Comparing “How It Works” to the original manuscript for our Basic Text
Comparison Format — Colors appear here only and are — — not used in the actual comparisons. — Words above brackets are from the pre-publication version. < Bracketed copy is from our Basic Text as it reads today. > ~ Format Examples ~Rarely have we < RARELY HAVE WE > seen a person fail who has thoroughly directions followed our < path >...~ ~ ~Now we think you can take it! < — — — — — > Here are the steps we took...~ ~ ~11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our — — — — — — < conscious > contact with God < as we understood Him >...~ ~ ~
Chapter 5 < Chapter 5 > HOW IT WORKSRarely have we < RARELY HAVE WE > seen a person fail who has thoroughly directions followed our < path >. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitu- tionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of way of life grasping and developing a < manner of living > which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest. Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it – then you are ready to follow directions < take certain steps >. you may balk. You may think you can At some of these < we balked. We thought we could > We doubt if you can. find an easier, softer way. < But we could not. > With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. you are dealing Remember that < we deal > with alcohol – cunning,
59 you baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for < us >. That One But there is One who has all power – < that one > is God. You must < May you > find Him now! will avail you You stand Half measures < availed us > nothing. < We stood > Throw yourself under at the turning point. < We asked > His protection and care with complete abandon. Now we think you can take it! < > Here are the steps we your Program of Recovery took, which are suggested as < a program of recovery >: Admitted 1. < We admitted > we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives and direction as we over to the care < > of God < as we > understood Him < understood Him >. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. willing that 6. Were entirely < ready to have > God remove all these defects of character. , on our knees, 7. Humbly < > asked Him to remove our – holding nothing back shortcomings < >. 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became complete willing to make < > amends to them all. 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our < conscious > contact with God < as we understood > < Him >, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
(glimpse of the original ‘working manuscript’ for parts of these two pages)
60 experience 12. Having had a spiritual < awakening > as the result this course of action of < these steps >, we tried to carry this others, especially message to < > alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. You may exclaim < Many of us exclaimed >, "What an order! I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after , have been designed to sell you < make clear > three pertinent ideas: you are cannot (a) That < we were > alcoholic and < could not > your life manage < our > own < lives >. can (b) That probably no human power < could have > relieve your < relieved our > alcoholism. can will (c) That God < could > and < would if He were sought >. If you are not convinced on these vital issues, < > you ought to re-read the book to this point or else < > throw it away! < > If you are you are now at step three < Being > convinced, < we were at Step Three >, you make a decision your which is that < we decided > to turn < our > will your you understand and < our > life over to God as < we understood > Him. Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do? you see The first requirement is that < we be convinced > that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. collission On that basis we are almost always in < collision > with may be something or somebody, even though our motives < are > good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each : person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show < ; > is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If
61 his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would wishes do as he < wished >, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonder- ful. In trying to make these arrangements our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But, as with most humans, he is more likely to have varied traits. What usually happens? The show doesn't come off very well. He begins to think life doesn't treat him right. some He decides to exert himself < > more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony? Our actor is self-centered – ego-centric, as people like to call it nowadays. He is like the retired business man who lolls in the Florida sunshine in the winter com- preacher plaining of the sad state of the nation; the < minister > who sighs over the sins of the twentieth century; politi- cians and reformers who are sure all would be Utopia
62 if the rest of the world would only behave; the outlaw safe cracker who thinks society has wronged him; and the alcoho- their lic who has lost all and is locked up. Whatever < our > these people mostly protestations are not < most of us > concerned with themselves, their their < ourselves, our > resentments, or < our > self-pity? Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes , they hurt us, seemingly < > without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made , decisions based on self < > which later placed us in a position to be hurt. So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic almost the most that could be found is < an > extreme example < > of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfish- ness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. is And there < often seems > no way of entirely getting rid Him. You may have of self without < His aid. Many of us had > moral and you can't philosophical convictions galore, but < we could not > you like live up to them even though < we > would < have liked > to. can you your Neither < could we > reduce < our > self-centeredness your You much by wishing or trying on < our > own power. < We > must < had to > have God's help. This is the how and why of it. First of all, yourself doesn't < we had to > quit playing God < >. It < didn't > decide work. Next, < we decided > that hereafter in this drama is your of life, God < was > going to be < our > Director. He is you to be agent the Principal; < we > are < > His < agents >. He is you child. Get that simple the Father, and < we > are His < children. > relationship straight. < > Most good ideas are simple, is to be and this concept < was > the keystone of the new and you will pass triumphant arch through which < we passed > to freedom.
