritual. It's that it is also religious that bothers me more and more. (And all 4 federal appeals courts and both state supreme courts that have heard these cases agree). As a church-state separatist activist, I have less and less tolerance for religious proselytization in a program that claims to be not religious. All that is in http://www.democraticunderground.com/1144174#post32 as well as having to listen to all those awful shares about how God (and they clearly are referring to a deity version, not anything human, often they are explicit about that) is helping them with car batteries, and burning down troublesome rental properties (resulting in a great insurance settlement).

Particularly all the ways this deity "God" is helping their cars and their driving -- I keep thinking of when I lived in Lagos, Nigeria, and I didn't see any wheel chairs, but rather people with very long distended less-than-useless legs (polio?) got around by "walking" on blocks strapped to their forearms. Why was some deity God helping wealthy American alcoholics with their cars while these poor people with their forearm blocks are begging and dying in the dirty sidewalks and streets? Sounds like a Republican version of God to me. (The Big Book makes clear there is One God, and an all-powerful God with "Infinite Power and Love" -- again see post #32)

Given that 74% of newcomers leave A.A. within a year ( http://www.democraticunderground.com/1144293#post27 ), and given all the A.A. haters out there (which I'm not, but try Googling "AA Sucks" or "AA Cult" or "13th stepping" or "without aa", I have big doubts that it is suitable for everyone. Besides all the deception about its religiosity, is the experience in many (not all) groups where what was a soft-pedal lovefest approach in the beginning turns into something akin to boot camp a few weeks later as the sponsor and the group apply more and more pressure.

Oh, I got a lot out of it in the early months and years of sobriety -- something sober to do, usually interesting, accountability to the group, group support (as long as I kept my mouth shut about certain issues) -- and similarly other 12-step groups. And a lot of cognitive tools (e.g. some of the slogans and sayings). I'd strongly urge any atheist and non-atheists to try it out -- try several different groups before making a decision. But unfortunately, I've been getting less and less out of it as the years go on. Too much reading of "Church and State", the magazine of the Americans United For Separation of Church and State (http://www.au.org).

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Response to progree (Reply #7)

Mon Jun 10, 2013, 01:25 PM

11. I've said it elsewhere...

I'm very pragmatic when in comes to reocvery from addiction. Whatever keeps you from a drink or a drug on an ongoing basis. Do it. Period.

I agree, AA is far more inclined to God as a personal deity rather than Good Orderly Direction or Group of Drunks (both of which are pretty much touted as temporary contructs 'round these parts, to be honest). I personally find it easy and natural to accept a personal God because I've always been religious. I follow the program and it has worked for me, one day at a time for going on 12 years. However, I can see where this might prove problematic for atheists in reocverty trying to follow the 12 steps, and certainly the Big Book. Even as a believer, I've found the We Agnostics chapter a bit condescending.

Bottom line, do what you gotta do. Follow whatever program (or none) you have to follow, in order to keep on keeping on. All the best wishes to your continued recovery.

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Response to progree (Reply #7)

Mon Jun 10, 2013, 09:31 PM

12. You ain't wrong.

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #4)

Thu Jun 6, 2013, 10:29 PM

8. My mileage doesn't vary one bit from yours

It's a spiritual program for spiritually bereft people who want to get well. It isn't religious.

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Response to progree (Reply #3)

Fri Mar 22, 2013, 05:13 PM

5. The primary purpose of AA:

To stay sober and help other alcholics get sober.....that is it...... work the steps....find someone who has the same ideas as you on hp.

There are enough people in AA to find someone who is not into ...."God God God" There are so many of us. The search is worth it cause the community is usually a kind and decent community that does try to help..The addictions we have in this country are beyond rational thought.....It isn't just booze..
....I go to OA.(Overeaters Anonymous)..a third of us are obese..a third....That is over one hundred ten million people...millions of children.........
.What a health and emotional cost that is.....Yet ...most will not accept OA even as a partial answer..I am a food addict, sugar and salt addict...eh???...no, I can control it alone...
... ..When I walk down that food asile...I think of a helping community that does not want me to kill myself with ice cream and cookies..
That works for me..That is it and that is enough.........
....I don't care if I am not perfect, or don't work those steps according to the fanatics....I do the best I can, that is enough..
I weighed 210..when I started OA many years ago..and have stayed at about 165 for 20 years....When I had heart surgery last year,
people from the programs that I am in, visited and supported me. They are friends and community...that is stronger than me..There are lots of people like us in these meetings..good luck.....

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Response to progree (Reply #3)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 10:31 PM

6. Progree...You wrote on another thread on a similiar subject this:

Progree> and having a prayer-answering favor-dispensing deity called God crammed down their throat

It was Sunday Jan 29, 2012...I found that in looking back at other topics on this and the discussions we had...I need to add this...
and be as clear as I can be..I hate the idea of a ...favor dispensing diety..whatever the name..crammed down my throat.....

