If you’ve ever been to a 12-step meeting yourself or sought advice from someone who has, you have inevitably heard several well-worn clichés. “One day at a time”, “easy does it”, “stick with the winners”… surely you’ve heard these and many other ancient slogans rattled off by old-timers in meetings, and without question most go over your head with little thought. But when taking a closer look, some of these hackneyed catchphrases can actually prove to be quite helpful. Here are 9 examples of everyday mottos you may stop taking for granted after actually taking them into consideration. Old-timers are old-timers for a reason, after all!
- “First Things First”
Well… yeah. Isn’t it always? It seems like a simple message – and that’s really because it is. When AAers remind you that the first things first, they’re really reminding you to stay focused on the day at hand and stop projecting. Stay in the present moment – ground yourself and focus on the task at hand. This slogan also alludes to the fact that sobriety must remain top priority, for, as another saying goes, “everything you put before your sobriety you are going to lose”.
- “Easy Does It”
Rome wasn’t built in a day. It isn’t likely that after a week of sobriety you are going to be a happy, healthy, productive member of society. Take it easy – give yourself a break. The slogan also reminds one to avoid trying to force solutions, that sometimes doing nothing is an action in itself. Take a step back and let the universe unfold as it should.
- “Live and Let Live”
This slogan simply suggests that one should focus on themselves and their own issues rather than the issues of those surrounding them. Live your life and let other live theirs. When an addict or alcoholic tries to run the show, things tend to end up a lot more complicated than they would have been otherwise.
- “One Day at a Time”
This slogan is pretty self-explanatory – and it also a universal trademark of Alcoholics Anonymous and many other 12-step programs across the globe. A major key to staying sober is facing every day as an individual feat. Wake up in the morning and tell yourself, “Today, I will not drink. If I still want to drink tomorrow I can.”
- “To Thine Own Self Be True”
So, this one was Shakespeare – we must give credit where credit is due. But AA has essentially adopted the quote and made it their own over the years, adding new significance to the famous words. Essentially, this line advises one to avoid engaging in self-deception. Lying to yourself will only hinder potential progress. Be honest and thorough, if not with anyone else, at least with yourself. And your sponsor.
- “Meeting Makers Make It”
This is probably the most straightforward of all AA clichés. If you go to meetings, you won’t get drunk. While regular attendance at meetings does undeniably help one stay sober, it is important that one engages in the meeting, pays attention to speakers, and fellowships before and after the convening to truly get the most out of each experience. So while this statement tends to lean towards true, if you sit in the back with your head in your hands, refusing to ask for help, you may not stay as sober as you’d like.
- “Wherever You Go, There You Are”
It is not uncommon for addicts and alcoholics to impulsively pick up and move across the country, believing that a geographic change will help them tame their symptoms. Many realize rather quickly that it isn’t so much the surroundings as it is an internal malady, and are forced to heal from the inside out rather than the outside in.
- “My Best Thinking Got Me Drunk”
Essentially, this slogan points out the fact that most addicts and alcoholics are so sick in the head that any thought they have is probably wrong. One of the predominant points of Alcoholics Anonymous is helping other alcoholics – especially when it comes to decision-making. If left to their own accord, most of the sober men and women in the rooms would undoubtedly be drunk. Or dead. If you think something is a good idea, ask! It most likely isn’t.
- “I Am Powerless But Not Helpless”
It is important to remember that powerlessness is entirely different than helplessness. While you may be powerless over drugs and alcohol, you are never helpless – it is your choice every day whether or not you pick up. Keep these helpful clichés in mind if you ever start to feel overwhelmed, and remember – stick with the winners!