Alcoholic patterns give way to new qualities of behavior
IN THE BOOK As Bill Sees It—the AA Way of Life, it is stated, “. . .no true alky ever stops drinking permanently without undergoing a profound personality change.”
This statement has frequently puzzled me. Recently, at discussion meetings, I have been led to believe that others also are confused about it. I went to Webster’s Dictionary and found these definitions:
“1. Personality–the quality or fact of being a person. 2. Personality–the quality or fact of being a particular person, personal identity; individuality. 3. Personality–habitual patterns and qualities of behavior of any individual as expressed by physical and mental activities and attitudes; distinctive individual qualities of a person considered collectively.”
I broke down the third definition into four parts: habitual patterns, qualities of behavior, physical activities, and mental attitudes. Before AA, my habitual patterns and physical activities were from bar to bar and bottle to bottle. My qualities of behavior were, for the most part, lousy; my mental attitudes, for the most part, “stinking thinking.”
During my time in AA, much of this has changed. I have no halo, but my wife tells me I am now a pleasure to have around. My physical activities are from meeting to meeting, and my mental attitude is one of gratitude for this gift of sobriety, which I must never take for granted. My habitual patterns include a prayer for guidance each morning and a prayer of thanks each night. My qualities of behavior–and this I even notice myself–are much better.
Hence, I believe I may have attained a personality change, if not profound, very close to it. Like a spiritual awakening, it has unfolded gradually yet firmly. “Stinking thinking” will creep in, but I have always remembered something a teacher once told me: “Thoughts are like birds. You can’t stop a bird from flying into your hair, but you can stop him from building a nest there.”