As I have grown in self-awareness and trust in a Higher Power, I find that I’m more relaxed about making decisions in the absence of strict rules and rigid structure. When I was a newcomer to Al‑Anon, I didn’t have this feeling of ease and confidence—quite the opposite. Rules were a comfort after growing up in an alcoholic home where there were few rules and no reliable authority figures. It was natural that I made decisions based on them. Today, I am more likely to use ideas, experiences, and principles—like the ones contained in the 36 components of Al‑Anon’s three Legacies—to make decisions.

In times of fear or uncertainty, I can fall back on my “rules” method. After all, if I make a decision based on the rules and it turns out later to have been a mistake, I can just blame the rules and not take any personal responsibility, right? Unfortunately, no. In Al‑Anon, I learned that I am responsible for my decisions regardless of the methods I use to make them. I also learned that I am less likely to regret them if I have taken the time to become informed, to ask my Higher Power for guidance, and to talk them over with my Sponsor or a trustworthy Al‑Anon friend.

The same, slightly modified process works in our groups. Lately, I have been asked a number of questions by members who seemed to be trying to rely on rules to determine what they could or couldn’t do in their groups. While it is tempting for me to give someone “the answer” because that makes me feel smart and valuable, I must instead encourage members of the group to become informed, invite their Higher Power in, and have a discussion about principles. Principle-based discussions not only help groups arrive at solutions for their problems, but they also demonstrate how we can apply these same ideas to our problems outside the group. I am grateful that the Al-Anon program continues to offer me new insights, new topics for prayer and meditation, and new ways to relate to our Legacies.

By Kerri K., Associate Director—International

The Forum, November 2021

Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.