Do you want to live a happy and productive life? Are you struggling to overcome addiction, anger, hopelessness? Have you searched for someone to blame for your problems? Inspiration with Explanation is a brilliant new synthesis of the best of cognitive therapy, twelve-step programs, and Jeff Brown’s unique message. Written in a frank and engaging style, Inspiration with Explanation isn’t about empty, feel-good, Facebook-style memes—it’s a practical, commonsense guide to living the right life. Jeff explains the solid reasoning behind his daily goals, and his message of productive thinking grounded in faith will inspire you on your journey to happiness and fulfillment.
This is how Jeff's Daily Reading book opens, and he has just released volume 2 this year. Jeff and I discuss today his entry into recovery, AA history, and having an awakening vs. just being free from the consequences of an active addiction. Jeff is a recovery Author and a Certified Recovery Specialist at the Recovery Bank in downtown Scranton.
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Joe Van Wie 0:04
Hello, and thanks for listening to another episode of all better. I'm your host, Joe van we we are an ad free podcast. And we'd like to stay that way. If you like what you hear, please visit our Patreon. This keeps us ad free and stop by Apple podcasts. And leave us a review. Today's guests is a friend, and his name is Jeff Brown. He's the author of a daily meditational and devotional book lays it out 365 goals. It's called inspiration with explanation. And he just released Volume Two opens up with do you want to live a happy and productive life? Are you struggling to overcome addiction? Anger, hopelessness? Have you search for someone to blame for your problems? Inspiration with explanation is a brilliant new synthesis of the best cognitive therapy 12 Step programs. And Jeff Browns unique message written in a frank and engaging style. Inspiration with explanation isn't about empty, feel good Facebook style memes. It's a practical, common sense guide to living the right life. Jeff explains the solid reasoning behind his daily goals. And his message productive thinking, grounded in faith will inspire you on your journey to happiness and fulfillment. I just read that from the opening of the book. Today we get to meet Jeff and talk to him for an hour. It was very engaging. And I learned a lot you could never seem to learn enough about 12 Step history. So let's meet Jeff Brown. We took we started our conversation early. I'm here with Jeff Brown. We started on my porch. We were afraid we were running through material but we got like two a people got talking and that was it. We're in our own zone. Jeff, thanks for coming on today.
Jeff Brown 2:13
Thank you, Joe. Thanks for having me.
Joe Van Wie 2:16
I thought today maybe we'll go over a quick little bio. Let's let's find out who you are. And I'd like to definitely pick up where we were talking interesting conversation, history and kind of the values that you've been able to present and talk about clearly in a way that really had a much earlier beginning. We'll get into but why don't you tell me a little bit about growing up? Where'd you Where'd you grow up?
Jeff Brown 2:44
Okay, uh, Carbondale, native born and raised third or fourth generation pretty standard and not according to the the addict world probably. But as far as the so called normal people I grew up in a upper middle class, slightly upper middle class. We weren't wealthy but educated, working class people and everything was pretty, pretty normal, pretty standard. Parents happily married for a long time three siblings as every opportunity really that you can imagine. Before me, I could have pretty much done anything I wanted to I was a standout academically standout athletically and appeared to probably be on a path to success in life at a younger age and the first 12 or 13 years of my life went really well. Everything about it was was pretty good. I had friends I was popular enough good grades, that well, people seem to like me I wasn't much of a troublemaker. Everything was it was pretty smooth and non alcoholic home no abuse and and my parents don't even drink socially. They're just normal people that you could ever hope to meet really. And and like my father was prior military aid and electrical engineer and did well for himself in that field. So my mother didn't need to work but she did anyway, just work ethic. And it was there was your father a Navy man. He was Air Force and Air Force and I'm a third generation vet. My grandfather was Army during World War Two. My father was Air Force during Vietnam and then I enlisted in the Navy during Desert Storm.
Joe Van Wie 4:35
Wow. And I can't tell your age chef.
Jeff Brown 4:40
I get that a lot of and grace. I'm Aging Gracefully. Apparently. I'll be 50 in October. And most people guess mid 30s I'll take that.
Joe Van Wie 4:50
Yeah, that's an easy layup thinking your mid 30s siblings. Where do you three total? Where do you fall in the mix?
Jeff Brown 5:00
I'm second. Youngest. So you have an older brother, older sister and a younger sister.
