Category Archives: Design For Living


The truly humble person is unable to feel anger.

Sure, we get angry. Who doesn’t? But anger gets in the way of recovery and renewal. It’s all-consuming, a kind of undifferentiated negative energy that gets in our way. Anger colors everything. It immobilizes us. We get stuck in it. Anger is one of the many things that led us to our addiction.
If we can root out each of our addictions, one at a time, we might be able to find out how we got here in the first place. Not only will such a process of self-inquiry help, but without anger, it may no longer hurt.
In recovery, we transform our anger into humility-and bow our heads before God. Stop blaming yourself or those you love. Without humility, we can’t do Step Seven. What’s humility anyway? Simply a recognition that we’re not so great and that God is greater. That’s why we ask God to help us in the process of removing our shortcomings. In working our Twelve Step Program, we are partners with God, only God is a little more so.
When you feel yourself getting angry, look at yourself in a mirror. Think over why others may be angry at you. It’s a humbling experience.

Emotional Sobriety

This is the substance of a revealing letter which Bill Wilson wrote several years ago to a close friend who also had troubles with depression. The letter appeared in the “Grapevine” January, 1953.


“I think that many oldsters who have put our AA “booze cure” to severe but successful tests still find they often lack emotional sobriety. Perhaps they will be the spearhead for the next major development in AA, the development of much more real maturity and balance (which is to say, humility) in our relations with ourselves, with our fellows, and with God.

Those adolescent urges that so many of us have for top approval, perfect security, and perfect romance, urges quite appropriate to age seventeen, prove to be an impossible way of life when we are at age forty-seven and fifty-seven.

Since AA began, I´ve taken immense wallops in all these areas because of my failure to grow up emotionally and spiritually. My God, how painful it is to keep demanding the impossible, and how very painful to discover, finally, that all along we have had the cart before the horse. Then comes the final agony of seeing how awfully wrong we have been, but still finding ourselves unable to get off the emotional merry-go-round.

How to translate a right mental conviction into a right emotional result, and so into easy, happy and good living. Well, that´s not only the neurotic´s problem, it´s the problem of life itself for all of us who have got to the point of real willingness to hew to right principles in all of our affairs.

Even then, as we hew away, peace and joy may still elude us. That´s the place so many of us AA oldsters have come to. And it´s a hell of a spot, literally. How shall our unconscious, from which so many of our fears, compulsions and phony aspirations still stream, be brought into line with what we actually believe, know and want! How to convince our dumb, raging and hidden 閃r. Hyde’ becomes our main task.

I´ve recently come to believe that this can be achieved. I believe so because I begin to see many benighted ones, folks like you and me, commencing to get results. Last autumn, depression, having no really rational cause at all, almost took me to the cleaners. I began to be scared that I was in for another long chronic spell. Considering the grief I´ve had with depressions, it wasn´t a bright prospect.

I kept asking myself “Why can´t the twelve steps work to release depression?” By the hour, I stared at the St. Francis Prayer … “it´s better to comfort than to be comforted.” Here was the formula, all right, but why didn´t it work?

Suddenly, I realized what the matter was. My basic flaw had always been dependence, almost absolute dependence, on people or circumstances to supply me with prestige, security, and the like. Failing to get these things according to my perfectionist dreams and specifications, I had fought for them. And when defeat came, so did my depression.

There wasn´t a chance of making the outgoing love of St. Francis a workable and joyous way of life until these fatal and almost absolute dependencies were cut away.

Because I had over the years undergone a little spiritual development, the absolute quality of these frightful dependencies had never before been so starkly revealed. Reinforced by what grace I could secure in prayer, I found I had to exert every ounce of will and action to cut off these faulty emotional dependencies upon people, upon AA, indeed upon any act of circumstance whatsoever.

Then only could I be free to love as Francis did. Emotional and instinctual satisfactions, I saw, were really the extra dividends of having love, offering love, and expressing love appropriate to each relation of life.

Plainly, I could not avail myself to God´s love until I was able to offer it back to Him by loving others as He would have me. And I couldn´t possibly do that so long as I was victimized by false dependencies.

For my dependence meant demand, a demand for the possession and control of the people and the conditions surrounding me.

While those words “absolute dependence” may look like a gimmick, they were the ones that helped to trigger my release into my present degree of stability and quietness of mind, qualities which I am now trying to consolidate by offering love to others regardless of the return to me.

