AA is chock full of one-liners and one-offs designed to stick in your head and help guide you ever so gently, like a fuzzy weeks-old fawn, toward sobriety throughout your day. Some people hate the recovery slogans, some people instantly embrace them and never ever let them go. Me? Not a fan of lots of them (can you say cheesy? also brainwashy?), but there are a handful that have somehow wormed their way into my heart. Here are a few of the better ones.
1) If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.
This one is so simple, yet so true. Whenever I hear it or even think about it, it kind of stops me in my tracks with the glaring reminder that wishing and dreaming and complaining and fantasizing and planning is not the same—no no, not the same at all—as actually, you know, doing. In other words: nothing’s going to get better in any facet of your life if you don’t bother putting the time and effort into it.
2) Fake It Till You Make It.
You know, act the way you want to feel. If you want to feel confident, pretend that you are. If you want to feel stronger, act stronger. You’re the master of your fate! At least slightly, some of the time! This one has been around for eons; it’s oft repeated and probably serves as a colossal annoyance to many people. But I’ve appreciated its cheeky encouragement since I first read it in Elizabeth Wurtzel’s addiction memoir More, Now, Again.
3) Just Accept, Don’t Expect.
This one is great, but almost excruciatingly hard for me. See, I have an expectations problem. I start formulating expectations like the rest of the population brushes their teeth—consistently, on a daily basis—though I have certain trigger areas that are worst. Namely romance and career stuff. The idea that I should be striving to accept things as they are rather than expecting them to magically shift to suit my whim is a powerful one, and like I said, it’s hard to stick to. But I try.
4) Progress, Not Perfection.
Again, this one is so common that it’s almost a cliche. But it’s a saying that’s stuck to the inside of my gourd like a permanent piece of sticky and delicious Hubba Yubba chewing gum. It’s soooo simple, yet so perfect (okay, as it actually says, nothing’s actually “perfect,” but this slogan is close, right?). It’s a reminder to be gentle with ourselves, to tread lightly, to work hard and make an effort but not to expect the fruits of our labor to show up overnight. It’s also a good reminder that no one is expecting us to be perfect because again, perfect doesn’t exist.
5) Hugs, Not drugs. (Just kidding! Let’s go with “Take What You Need and Leave the Rest.”)
“Take what you need and leave the rest” helped me immensely when I first started going to meetings. It was a much needed push to remember that I wasn’t going to relate to everyone I met or saw in the program, and I needed to not let that completely color my thoughts and feelings about the program as a whole. Of course there will inevitably be irritations and clashes and lameness and generally shitty people here and there, but I can choose to focus on the good stuff that resonates with me.