63 you take When < we > sincerely < took > such a position, all follow. You have sorts of remarkable things < followed. We had > a new must necessarily provide Employer. Being all powerful, He < provided > you need you keep what < we needed >, if < we kept > close to Him and perform < performed > His work well. Established on such a footing you become yourself, your < we became > less and less interested in < ourselves, our > you become little plans and designs. More and more < we became > you can interested in seeing what < we could > contribute to life. you feel you enjoy As < we felt > new power flow in, as < we enjoyed > peace of you discover you can mind, as < we discovered we could > face life successfully, you become you begin as < we became > conscious of His presence, < we began > your to lose < our > fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. You will have been < We were > reborn. Get down upon your knees and say < We were now at Step Three. Many of us said > to your as you understand Him < our > Maker, < as we understood Him >: "God, I offer my- self to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!" Think . Be < We thought > well before taking this step < making > you are you can sure < we were > ready; that < we could > at last abandon yourself < ourselves > utterly to Him. It is that you make < We found it > very desirable < to take this > your decision . It < spiritual step > with an understanding person < , > may be your your your < such as our > wife, < > best friend, < or > spiritual , but remember advisor < . But > it is better to meet God alone that You must decide < than > with one who might misunderstand. < > this for yourself. of your decision is < > The wording < was >, of you express course, quite optional so long as < we expressed > the idea, decision is voicing it without reservation. This < was > only a beginning, though if honestly and humbly made, an effect, will be sometimes a very great one, < was > felt at once. launch Next we < launched > out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning,
64 you have in all probability which < many of us had > never < > your is attempted. Though < our > decision < was > a vital and can crucial step, it < could > have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, yourself have and to be rid of, the things in < ourselves > which < had > you. Your is been blocking < us. Our > liquor < was > but a symptom. Let's now basic < So we had to > get down to < > causes and conditions. you start Therefore, < we started > upon a personal inventory. This is step four < This was Step Four >. A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke. Taking a commercial inventory is a fact-finding and a fact-facing process. It is an effort Its to discover the truth about the stock-in-trade. < One > object is to disclose damaged or unsalable goods, to get rid of them promptly and without regret. If the owner of the business is to be successful, he cannot fool himself about values. do We < did > exactly the same thing with our lives. We take search < took > stock honestly. First, we < searched > out the have flaws in our make-up which < > caused our failure. Being is convinced that self, manifested in various ways, < was > has consider what < had > defeated us, we < considered > its common manifestations. Resentment is the "number one" offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. In dealing with resentments, we set them on List paper. < We listed > people, institutions or principles you are Ask yourself with whom < we were > angry. < We asked ourselves > why you are will be < we were > angry. In most cases it < was > found that your your pocketbook your < our > self-esteem, < our pocketbooks >, < our > ambitions, your , < our > personal relationships < >
65 are you are (including sex) < were > hurt or threatened. So < we were > You are sore. < We were > "burned up." your On < our > grudge list < we > set opposite each name your Is your your < our > injuries. < Was > it < our > self-esteem, < our > your your your security, < our > ambitions, < our > personal, or < > have sex relations, which < had > been interfered with? Be < We were usually > as definite as this example: I'm resentful at: The Cause Affects my: < I'm resentful at: The Cause Affects my: > Mr. Brown His attention to my Sex relations. wife. Self-esteem (fear) Told my wife of my Sex relations. mistress. Self-esteem (fear) Brown may get my Security. job at the office. Self-esteem (fear) Mrs. Jones She's a nut – she Personal relation- snubbed me. She ship. Self-esteem committed her hus- (fear) band for drinking. He's my friend. She's a gossip. My employer Unreasonable – Unjust Self-esteem (fear) – Overbearing – Security. Threatens to fire me for drinking and padding my ex- pense account. My wife Misunderstands and Pride – Personal nags. Likes Brown. sex relations Wants house put in – Security (fear) her name. Go on through the list your lifetime < We went > back through < our lives >. counts Nothing < counted > but thoroughness and honesty. When you are consider < we were > finished < we considered > it carefully. The first thing
