Staying in the solution

Topics related to AA Meetings - and alcohol addiction recovery
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Staying in the solution

Postby Dallas » Tue Jul 31, 2007 12:39 pm

My question and the topic is: What can we do to be of help and to be of service in our meetings and in our Fellowship?

It's easy to walk in to a meeting and to begin to make judgements on the meeting, or the people, or what they are doing or not doing and what's good or bad about the meeting -- and to get all nerved up about it. Sometimes -- in some meetings -- it's easier to do than in other meetings. :lol:

For myself -- when I discover that I've been doing that -- I have to remember that spiritual axiom that Bill wrote about in Step 10, of the 12 & 12. To sum it up in my words (and not his), it's "whenever I become disturbed (not comfortable with something) it's a good idea to look inside myself and to find out if there is something inside me -- that needs to be adjusted."

My attitude and outlook on life, people, A.A., and myself determines the course of direction in my thinking.

If my thinking is focused on the bad or the negative in others -- how is my thinking focused on myself?

Is it my Ego? My pride? My self-esteen or ambitions? Am I being self-seeking? Self-centered? Do I want others to be running the show like I think they should run the show? Who made me so right that everyone else seems to be wrong?

Fortunately -- when I've discovered that I'm uncomfortable -- I have something I can do about it -- other than drink! I have 12 Steps, that when used, can change my thinking, my attitude and my actions.

By using the 12 Steps on myself for whatever problems I'm experiencing, not only do I have a solution to the problem -- I can become a solution to problems.

I'm so grateful that God didn't look at me while I was still in the problem, or... at any other time and say something like "Well!!! There's that puke Dallas! He's screwing it all up again! That little puke just can't seem to get it right!"

Instead -- He showed me Love and Mercy, and Tolerance, and Patience. And, I believe that rather than focusing on my problems -- God focused on me finding a Solution.... a Solution that would help me to become part of the solution.

My question and the topic is: What can we do to be of help and to be of service in our meetings and in our Fellowship? What can we do -- to make things better?


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Postby anniemac » Tue Jul 31, 2007 1:13 pm

I think it's important to share about the Steps. I hear a lot of qualifications where the speaker never mentions the Program of AA as outlined in the 12 Steps.

We have quite a lot of Closed Discussion meetings - no topic, no Steps, no BB to focus on. Sometimes it can end up being a bitch session. My sponsor suggests that even sharing a bitch is okay if we can end it with a positive, such as "but I know this too shall pass", or "the good news is, I don't have to drink over it", etc., so newcomers can see that there can be rough days, but that that's okay too.

As a sponsor, I also try to pass on some of the AA "etiquette" that I learned -- always thank the speaker after the meeting; never pass the basket until the speaker is done qualifying; etc.

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Postby garden variety » Tue Jul 31, 2007 1:48 pm

There are many things I can suggest, but let me start with the most unpopular one first.

- Do service for the group without expecting a "atta boy" or pat on the back. Even if its not my home group, I will greet people with a handshake (which means showing up at least 1/2 hour early and greeting until a minute or two before the meeting starts - always save time to wash hands), put away tables and chairs, or help clean up. One night I went to "The Oldest Continuous A.A. Meeting in the World" which is the "Borton Group" that meets in Cleveland Heights. They still actually use real china cups and saucers, so I volunteered to wash and put away dishes. For me it was an honor to serve that group, and it was a new experience for me in this age of styrofoam. I felt like I was a part of something that is AA history as well as being of service today.

- Do the same as above for my home group. Again I do this without expecting anything in return.

- If you lead a speaker meeting, show up early and greet people, wear a tie, don't cuss or use profane language, keep the topic on alcohol, and go through the 12 steps somewhere as you talk. (That's how they taught me)

- Comment. At speaker meetings here the chairman "opens the meeting for comments." If the speaker is from your home group, you owe a comment. Commenting should make clear something the speaker said for the new person and it should also help the speaker know that you understood him or her. The goal is to help others: the speaker and the new person. Up here, comments help new people that don't quite understand the lead - they make things clearer. Comments should not be mean or personal, but based on "principles over personalities". Again no cussing or profane language. Heres a side note, up here we have these "unwritten rules" that have been sort of traditional. You don't comment at a speaker meeting unless you have a year or more of continuous sobriety. You don't comment at a discussion meeting unless you have 6 months of continuous sobriety. There not "written in stone" but they do make sense. (If you want to know why we do things this way, PM me - there is, by the way a reference in the book)

- Announce "Birthdays" or "Anniversaries" and let the men and women share their sobriety dates this way. Some places use a "sobriety countdown" which has the audience stand at say starting at 50 years, then 45, then 40 and so on down to 24 hours. That is a really beautiful thing at special events like group anniversaries or holiday meetings when there are a lot folks that come to eat your free food.

- Have the folks that want to be sponsors raise their hands. Have the folks that need sponsors raise their hands. The purpose: to identify and help new people find a start.

- At group anniversaries, have home group members wear ties and ladies wear a dress-up outfit or dress. If there is anything that has impact on visitors from other groups or new people it is doing this. It shows respect for your home group and respect for A.A. People that don't go to your meeting regular will remember that kind of thing. Remember its attraction and not promotion. Drunks love to see other drunks cleaned up and dressed well - its just one of those things that we never thought would be possible.

There are probably others that I didn't list. But a lot of these things go back to the roots of A.A. meetings. Most of these ideas came from Akron or Cleveland in the early days and are handed down from the longtimers. And yes I've met guys with over 50 years of sobriety. What a gift!

Sorry if these things sound too formal, but that's the way things are run in this here "A.A. Cradle and Birthplace".

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Postby carol1017 » Tue Jul 31, 2007 4:41 pm

Dang, Dallas -- you been in my head again! :lol:

My sponsor taught me that what I bring to a meeting is just as important, sometimes more so, that what I get out of the meeting. As a result, when people say "I'm just not getting what I need from that meeting", I usually ask , "What are you bringing to the meeting" or "why don't you come to the meeting and help make it be what you would like it to be?"

I think the most important thing for me is to remember to place principles before personalities. Though I may not like a certain person, I still need to listen to what they have to say in order to learn tolerance and patience, and I might just discover that they know something I don't (every day I find more things I don't know).

Along those same lines, if a meeting is turning into a "bitch session", I will try during my share to bring it back to the topic or to make it relevant to the Steps and AA. At my meeting today, we had a newcomer attending his first ever AA meeting. The person chairing the meeting suggested a topic of Attitude Adjustment, and many people wandered way off into 4th step territory, which was way over the newcomer's head. I could see that he was getting a bit overwhelmed, so when it was my turn to share, I talked about (my favorite) gratitude lists and how my gratitude list helps me adjust my attitude.

Paul, I agree wholeheartedly with your first point -- service without expectation of praise. My sponsor pushed me into service as soon as I hit 90 days of sobriety (the group's minimum for chairing meetings, working the coffee bar, etc). I was reluctant, because I didn't know what to do, but I learned, and I've been doing it ever since. The "atta girls" are nice, but I don't expect them or need them -- I do it because it keeps me sober.

In Miami, I was the "chauffeur" for several elderly members -- they lived near me, and I was happy to give them rides to the meeting. Another member came up to me one night and said "thank you for your service work in bringing them to the meeting" -- I was shocked -- I didn't think of it as service work -- I did it because I wanted to.

As long as I continue to place principles before personalities, I can remain objective and contribute to the group welfare.

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