I was in middle school when my mom dragged me to my first Alateen meeting. No, this was not because I was a thirteen-year-old alcoholic. Alateen is a program intended to provide a space for teenagers affected by the disease of Alcoholism in a family member or close friend. I resisted at first, horrified by the prospect of sharing my personal business with complete strangers, but over time, I learned Alateen was about so much more than venting or complaining.
Through Alateen, I learned a set of valuable skills about handling challenges which I use in all areas of my life, not just when interacting with Alcoholics. The Alateen steps and slogans were adopted from Alcoholics Anonymous when the program was created, In my first year of college, I have found myself turning to these slogans and steps when stressed about my workload, navigating friendship drama or even processing the constant stream of devastating news coverage like border agents shooting tear gas into Mexico or the humanitarian crisis in Yemen which America is supporting by providing weapons to Saudi Arabia. It is needless to say, we all need a little serenity. And I'm grateful to Alateen and Alanon for helping me find it.
1. The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the Serenity
to Accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can
and Wisdom to know the difference.
First of all, I want to explain that in Alateen by "God," we mean a God of your understanding. This can be a religious God or it can be something like nature, music or really any power greater than yourself (as long as it isn't another person). An acronym which we use for GOD is "Good, Orderly, Direction" so feel free to substitute that in if you'd like.
For me, this is used more like a mantra than a prayer. It helps me differentiate my role in a situation, empowering me in some contexts and helping me to relieve my anxiety in other contexts. For example, during finals season I become super anxious about my grades. After my final exams are over, the Serenity Prayer reminds me to accept the situation and make peace with the fact that I've done my best.
2. The Tenth Step
"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it."
Most people think of Alcoholics Anonymous's steps as a way to recover from Alcoholism, and while they still serve this purpose for many people, they have also been adopted as general ways to ignite a journey of personal growth. This particular step is important to me because I think that personal accountability promotes maturity, strengthening my relationships. I struggle with my perfectionist complex, and sometimes this makes it easy for me to deny my mistakes. The Tenth Step reminds me to admit when I'm wrong, and grow from my errors.
P.S. This one is particularly helpful for romantic relationships. Accountability is sexy, and self-awareness about your mistakes makes your significant other feel heard. I know it's hard to admit when you're wrong, but it can lead to some great conversations which is essential because communication is the key to success in maintaining a healthy relationship.
3. "One Day at a Time"
This is a stand-alone slogan which may seem simple, but I assure you it's ridiculously powerful. I use this to combat that feeling of "Oh my god, I'm so overwhelmed, I have a million things to do, barely time to breath, blah blah blah." You know the one.
"One Day at a Time" reminds me to stay in the moment, instead of stressing about the future or worrying about the past. Living in the present can often require modifying the slogan to "One Moment at a Time" which I used just this week to help me prioritize which items on my to-do list were the most pressing. It's important to remember that sometimes, the answer is washing your face, going to the gym or even going to sleep. The slogan reminds me to stop and assess myself, physically, mentally and emotionally in order to make healthy decisions.
These are only a few of the many wonderful lessons which Alateen and Alanon have taught me. If you want to learn more about the program, feel free to visit their website or check out their Tools for Recovery Page.