Friday, April 16, 2010

“Talk About Yourself”

(This blog is first in a 4-part series, “Sharing 101”)

To a newcomer, some of the things people who have time share can seem insane. To an old-timer, the perspective of someone new who hasn’t worked the steps and hasn’t yet been restored to sanity can be downright laughable. If they’re lucky, the newcomer can hear what is said and say to themselves, “wow, I want that.” An old-timer can hear the struggles of the newcomer and remember that they, too, have been there. They might think, “thank God I don’t have to do it like that anymore.”

A share that got the “I want that” reaction from me was someone who said they no longer had bad days, only bad moments. One that caused me to shake my head was hearing someone with around a year say they “used to” be an addict. One that made me take notice was someone with about a year and a half who talked about the pace of change slowing down. Another that really got me, to the point I spent a considerable amount of time discussing it with my sponsor, was hearing someone actually lecture the newcomers, tell them all about what they needed to do and how crucial it was that they do it.

We share our experience, strength, and hope…

I don’t remember who it was that explained to me the best way to share, but it was a suggestion I received fairly early on. They told me that, when I share, I am to talk about me. Resist the temptation to use the ‘you’ word; talk in terms of myself, saying ‘I’ and ‘me’. Talk about what is going on with me, in my life, how I’ve handled it. Sometimes I’m able to see the difference between how I handle things now and how I used to handle them, and I can share that too.

This is the way the program works. We don’t tell each other what to do. We don’t talk down to each other. We don’t instruct each other. We offer our own insights, we talk about what it is that we are doing in our lives now, how we are using Recovery to guide our thoughts and our actions. When I was a newcomer, the last thing I wanted was to be told what to do. I think a lot of us feel that way when we’re new.

Instead of lecturing people who are new (or anyone else, for that matter), we simply talk about ourselves. If someone finds it useful, they can choose to apply it in their own lives. This is why working the steps is only a suggestion. Without willingness, the program can’t do anything for us. I’ve heard it said and said it myself—Recovery is not for those who need it, only those who want. Like so many others, I had to become willing, within myself, to work the steps. No one else could make me do it. It is that change, the willingness to stop doing it my way, that opened the door for all the other changes which followed.

It isn’t always easy. I want to help others, too. I see new people come in, struggling to break free of this disease. I see people come in, too, who don’t really care all that much one way or the other. Maybe they’re there because they’re court-ordered, or their loved ones have ‘made’ them. If they ask my advice, I give it. But on the whole, I do my best to just talk about myself, what’s going on in my life, and how Recovery has helped me handle it better.

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