How To Think About The Traditions

First, Read How To Think…

Because of our Education System, we actually no longer know how to use Critical Thinking Skills which are required to know, not only how to think about the Traditions, but How to Apply them to our daily decision making…

Why is it How to Think About The Traditions? – In the 12×12 and in AA Comes of Age, all they do is talk about what they did as examples of the Traditions, and we still don’t know how to use them. That’s because the Traditions are kind of like Living Water – or they are like the banks that allow Living Water to flow. To talk about things that happened where the Traditions were applied, codifies them and makes them harder to understand – when in fact the Traditions could be used in every situation where there is more than one person.

Here’s a simple example of how I recently used the Traditions in a situation that could have caused complete and total chaos in my relationship.

I have recovered from alcoholism using the 12 steps and I have my own intuition and my own relationship with God that helps me guide my life, and so has my boyfriend. But he and I don’t agree on a lot of things and my intuition does not work for him nor can I let his intuition work for me – because our experiences are different. He knows a lot more about cars than I do. He took the mechanics class in high school and I am an artist. He’s a big money maker and I get by with God’s help. When 5000 miles have past – I intuitively know it’s time for an oil change, and his intuition knows that I could wait another 3000 – or for the next sunny day when he is free to change my oil… Neither one of us is right or wrong – it’s just how we live our lives differently from each other, and that is fine until we have to work together – he offers to change my oil because he says I am getting ripped off by my mechanic, but then he doesn’t want to change it when the “maintenance required” light goes on – he just wants to ignore it and do it on the next sunny day when he feels like it.

This is a great opportunity for me to use the 1st Tradition – Our common welfare comes first. I put our relationship before my desire to get a cheap oil change. I trust God that He will provide the money for me to pay for the Synthetic 5000 mile oil change at Greasemonkey, or I will have to let boyfriend do it in his own time. For me it’s better to pay the extra money than to stress out about boyfriend’s timing not being my timing.

This is how and why members of groups would use the traditions – because we all have our own relationship with God for our own lives, but we do need to work together, so we have these spiritual principles to use to discuss issues as they come up and look at the Traditions to see if we are violating them. We also don’t want just defer our relationship with God to the other person because that’s how we get resentments – we are all different and if I just let my boyfriend tell me what to do, eventually I will grow to hate him.

In this situation of our relationship, we also use the 2nd Tradition all the time – we pray together in the morning and we pray together throughout the day. I pray whenever we get into a scuffle and ask God to stand between us in our communication with each other. I especially am quiet if we are at odds with each other and wait to discuss anything with him until after I have 10th stepped it with someone. This is discussed on p. 118 in the Big Book as well. In this case regarding the oil change, the 5th and 6th Tradition also came into play – because we have one primary purpose of being in a loving and spontaneous relationship without saddling it with extraneous crap that we need to take to God, and problems of property diverted us from our primary aim to relate to one another in a loving way. Using the Traditions we can work together to come to a balance where I put my trust and reliance upon God and practice Live and Let Live. He doesn’t even have to use the Traditions himself – I can use them to help me – in our relationship and it makes things go more smoothly.

The 7th Tradition also came into play because he wanted to contribute to me by changing my oil, but I could feel that I was not being fully self-supporting by letting him, but I had to try it to see if it would work. Even though I paid for the oil, I did not think it was fair for him to do that work for me, and I see that the conflict arose because of how he likes to be free to do things he wants to do when he wants to do them vs. this being my vehicle so I want to choose when the maintenance gets done. Regarding the 9th Tradition -this is the best one and why I don’t need Alanon – I am directly responsible to him but not for him – so I can offer a suggestion to him regarding something I think he should do – but I can’t make him do it, and I put Him in God’s hands. I don’t harp on things and try to get him to live the way that I want, I just value the time we have together and trust that his relationship with God is right. If there is something really bothering me, I ask God to take care of it for me. On more than one occasion, he has told me that God told him to do something I asked God to take care of for him. It’s pretty amazing!

So you see, the way AA has attempted to show us how to use the Traditions has only codified them – we have to learn how to use them for everything we do. They are applicable in every situation where there is more than one person involved and only one person in the “group” has to use them for all to benefit.