You are not alone
Emotions Anonymous (EA) is a fellowship of people who share their experiences, feelings, strengths, weaknesses, and hopes with one another in order to solve their emotional problems and to discover a way to live at peace with unsolved problems. We come to EA to learn to live a new way of life by using the twelve-step program. Through it, we find serenity and acquire peace of mind.
Everyone is welcome in EA. All that is needed to join us is a desire to become emotionally healthy. We have discovered no one is unique in the problems or illnesses they are experiencing. The inability to cope with life can affect people of all ages and from all types of backgrounds. Emotional illness does not discriminate because of age, sex, religion, race, income, or occupation. We may have come to EA simply because life was uncomfortable and we were looking for a better way. Or, we may have been in the depths of despair, been in therapy or even hospitalized. We may have found ourselves dependent on medication, other drugs, or alcohol.
The symptoms which led us to seek help are diverse. These can include depression, anxiety, relationship or work problems, inability to cope with reality, or psychosomatic ailments. It is often the opinion of health care professionals that many physical illnesses are aggravated or caused by emotions. It is important to remember, however, that not all symptoms are caused by emotions. It is best to see a doctor to ensure your symptoms are not caused by a physical illness.
We use the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, which we have adapted for people with emotional problems. We follow the Twelve Steps because they tell what people before us have done to become emotionally well. The steps are written in past tense as statements of actions already taken, attitudes already learned, and feelings already expressed - all of which have brought recovery to others. Thousands of people have gained emotional health by applying these steps in their lives.
The Twelve Steps are goals toward which we work and the measuring stick by which we estimate our progress. At first we found we did not completely understand the steps or how to apply them to our lives. Much of the thinking contained in them was totally foreign to many of us. The important thing is that we try each day to understand the steps better and to practice them in our daily lives, one day at a time. There is no right or wrong way to work this program; members practice this twelve-step program in their own individual ways.
Emotions Anonymous is supported by contributions from our members as well as from the sale of EA books and literature. No financial support is accepted from outside sources. Money is needed to maintain our program; however, no dues or fees are required in order to come to our meetings. Donations are collected at each meeting to cover expenses such as rent and literature. After group expenses are paid, the remainder is contributed to EA's International Service Center and the local intergroup to support the other services of our fellowship which carry our message of hope to others worldwide.
Because we are an anonymous organization, we identify ourselves by first names only. It does not matter to whom we are related, where we live, or where we work. Anonymity gives us the freedom to share our thoughts and feelings at meetings because what is said there is not to be repeated to anyone.
Practicing anonymity also means using only first names when representing EA in the press, on radio and television, or in any other public forum. This assures that no one member can or does speak for the entire Emotions Anonymous program. Through anonymity, the focus remains on the EA program rather than on the person sharing our message.
Emotions Anonymous is non-professional. Our meetings are not run by doctors, therapists, social workers, or any other professionals. People in these professions may attend EA meetings, but they are there for personal recovery like everyone else and not to conduct the meetings in a professional capacity. Members take turns leading the meetings because we are all equal with no one being more important than another.
At our meetings we discuss the program and how it helps us daily in our recovery. We do not discuss religion, politics, national or international issues, or other belief systems or policies. EA has no opinion on these outside issues nor on any therapy, medication, or mental health issue. It is up to individual members whether professional counseling is appropriate for them. We offer only our EA program.
Emotions Anonymous is a spiritual program; it is not a religious program. It may seem that the terms spiritual and religious are synonymous, but they are not. Religious means following specific teachings or the doctrines of established religious groups. Spiritual indicates a belief in something which is greater than oneself which can be a source of power for change in our lives. The steps suggest a belief in a power greater than ourselves, and we can define this however we want. For example, this can be the group, nature, the universe, a Higher Power, the God of our own understanding, or any entity a member may choose. The program does not tell us what we must believe; it is up to each of us to determine that for ourselves. People of many different religions as well as those of no religion are members of EA.
In EA literature, we use gender-neutral language. However, in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions God is referred to in masculine terms because Alcoholics Anonymous, who granted us permission to adapt their steps and traditions to our program, views these as historic writings that should remain unchanged. EA members are free to use whatever term and gender is most helpful in developing a relationship to a power greater than themselves.
At meetings we learn that symptoms and backgrounds do not matter. We do not judge what anyone has done in the past, nor do we diagnose or give advice on personal or family matters. We take response ability only for our own emotional recovery. We do not try to cure or change others but, instead, extend love and acceptance. Being accepted by others can be the beginning of learning to accept ourselves. As we listen to other members, we discover things about ourselves. We are amazed to hear people describe the very feelings we thought were unique in ourselves. Eventually we lose our amazement and realize how much like others we are. We no longer feel alone, and we begin to act upon the knowledge we have gained. We attempt to make changes in our lives which will bring us emotional well-being.
The program does not work overnight. It has usually taken years for us to reach the point where we are willing to seek help, and it is unrealistic to expect immediate results. At first we experience hope by observing others who were like us and who found help through Emotions Anonymous. Then, as we begin to practice the Twelve Steps, we find our lives begin to change. As we grow in the program, we experience a peace not known before.
If you are not as happy as you would like to be, or if you have tried other methods of help and still feel something is missing, we invite you to read this book. In it we share our experiences; how we once were, what we did, and how we are today after practicing the twelve-step program of Emotions Anonymous.
We invite you to attend our weekly meetings. We hope you will find them warm and friendly. We believe weekly meetings are very important for achieving and maintaining emotional health. You may find a phone number for Emotions Anonymous in your local phone book, in the support group listings in newspapers, or from community referral agencies. You may write Emotions Anonymous, International Service Center, P.O. Box4245, St. Paul, MN 55104-0245, for assistance in locating the nearest EA group. Call our International Service Center for information at (651) 647-9712 or send a fax to (651) 647-1593. If there is no group in your area, our staff will send you materials on starting one or inform you about EA members who communicate by mail.
We hope you will join us!
(excerpt from the
book, Emotions Anonymous, available through http://www.emotionsanonymous.org/)