The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking. TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 139
I first heard the short form of the Third Tradition in the Preamble. When I came to A.A. I could not accept myself, my alcoholism, or a Higher Power. If there had been any physical, mental, moral, or religious requirements for membership, I would be dead today. Bill W. said in his tape on the Traditions that the Third Tradition is a charter for individual freedom. The most impressive thing to me was the feeling of acceptance from members who were practicing the Third Tradition by tolerating and accepting me. I feel acceptance is love and love is God’s will for us.
This weekend I was fortunate enough to hear a speaker who specifically spoke about the statement above. He was explaining how he had attended AA and became sober 21 years earlier, stuck around for just over a year, attended meetings, read the literature and then for no specific reason he decided to leave the program and begin drinking in a “controlled” manner. This “controlled” drinking went on for years, there was no massive turmoil, he didn’t lose his family, house or job.
He shared how this continued for over 17 years, he would count his alcohol intake, limiting it to weekends and never, ever in those years did he become inebriated.
He is uncertain when exactly it had happened but he was miserable. He had gone from feeling happiness at being able to consume two beers on a Friday night to resenting his inability to have a case. He was bitter, mean to his wife and children and becoming ineffective at his workplace.
He ran into a woman who had been in the “rooms” with him years earlier and after spending some time socially with him, she pulled him aside and told him to get his butt to a meeting quick.
He did return to the rooms, the weight of living his life had become too much. There he found acceptance, fellowship and understanding.
He is now over 3 years sober and openly gives all the credit to God and AA.
What was different for him? Why did he feel so differently this time?
He told me that it was the fact that this time he truly had a desire to stop drinking.
Stop and think about that for a minute, the first time he entered the program he was on the verge of losing everything and yet the second time worked when there wasn’t that impending peril.
He explained that the first time he wanted to learn to drink and still live a well balanced life. He came into the rooms for others, because he knew he should. The second time he came it was for himself, because he admitted that his life was unmanageable on a level he couldn’t live with.
Are you currently trying to change your behaviors?
Perhaps eating healthier, or exercising regularly, keeping a more organized home?
Ask yourself what your motivation is.
If you are trying to lose weight to look good to others, chances are you’ll eventually gain the weight back.
If you’re organizing your home because your mother-in-law is coming for a visit give it two weeks after she leaves and it will return to it’s current state.
Motivation is everything.
To be successful at changing a habit or pervasive behavior we have to figure out why we do these things and replace the old behavior with a new one.
Tonight, write down your short term goals, check their root causes and identify the behaviors that will bring you to the point of success.
Do it for you my friends, aren’t we worth the effort of being real with ourselves and allowing ourselves to flourish?
There is much more to it than I will type tonight but identifying our motivations is a great start!