We can benefit from the unwritten guidelines that have contributed so profoundly to the success of other Twelve Step program meetings and have proven as valuable in our own.
- Leaders of meetings are servants of that meeting. They don’t “carry” the meeting; they merely facilitate it. A common mistake of those who have no prior Twelve Step meeting experience is to feel they must comment on everything that is said or “help out” in some way by giving “the answer.” The effective leader surrenders this impulse and lets the meeting work itself.
- The leader of the meeting does not have to acknowledge a raised hand; he or she can call on someone else. They can interrupt the one talking, if it is called for. This is in line with our common tradition. At the same time, a good meeting is one where the leader’s presence is inconspicuous and non-controlling.
- Most groups stick with a certain basic set of readings that are read at every meeting, adding to this to suit the particular meeting. A list of suggested readings from which to draw is included in the Suggested Meeting Format. We use authorized SA and AA literature only, both for use during meetings and for distribution on the literature table.
- Participation guidelines:
- There is no cross talk. We don’t interrupt others. However, the leader has the right to remind the person sharing of guidelines, time consumed, etc.
- We don’t give advice. We talk in the “I,” not the “we” or the “you,” speaking from our own experience. If we want to respond to what someone has said, we do so only in terms of our own experience. “I can only speak for myself, but whenever I did such and such, this is what happened in my life …”
- We don’t get carried away analyzing what caused our behavior or attitudes. If we were victimized in early life, we slowly learn to face and work through it in acknowledgment, acceptance, and forgiveness. We talk as those who are now responsible for our attitudes and actions and are willing to take responsibility for our lives and recovery.
- In sharing, rather than displaying our knowledge or insights, we lead with our weakness and give of ourselves.
- We avoid politics, religious dogma, and other divisive issues. We also avoid explicit sexual descriptions and sexually abusive language.
- We avoid dumping, self-pity, and blaming others.
- We don’t take the “inventories” of others; that is, we uncover and work on our own defects, not those of others. We refer to our own experiences.
- We do speak honestly of where we really are today. We try to develop transparent honesty of complete self-disclosure, letting the other members know where we are currently, regardless of length of sobriety.
- We do lead with our weakness and take the risk of total self-disclosure.
- By attending on time and sharing regularly, we give of ourselves to others in the group. We get back recovery.
(See the material under the heading “I Am a Sexaholic” under Step One, in this book, and read the article “Meeting Quality and Use of Non-SA Literature,” in Discovering the Principles. SA WB pg. 188-89)