Nowhere in the Steps or literature does it say that we will become financially wealthy and successful because we are sober with money. What the DA literature does say in the promises is (#4): “We will begin to live a prosperous life, unencumbered by fear, worry, resentment, or debt.” and (#7): “We will recognize that there is enough; our resources will be generous and we will share them with others and with DA.” The AA promises say on page 84 of the Big Book is that fear of people and of economic insecurity may leave us.
Prosperity and abundance don’t always take the form of cash and worldly success. In my own case, I am blessed with a great living situation that I could never have afforded on my own, a car to drive, and an abundance of creativity that I am now able to express in ways that I never previously imagined! In addition, I no longer debt and in just over three years, have paid down over half the debt I came into program carrying.
Let’s analyze these three statements from DA and AA:
DA Promise #4: “We will begin to live a prosperous life, unencumbered by fear, worry, resentment, or debt.”
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines prosperity as: “the condition of being successful or thriving; especially : economic well-being”
I am currently on disability, yet I feel I have economic well-being because all of my needs are met and some of my desires as well even though I do not have a huge amount of money coming in monthly. Further, I am thriving and successful creatively.
In the past, I viewed success as only being paid a lot to do work I love. Now that I am unable to work, I have learned to view success as being able to be of service in ways that I love.
Thriving is about being creatively fulfilled. Because of my disability, I was led to art as an expression of my creativity and now feel that I am thriving because of the artwork I create daily for myself as an expression of that creativity.
Further, my life feels meaningful because of writing this blog. I make no money from it, yet, the joy it brings me to share my experience, strength, and hope are profound. And my reason for doing it is to be of service, not to profit. This is a huge shift in my thinking.
As for the “unencumbered by … debt,” that will surely happen eventually if you don’t incur new unsecured debt and you pay down your existing debt.
For some in DA, prosperity does manifest through money and work. And for many of us, that is one reason we initially come into this program. There is nothing wrong with that. And when we see such success come to others in DA, it gives us Faith and Hope that we, too, will achieve our dreams by staying sober with money.
I’m only suggesting that if you haven’t yet received those types of gifts, or, like me, you have become disabled while being in DA, perhaps you can look at other ways you have prospered through working DA. The dreams I came in with do not compare to the gifts I have received.
DA Promise #7: “We will recognize that there is enough; our resources will be generous and we will share them with others and with DA.”
Grasping and craving are two defects I am working on removing with my Higher Power’s help. Before program, I blindly craved. Now, I am fully aware that when I crave what I don’t yet have, I become “restless, irritable, and discontented” (from The Doctor’s Opinion), which is a dangerous state for an addict. When I am jealous of what others have that I don’t (material or success-wise), it causes me discomfort and I move away from the Spirit.
Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for disaster. But if you do find yourself doing so, don’t forget that there are always people who have a lot less than you, even when you are facing a financial crisis.
When I remember that I have my needs met for today and know that I have enough, I feel more peaceful. It is normal to have fear under certain financial circumstances, but with the work we do in DA, we can help each other climb out of those pits.
An attitude that you can find the way through a seemingly insurmountable financial crisis can be about Faith, knowing that others before you have come through soberly. Once you have experienced your own example of getting through a crisis without debting, you will then be brought to Belief, and can then then generously share your experience, strength, and hope with others in DA.
When I remember that what is mine will come to me and there is plenty of room in this universe for each person’s unique success and achievements, I can feel joy for their success and turn my eyes back on how I can be of service. For me, I have had to let go of trying to achieve worldly and financial success in order to find peace, joy, and meaning in my life because chasing after success was destroying my body and soul. Now, I can say that I have a meaningful life, ironically, because all that stress led me to my illness, which made me have to let go of everything I thought I believed about success and achievement.
Like many addicts, I chased after the big life, the big dream. Now, I have a very, very small life, and am finding more meaning than at any time chasing the elusive big one that nearly killed me.
From the Promises on page 84 of the AA Big Book: “Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.”
Finally, this promise doesn’t say we will stop having financial insecurity. It says that our fear of it will leave us. And Fear, for me is one big, fat defect. It has to do with craving for me. Getting what I want in the future. If I live in the present, I can let go of what will happen in the future.
If you find yourself fearing a future financial catastrophe, bring yourself back to this present moment and become aware of what is happening right now. Focusing on the past, which no longer exists, and the future, which hasn’t happened, is a huge waste of our time on earth and a distraction from the work you could be doing today to achieve your goals.
All we have is each passing moment. Being as present as you can today is the best use of our time. So when you find yourself in fear about the future, instead focus on what you can do today to create the life you want.