Posted by: Seth David | June 17, 2009

A New Beginning

Everyone encounters problems in the day they’re in. We have jobs and people we work with. Family members, and other loved ones. Bosses, subordinates, and many other levels on which we are engaged in one basic thing. Relationships.

When you dig down to the core of what the 12 steps are all about the answer can be summed up with that one word, relationships. This is why they can be used to help anyone, alcoholic or not. The thing about alcoholics is that we are particularly challenged in this area, but when it comes down to it, who isn’t?

There are 2 basic texts used in AA – The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. You will see me reference both, however there will be a particular emphasis on the 12 & 12. The reason for this is that I have had a specifically deep and effective experience since making a thorough study of this book. To call it a”study” is not really saying enough. About 3 years ago I started working with a group of men who showed me how to look at the 12 & 12 reading one paragraph at a time and analyzing if from two standpoints; what are the spiritualprincipals found in that paragraph, andhow can I apply them in the day or moment I’m in. The experience I’ve had with this has been profound. The most significant thing in my opinion that had come out of this is the firm conviction that if everyone made an honest effort to live a life according to these basic principles for living, the world would most definitely be a better place. No question.   

It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong us wrong also. But are there no exceptions to this rule? What about “justifiable” anger? If somebody cheats us, aren’t we entitled to be mad? Can’t we be properly angry with selfrighteousfolk? For us of A.A. these are dangerous exceptions. We have found that justified anger ought to be left to those better qualified to handle it.

      – 12 & 12 p. 90 2nd par.   

This is the one that gets everyone’s attention. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that I am not an alcoholic. Perhaps then it is fair to assume that I may be one of those people “better qualified to handle it” In fact let’s go a step further and assume for a moment that somehow it can be shown that I am one of those people. How well will I do for myself getting angry at people anyway? I’ve come to learn that it is not only pointless to get angry, but that anger blocks me from any progress in this life. Don’t get me wrong I am not for a moment suggesting that I don’t every get angry anymore. I can honestly tell you that it is less frequent. As much as possible I try to recognize when I do get angry, and then practice this principle. If I can do it effectively then I recognize that my anger shows up to let me know that something is bothering me. Once I recognize this I ask the universe to remove it from me and then I immediately move towards a solution. Every situation is different but a large percentage of these cases will involve me first seeking guidance from someone who has had similar experiences before me, and then talking with the person who upset me in a non-confrontational, yet assertive manner. The more I learn to do this, the better my relationships get. The fewer relationships I burn as a result of reacting without thinking things through. How many times have we gotten upset with people only to find out it was a simple mis-understanding? And how much energy was wasted on being upset and angry before we actually did the proper investigation which lead in those cases to the realization that it was in fact a simple mis-understanding and there was really nothing to be angry about.

Then there is the classic question that comes up in response to this. What do you mean there is something wrong with me? If someone does something to piss me off, aren’t they the one with the “issue”? I propose this question to those who ask some version of the aforementioned question: Who’s suffering here? The person you are mad at who is probably walking around completely unaware that anything is wrong? Or you with your feelings of anger? Anger is emotionally draining. Spend a whole day angry and see how you feel at the end of that day. So when I am angry it is important to recognize that it is ME who is suffering, accordingly I am the one with the problem – the person or entity I am angry with is probably having a great day. 


  1. thank you for writing this Seth. this was great food for thought this morning!

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