Joe Van Wie 5:07
Any of them connect with drinking? Or?
Jeff Brown 5:11
Yeah, my younger sister had some major addiction problems early on, and then got out of it kind of quickly through basically a religious experience. Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah, rather than a spiritual one. I'm one of the people that believes there's a difference between the two.
Joe Van Wie 5:29
Yeah, well, let's unpack that later, because you have a really elegant way of explaining it. For people just being introduced to it or, or rattled for a while.
Jeff Brown 5:41
Older sister also had some, some drug issues. And then older brother didn't, didn't have any at all, which, which struck me kind of as we listen to the explanations of where addiction comes from, and how it skips generations. And it, a lot of that stuff seems like grasping at straws.
Joe Van Wie 6:00
Yeah, I mean, maybe just a little caveat there. There was so much I didn't know in the last two years, I started reading about it. And I felt like I let I know less. I know less about what we don't know. I know more about what we don't know. And I heard someone say, like, 9099, I don't know if you recall this, we found the addiction gene, it was a cover of Time Life. I think that stained a lot of people's memory that that was already Okay, that's resolved. And it couldn't be further from the truth. Maybe there's these predispositions to addiction in genes, but they have to interact with like 40 other genes, and they only interact if the environments, right, and the environment could be just as subtle. As you know, a detachment style to parenting might be dopamine, and then you find your which we could get to what you find that's like, oh,
Jeff Brown 6:56
and it actually is kind of fascinating when you when you look at things. And when I came into recovery, I had no choice but to look at it differently than other people were Yeah, it was again, I did not come from I don't really have the family history of it, like,
Joe Van Wie 7:09
Did it bother you? And like, how do you resolve thinking? Like, not keep going down that path? That'll solve it? If I understand how this happened? Maybe I'll know how it'll end. Did you ever get enticed by that?
Jeff Brown 7:22
Oh, absolutely. And you're getting early on? It was it was tough. Because there, like you said before, there is I like to refer to as this modern time as the misinformation age. Yeah. And there is so much information out there. And it's that information isn't always accurate,
Joe Van Wie 7:45
or helpful in itself doesn't really give agency all the time.
Jeff Brown 7:49
It doesn't. And one simple example, I mentioned earlier on out on the porch, that I ran a group yesterday, and the things they were talking about, or and this is coming from the professionals, some of our best professional minds that teach us how to deal with addiction. So if you're struggling, just distract yourself, man, and that which might work or what are
Joe Van Wie 8:15
40 years of your 20.
Jeff Brown 8:20
And that's exactly what happened in this group is one of the attendees said, you know, what I do to distract myself as watch movies. Sure. And then proceeded to tell me that every time there was a commercial, she would lose her mind. And then when it was over, she would lose her mind and like, so yeah, that distraction doesn't fixing, you have to pay for the premium YouTube without the ads in order to properly distract yourself from your addiction.
Joe Van Wie 8:45
That's that's that's normal. I mean, you could hear that packaged and even more savvy, elaborate ways, but a lot of solutions are, why don't you find a new distraction.
Jeff Brown 8:59
They're very, very surface surface level. Don't really address the actual problem. just patch it up on the surface, and everything will be okay. And if it's not patched up again. Yeah,
Joe Van Wie 9:09
it's hard to hear that that's been offered when it's a professional setting, because I think I could always forgive and just understand, I've done this myself. You offer a surface solution, because you don't want to be rude. And you don't have to progress the conversation without getting deep. You want to really talk about this problem, lets you talk. But, you know, it shouldn't be awkward.
Jeff Brown 9:33
It shouldn't be and the only way that it actually can even be incorporated it is if the facilitator of the group actually understands what's going on what addiction is for sure. It actually comes from and there is a line in our literature that that says when we became alcoholics, yeah, crushed by a self imposed crisis. We Do not postpone or evade. So I have to stop and ask myself, What does self imposed me? Yeah? Did I self impose my DNA? Because if, if the answer to that is No, yeah, then why? Why am I treating I suppose in genetic hereditary disorder, then.
