by Rick R.

“We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us” (Alcoholics Anonymous,  p. 84). How many times in your life have you been faced with a decision and you did not know what to do about it? Then a day and a half later, you awakened in the middle of the night, sat up in bed, and said to yourself, “Aha,” then went right back to sleep? Somehow the answer came to you without having to go through days of research.

In the early days of 1970, I was going through a course on human behavior. The instructor was trying to describe how the brain functions. He explained that the human brain has approximately ten billion cells and we only use about one billion of them. He then explained that these cells store everything we experience in our lifetime. The more current events are easier to remember than the things that are off in the distant past, but they are all in there somewhere.

It does not get any simpler than the mental file cabinet theory

He then likened it to a file system where, if you ask a question, the more current answers come immediately. But for those more distant memories, the brain starts searching the files and it may take a while. Eventually the answer will come.

With all the mental chaos that we bring with us when we enter the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program, we have lot of unlearning to do. We go through the process of trying to rid ourselves of alcoholic thinking and to replace it with sound principles and values. If we are fortunate enough to buy in completely, and do a thorough job of house-cleaning, we start using the ideas that we hear about others using successfully. We can get a surprisingly good results.

We may hear as many as twenty or thirty people share at any given meeting. Can we remember everything we hear? To me, the answer is yes. I could come up with a dozen boilerplate AA clichés about how the answers come to me, but it does not get any simpler than the mental file cabinet theory. Sometimes it seems to me that I am learning when I am not even listening, almost like getting it through osmosis.

there is a curtain-like screen between the conscious and subconscious mind

If you have ever heard of the police trying to get a witness to remember a license plate number by hypnotizing that person, you understand what I mean. The answer is in the subconscious and there is a curtain-like screen between the conscious and subconscious mind. This is what keeps us from going mad due to the busy-ness of it all.

We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace

I never underestimate the capacity of my mind when it comes to problem solving. Attending AA meetings on a regular basis and interacting with people who have had similar experiences and found similar solutions to their problems gives me an encouraging outlook for the future. Many of the answers that I am seeking are right in front of my face and some are deeper in the file cabinet.

Most of the time, when faced with the dilemma that is causing me distress, I can refer a simple request of my higher power: “God, please show me what to do and please give me the strength to do it.” I do not do well on my own. It is surprising how often I awake in the middle of the night, say “aha,” and go back to sleep again. It seems that intuitively the answers come.

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