Four Ways To Trick Yourself Into Going To Meetings

meeting roomIn every 12 Step Program, one of  the major suggestions for success is attending meetings. And for the most part, that’s pretty good advice.

It’s not always easy to follow, as you probably already know.

In fact, I don’t know anyone with any time in Program who hasn’t experienced resistance and reluctance to going to meetings. Typically the approach offered as help by others is to just bear down and go to a meeting no matter what. That’s an approach that can work.

There is, however, a gentler way that may last longer, and that’s to trick yourself to going to a series of meetings. Here are four ways you can trick yourself into going to a meeting:

Volunteer for some task at the meeting – agree to become secretary or treasurer or cleanup crew or coffee maker or time keeper or literature person or greeter or take some other position in or at the meeting to help yourself get there every week, or at least more often. I’ve done this fairly often and had it work well. I tend to keep my word so agreeing to take care of literature for three months means I’ll get to that meeting on a regular basis.

Arrange for a regular meeting before the meeting, or after – some programs suggest things like pressure relief and/or action meetings. I find these work best when I do them on a regular basis. Agreeing to have or give such a meeting before or after a meeting is another way to help yourself get to the meeting. And it doesn’t have to be a program related meeting either.

Make a deal with a program friend – agree with a program friend, or even with your sponsor or sponsee to attend a particular meeting every week for a month, or two months, etc. We do love to please people and to keep our agreements and this trick can help both of you.

Bribe yourself – promise yourself some reward or treat that you can only have if and after you’ve attended a meeting. It might be a food reward, or a trip to library or to the book store or a coffee shop – you get the idea. Getting in the habit of rewarding ourselves isn’t a bad habit to get into, and it’s a totally legitimate way to reinforce a positive habit. Just make sure you’re not eating the wrong thing or too much, or spending too much money as a reward.

Usually the resistance to going to meetings will pass if you give yourself a way to get to meetings in spite of not wanting to go.

Your turn. How do you make sure you get to meetings? Do you have ways of tricking yourself into going? We’d like to hear about you ideas.

Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by vastateparksstaff

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Mellissa July 20, 2013 at 5:28 am

After 25 years of sobriety, I still love meetings. Yes, there are nights I don’t want to go and when I changed cities, I didn’t go for about 3 months. But soon I felt like I was going a bit crazy and found a regular meeting again. I learned my lesson though and when I relocated back to my home town, I didn’t waste any time in getting back. I make two meetings a week, which is more or less minimal: one regular open meeting and one women’s step meeting. But meeting with any of my sponsees feels like an AA meeting to me and service responsibilities are on top of that, too.
I certainly agree that taking on a responsibility in a group is a great way to ensure meeting attendance, but I’ve seen it backfire too! Some (usually a newcomer) will say they are going to take on a position but if they miss one meeting, it seems they’re too ashamed to come back. Sometimes we’re pretty “all-or-nothing” about everything!
I was taught not to think of helping in AA as “volunteering”. Instead, I call it being in or of service. (In the same vein, I don’t like to call my 7th Tradition contribution a “donation” – being self-supporting is different than accepting charity.)
I like meetings because I almost always – 99.9% of the time – come out feeling better than when I went in. In all my time in AA (and in and out of other Fellowships), I can think of only 3 or 4 meetings where I felt worse coming out than when I walked in. It’s not hard to put myself in the way of feeling better.
I think it was my second sponsor who said, “The only time you don’t have to go to a meeting is when you want to go!”
Thanks Anne, for your thoughtful posts. Keep it up!

annew July 22, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Mellissa, I think you’re right and I’m sure I’ve seen people not keep volunteer commitments and fail to come back because of the shame… I get to one 12 step meeting a week about. Sometimes I love ’em and sometimes I don’t.

martin vivek November 6, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Hello, my name is Martin Vivek. I was on your site, and noticed you list along with a few other important resources. This was the page

AA has been so important to my family, and helping my brother get on the right path.

I actually put together a site that is compiling all the meetings throughout the US. It is on and I would be honored if you listed it, or shared it as well.

Thank you so much again, and keep up the great work!

annew February 9, 2014 at 10:27 pm

thanks Martin!

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