Joe Van Wie 10:21
And then what is self, if it can change genetics now, this is the cause, say it's a genetic problem, what I just can now, now that I'm aware of it, it will change, right? You're not a prisoner to the protein, invisible protein, just telling you what to do
Jeff Brown 10:36
with your life. And furthermore, there everybody's running around saying there is a solution and to the best of my knowledge that we're probably close to being able to alter our DNA, but we haven't not to that extent. Yeah. But it
Joe Van Wie 10:49
just in this discussion, two minutes, you see that there's something bigger happening and you, you talk about it, you use the word God interchangeably, the way I use consciousness when the understanding of, but consciousness kind of sits a little farther back from all of that, like, you know, I agree with 12 Step life in the sense that it says that's where the problem is. And that because that's where we can solve it. It's kind of Trump's a little things. And that's hard to hear. And it feels reckless, sometimes in a professional setting. But I guess it starts with your relationship with alcohol of what did alcohol do? How would you describe to someone today? What it what did it do for
Jeff Brown 11:34
you? Through the 12 step process, I was actually able to pinpoint when I became an alcoholic, really, I do not believe that anybody is born one? Sure. At the risk of upsetting everybody, we're going to use the Bible as an example when it says we are created perfect, and the image and likeness of God. That means probably not alcoholic, if I had to assume
Joe Van Wie 11:59
and when you're saying perfect, you're not. Are you talking about like for me to understand this? Is it? That's not atomically some spirit of life that you're you have the potential of consciousness like,
Jeff Brown 12:11
exactly, it's not from a physical standpoint, because that's usually the debate that comes back. Yeah, exactly. And being born really?
Joe Van Wie 12:18
How could you say? What's my appendix for?
Jeff Brown 12:22
So, so that statement from my understanding of it means that we are all born with pure motives, honesty, internal honesty, we're telling ourselves the truth, we are unselfish. And what we're trying to pump out into the world is love. So pure, honest, selfless and loving is how you are created, like, spiritually perfect.
Joe Van Wie 12:46
So that that's the potential of consciousness, like so. I get I couldn't have this conversation two years ago without making like, I gotta draw lines in the sand, I don't believe. But there is, I think we're speaking about something we believe in different wordage. But it's the same place and I just that if something has the potential to be conscious, you know, it's born with this purity? I think curiosity is perfect. Like curiosity, would experience how could that be anything? That's
Jeff Brown 13:20
absolutely we're supposed to be curious. We're supposed to explore again, in our wonderful literature. And yes, God gave us brains to use. Yeah. So then I come in AAA and they say don't think don't bring and go to a meeting. God gave me brains to use I should probably learn how to use them. How old were you? When he first came to a? I came in at 32 years old, which, honestly, in my mind seems a little bit late, but but actually to not to sidestep the first question, because I jumped at through writing forward steps. Yeah, I came to the realization that I became an alcoholic addict at the age of 14. And I had dabbled a little bit prior to that, you know, I was I was an athlete. It didn't seem like that big a deal to go to a keg party or football game and actually have to beers and be social and just hang out with my friends. But at 14 I had a failed relationship. And the fear of being alone crept in. And I didn't like the way it felt like I had had breakups before that, but it was always me. Yeah, it was me finding somebody better this time I got left. And it just brought a completely different feeling. And that fear of being alone welled up inside of me. And what I've learned from that is if you don't address that, and work toward correcting it, then it turns into internal dishonesty. I started telling myself oh my god, this girl is my soulmate, what am I going to do without her? And once I believe my own lies, that you know, that was my one shot at happiness now I blew it. Then the selfishness kicks in. If that It's true. And she really is my one shot at happiness. I've got to have this girl cost what it may. Yeah. And that at that point I gave up on school I gave up on sports. Everything went out the window, because I had to have this girl. The fact that she didn't want anything to do with me didn't never even entered into my mind. It wasn't about her. Yeah, it was about me getting when I believed I needed to be happy. And when my selfish pursuit or drove her away permanently, because I was borderline stalker, yeah. Then I became resentful. So my fear of being alone turned into internal dishonesty, which manifested in the selfishness, an ultimatum and resentment. I felt like God and this girl in the world had wronged me, and now I'm going to die alone. That's what my broken 14 year old brain was telling me. Yeah, I didn't like the way it felt. But every time I dumped a little alcohol on it, that terrible feeling went away. And so I proceeded to treat my fear of being alone with drugs and alcohol for the next 18 years.
