“Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.” (20:0)
When the programme was first designed, the Steps did not take long, perhaps a few days, to complete. Helping others was therefore an instant part of the package deal. These days, people seem to take much longer to get round to the helping others bit of the programme. This delay is unnecessary.
This line is often quoted in meetings as an excuse for remaining trapped in morbid self-reflection:
“But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.” (164:2)
Almost no one, however, quotes the following line:
“See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.” (164:2)
The simple attitude of placing ourselves in humility at the feet of God and asking to be of service can be adopted at any time.
Some of the key lines regarding helping others are these:
“No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.” (84:0)
“Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have—the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them.” (124:2)
Here are some tips for how we get out of self, today:
In and around meetings
(1) Get to a meeting early and help set up.
(2) Talk to the people before and after the meeting. Specifically, ask them about their day, actually listen when they tell you, and ask God to show you what experience of yours could help them. Perhaps you will just need to listen and be compassionate. Perhaps you can match their story with a similar experience (coupled with how you were given help in AA). Perhaps you have been shown a solution that could help them.
(3) In particular identify newcomers or people who have not been to the meeting before. Show them where everything is. Exchange numbers. Introduce them to others. Find out if they need any literature. Get them a cup of tea or coffee.
(4) Ask the group secretary if there is something you can read out.
(5) During the meeting, ask God to show you what you can contribute: talk about the solution you have been shown in the Book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’, talk about your experience, and talk about your difficulties and how you were given help. “We want to leave you with the feeling that no situation is too difficult and no unhappiness too great to be overcome.” (104:4). This should be your aim.
(6) After the meeting, approach anyone who was looking visibly troubled or shared some difficulty and seek if you can be there for them and offer relevant experience or just a compassionate ear.
(7) Help clear up afterwards.
(8) Go for fellowship after the meeting with others from the group.
(9) Throughout the whole meeting, pray to be shown how you can be useful to others.
(1) If you are doing the above at meetings, you will soon have a long list of AA members of varying lengths of sobriety. Text them. Call them. Email them. Be there for them in the manner described above.
(2) Become a member of an Internet forum where the AA solution is discussed with enthusiasm and contribute regularly.
(3) Write an article for the Grapevine/Share/Roundabout magazine.
(4) Take these attitudes into every endeavour:
“If it is a happy occasion, try to increase the pleasure of those there; if a business occasion, go and attend to your business enthusiastically.” (102:1)
“Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities. “How can I best serve Thee—Thy will (not mine) be done.” These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will.” (85:1)
“Giving, rather than getting, will become the guiding principle.” (128:0)
“Father feels he has struck something better than gold. For a time he may try to hug the new treasure to himself. He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on giving away the entire product.” (129:0)
The risk of being crippled by self-absorption and crushed under the weight of your own personality is something that any of us can run, no matter how long we have been sober.
The answer is always placing ourselves in the service of God to be of use to others.