The Trauma Recovery Institute


We would like to replace the word “selfish” which is much misunderstood as used in 12 step programs. It conjures up negative ideas- taking without concern for others, synonymous with grasping, greedy and mean. This is not the meaning we wish to convey when we tell the newcomer “it’s a selfish programme’.
It is easy to confuse selfishness with self-centeredness- the complete opposite of any 12 step program concept. Self centered people are hollow. The constantly manipulate others in an attempt to fulfill their needs for love, care or attention. Those who are self-caring have concern for others but not at the expense of themselves.
They allow others to look after themselves and at the same time see that their own physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs are met. They get enough sleep, good food and exercise so they have strong healthy bodies. They find mental stimulations to keep their minds alert. They do what is necessary to remain spiritually healthy.
They talk things over with a sponsor to learn how to deal with unruly emotions. And they spend time with people who like and respect them so they can remain emotionally stable. They do not expect any one person or group of people to meet all their needs. Instead of being self-centered, self-caring people can be ‘other centered’. The are able to care for others because they recongnise and find the love and attention they themselves need. They do things for others because they want to, not to get something in return.  They act without fear of what others will think, for their satisfaction lies in the action itself, not in the reaction of other people. They share their love with others and are able to accept love in return.
Self-caring people have found serenity. They know they are neither marvelous nor insignificant. The world does not rest on their shoulders. They are important without being indispensable. They maintain their own worth and allow others the dignity of making their own mistakes and claiming their own successes. Self caring people have found humility. They have accepted themselves and others as they really are, with all their faults and strengths. From now on when we are trying to explain Al Anon to people who are not familiar with the programme, we’ll use the term ‘self caring’ in place of ‘selfish’. And we’ll continue to become more self-caring so they can see good examples of what we are describing.

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