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July 1965

The Image Scrimmage

An AA old-timer reflects on self-knowledge

REMINISCING with an old friend, I recalled an occasion forty-odd years ago when both of us had been in a teenage audience to which a young clergyman had spoken. Truth and sincerity had been his suggested guidelines for a significant life. Know yourself, accept yourself, improve yourself, control yourself and, above all, be yourself. Such had been the substance of his remarks.

We were comparing this with the present day when so much emphasis is given to the 'image' we create. To get ahead in life young people are told to win friends and influence people. In this process of angle playing, truth and sincerity would seem to be downed on the line of scrimmage. In our concentration on the project of influencing others, we frequently lose sight of the one person we are best able to influence. To that person, yourself, you also bear the greatest responsibility. Unless maximum results are obtained with yourself, maximum help to others is impossible.

In our Fellowship we come to know ourselves. Our fearless self-inventory reaches that objective with the understanding help and reminders we receive from others who are like us. Having reached some measure of truth in that respect, we move on to acceptance, tying up the package through our honest confessions to one another. Then we start our self-improvement program through top effort on our own part, knowing that the Higher Power, which we humbly ask to remove our character defects, is more likely to help those who help themselves.

In our constant effort for greater maturity, we seek to control ourselves ever more firmly, recognizing that some of our weaknesses are here to stay! Mere knowledge of them avails nothing unless we invoke discipline to interpret that knowledge in our daily lives. Finally, we try to be ourselves.

The achievement of most of us in being ourselves is certainly far from perfect. Knowing that gap between what we really are and what we seem to be, or pretend to be, is probably the toughest assignment we undertake. Our sincerity depends on the outcome of that effort. When we realize that our sobriety may also hang in the balance, the importance of the job assumes its proper magnitude.

Know yourself, accept yourself, improve yourself, control yourself and be yourself. There must be some sound advice in those words which have lingered in memory for forty-odd years. We know a member of this Fellowship who gets around a great deal. Whenever he is asked about his line of work, he always replies, "My life is my work and belatedly I'm giving my best effort to it."

Your most important job is always yourself.

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