We become what we practice

August 25, 2010

One of the strengths of AA and 12-step recovery is the opportunity to practice over and over the principles of this approach to recovery.  Abundant meetings in most areas make is possible to receive a continual steam of support and input for prolonged periods.

Was this not how we became sick and alcoholic in the first place?  We learned something by observation or experience, we did it once, then repeated over and over for a prolonged period?  Until our patterns of thought and behaviour became so entrenched, they were our defaults?  They were part of who we were.

So why would it not take the same to change?  We practiced thoughts and behaviours of self-pity, escapism, resentment, anger, envy, and potentially a hundred other dysfunctions until they wove together to make up the fabric of who we had become.

I did 90 meetings in 90 days at the same daily meeting.  A lot of people have asked, “Didn’t it get boring and repetitious”?  It would have if I let my old thinking tell me it was.  But gladly, I had some support from those who had travelled the path before me who compelled me to try to learn something new each day.  Even if the same people spoke again and again.

To my utter amazement, they were right.  New gems of truth and enlightenment began to emerge out of the same people at the same meeting day after day.  Why?  Perhaps it was because I was changing.  The repetition I heard was slowly breaking down the walls of my old thinking.  And my follow-through on a daily basis began to establish new patterns that further opened my mind.

Learning through practice and repetition is one thing that has kept me in the rooms of AA for a number of years, even though I can’t get any more sober than I was the day I first sobered up.  It took a long time to weave the old fabric, it is taking a long time to weave the new one.  Practice, practice, practice leads to progress, progress, progress.



  1. Nice post.
    Yes nice to meet you Chaz 🙂

    There is a nice young lady blogger who has been feeling lousy for a while now,in case you find time to stop by and say a few kind words. Her name is NOS

  2. Thanks for stopping by IFB…. will do.

  3. 🙂

  4. Ah yes, repetition. I’m so grateful I live in a big city with lots of meetings. No so everywhere. I went to 3-4 meeting every day in the beginning – really needed them & the repetition. Also, I talked about every little thing that was bothering me – even if people there were annoyed about it – I got better! Yeah.

    • I am sure as a counseling professional, you see people who come to the occasional appointment and could benefit from therapy, but don’t due to the infrequency of their involvement.

      I remember the times when I sought help other than 12 step. It never worked for long because there were too many gaps between sessions in which my sick thinking could catch its breath and take over again.

      Yet, with a foundation built by practicing frequent involvement (daily) in recovery efforts, my old thinking never had more than 24 hours to try to catch its breath and take root again.

      The frequency and repetition alone were hugely therapeutic. So much so that all of the counseling and other recovery and personal growth efforts I made now had a basis of health in which to take root. And I have been able to learn and apply so many non-12-step things in my life now that I am healthier.

      The sheer frequency and repetition are so powerful. There is no substitute for them.



  5. Hi Chaz. I’m Piper, and I’m a human. Glad I found your blog today. 21 years ago this week I lost my first husband to mental illness and had to start facing my own issues. After 21 years of repetition, I have a solid marriage, great kids, and a productive life. And I still need repetition. 🙂 Thanks for your post. All the best.

    • No problem Piper…. Sorry to hear of your loss years ago… it couldnt have been easy. Glad the post had meaning for you…. and even more glad that you have found recovery to better ways of thinking and a happier life!

      Sounds like you courageously did some self-assessment in light of what may have been another person’s overshadowing challenges that it may have been easy to remained unaware of your own.

      Amazing how simple repetition can get us into a bad rut or save us from one.

      Stop by any time.



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