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Ch-ch-ch-changes

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MadArchitect

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

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Here's a topic that seems to have been cropping up around me lately: To what extent are people capable of changing? And by extension, to what extent are people capable of changing their circumstances? While we're at it, regardless of capacity, do people often change when it's needed?
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Transformation

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In Alcoholic Anonymous, a program that sees personal change as fundamental to its purpose, folks recite the well-known Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.In this sense, there are some things I can change, some I can't, and wisdom is knowing which is which...serenity results when acting according to that wisdom.In the AA tradition, the primary thing to change is oneself: beliefs, attitudes, habits, appetites, relationships, expectations....in religious terms, a conversion is sought. A radical transformation of existential orientation rooted in hopefilled visions of living free of the insanity of addicition and alcoholism.The route to this transformation is the 12 Steps which begin with an admission of powerlessness and end with the promise of a spiritual awakening tied to helping other addicts find a similar transformation.Meetings are a crucial component of the process and involve members taking turns sharing about the changes in their life since they found the program. The only requirement for membership is a desire to change the self-destructive behavior. Edited by: Dissident Heart at: 8/11/06 2:55 pm
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Re: Transformation

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I have heard so much that is negative about AA from people who have tried it.The most common complaint is the feeling of being brainwashed. But it is Christian oriented...so that should be expected.Mr. P. Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
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Dissident Heart

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Re: Transformation

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Mr. P: I have heard so much that is negative about AA from people who have tried it.No doubt, there's plenty who've found little value in AA- and discovered its shadow: fanatic group-think cultism...addicts getting addicted to their addiction recovery program- go figure.Mr. P: The most common complaint is the feeling of being brainwashed.The most common complaint I hear involves hypocrisy: members telling outright lies and b.s. about their so-called sobriety. There's also genuine power tripping, domination and control issues that can impede the Sponsor/Sponsee relationship. The good news, as I see it, is that the program doesn't rely upon perfect people: just addicts willing to change. Brainwashing is an interesting term, and if you were to accept your belief system was full of ridiculous notions, nonsense, and insane conclusions (i.e., the belief system of your garden variety drunk and addict) perhaps a good, thorough, deep-down washing of the brain is required? Scrubbing the insanity right out of your mind? In any case, I think the virtue of AA involves breaking out of the denial of your problem, deciding to get help, finding a community of persons to serve and get honest with, and taking daily, practical steps to change your beliefs and behavior.Mr. P: But it is Christian oriented...so that should be expected.I disagree on both counts: AA is not Christian oriented, nor does being a Christian require brainwashing. There are lots of 12 Step programs that take a specifically Christian approach; and there are no doubt Christian communities that strong-arm and manipulate members into submission. But if you attend any AA meetings or read their Big Book, or explore any of the mountains of literature regarding its many offshoots...you will find a very eclectic assortment of attitudes and beliefs towards Higher Power. One general commonality, though, is that genuine, actual change of behavior requires some sort of spiritual solution...a relationship to a power greater than oneself able to restore you to sanity. Still, 12 Steps are really an anarchist bunch. Their prescription for change is meant to be suggestive only, and tied to personal experience more than creedal demand.
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Re: Transformation

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i studied drug abuse as an undergrad taking grad classes in college. the statistics on people that stay sober with AA and alcoholics that can go "cold turkey" without AA are substantial. AA, for what ever reason, is one of the most effective ways of keeping alcoholics off the sauce. so regardless of how people feel about it, it works. i with it wasn't religious in origin, it excludes non-believers. it also excludes believes that think their behavior has nothing to do with the god they believe in.i think change is one of the hardest things people can do, at least real change, transformative change. many people make temporary changes based on a highly emotional desire that is temporary. things almost always go back to the way they used to be unless change is systematic, a real shift in ones thoughts and vision and actions.
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Re: Transformation