Joe Van Wie 15:58
Wow. So and you pinpoint that, and what we call the fourth step, when you started taking an inventory of, you know, we call resentments your relationships, unresolved, exists. It was clear,
Jeff Brown 16:13
yeah, yeah. And it laying the groundwork for that was tricky. The gentleman that helped me through the 12 step process initially had to explain things to me that I didn't really think I would need to have explained like when he suggested I was resentful. My response was No, I'm not I pretty much get along with everybody. Sure. I was one of those guys. And I thought I had some sort of gift from God that I can get along with everybody. Later, I realized that that chameleon type of approach to life really was just I'm afraid of being alone. So why don't you tell me who you want me to be to? And I'll be that person, because I don't like being alone. So it wasn't a skill, it was a fear. But when I told him I wasn't resentful, he said, Do you know what the word means? And I no one ever asked me a question like that before I could use the word in a sentence. But did I really know what it meant? And my general assumption was, it means to be angry, right? And he said, Actually, no, that's not what it means. Re is a prefix. That means again, it's like rewind, or repeat or re anything else means to do something again. And scent A is the Latin root of the word sentiment, or to feel. So to present means to feel again to reveal. So I've had these past experiences that have negative emotions attached to them. And when things happen, they are in the present, I reveal those negative emotions from my past that that's what a fourth step really is designed to dig out from inside of you.
Joe Van Wie 17:41
And I have the same experience. It's profound when someone paint you know, corners you What's this word mean? It's it's, it's terrorizes me at first, but resentment was one of those for me. And I find the other people that are alcoholic, keep having that experience I've been revealing an entire life that's happening more than once.
Jeff Brown 18:06
And when you when you really look at your life in that respect, and understand that resentment is not specific to anger, you can reveal guilt, shame, many, many other emotions. So any negative emotion is a resentment, a life that never was. And as it was explained to me like that, I said, Well, yeah, I probably got lots of those, then, you know, it just kind of eased ease me into the process. But you're right, the next thing I was told is that I was selfish. And it was another word that I really didn't have a full understanding of, of course, I was insulted and offended. Sure. Sure. And, and I didn't really believe it. And I was being told this by someone that I had known since I was like, 10 years old. And I immediately went into a defensive posture. And I said, How can you have all people tell me that I'm selfish? You know, I said, I'd give you the shirt off my back. In fact, I probably have literally physically taken the shirt off my back and given it to you before. Yeah.
Joe Van Wie 19:05
And is this our friend?
Jeff Brown 19:07
Yeah. Yeah, it was very literally, I'm sure that's happened. But even that I couldn't see that I wasn't really given him the shirt off my back for his steak. Yeah, it was so I would be viewed a certain way. So even my my seeming kindness was actually selfish. And yeah, no, you really broke it down to brass tacks. I wasn't wasn't given it to you for your sake. I was given it to you. For my sake, I wanted the reputation I wanted you to go tell people what a wonderful guy was because I gave you the shirt off my back. But he didn't argue it with me, which was an incredible tactic to take he wasn't gonna argue and debate these things with me. He just let me believe whatever I was going to believe and he and he waited.
Joe Van Wie 19:48
It's kind of an important part of the process.
Jeff Brown 19:51
I think it's it's literally the Give a man a fish or teach a man a fish. He could tell me I was selfish and explain it to me or he could teach me how to figure it out for myself. So I would have that skill with me for the rest of my life. And that's exactly what he did. And it took maybe about two weeks. And I called my sponsor, because I had some terrible problems. I had mistaken the word sponsor for life coach, which is not really his job. Yeah. And I call him as soon as he picked up his phone, I went on to probably 20 minute long lunatic rant about whatever the problem was, I don't even remember what the problem was. Now, I probably imagined it to begin with. But and, you know, our friends, yeah, he's, for 20 minutes, he said very quietly, and patiently. And those are not two of his stronger suits, generally speaking. But he did such a beautiful job. He just sat and listened to every word I had to say. And when I was done, rambling, like not, he literally stopped and he said, I'm doing all right today, thanks for asking. And hung his phone up.
Joe Van Wie 20:58
He I've pulled he did the same trick to me in crisis is like, and how are you?