This seems to be the primary healing circuit: an outgoing love of God´s creation and His people, by means of which we avail ourselves of His love for us. It is most clear that the real current can´t flow until our paralyzing dependencies are broken, and broken at depth. Only then can we possibly have a glimmer of what adult love really is.

If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependence and its consequent demand. Let us, with God´s help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love: we may then be able to gain emotional sobriety.

Of course, I haven´t offered you a really new idea — only a gimmick that has started to unhook several of my own hexes´ at depth. Nowadays, my brain no longer races compulsively in either elation, grandiosity or depression. I have been given a quiet place in bright sunshine.”

Bill Wilson

Spiritual Crossroads

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear these words behind you:” This is the way to follow.” Isaiah 30:21

In a route chosen by God, a spiritual crossroad,  the people take the long road to Canaan, and are stopped by the Red Sea. The Israelites escape because of trusting God.
They cross the Red Sea after it miraculously opens for them escaping the Egyptian army, they are provided food from heaven to survive a barren wilderness, given enough to not have to prepare anything on the Sabbath and have water spring from the ground out of nowhere.
Even after all these miracles they still have the mindset of slaves and worry about surviving without their masters. They start complaining and planning their return to Egypt. The transformation to begin a new life is often difficult, but what is most unpleasant is usually best for us. Part of healing and embracing the Sunlight of the Spirit involves trust and faith.
Like us in spiritual renewal, the former slaves had to become comfortable with what was uncomfortable. Change takes time. There are comforts in slavery, similar to the comforts we have become accustomed to in life that sometimes lead us away from a connection with the Sunlight of the Spirit. We may think like a slave although we are seeking a spiritual life.
Persistence is key to a quality of life we seek.
It is the journey without destination. Along the way we may experience hardships, such is life. Our focus on being in the moment and trusting our Higher Power will produce what we seek.
Wherever you are on your journey move toward the light. It will illumine your heart and your path.

Self Esteem & Honesty

We have struggles being honest with self and others. The concept of false self-image, low self-esteem and lying, is prominent in people with substance use disorders
The following story about myself is a prime example:
Last week I was rejected for a position I coveted. I felt it had the potential to help people recover from addiction and stop the cycle of relapse. It fit perfectly with what I am seeking and my qualifications matched. The interviews went well, I thought. But then I was told I wasn’t the right fit, but possible when they expanded and were hiring again I might fit.
It made me feel disappointed.
Soon after anger and fear were creeping in, but never did I feel like drinking or using. I kept sharing with others in recovery and my sponsor. Being told that it would work out for the best, it probably was not meant to be or maybe I should change my focus.
This advice only made me more determined to find the truth about this obvious mistake. It was making me less accepting and unable to find my part until I started praying to my HP for understanding and acceptance. Within 15 minutes a friend of mine with inside knowledge of what had happened casually mentioned to me he heard what happened and was disappointed for me. Suddenly this little bit of compassion transformed me into an accepting person with many good things to say about everyone involved and how fortunate I felt to know of the program and have met such exceptional people.
I am relieved. I became aware of my need for humility and ability to trust my HP to help me grow, to be resilient and understand it all happens for my good.
My self-esteem is fragile and rejection had fractured it.
I was letting my thinking interfere with my heart, losing touch with it and thinking I was in control with my mind.
Thank you, Sunlight of the Spirit, for energizing my soul, helping me trust and have faith.

Spiritual Faith

“And Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I instead of God? You intended evil but God meant it for good…” Genesis 50:19-20

Spiritual Faith Spiritual Faith Spiritual Faith Spiritual Faith

In the final portion of the Book of Genesis, Jacob passes away, leaving his sons to fear that with their father gone their brother, Joseph, will take vengeance upon them. They feared he will be revengeful for the wrong they did him many years ago when they kidnapped him and sold him into slavery. The brothers approach Joseph and beg him to do them no harm. Joseph is taken aback. “Am I instead of God?” he asks rhetorically, “You intended evil for me but God meant it for good.”

The words with which Joseph reassures his brothers are quite telling. Certainly, he could have said something to the effect that “two wrongs don’t make a right.” But Joseph communicated a message far more profound than that. Not only did he have no desire for revenge, he would not even concede that his brothers had actually succeeded in doing anything to him for which he should feel wronged. He allows that they had intended evil for him – for which they are presumably accountable before a Higher Power, but that is none of his concern, that is between them and God.

