Written By: Katie Schipper
Clichés are those really annoying phrases we hear so often that they lose all meaning. We hear them often in twelve-step meetings. Clichés are repeated because they’re recognizable and often seem to be a go to for old-timers and sponsors.
AA has a lot of clichés! It’s easy to look at them as annoying, but in reality most of them have a lot of weight and meaning. Sometimes, we just have to hear them in the right context. When that happens, something clicks. What was once a played out cliché becomes something valuable. So, get over your resentment and start to learn why some clichés are important!
AA Clichés – Giving Them Back Their Meaning
Most of the go-to phrases in AA can be found posted on the wall of any clubhouse or meeting room. Let Go and Let God seems to be a good place to start. This cliché is an easy target because it’s an over-simplification of something that most alcoholics are miserably bad at doing – giving up control! So, the natural tendency is to hear this and sneer.
For us alcoholics, the fact is the truth is almost always simple. We don’t have a complicated solution. What we’ve found over and over again, and is shown in both our addiction stories and our sober transformations, is that we’re at our worst when we’re grabbing for control. So, this simple cliché, to let go of our desperate need to control not just what’s in front of us, but even our drive to control outcomes, turns out to be powerful. Let God take the wheel. That’s simple, but like everything else in AA, just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.
So, next time you hear someone say Let Go and Let God in a meeting, think about what that really means. Think about how beautiful it is when that cliché works in our lives.
Another cliché that’s almost impossible for newcomers to make sense of is One Day at a Time. Like letting go, learning to make a home in the present moment is an endless gift.
One of the hurdles that frequently emerges in early-sobriety is the concept of not getting stuck in the future. To quote a wise Jedi Knight, one should always be mindful of the future, but never at the expense of the present moment. This idea is the crux of this cliché. One Day at a Time also goes beyond present moment awareness, to the ever-present and inescapable fact that every sober person has a daily reprieve. We’re only sober insofar as we put in the work to not pick up a drink or a drug, today. Tomorrow, we’ll get the chance to try all over again.
The list of clichés could go on and on (and on and on and on), but the bigger idea is to realize that even if a slogan’s annoying, or doesn’t have personal value to you, it comes from a meaningful place. As for those rare slogans that are just stupid? Well, we can ignore those!