Jeff Brown 21:03
And it was so, so profound at that time, because it was the first time in my life that I consciously acknowledge the fact that I was selfish, I didn't care about him or his family, or I have a problem. Everybody's got to drop what they're doing. Jeff's got a problem. So for the first time, acknowledge that selfishness and you can't fix a problem that you refuse to admit exists. Yeah, that's, you know, in the 12 step, it says, We practice these principles in all our affairs. And you'd be hard pressed to go walk into an AAA meeting and have anybody tell you what any of those principles actually are. It is hard because most people don't even know what a principle is. I didn't either.
Joe Van Wie 21:45
I learned this year I've been in around a since 1994. I thought it was a synonym for the steps. I was always might have heard it off with Joe and Charlie tape, and I heard a guy talk about the willingness honesty, and I was like, what? We're gonna get that.
Jeff Brown 22:00
That even there's only half of it.
Joe Van Wie 22:02
What is it like? Well, it's let's stop there. Like what? What does it mean by principles?
Jeff Brown 22:07
First of all, a principle, if you fully understand it, by definition, most definitions in principle, start with the word law in brackets, okay. So water seeks its own level, it's a principle. What goes up must come down as a principle. So a principle has to have two parts. Okay. It can't just be one word. Honesty is not a principle. Okay. Honesty is a virtue. But principle is, it bridges the gap between virtue and outcome. Did you Did you ever say to yourself, I'm never doing that again? Absolutely. And you meant it when you said it, and then you did it again. So that's what proves that you weren't really being honest with yourself. Okay. So principle forces, your virtue to prove itself in action. So there's it bridges the gap, I was really being honest principle says, then you must, by law, get this outcome. If you don't get this outcome, you are lying to yourself.
Joe Van Wie 23:07
Okay. Yeah. Well, that's the bridge the concept of the virtue.
Jeff Brown 23:11
So you've got virtue and outcome. Okay. Principle bridges the gap between the two. If you don't get the right outcome, then your your value,
Joe Van Wie 23:19
how did you come to this understanding? When was this through your sponsor?
Jeff Brown 23:24
Joe Van Wie 23:26
I feel ripped off. You didn't
Jeff Brown 23:29
know this was a little further reading. And it was something that I mentioned to you a couple of days ago. Yeah. There's a guy named Thomas towered. And in the big book, as you transition from the third step to the fourth step, there's a seemingly harmless sentence that says our liquor was but a symptom. Sure. So your substance abuse isn't the actual problem, you should stop treating that like it is the problem, because it's a symptom of the real problem. So we had to get down to causes and conditions. I found a piece of literature titled causes and conditions from a guy in Scotland in the 1800s. It was, his name was Thomas Trower. Yeah, I later found out that Thomas Howard was in fact, Emmett Fox, his mentor.
Joe Van Wie 24:10
Oh, you didn't tell me that connection. So this this paper causes and conditions as a relationship to Emma Fox who has a relationship to the rarely a
Jeff Brown 24:21
Yeah, absolutely. And it was it's, I bought a 700 page book by this guy. Wow. And I think might even be the first page of it. It talks about exactly that. Now. It's I'm not overly educated. So this might not be saying much, but it's absolute hands down the hardest book I've ever attempted to read every sentence I've got to read three or four times.
Joe Van Wie 24:48
It's written in the 1800s. Yeah, it's just a different end. It's
Jeff Brown 24:52
a book that is literally describing things that there aren't words to describe. At the risk of sounding little misty No, that's
Joe Van Wie 25:00
epistemological problems. Words are only described by other words, you understand exactly.
Jeff Brown 25:07
Where do they all start? And that's a great example of that exactly as Hallowed be thy name. Yeah. Do any of us know what that means? We all say it all the time.
Joe Van Wie 25:17
And I know there's an implication through the use of the verb. But I don't know if you've cornered someone and ask them what the hallowed hallowed ground or what what can this mean.
