Take Your Power Back.
Before I sobered up, alcohol was like a rope or noose around my neck. Steeped in Learned Helplessness, I was powerless over alcohol. The addiction to drinking made my ‘problem thinking’ run riot. Alcohol in my bloodstream became an insidious saboteur, infecting my thinking.
I experienced a profound alteration IN MY REACTION to life. Pre-sobriety, over and over and endlessly over again, ODAAT, I sold my freedom for a drink. Post sobriety, spiritual awareness grew in my consciousness.
Sure, I had spiritual experiences as a drunk, but the power of spiritual awareness came later, as did the ability to do something useful with the spiritual experiences. It’s like the joke about knowing one has the right to remain silent but not being able to keep one’s mouth shut.
Consider how we coerced ourselves by broken beliefs that served as self-made prisons. Others did not constrain us; the Big Book reads that our problems are primarily of our own making. A prison psychiatrist told me that it is a foregone conclusion that I would spend the rest of my life in prison. NOTHING CHANGED until I got honest about the noose called alcohol that was strangling my life.
Here’s one illustrative lesson that explains ‘Learned Helplessness’ well that I would like to pass on for your consideration. It describes what happened and what we thought happened in our lives—the newfound freedom and happiness rest in awareness. Unlearning is key to that awareness. Step 4 was the Virus Scan, and Step 5 was the delete key. For me, Step 6 was one of the happiest days of my entire life. I still had to work on other things, like Steps 7, 8, and 9, but I was amazed even though I was barely halfway through the Steps.
When elephant trainers catch a baby elephant, they tie one of its legs to a post with a rope. The baby elephant struggles and struggles, but it can’t get free. For days the elephant pulls and strains at the rope. Gradually it learns that struggle is useless, and it gives up.
When the elephant grows up, the trainer keeps it tied to the same rope in the same way. And even though it can now break the rope and get away, it stands passively and waits for the trainer to come and get it. It has developed what is called Learned Helplessness. It has learned that the struggle is useless as a result of repeated failure experiences earlier in life, the elephant has learned a self-imposed limitation.”
So how does Learned Helplessness affect humans?
It’s a condition where a person has the power to change their unpleasant situation yet does not attempt to use that power because they have learned to feel helpless in that situation. No one is perfectly free from the trap of learned helplessness; the point is to grow along spiritual lines. Not even the most successful people with long-term sobriety find themselves free of all character defects. But the difference is those who are successful have surrendered their willpower and embarked upon a simple, straightforward plan of action to overcome their most significant limitations in life.
Alcoholism is a LOSS OF CONTROL. Essentially, learned helplessness is a practical feeling of lack of control. A lack of control over one’s prevailing circumstances ensues when we drink, sometimes called a trainwreck. In the worse cases, learned helplessness leads to clinical depression in individuals, and alcohol depresses the brain even more into a downward spiral. You often hear people say who relapse: “It’s useless…”, “There’s just no way out….”
Learned helplessness limits people’s belief in themselves, while Steps 2 & 3 DELIMITS people. Sobriety leads to confidence without conceit, healthy self-esteem through God Esteem, and an attitude of gratitude that we thirst to pass on. Alcohol-induced limitation leads to a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem, which leads to a lack of self-worth, which leads to procrastination and finally settling for mediocrity at best, and insanity, prison, or death at worst.
Given any particular situation, a sober individual would have a fair idea of how to get out of problems. Yet most are afraid to take any action. How many of you feel that you’re stuck in a stagnant, unsatisfactory, unchallenging job? You know you could be much happier and earn a lot more, but the fear of change that things could be worse on the other side has kept you from taking massive action toward your desires. This is ‘Stinking Thinking.
There are thousands of stories of individuals who have risen above unimaginable circumstances to live extraordinary lives and become people of prodigious influence since 1935. A few great examples are Lois Wilson, Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob, and maybe the person you look at in the mirror every morning. These people all took enormous strides and were willing to go to any lengths to overcome their ego limitations, freeing themselves from the trap of learned helplessness.