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river: AA, for what ever reason, is one of the most effective ways of keeping alcoholics off the sauce.If the desired change is to stop drinking alcohol, AA offers a program that has proven very effective for a great number of people. There are many reasons why this program works in changing behavior: 1. People get honest about their problem; get out of denial, rationalization, and minimization of the mess and unmanagibility of their lives.2. People seek help from others who have experienced many of the same problems and catastrophes; finding solidarity and support from folks who can empathize and show compassion for their mistakes and flaws, and mobilize a shared accountability to new values and ideals.3. People develop a daily practice of integrating new behaviors and attitudes into their lives; new rituals of prayer, meditation, reading and reflection, writing and journaling, meetings and fellowship, and careful monitoring of urges to return to old patterns of behavior.4. People follow the suggested 12 Steps that involve a thorough moral inventory of past behavior, consistent and honest updates regarding current behavior, and activities that require envisioning and working toward the new, changed life.I think a crucial element in the 12 Step program for change involves coming to grips with the power of resentment. As I understand the term, and its role in impeding change, resentment keeps an individual tied to past trauma or earlier abuse: somebody, somewhere, sometime ago hurt me, and I am still pissed off about it. If the resentment is strong enough, it will color almost all your decisions: career, marriage, political affiliations and ideologies, attitudes toward God, religion, school, neighbors, living in community...basically, it will shape the course of relationships in ways that stay perpetually tied to traumatic past events.Change means, in many ways, getting clear about the ways that resentment motivates your life.
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Re: Transformation

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Quote:the statistics on people that stay sober with AA and alcoholics that can go "cold turkey" without AA are substantialWell that seems like apples and oranges to me. I mean AA is a program, cold turkey is not. Are there other programs like AA? And how do those programs compare?Cold turkey is usually the worst way to do anything and will not work unless your mind is in the right place.Mr. P. Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
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Re: Transformation

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Sounds to me like one of the reasons AA may be more effective than cold turkey, or other programs, has to do with the fact that they have some way of guaging who is and isn't serious about quitting, and only accept those deemed serious. That skews the comparison, of course. Everyone can try to quit on their own, but only those who are accepted by the program are counted in the statistics of AA successes.Has anyone here read the Cochrane Report published earlier this year? I only know about it second hand, but the gist as I understand it is that AA and other twelve step groups are not likely to produce superior results to any other kind of treatment. I'd be interested to know the reasoning behind that conclusion.But regardless of whether or not AA is as effective as it's been touted to be, I'm sure getting help from a group like that is important to the process for many people. Assuming, of course, that personal change is possible....
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Re: Transformation

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Mr. P: Are there other programs like AA? And how do those programs compare?There are many programs like AA, built upon the same principles of the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions. A common thread is a desire to change compulsive behavior that leads to pitiful demoralization and an inability to manage one's life.Thus, you can find 12 Step programs for just about any behavior/relationship that can be abused: eating, sex, debt, gambling, falling in love, alcohol, illegal and prescription drugs, work, religion, internet chat.....actions and relationships that, unless changed, will destroy physical and mental health. Mr. P: Cold turkey is usually the worst way to do anything and will not work unless your mind is in the right place.In some cases, say severe alcoholism or heroin addiction, cold turkey can kill a person, or lead to extreme shock and system failure. Still, there are times when a person (in classic AA terminology) becomes "sick and tired of being sick and tired" and in an act of decisive will power gives up the bottle, or needle, or relationship, etc. In the 12 Steps traditions, the term "Dry Drunk" is used to describe a person who gives up drinking, but still behaves like an alcoholic: compulsive, full of self-pity, resentful, judgemental, blind to how his behavior impacts those around him, etc.. These folks are usually lacking a program to address the underlying causes of the compulsive behavior: they ex-change one compulsive relationship for another.For many in the 12 Step traditions, the primary source of the problem is what is called "spiritual bankruptcy" or the absence of a relationship to Higher Power or God. Thus, what needs to be changed is not simply behaviors, but fundamental notions of identity, purpose, meaning, and orientation in the world.MA: one of the reasons AA may be more effective than cold turkey, or other programs, has to do with the fact that they have some way of guaging who is and isn't serious about quitting, and only accept those deemed serious.I think the only way of guaging the seriousness of membership in AA (or other 12 Step Programs) involves identifying those who keep coming back. All are accepted as long as they choose to return; when they choose to stop, they leave of their own accord.There are multiple examples of persons mandated by Court to attend meetings, or by wives threatening to leave them, bosses willing to fire them, landlords willing to evict them, etc....but it seems the most effective source of change involves a personal willingness, not an external threat. If the fear of damaging consequences was the primary motivator, most addicts and drunks would have stopped years earlier in their madness. A crucial ingredient seems to be a genuine desire to change out of a sense of self-respect, integrity, honesty and a love of oneself...all of which, in the 12 Step Traditions, are directly tied to a "Spiritual Awakening".
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Mr. P

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Re: Transformation

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"sick and tired of being sick and tired"My. This is my motto. This phrase sums up my mindset most of the time. I just need to find a way to make some changes.Things are tough for me right now. I need some changes...but it is hard. So my answer to the original question is: Yes...but it is sooo hard to do.Mr. P. Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
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