Dr. Carnes uses the story of Thomas Einstein’s early graduate students. After the first year of school, Einstein’s final exam was a challenge. At the end of the second year, his students were surprised to see that the exam contained the same questions. Einstein’s response was to observe, “Of course. The questions are always the same. It is your answers that have to be better.” The steps always present the same question. And our answers need to be better.
Dr. Carnes believes all the twelve step fellowships can teach each other. They are also responding to the same questions. Thus those in codependency recovery (CODA) can learn from the Debtors Anonymous (DA) groups about “vagueness” or pressure groups. And the DA people can learn about managing sadness. The greatest irony is that with time we find ourselves attending more than one kind of meeting. The jest here is that if “we went to all the meetings we qualify for we wouldn’t have a life”. By using the perspective of principles the knowledge that can be shared by all can be distilled and made better – especially with everyone contributing.
In addition, you are encouraged to read other books that you feel will expand your knowledge how the original Twelve Steps have been adapted to become applicable to the various Twelve Steps programs such as support groups that specifically beneficial to the reader. Through are hundreds of these types of books to choose from but require you searching and exploring what fits for you. Some examples include organized religions and spiritual practices, genders, specific addictions, cultures, etc.
Let’s use the first quarter as an example. We highly encourage you to read as many “Big Books” as you wish. If, for example, you are not a member of AA, and have not read the book that started it all, it is a very useful exercise. If you are a sex addict and attend SAA, but have not read the core texts of Sexaholics Anonymous or Sex and Love Addicts you will find it very useful. Probably everyone would find the Big Books from CODA, Adult Children of Alcoholics, and Alanon expanding. Currency of Hope (Debtors Anonymous) is well written, insightful and fit two of the categories we concentrate on, money and work. If it is on the list it is worth it. We could go on for pages and hopefully eventually will about the contributions of each fellowship.
We have also the biographies of Bill W. and Lois W. which provide incredible perspective on how this all started. We highly recommend Dark Night of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way through Life’s Ordeals, by Thomas Moore as a focus book and The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, by Norman Doidge as your quarterly book on the brain. We also highlight some of the resources from the next quarter so you can maximize your selection.
Your challenge will be to organize your reading and your work to fit your life rhythms. It will consume time but the dividends are huge and long lasting. Take it in bite size pieces. Create regular times and rituals to do your work. Learning how to do focus work is first intentionally integrating into your life and making it a priority. In that sense it is like exercise and other health habits. One way to keep the motivation in front of you is to read carefully the neuroscience introduction of the principles book. Take the long view. At three books or more a quarter plus articles and readings, consider what you will have accomplished in three years and how you will have deepened your recovery.