By: Marilyn L. Davis
“If you have discovered a truth, tell it first to a parrot! Every new truth needs insistent repetition!” ~ Mehmet Murat ildan
Don’t You Know the Slogan?
The other night there was a new man in our group. When I asked him why he chose to come to treatment, his reply was, “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Now, I’ve heard that for more than 30 years, and believe that each of us is sick of one aspect of our addiction that may differ from someone else. So, I asked him to elaborate on what he was sick of that prompted him coming to treatment.
His response caught me off-guard.
“I was taught in my other treatment center that this was the correct answer. Don’t you know what that slogan means, Ms. Marilyn?”
Applying the Slogans
I explained that I knew what it meant for me, but that my ‘sick and tired’ might be different than his or other group members, so if the other men would give us their ‘sick and tired,’ we might see the differences. We got many answers:
- All their money going for dope
- Cops chasing them
- Embarrassing their kids at school or the ball field
- Family not talking to them
- Getting divorced
- Losing jobs
- Spending another holiday in jail
After we went around the room, the young man realized that there were many more answers that personalized ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired’ and that there just might be more to the slogans than he initially understood.
Expanding Our Understanding Beyond Slogans
Knowing that we all learned the vocabulary of dope, I think it’s important to know the language of recovery as well.
So, we looked at some other slogans and decided that some people were only using the slogans as a predictable, accepted answer without genuinely understanding its application for them.
Sounding Good or Understanding the Intent?
One young man finally said, “I’m not being sarcastic, Ms. Marilyn, but I could probably teach a parrot to quote the slogans.”
Another group member said that he used the slogans as a way of sounding like he belonged and that when he repeated it, people would nod their heads in agreement, but now he questioned whether they knew what they meant.
Then we decided to look at the slogans and see if we understood its implication. You can discover if you are only repeating something that sounds good by asking yourself, do you ever:
- Quote the slogan in a sing-song voice or like a question and not a statement.
- Question why anyone is asking you for further clarification?
- Assume that everyone knows this often repeated and supposedly known expression?
- Use these slogans when you think they are the accepted answer?
- Overuse these slogans as answers?
What Does the Slogan Mean to You?
The following is a list of often used and often not understood 12 Step based phrases:
- “Let go and let God.”
- “Easy does it.”
- “One day at a time.”
- “Sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
- “Think, think, and think.”
- “Ninety meetings in ninety days are how to stay sober.”
- “Call your sponsor.”
- “Meeting makers make it.”
- “Principles before Personalities”
- “This too, shall pass.”
- “This is a selfish program.”
- “Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
- “Act as if…”
- “Recovery is education without graduation.”
- “There are none too dumb for the program to work – but there are many who are too smart for it to work.”
- “Change is a process, not an event.”
- “Don’t quit 5 minutes before the miracle happens.”
- “We give it away to keep it.”
Applying the Intent of the Slogan
All of the slogans of 12 Step programs have meaning, but unless you understand what a slogan means, merely repeating it may be an effort to sound useful to others, not necessarily an indication of working a program.
It is not just 12 Step based recovery-supportive meetings that will have meaningful slogans, quoted without understanding.
Regardless of the type of meetings that you attend, become familiar with the intent and meaning of a slogan before you use it as the predictable response.
For the next week, listen to how many times a slogan is repeated and then apply the intent to yourself – without repeating it.
After all, you took the time to understand the underlying meaning of the slogan.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart.