Introduction To CAIR Self-Help Groups
Read at the beginning of each meeting
Changing Attitudes in Recovery (C.A.I.R.) is a self-help group of people committed to learning a healthier way of living which we call New Program. This commitment is both to ourselves and to others who desire such changes. Anyone is welcome to join C.A.I.R. groups, regardless of the problems that lead to the desire for change. New Program is a set of attitudes, beliefs and principles that help us live a more recovering life.
The Fundamental Principles of New Program include a growing commitment to the following attitudes:
- Being non-judgmental, open, and accurate.
- Believing that we are all Fallible Human Beings;
- Understanding that we react to life through our perceptual filters rather than directly to "reality";
- Acknowledging and accepting the Reality of the Present;
- Believing in Mutual Respect and Valuing;
- Nurturing a healthy parenting relationship with the "wounded inner child";
- Nurturing a growing relationship with a Loving Higher Power;
- Maintaining a continuing commitment to recovery, both our own and others.
The process of exercising the wisdom of these principles in our daily lives builds the muscles of our New Program Adult. Growth is uncomfortable, clumsy and slow….but it is possible!
C.A.I.R. self-help groups are not therapy! We try to create a safe place to practice and share New Program with others who are also committed to learning. The safety comes from not judging (either ourselves or others), respecting the confidentiality of all material shared in meetings (what’s said here stays here!), and honoring the anonymity of all members. The safety also comes from a commitment to Mutual Respect and Valuing at all times during the meeting. There is no place for direct advice from one member to another during the meeting. Choice is respected at all times. Mutual respect calls for all members to focus on the topic being discussed (no cross-talk). It is important that we bring these feelings and attitudes with us to the meetings. It is an active bringing rather than a passive finding.
It is the goal of C.A.I.R. to provide this safe place to learn and practice the tools that help the New Program Adult to grow and develop. All members are encouraged to support the New Program Adult of other members during the meeting. When we are coming from our "wounded" position, we are given respect, support and encouragement to help activate our New Program Adult. There is no judgment given! We can all have faith in each others’ ability and ultimate willingness to embrace New Program.
This faith is shown by acknowledging sharing from others, sharing from our own personal experiences and brain-storming tools from the Recovery Tool Box and principles from New Program. No member is to be put on the spot or directly confronted. Sharing with other members needs to be in the form of "I" messages rather than "you" messages. We need to respect the need for silences at times in the meeting while we consider what is being shared.
There are two chairpersons at each meeting who take responsibility to start and end the meeting on time and help guide the group discussion. The chairpersons are not therapists. Other than a willingness to take on the responsibility of being the guardians of the "safety", the chairpersons are no different than any other member at the meeting. The chairpersons will respond to any concerns that may arise during the meeting using the C.A.I.R. Handbook for guidance and direction. The chairperson positions will rotate among the members.
C.A.I.R. group meetings last an hour and a half. The first hour of the meeting is held with all members present in one group. This is the more structured learning period. Sections of the Handbook are read aloud and discussed by the members. We are all encouraged to share examples from our lives to help us understand the principles better. Issues and questions of New Program are discussed with an attitude of "brainstorming."
After the hour of more structured learning, we break into small groups to informally discuss issues related to our growth into recovery. It is a time for sharing and supporting each other in our learning process. The same "safety" is sought in the small group discussions.
Mutual respect requires that the C.A.I.R. group meetings observe a no-smoking policy. There is no cost to participate in C.A.I.R. groups except to care about ourselves and others at the meeting and to have an honest desire for recovery.