Why??....for that.... that gives out favors...can give out punishment.....not for me..it.. don't... ...
I hate the idea of some favor dispnsing diety...you be good, it will take care of you..

explain...please...punishment and death of Native Americans by imported americans...millions upon millions..in North Central and South America.... was it that diety's work???not by me...
explain...please...death of 10 million at hands of Hitler.......
explain...please..,death of 2 million at hands of Khmer Rouge..in Cambodia.....
explain...please...death of millions due to starving in the world........

so, I like you...do not believe in that kind of higher power..I do believe in kindness and love that people can share at meetings..maybe that is it.....maybe not..up to each person...

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Response to Stuart G (Original post)

Mon Jun 10, 2013, 12:20 AM

9. "For our group purpose there is but one authority..."

"...a loving god as he may express himself in our group conscience."

Science can't love me. The Truth can't love me. And I'm pretty sure The Criminal Justice System doesn't love me. (All three of which have been suggested to me at various times, among others.)

"Fake it 'til you make it" is nothing more than encouraging people to work a dishonest program, and I don't lie to myself or others in recovery.

I'm an atheist and the steps ain't for me. And that's fine. But recovery is for everyone, and I get mine in the rooms. But I'm not playing the higher power game.

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Response to Iggo (Reply #9)

Mon Jun 10, 2013, 08:19 AM

10. You are welcome...always..."recovery is for everyone"

No HP,
but there is recovery....
......in these rooms..for all.....me too......



I am a prescription drug user and abuser...have been especially to certain antianxiety meds..for many many years...
..used more,, and more...and more.........

Originally, AA wouldn't let in the atheists...so they letem in...(temporary atheists then...) ..now all.......
..Then they had to decide on the people who gave birth to the .."children".....so they letem in
..Then there were those of a different color............................so they letem in
..Then there were those of a different sexual persuasion .........so they letem in
..Then there those that were "young" not really gone yet..........so they letem in
..Last...there were the so called duely and doubly addicted ..............there was a big argument about those.....
........back and forth.......some were only "drug addicts"............they do not belong either......................
........back and forth..................arguments, "you do not belong"...............over and over......................
....................................................................................................................................................
........................................................................................so they letem in too..
............................helped to save my sick ass........for that I am grateful ..my sick ass is ok too........

.....

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Response to Stuart G (Original post)

Thu Jun 13, 2013, 01:16 PM

13. As an agnostic

(I simply don't have what t takes to believe in deities) a higher power can be the power of friendships, the power of conscience--with the tools of 12 steps to keep it in shape, the child- like wonder and curiosity I have. (Like even the potential of string theory blows me away) Mostly it's something I don't worry about. I think those who get all worked up about the G word aren't well grounded in the traditions--at least in AA, Because those are what hold AA together as a secular society.

Of course there are people of faith. There are people of faith everywhere.

To others like me, I explain it something like this; human beings form a type of ecology, we effect each other one way or another every single day and every moment of these days. I have a choice to to be kind, considerate and loving--a part of the solution, as it were, just as I can indulge in bitterness and self pity and take it out on others. A part of the problem. I can use judgment to condemn, or to see where I can be useful, always understanding judgement is a two way street, And affects how I live and interact with others.

Drinking and using drugs personally makes me useless, a thief of any gifts I might bring to this human ecology, a diseased part that harms the whole.

And that inner voice? Once my head was clear enough to listen to it, and once I had a trusted few people in my life to check in with-----pure gold.

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Response to Stuart G (Original post)

Sun Jun 16, 2013, 06:23 PM

14. Yep, anything that works for you. And if it doesn't,

 

borrow someone elses', that IS working.

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Response to Stuart G (Original post)

Mon Jun 17, 2013, 02:48 PM

15. For me it is reason and science

 

Science has a number of tools to help addiction, and reason will help you make sense of it

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Response to Taverner (Reply #15)

Sat Jun 22, 2013, 05:02 AM

16. Spot on, the great taboo of 12 steps is reason,

The reason Higher Power is so important to 12 steps is the concept of powerless, the whole point is to convince ourselves we are Powerless and HP is the answer. I think this is a very big problem, Do we confuse Feeling powerless with being powerless? I suggest we do. Why not start with reason from the very beginning, get some good science/medical based help. Become a skeptic in your own recovery, ask hard questions of each other and evidence.
It maybe time for some of us to be proud atheists and not apologists for a weak tea HP concept, if you believe in the efficacy of free thought and critical thinking then why not apply it to our addictions.
When the original authors of AA 12 steps talked of HP they meant god a christian god, and the only reason the atheist was welcome was in the Hope they would be converted, the ideas and free thought of the atheist was never welcome or is welcome today.

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Response to nerdorkins (Reply #16)

Sat Jun 22, 2013, 02:31 PM

17. Agreed - for me, KNOWING why I am feeling bad is a big part

 

I know it's not an "inner demon" outside of the metaphorical construct

IT is a nervous system that is used to the interference of alcohol. As a result, the nervous system has had to make up for the altered neural connections - and it has no idea that alcohol is no longer present, hence the restless leg syndrome, etc

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