“I learn to stop trying hard, and learn to try different.”

We alcoholics are a stubborn lot. When I entered the program, there was only one way to do something – my way. And if that didn’t work I would just try harder. Bolstered by a seemingly limitless supply of self will, I was convinced that I could and would get something done. Exhausting though it may have been (for me and those around me) sometimes I even succeeded.

When I entered the program, I was told I needed to change my thinking and abandon my old ideas. While I changed some of them, I still thought that my will, my determination, and my way of doing and getting things would still work. I tried hard to let go, and when that didn’t work, I tried harder. In recovery, though, my tolerance for pain isn’t as high, and I feel the affects of trying hard much sooner, and more importantly, recovery began to show me that there might be another way.

When my sponsor first suggested that I pray about a problem or situation, and then turn it over to my Higher Power, I first thought, “Well that’s not going to work. I’ve got to..” When I tried it I found that it did work, and over the years I’ve discovered many other ways of handling things. Now when I’m struggling with a problem or situation, I stop trying so hard, and I’ve learned to try different. And it works (when I work it).

“If nothing changes, nothing changes.”

In early recovery I heard someone say that, “If you get a horse thief sober, all you have is a sober horse thief.” I learned that the 12-step program is a program of recovery because it is a program of change. Just getting sober isn’t enough. I have known many people who came into the program and stopped drinking but either delayed or didn’t work the steps, and they soon found that they still had all the old problems, feelings and circumstances they had while drinking. Besides not drinking, not much had changed.

“The same man will drink again.” Another saying I heard when I was new reveals yet another danger of not working the steps and so not changing. Driven and haunted by the pain of the old self, it is a short distance to the temporary relief and old solution of drinking. Once again, if nothing changes (besides not picking up a drink), nothing changes, and the same man will soon drink again.

“The only thing we have to change is everything.” The miracle of the program comes as we work the steps, abandon our old ideas, and discard our old self. The big book tells us that we become “reborn” as a result of working the steps, and it is this new self that is capable of living a new life that is happy, joyous and free. The good news is that this total change is much easier than it sounds and a natural result of working the steps. Ultimately, everything changes as we change.