Friday, December 4, 2009


This was the topic at my home group last night, and Mr. SponsorPants has a good post on it today. When I was new to Al-Anon, I found it rather puzzling that we were warned against self-obsession, while being told to practise the Steps, which require rigorous self-examination - what's the difference? Either way, I'm thinking about myself, aren't I?

Yes, but it's what I'm thinking about myself. In self-obsession, I'm on a negative path, which spirals ever downward - I've never yet surfaced from 4 hours of self-obsession feeling refreshed or energised. Self-obsession focuses only on the negatives in my life, and has running through it, a strong vein of resentment, frustration, anger, and self-pity.

In contrast, self-examination does leave me feeling more positive and hopeful. I've got the experience of my years in Al-Anon, to remind myself, that if I can set aside all my judgements about my own behavior or thinking, and just see it for what it is, without having to lash or shame myself for it, I can let go of what doesn't work, keep what works, and plow forward on my great adventure.

When I let go of shame about my character defects, I can share them with my sponsees, and perhaps allow them to realise that what they are thinking/feeling/wanting is only their human frailties, not evil and contemptible.

When I'm not obsessing about myself, I can share myself freely with others. I can give the gift of my experience, strength, and hope. I can offer my love to the members of my Al-Anon groups, and to the larger world outside them.

I know it sounds like a gooey greeting card to say this, but love really does grow as we share it. There is always enough to go around - a limitless supply - the very act of giving love replenishes the spring.


  1. The beautiful paradoxes of our program. I love them. We must be rid of our self-centeredness while at the same time we must be selfish with our program.

    TODAY - it makes sense to me.


  2. It sounds BEAUTIFUL and true.. !!! (where there is LOVE there is not Fear I read)

  3. Great explanation of these differences. I think my self-examination is the direct result of Al-Anon tools