66 to you is are apparent < was > that this world and its people < were > are often quite wrong. To conclude that others < were > wrong is get < was > as far as most of us ever < got >. The usual out- is continue you come < was > that people < continued > to wrong < us > and you stay is < we stayed > sore. Sometimes it < was > remorse and then you are yourself you < we were > sore at < ourselves >. But the more < we > fight try your < fought > and < tried > to have < our > own way, the worse get. Isn't that so? victors matters < got. > As in war, < the victor > seem Your are only < seemed > to win. < Our > moments of triumph < were > short-lived. way of It is plain that a < > life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. But with the only alcoholic < , > whose < > hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resent- find ment is infinitely grave. We < found > that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die. are must If we < were > to live, we < had to > be free of anger. are The grouch and the brainstorm < were > not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison. Turn your holds < We turned > back to < the > list, for it < held > your You must be the key to < the > future. < We were > prepared to look You will begin at it from an entirely different angle. < We began > to dominate you see that the world and its people really < dominated us >. your present In < that > state, the wrong-doing of others, has you fancied or real, < had > power to actually kill < >. shall you You see How < could we > escape? < We saw > that these resentments You cannot must be mastered, but how? < We could not > wish them away any more than alcohol. is realize at once This < was > our course: < We realized > that the wrong you are people who < wronged us were perhaps > spiritually sick.
67 you don't Though < we did not > like their symptoms and the way these disturb you yourself, are these < disturbed us >, they, like < ourselves, were > sick Ask you too. < We asked > God to help < us > show them the same you tolerance, pity, and patience that < we > would cheerfully who has cancer grant a sick friend < >. When a person next offends, say to yourself < offended we said to ourselves, > "This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done." Never argue. Never retaliate. You < We avoid retaliation or argument. We > wouldn't you do, you treat sick people that way. If < we do, we > destroy your You < our > chance of being helpful. < We > cannot be helpful you to all people, but at least God will show < us > how to take a kindly and tolerant view of each and every one. Take up your < Referring to our > list again. Putting out of your mind have < our minds > the wrongs others < had > done, < we > look your resolutely < looked > for < our > own mistakes. Where have you < had we > been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and may not be frightened? Though a situation < had not been > your entirely < our > fault, < we tried to > disregard the See where you have other person involved entirely. < Where were we to > been to blame. This is your < blame? The > inventory < was ours >, you see your fault not the other man's. When < we saw our faults we > write it down on the list. See it you < we listed them. We placed them > before < us > in Admit your black and white. < We admitted our > wrongs honestly be and < were > willing to set these matters straight. You will notice < Notice > that the word "fear" is bracketed alongside the difficulties with Mr. Brown, Mrs. Jones, your your < the > employer, and < the > wife. This short word somehow is touches about every aspect of our lives. It < was > an evil is and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence < was > sets shot through with it. It < set > in motion trains of bring feel circumstances which < brought > us misfortune we < felt > don't we < didn't > deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling? Sometimes
68 as a sin we think fear ought to be classed with stealing < >. It seems to cause more trouble. Review your Put < We reviewed our > fears thoroughly. < We put > them you have on paper, even though < we had > no resentment in connection Ask yourself you have with them. < We asked ourselves > why < we had > them. Isn't has you < Wasn't > it because self-reliance < > failed < us >? Self-reliance was good as far as it went, but it didn't go far enough. Some of us once had great self-confidence, but it didn't fully solve the fear problem, or any other. When it made us cocky, it was worse. Perhaps there is a better way – we think so. For you to go < we > are now < > on a different basis; the basis of You are to trusting and relying upon God. < We > trust infinite your self. You God rather than < our > finite < selves. We > are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that you you you < we > do as < we > think He would have < us >, and humbly you rely on Him, does He enable < us > to match calamity with serenity. You must < We > never apologize to anyone for depending your You upon < our > Creator. < We > can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness. Paradoxically, it is the way of strength. The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust Never their God. < We never > apologize for God. Instead you < we > let Him demonstrate, through < us >, what He can Ask your do. < We ask > Him to remove < our > fear and direct your you < our > attention to what He would have < us > be. At you will once, < we > commence to outgrow fear. You can probably stand Now about sex. < Many of us need > an overhauling We needed it. let's there. < > But above all, < we try to > be sensible on this question. It's so easy to get way off the track. Here we find human opinions running to extremes – absurd extremes, perhaps. One set of voices cry that sex is a lust of our lower nature, a base necessity of procreation.
