If you’ve spent any time around Al-Anon, Alcoholics Anonymous, or other recovery-oriented groups, you’ve heard at least a few slogans and acronyms. Most of them seem to fall into one of three categories, and they include our relationship with:
- Our addicted loved one.
- Our Higher Power.
This month, we’ll look at a few of my favorites that can help us stop living in fear and resentment and change our lives for the better.
FEAR: Forgetting Everything is All Right.
The first time I heard this spoken was by Al-Anon speaker, Ellen Cassidy, she said she talked to her sponsor about how fear was consuming her; fear for her children and their safety, and many other fears. Her sponsor stopped her and asked, “Is everything okay right this minute?” Ellen paused – and realized that yes, at that moment, everything was okay. In my darkest moments of fear – those middle-of-the-night “what if” moments – I have often recalled that question and Ellen’s answer. And with the exception of the dreaded telephone call, everything has always been all right. So the vast majority of the time, everything is all right, and I reminded myself of that regularly during the time my son was in rehab and sober living. Even now, every time I wake up sweating with fear about what might happen, I ask that crucial question, and it brings perspective to what FEAR actually is – “forgetting everything is all right.” That helps me relax and go back to sleep.
Your head is like a bad neighborhood; you should never go there alone.
While this isn’t really an Al-Anon slogan, I laughed the first time I heard it, because it resonated with me. And it fits neatly with the previous slogan, FEAR is “forgetting everything is all right.” Usually, if I find myself drowning in “what if’s,” it’s because I have gone to the bad neighborhood of my head alone. Al-Anon meetings are very helpful, because I find a group of people just like me, often with thoughts identical to mine, who accompany me to the neighborhood of my head and help clean up the streets to make it a better place. Hearing their stories helps me have a true perspective on what’s going on in my head and sort out what is true from what is false. The group also reminds me that there is a better way to live; I no longer have to live in constant fear of what might happen, and I can now take the time to take care of myself.
Change your attitude; change your life.
Most people have heard the adage, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” The same is true of our attitude. If we expect the worst, that is often what we get. But we probably all know someone who seems to have a consistently positive outlook, and we feel good when we are around them. Studies have shown that not only do we smile because we feel happy, but we can actually feel happy because we smile. Interestingly, even forcing a smile decreases stress. So scientific evidence points to the fact that we can actually change our attitude by smiling. It would be simplistic to say that just the act of smiling will change your life, but it can get us on the road to a happier, more positive outlook on life.
Over time I’ve learned the value of these slogans as I understand them and find ways to apply them. They are now an integral part of my own recovery. I encourage you to find slogans that are meaningful to you and work them into your daily life.
Ellen C. – Family Recovery Speaker – “Changing my attitude, changing my life”
Al-Anon Talks (Several of Ellen Cassidy’s talks are on this site.)
Recovery Workshops (Several of Ellen Cassidy’s talks are on this site.)
The lights are on XA Speakers (a great site for AA and Al-Anon speakers)