Sponsorship is a mutual and confidential sharing between two Al-Anon members. Having a Sponsor is a valuable aid to personal understanding and use of the Al-Anon program of recovery.
Most Sponsors do everything possible to work the Twelve Steps, carrying the message and practicing the Al-Anon principles in all aspects of the relationships with the persons they sponsor.
- Guide sponsees in the understanding and application of the Steps.
- Show by personal example how the program can lead to serenity.
- Encourage members to attend meetings, read the literature, and apply the tools of the program.
- Explain the Al-Anon principle of anonymity.
- Keep in regular contact by telephone or in person, and whenever possible be available when special problems arise.
- A Sponsor listens for two reasons — to allow the member to release his or her burden of trouble, and to help the Sponsor recognize the areas where help is most needed.
- Listens not for the details of crises, but for signs of self-pity, fear, resentment, or negative thinking.
- Listens for the things left unsaid, things not easily talked about. Sharing personal experience may help clarify another’s problems.
- Listens for opportunities to apply Al-Anon principles and to explain the concept of alcoholism as a family illness
- Never gives advice or makes decisions for a sponsee, particularly about family situations.
- Refrains from imposing personal views; instead encourages the member to grow at his or her own rate and practice the program in his or her own way.
- Provides patience, understanding open-mindedness, and flexibility while not “killing with kindness” or being so helpful that we render the sponsee helpless.
- Avoids dwelling on personal problems, but shares experience, strength, and hope of personal recovery.
- Realizes that a Sponsor is only one channel for Al-Anon’s message of hope, and avoid thinking that it is necessary to know all the answers.
There are no requirements for Al-Anon sponsorship
It helps to choose someone who is committed to using the program in his or her own life, and who can share experience, strength, and hope as a result of practicing the Twelve Steps.
Having close, personal support between meetings can help members apply the tools of the program to their lives. It’s wonderful to have someone to turn to who already knows our story, who has made a commitment to be there to listen and share with us, who can offer a different perspective on our situations, who respects our privacy and will keep what we say absolutely confidential. Between Al-Anon meetings, we can call our sponsor when we face a difficult situation, achieve a goal, feel confused, or just want to talk.
Although most of Al-Anon’s principles and techniques involve simple, easy-to-grasp ideas, slogans, or actions, knowing when and how to put them to work in our lives can be very confusing, and Sponsor can be a great help.
When looking for a Sponsor, it sometimes helps to attend several different Al-Anon meetings in order to come into contact with a variety of members.
Below is a list of things to look for when selecting a Sponsor:
- Has been involved with Al-Anon for some time
- Is familiar enough with the program to help us learn to apply it to our own lives
- Is actively trying to apply the Al-Anon program to his or her life
- Works the Twelve Steps
- Observes the Twelve Traditions
- Is active in service work
- Reads Al-Anon literature
- Uses the slogans
- Seems to share from the heart
It is up to both members to establish the relationship.
When am I ready to be a sponsor?
Whenever we are ready to give a warm welcome and an understanding heart to another, we are ready to be a sponsor.
Many members feel it is easier to sponsor after making headway in addressing our own problems. Understanding and patience, coupled with a willingness to devote time and care to a special relationship, are equally important.
Many of us feel ready to become sponsors when our attitude toward the problems that brought us to Al-Anon or Alateen has changed from one of anxiety and hopelessness to one of faith and assurance.
Being a sponsor
When we recall the relief we felt when someone agreed to be our sponsor, we may feel grateful enough to offer the gift to someone else. We know what the person is seeking—our strength, our hope, and our experience.
We may be concerned that we do not know enough, we are not ready. Those of us who have taken the time to sit quietly, to carefully consider whether or not we should respond to another members request for sponsorship, remember what it meant to feel hopeless and alone. If we reflect on our early days in Al-Anon, we know that we have learned much from others. We have much to share. And we give what we are capable of giving. It helps us to give away what we have, to hear our own recovery.