Jeff Brown 25:27
And that's what they usually do was Google it sacred. Google says that it means holy, yeah. And then I say what this holy mean,
Joe Van Wie 25:35
you're Epistemologists. It's by nature. That's where you would fall in the arguments of all philosophy. Because I Wittgenstein was just reading a book, another extremely hard book, I have to skip over his logical arguments. But he gets down to the core problem. That is really the essence of Alcoholics Anonymous, or any 12 Step group that we're in the fourth dimension. So when you're in fourth dimensional ideas, we could get the tone of experience, we're trying our best to describe it in words, but the words will fail eventually, if you're practicing those step 11. are experiencing love. And we have words to describe something that can't hold a definition consciousness love intent, what you were calling a principle is the closest way to I guess to understand these bridges, the principle versus the outcome, virtue versus outcome, like you're saying, So you read that entire book i That sounds like Herculean,
Jeff Brown 26:36
I, I would skim through it kind of Yeah, that's but things would get my attention or more than other parts in that did right out of the gate. And that that, as I read it, though, I realized that there was no, it was not a coincidence that it was named the same thing. Bill Wilson borrowed the Ford step off at this time, Mr. Howard guy,
Joe Van Wie 26:58
you caught my intention when you said that, because I don't know Thomas Trower. But it sounds like he wrote a, what was the book essentially? Like, what was he talking about? What was his causes?
Jeff Brown 27:10
It's titled The power in you. And it talks about, basically our connection to everything and each other, and how much the power of the mind realistically Yeah, it, it basically. Sum things that Albert Einstein once said, If you can't explain something, simply, it's because you don't understand it. Because your audience is a bunch of idiots. Yeah, you don't get it? Yeah, sure. If you did get it, you'd be able to break it down for me. And what he ultimately did through this book that's almost impossible to read was he explained that all life, there's four sides to human being spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical, hopefully, in that order. Okay, yeah. So, and our AAA is 11 Step morning. 11 Step is a perfect example of it, we asked God, spiritual, to direct our thinking, mental, and we're going to attach an emotion to that thought. And the emotion that we attach will dictate the physical outcome, if I attach a negative emotion to it, I will not physically do it. If I attach to a positive emotion to it, I will physically go do it. So theoretically, I wake up in the morning, I asked God to direct my thinking, He's going to direct it to loving my neighbor, because what in the world else would he possibly direct it to? Yeah, and then I'm going to decide how I feel about that. I'm gonna say I'm tired. I really don't feel like doing that today. And then I physically won't. Or I can wake up and say, there was nothing in my life that I find more enjoyable than helping others. I think I'll go do that. Yeah. So you're emotionally attached to it. But that that, ultimately, is what all of that 700 pages of incredibly difficult language seem to boil down to is the these four things. And if we get them, right, wonderful things happen.
Joe Van Wie 28:52
And this is a practice, you commit to the lemon step in the morning. And then that order, you said spirit, when we you know, I don't often use the word gun. You know, I've seen many people that don't like it's kind of, but I'm not resentful at it. Or I don't understand what I fully believe. I don't have a narrative behind it. But when you say spirit, some part of me wants to say, Okay, it's an ideal. I want to wake up to an ideal, but then another part of me says, it's just open awareness. What do you mean when you like, What are you What do you conceptualize when you say, we both have the same procedure in the morning? I don't want to be thinking because I have selfishness fear. I get scared. And I think of myself. What do you conceptualize when you say that like the God Spirit when you want to touch it? What is happening in your mind?
Jeff Brown 29:51
That's a great question. And it's a great question because of other things like MsgBox as a piece called the seven main ask specs of God. Okay, I'm not familiar with it's it's pretty fantastic stuff really, if you really want something palpable to attach yourself to with a definition. Yeah,
Joe Van Wie 30:11
so you can have a reason one really but no, but it's good to flirt with the I dislike of form some kind of practice.
Jeff Brown 30:19
And he says there are seven things that come from from your, the word creator seems so much easier to swallow, because realistically to not believe in a Creator would be to not believe that you were created. And that sounds kind of silly.
Joe Van Wie 30:36
Yeah, it's it's tough. I've heard. You know, I have a lot of friends that are atheists, but I think they already mad automatically assume the creator's super intelligence, and then create it simply, did it evolve? Is the material story we're studying true? Are we been putting together a jigsaw puzzle?