He explains the reason for his lack of resentment: a Higher Power was in control all along and his brothers had done nothing to him outside of the Universe’s plan. To be sure, the day his brothers sold him as a slave, Joseph’s life was changed forever. But there was a plan for him to come to Egypt, to become Pharaoh’s viceroy and to save his brothers in time of famine. That was not what his brothers had in mind, but for Joseph that was irrelevant. Life, as he saw it, was not a result of anything that any human being could ever have done to him, but rather, the culmination of God’s beneficent plan.

Our spiritual journey is best traveled lightly and we can scarcely afford to be weighed down by such useless, heavy baggage.

If we attribute to the actions of others any power to define our lives, then we submit ourselves to the tyranny of people, places and things rather than surrendering to the loving care of the Sunlight of The Spirit. Even when there have been people in our lives who have intended us harm, our faith tells us that none of that could have ever derailed our lives from The Universe’s plan.

To state it succinctly, to carry a resentment is to grant power to a created being; to truly let go of resentment means to grant power only to a Higher Power.

Spirituality – Plans


God has sent me ahead of you to insure your survival, and to save your life in an extraordinary deliverance. Genesis 45:7

Joseph is finished testing his brothers’ trustfulness and reveals his identity. They are relieved to be unburdened of their guilt and overjoyed at his benevolence. Joseph sends them to Canaan to bring their father, Jacob, and the rest of the family to Egypt. The family is reunited, peace and forgiveness is shared happily.

What had been intended and expected to happen didn’t, instead as is often the case God’s plan was nothing like what they thought was going to be. Joseph had become a living power of hope and strength, trusting his Higher Power and letting go of resentments and anger. Thereby being able to embrace his brothers and reunite with his beloved father.

Our purpose as imperfect spiritual beings are to be accepting as best we can. Perhaps that is why the journey of spiritual renewal leads to an awakening, we find a sense of purpose to be among those living.

It may involve understanding the Sunlight of the Spirit has a plan for us that we may not be able to change but we are able to shift its course. Joseph did not know where his life was taking him, but he made choices along the way that led to a smooth peaceful ending.

If we go where we are supposed to go, listen for guidance along the way and don’t look back, we will be where we are supposed to be.


Accepting Imperfection

rust God

If we are to accept our imperfection it begins with Step 4 and climaxes at Step 7.
The earliest version of Step Seven, in fact, read: “Humbly on our knees asked Him to remove all our shortcomings, holding nothing back.” Those who tried to hold something back almost invariably “slipped” and started drinking again.”
Holding nothing back: a tall command, but one of the first—and great—gifts of a “spirituality of imperfection,” for it is the acceptance of imperfection that makes “holding nothing back” possible. A.A.’s inspired choice of the terms defects of character and shortcomings in the Twelve Steps reinforces the insight. As opposed to guilt-laden words such as sin and evil or shame-inducing expressions such as latent perversion or oral fixation, the terms defects and shortcomings suggest the imagery of falling short (the original but long-lost meaning of the word sin). Such words and imagery first allow and then invite the owning of all of one’s self. Alcoholics are not in A.A. to escape themselves, but to accept themselves as they are—flawed, imperfect, wounded, alcoholic—and through that acceptance to be healed, to be made whole, by being integrated into the reality of their own reality. Healing means not the elimination but the embracing of imperfection, for only thus is it possible to find wholeness.”

“The importance of spirituality pervasiveness came clear to one of the authors when he began a brief stint of work at a treatment facility for alcoholic Roman Catholic clergy.
Shortly after my arrival, the House Director came down to my office one day and with a twinkle in his eye asked in his resonant Irish tenor: “Ah, Dr. Kurtz, would you like to have a reputation as being wondrously wise?”
“Of course,” I answered, smiling back at the ruddy-faced Celt, “anyone would want such a reputation. Tell me, Ed, how?”
“Well,” our resident genius replied, “as you may suspect, not all of our men make it on the first try. Some of them try a wee sip of ‘the creature’ again, and so eventually they end up back here. And because I am the Director they come to me to be interviewed as they are re-admitted, and when they do, I start off by asking them two questions, and oh, they think I am so wise … that I can see into their very souls.”
After a maddeningly long pause, Ed continued: “The first question I ask, of course, is, ‘When did you stop going to meetings?’ And what are you hiding?”

What are you hiding?” The question has two dimensions, striking first at denial, the essence of which lies not in deceiving others, but in deceiving oneself. Denial is self-deception. The alcoholic who swears, “I am not an alcoholic” is really convinced that he is not one, and so this first level of denial involves being cut off from the wholeness of one’s self. But denying one’s own identity—as “alcoholic” or as anything else—means also deceiving oneself about the steps needed to regain that wholeness, to become whole again. This second level of denial involves holding back—hiding—the denied area, refusing to make it available for healing.