69 Then we have the voices who cry for sex and more sex; who bewail the institution of marriage; who think that most of the troubles of the race are traceable to sex causes. They think we do not have enough of it, or that it isn't the right kind. They see its significance everywhere. One school would allow man no flavor for his fare and the other would have us all on a straight pepper diet. We want to stay out of this controversy. We do not want to be the arbiter of anyone's sex conduct. We all have sex problems. We'd hardly be human if we didn't. What can we do about them? Review your < We reviewed our > own conduct over the years past. have you Where < had we > been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate? did you you Whom < had we > hurt? Did < we > unjustifiably arouse you jealousy, suspicion or bitterness? Where < > were < we > you Get at fault, what should < we > have done instead? < We got > look this all down on paper and < looked > at it. you can In this way < we tried to > shape a sane and sound your Subject ideal for < our > future sex life. < We subjected > each is relation to this test – < was > it selfish or not? Ask your you < We asked > God to mold < our > ideals and help < us > to Remember your live up to them. < We remembered > always that < our > sex are , powers < were > God-given < > and therefore good, neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and loathed. your may you Whatever < our > ideal < turns out to > be, < we > You must be willing to grow toward it. < We > must be willing you to make amends where < we > have done harm, provided that you will < we do > not bring about still more harm in so doing. you In other words, < we > treat sex as < we > would any other you problem. In meditation, < we > ask God what < we > should do about each specific matter. The right answer will come, you if < we > want it. your God alone can judge < our > sex situation. Counsel with
70 persons is often desirable, but < we > let God be the final Remember judge. < We realize > that some people are as fanatical Avoid about sex as others are loose. < We avoid > hysterical thinking or advice. you Suppose < we > fall short of the chosen ideal and . you stumble < ? > Does this mean < we > are going to get drunk? will you If they do, it will be Some people < > tell < us > so. < But this is > you your only a half-truth. It depends on < us > and < on our > motive you you < motives >. If < we > are sorry for what < we > have done, you and have the honest desire to let God take < us > to better you things, < we believe we > will be forgiven and will have your you your learned < our > lesson. If < we > are not sorry, and < our > you conduct continues to harm others, < we > are quite sure to drink. We are not theorizing. These are facts out of our experience. To sum up about sex: < We > earnestly pray for the right ideal, for guidance in each questionable situation, for sanity, and for the strength to do the right thing. yourself If sex is very troublesome, < we > throw < ourselves > Think the harder into helping others. < We think > of their needs will take you yourself and work for them. This < takes us > out of < ourselves >. will quiet It < quiets > the imperious urge, when to yield would mean heartache. you your If < we > have been thorough about < our > personal you by this time inventory, < we > have written down a lot < >. You your < We > have listed and analyzed < our > resentments. You < We > have begun to comprehend their futility and their You fatality. < We > have commenced to see their terrible You destructiveness. < We > have begun to learn tolerance, your patience and good will toward all men, even < our > enemies, you know to be You for < we look on > them < as > sick people. < We > have you your listed the people < we > have hurt by < our > conduct, and you you < > are willing to straighten out the past if < we > can. God In this book you read again and again that < faith > did
71 for us what we could not do for ourselves. We hope you are He the convinced now that < God > can remove < whatever > self-will that You < > has blocked you off from Him. < If you > have your . You have made < already > made < a > decision < , and > an the you have. You inventory of < your > grosser handicaps < , you > , for have made a good beginning < . That being so > you have swallowed and digested some big chunks of truth about Are you willing to go on? yourself. < >
e-aa discussion of How It Works