AA: Is Tough Love Relevant?

The Shift in Tone in AA Meetings

In the earlier days of AA, the practice of “tough love and ego smashing” was common. Today, this approach has largely given way to a softer, more compassionate tone. While some members favor this change, others do not. This change from a more abrasive atmosphere, characterized by jocularity and ribbing, to a compassionate one where the newcomer is highly regarded, has caused a significant shift in the AA culture.

Understanding the Differences among Alcoholics

It is not the purpose of this piece to argue which approach is superior. Both methods have merit and, depending on the individual’s personality, either could lead to lifelong sobriety. People, including alcoholics, are unique, each wired differently. Therefore, this piece focuses on urging AA members to be more thoughtful and compassionate during this peculiar time, despite differing opinions and approaches.

The World’s Unprecedented Psychological Challenges

We are currently facing unprecedented psychological challenges worldwide, akin to a global war. The uncertainty of how and when things will stabilize, coupled with unknown financial implications, has led to widespread anxiety. Despite some regarding this situation as exaggerated, credible sources like the Mayo Clinic highlight the significant impact of COVID-19 on mental health.

The Need for Empathy in Communication

AA members with a strong program should seize the opportunity to exercise more empathy during meetings. Before speaking, one must pause and bear in mind the possibility of attendees who are genuinely struggling. The changes brought by the pandemic, such as restricted movement, reduced human contact, financial struggles, and the adaptation to digital platforms like Zoom, have posed significant challenges even to the mentally robust.

Avoiding Insensitivity in Sharing

Throughout the years, instances of sharing from a place of selfishness, denial, and ego, rather than love, compassion, and wisdom, have occurred. The current global crisis calls for a change in this behavior. As we navigate the pandemic and its consequential economic shutdown, we should avoid expressing extreme positivity or growth without considering the varying experiences of others. Some members might not be as fortunate, and the crisis is far from over.

Conclusion: Practice Kindness and Compassion

As we continue to endure these challenging times, let us emphasize kindness and gratitude by showing compassion rather than insensitivity in our sharing. Our empathy might be the support someone needs to maintain their sobriety another day.