The Spirituality of Imperfection
by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham

Time-Be Here Now

All spiritualities touch on time, for time is as pervasive as spirituality. A less than five-century-old Native American tale tells of this connection. A connection to living in the moment and “to be here now”. That if we let it; time will control us and steal our moments.

Long ago, the People had no light. It was hard for them to move around in the darkness and they were always cold. Mink took pity on them. He heard that on the other side of the world there was something called the Sun. Those on the other side of the world were keeping it there. So Mink decided to steal the Sun for the People. It was not an easy job, but Mink was a great thief. He stole the Sun and placed it in the sky so that it would share its light equally with the People on both sides of the world. Now it was no longer dark and cold all the time. Now there was day and night because of the Sun. The People were very happy and they praised Mink. He grew proud of himself because of that praise.

“Perhaps,” he said, “there is something else I can steal for the People.”

A long time passed and Mink saw nothing that was worth stealing. Then the Europeans came. They were new people with a lot of power.

“What is it that these new people have that we do not have?” Mink said.

Then he saw what it was. The Europeans had something they called Time. They used it to give them their power. So Mink decided he would steal Time. He waited until it was dark and sneaked into their house. There, in the biggest room, they kept Time up on a shelf. They kept it in a shiny box, which made noises. As it made noises, two small arrows on the front of that box moved in circles. Mink could see it was a powerful thing. So he carried it off.

Now Mink and the People had Time. But Mink soon found that it was not easy to have Time. He had to watch the hands of that shiny box all the time to see what the time was. He had to keep three keys tied around his neck so that he could use them to wind up that box full of time so it would keep on ticking. Now that Mink had Time, he no longer had the time to do the things he used to do. There was no time for him to fish and hunt as he had done before. He had to get up at a certain time and go to bed at a certain time. He had to go to meetings and work when the box full of Time told him it was time. He and his people were no longer free.

Because Mink stole Time, it now owned him and the People. It has been that way ever since then. Time owns us the way we used to own the Sun.

There is a message here that I think applies to people generally. For me it is that I sought POWER. I sought it in every relationship I had: family, friends, co-workers or employees, business associates, and women, especially women. There wasn’t a relationship I had with any woman who wasn’t about me having the POWER. Our dating, where we went, who we befriended, how much sex we had and when, money and how it was spent. This is not to say that I always got my way but I always sought to have THE POWER.
That seeking kept me from being in the moment and not letting time control me. As long as I thought the way I did I couldn’t enjoy the time I was spending with others because I was too concerned with MY POWER.
The story reminds me that seeking power also robs me of enjoying what time I have with other people.
In recovery I learned that to don’t have that kind of control and being obsessive of power and time robs me of a quality of life that my Higher Power wants me to have. Real recovery is awareness and letting go.



Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.

A hallmark of 12 step recovery programs is the offer of anonymity to participants, but the principle goes deeper than just not revealing last names.

In order to keep the focus on principles and not personalities, personal anonymity should be maintained at all levels of participation in 12 step fellowship — in meetings, in 12th step work, and even in sponsorship. Anonymity is maintained not so much for the protection of the individual as for the protection of the program.

Spiritual Trust

Abraham had spiritual trust and followed the direction of his Higher Power.

“I am a shield to you. I will establish my covenant between Me and you. Walk before Me and be pure.” Genesis 13:1 – 17:2

Abraham has made a decision to turn his life and his will over to the care of God, and for this God has made another covenant with humankind. The promise goes beyond protecting the land and the waters where humans live, it will now extend to the people who walk before their Higher Power.

A Spiritual Renewal awaits those who leave idol worship and sinful ways for the purity of accepting God’s will in their lives. Abraham is whole-hearted in his devotion, living honestly. He stands before the Sunlight of the Spirit with a faith ready to journey to new places believing he is not alone.

This new covenant is one of the soul and goes beyond time and space, it connects with his past and secures his future. It measure all that he does, he lives it in all of his behavior, those he loves as well as those he hardly knows. He believes that his Higher Power works through people he meets, so greets all with love, admiration and respects. It insures his part of the covenant.

We all have different relationships with God. Sometimes where we are and what we are doing forces us to reconsider who we are and what we have become, all in relationship to God. Faith comes harder than belief. We can begin with little steps. Let The Sunlight of the Spirit’s presence be a shield about you until you are ready to be a shield for others.

Into your hand I entrust my spirit. Psalm 31.6