Take the noose from around your neck and free your life! Or, as they said in The Matrix, UNPLUG! Never believe any story that doesn’t empower you. Take what you like and leave the rest; kick out the angry renters that live rent-free in your head.
“...one of the primary differences between alcoholics and nonalcoholics is that nonalcoholics change their behavior to meet their goals and alcoholics change their goals to meet their behaviors.”
Release the blocks, drop the rocks, and fly free!
-Timothy C, RBA Dry Sheet
RBA Board of Trustees Minutes
Monday February 14th, 2022
Meeting Opened at 7:05pm
Opened with the Serenity Prayer and AA Traditions One and Two. Our mission is to manage the property, finances and 501C3 for the RBA.
1. Members Present:
Joe R., Bill M., Cherisse K., Jeff S., Roger B., Norton L.
Jerry Z., Maintenance
2. Building & Maintenance Report (Jerry Z.):
Jerry updated the board on maintenance projects. He hopes to soon install gutters along the back roof of the building to prevent ice from forming near the back door. The middle urinal in the men’s restroom needed to be snaked, and Jerry found blockage deep in the line. This has been cleared now, but we will monitor closely in coming weeks. Jerry has been fixing drawers and cupboards around the club. A small leak appears to have formed in a water line to the coffee machine. This leak is a nonissue when the machine is left on, so members have been asked to turn only the warmers off between meetings. Jerry has contacted Coffee Berry, lessor of the coffee machine, for help with a permanent fix.
3. Financial Report:
The financials for January 2022 were reviewed and approved. The RBA lost $1,200, mainly due to nonrepetitive expenses such as snow removal, library purchases, and the bimonthly coffee order. The club, however, has sufficient funds to meet obligations for months to come. Several squads are behind on monthly contributions and are asked to submit envelopes to bring their meetings up to date before the 25th of February.
4. Old Business:
The minutes from the January board meeting were approved and posted in the glass case in the hallway. Topics such as the library, annual banquet, and bookkeeping transition were introduced during the January meeting and will be discussed in the new business section below.
5. New Business:
The board voted unanimously to remove the mask requirement for attendees who use the building. The reason for this is Infection rates are now manageable. Members may continue to wear masks if they wish but are no longer required to do so. Signage will be posted regarding this update.
Fellowship events were discussed. The Monday Night Big Book meeting has reserved the pavilion at Bush Lake Park on Saturday, August 13th, 2022, for the annual summer picnic event. More information to follow on this. Preparations are being made for the annual banquet scheduled for May 21rst, 2022. Banquet tickets will go on sale soon for $25, and raffle tickets will also be available well in advance. Members are encouraged to invite family and friends to this event, as we have a large venue. The banquet will be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bloomington. Squads have been asked to collect additional donations along with 7th Tradition offerings to ensure the banquet is an enjoyable, and affordable, event for all who wish to attend.
The previous librarian closed the separate library account and submitted a cashier’s check to the board, thus completing the transition that has been in process for some time.
The board approved some banking updates pertaining to the changing business need to the club. The new bookkeeper is a long-time pledging member, and officer on the board, so this person will be added as a check signer on the checking account for the RBA. This will ensure our vendors are paid timely with minimal inconvenience to all parties. The board will also request a debit card be issued to enable online library purchases with preferred vendors. This will eliminate the need for board member reimbursement resulting from managing the library inventory.
The board had been asked to revisit the policy regarding pets at the club. A decision was made to hang additional signs stating the longstanding policy of allowing only service dogs, on leash, inside the building. We want all members to feel comfortable while attending meetings at RBA. Leashed service dogs enable this by reducing the risk of discomfort due to allergies from pet hair.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:20pm with The Lord’s Prayer.
-Joe R, Officer, Board of Trustees
Join us at RBA on March 19th at 2:00pm for the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration! We will be serving corned beef and cabbage, and attendees are encouraged to bring desserts. Suggested donations of $5.00 per person to cover costs of the event will be appreciated.