Thursday, 1 January 2015

Al-Anon—Step Three

Step Three in Al-Anon

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

... God as we understood Him
  • This is not (necessarily) the God of one's childhood or religion.
  • The premise of this is that God is caring ('over to the care of God').
  • This means that God has our best interests at heart.
Optional question: other than 'caring', are there any other qualities you might usefully ascribe to God? Are there any qualities you might usefully detach from God (e.g. judgement, condemnation)?

... our will ....

Definition (Oxford Online Dictionary): A deliberate or fixed desire or intention / the thing that one desires or ordains.

Put simply: what we want.

[Footnote: 'our will' (versus 'God's will'), in the programme, really means self-will, i.e. the will borne of ego. Our 'true will' is buried inside us and is aligned with God's will. The programme is about trying to move away from self-will and towards God's will, which is our true will. To make this distinction clear, let's use the term self-will to describe what we are trying to move away from.]

... our lives ...

This means the sum total of our experience.

... turn something over ...

Definition (Oxford Online Dictionary): transfer control or management of something to someone else.

... turning our will and lives over to the care of God as we understand Him ...

This means:
  • We disregard self-will.
  • We relinquish the desire to direct the course of our (and others') lives.
  • Instead we ask God what attitudes to adopt, what to think, and what to do and follow through with constructive action.
  • We trust that our experience will be improved as a result and that our lives will take care of themselves.
Made a decision ...

This means that we set this as an objective and, through our actions, move towards it. It will never be achieved as a permanent state, however.

Why do we do this?
  • Following self-will and attempting to direct the course of our (and others') lives has produced terrible results; that is why we are in Al-Anon.
  • Following the programme might produce better results ('satisfying' and 'serene' [PTR {Paths to Recovery} 28]), so it is worth trying.
How do we do this practically?
  • Remember God's permanent presence.
  • Pray (set or ad lib) prayers or just talk to God and listen.
  • Meditate (in whatever fashion suits you).
  • Ask for God's direction.
  • Ask for strength to follow God's direction.
  • Do not ask for specific results (this is playing God).
  • Situation by situation:
    • Adopt this position: self-will must be disregarded, because it does not bring good results.
    • Ask: God, what attitude should do I adopt? What should I think and do?
    • Take the required action and let go of (= stop thinking about) the results.
    • Trust: my experience will be improved as a result.
    • This is calling 'letting go and letting God'.
    • Watch for 'taking your will back' (= thinking about selfish ends, planning and plotting, and thinking about results).
    • When this is spotted, immediately turn the situation over again, e.g. by saying to God, 'Over to you. I'm not going to think about this or interfere unless I am so instructed by you.'
  • Stop obsessing about problems.
  • Stop obsessing about other people's actions, thoughts, feelings, and internal lives.
  • Stop obsessing about the past and the future.
  • Instead: think about God and His will for you, and come back to the moment and your own constructive contribution.
  • Seek validation from God, not from others, about yourself and your attitudes, thinking, and behaviour.
  • Write troublesome situations on slips of paper and 'post' them into a God box; then refuse to think about them.
  • Recall personal powerlessness to solve your own problems without God's help, or to solve others' problems at all.
  • When others make decisions you do not like: leave them to the consequences of their own actions.
  • Recognise that all our paths are different and we do not know what is right for others.
Benefits
  • Relief from a sense of responsibility for our (and others') lives.
  • More reliable guidance and therefore better results in our lives.
  • Independence from the opinions, needs, and demands of others (PTR 29).
Questions
  • Do I have a concept of a Higher Power?
  • Is it a helpful concept?
  • If not: do I even need a concept?
  • Do I have any reservations about making this decision?
  • What will happen if I do not make this decision?

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