Keeping It Simple – Grapevine Article March 1979 by C.R.

She learned to live her way into good thinking

BEFORE I came to AA, I centered my life around intellectual accomplishments and analytic thinking. You name it–I analyzed it! My favorite topics included: (1) me, myself, and I: (2) me and my relationships with other people; and (3) me vs. society and its injustices. You can see the common theme: me. I spent my days in morbid self-preoccupation, until the negative thinking and self-centered fear became so unbearable that I drank myself into alcoholic oblivion.

When I came to AA, my brain was so soggy that I welcomed the invitation to “bring the body–the mind will follow” with a sigh of relief. For once, I was permitted, even encouraged, to leave my intellectual faculties at the door. I was so physically, mentally, and spiritually sick that I gladly complied.

Yet after a year of experiencing the healing power of AA, my Higher Power, and sobriety, I returned to work and immediately began to live out of my head again. I became obsessed with the idea that I could think my way into good living, that I could master life merely by thinking my way through it. Consequently, I began to withdraw from people, escape into a sea of psychologically oriented textbooks, and slip back into my old ways of thinking. I was trying to figure out life instead of living it. At this point, my sponsor suggested that I close all my books (except AA literature) and start to live my way into good thinking. I listened. Almost immediately, I felt relief and peace of mind.

As a doctoral candidate in the field of counseling psychology, I have spent most of my adult life theorizing, conceptualizing, analyzing, and evaluating. As a result, I made simple issues complex, got lost in the overwhelming complexities I had created, and then drank to turn off the unceasing noise in my mind.

I am happy to say that after two years of sobriety, I am no longer tortured by the wheels spinning in my brain. One day at a time, AA has relieved me from that terrible bondage of self-analysis. Introspection is no longer an obsession, and God has replaced psychology as my higher power. The Twelve Steps have helped me learn how to keep my life, both personal and professional, simple. AA has taught me to “utilize, not analyze,” to live life instead of thinking about it, and to put faith in my Higher Power, not in my own mind.

AA and my Higher Power have transformed me from a complex person who lived out of her head to a simple person who is trying to live out of her heart. Thanks to this program, I am no longer a prisoner locked within the walls of my mind. Now that I am no longer morbidly preoccupied with self, I can reach out to others and contribute to life. For this miracle, I am humbly grateful.

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