Jeff Brown 30:56
It's probably a little bit of both. But he said, there are seven things that come from God and God alone. You can't get them from anywhere else. So you should probably stop trying prime mover is the first one. So I really have to stop and Khalil Gibran I don't know if you're familiar. Yeah, Lebanon, the prophet what? Yeah, fantastic book. And, and he reminded me, as I read through some of that poetry that my parents didn't create me, they birthed me. Yeah. And he basically reminds us that God is the one that created your soul and your DNA and sent it to the people that physically manifest. And so life comes from God, not from your parents, it comes through your parents, but from God. And the second one is love. And this is the one that really probably changed my life, I thought it was my significant other job in life to make me feel loved, or my mother's job and life to make me feel loved. And I'm supposed to be getting it from God. It's not the two way street that most of the world believes it to be. It's a one way street, it works more like electricity, I'm supposed to, like, if you look outside, there's a gray can on the telephone pole out there that sends power into the basement of your house and to the main and then you flick a switch and it goes from the main to the bulb. It does not ever, ever, ever go from the bulb back out to the transformer. If it did, the House wouldn't burn down. That would be bad. Yeah, that's how love works. I get it from God, I can give it out freely to others. And when God replenishes my supply, that's when I feel loved. I don't have to demand that my significant other reciprocate, the love attraction will take care of that part of it.
Joe Van Wie 32:42
Yeah. So for me to understand God, like when you when you're saying God is do you have an idea of being a singularity outside of our paradigm that's supplying us as a creator? Because, you know, I have a background of just being I was raised Catholic, and I'm an atheist. But, you know, my atheism felt toxic because of how much I resented other ideas, not not because of my Nam belief, per se. So what I've kind of formed my feel myself, I wanted to kind of chat with you about this, I feel I fall into almost pantheism. And I didn't really flush it out. But this is the experience there is. It's God, I don't have an articulation. But I don't like not relating. I'm in a 12 step program, this word use constantly. And I needed to reconcile that. So I just wasn't playing. And it's still not fleshed out with this idea. But I do believe my spiritual life growing, I don't know how to separate creator, a source like your analogy. Is something outside of the natural world, the cause of what we're experiencing, or is it all one in the same? I'm always curious, that would newcomers to have this discussion, but to us to having a chat. I'm always curious, like, how, what is the, because it's so weird to make it a structure in your head. But um, do you find yourself thinking about it,
Jeff Brown 34:19
like, constantly? And if we don't think about it, then we don't ever know. And I do believe Contrary to popular belief. I was raised Catholic as well. And anytime I asked questions, the answer usually was it's not violence. That's not for us to slap with a ruler, but it's not for us to know.
Joe Van Wie 34:41
Yeah. Or it's, you know, there was a really broad blasphemy or definition of challenging authority. I think it's kind of passing by, I think in the Catholicism I see other younger people experiencing and when I hear I mean that, you know, you don't even have the capital regime really fulfilling itself priest and Don
Jeff Brown 35:08
and I did at around 10 years old and I ran into some things like that I was yeah, I wasn't a difficult child. I didn't ever question anything to be difficult. Yeah, I questioned because I wanted to know things. And I would ask questions and CCDE class and things like that. And because we said So was it was also a very common response, which even as a little kid that did not sit well with me. I'm like, that's not an answer. You know that. That means you don't know. Yeah. You don't know the end. That doesn't mean there isn't an answer. It just means you don't know it.
Joe Van Wie 35:42
Yeah, yeah. It's, I don't know the answer. I know I think I'm Joe van wie II for 44 years. And now it's feeling weirder than ever, because I forgotten a meditation practice. This led me lighten up like in the sense that I don't have a complete understanding of what happened, versus what happening and where I am in all of this and time space. Bruce always said the fourth dimension had four elements, he would always our common friend, Bruce, he said a space time motion and spirit and spirit not being the mind or brain but the conscious awareness that you're having an experience that's different than a brain. That's so
Jeff Brown 36:25
it I would take it even a step further. And I'm accused in both directions, usually of overanalyzing And complicating everything, and then I have a whole other group of people telling me that I'm oversimplifying everything. So I'm like, which one? Is it? Am I overcomplicating it or over simplifying it? It can't be doing both? Yeah. And spirit to me. Yeah. brought me back to my high school days. Did you ever sit in an auditorium and listen to the cheerleaders say, we've got spirit? Yes, we do. We've got spirit. How about you? What did they mean by that? They meant, how do you feel about backing your team? That's what spirit? Yeah, the good feeling you get in your heart for doing what's right. That that's what so yeah, feeling this spirit? So, because we can't physically hear God? Yeah, if we could that would mean you were limited, therefore, not God. Yeah,
Joe Van Wie 37:23
it wouldn't be a different. Yeah. So so
Jeff Brown 37:27
I have to feel this, this power. And my sponsor, again, tore down that wall of religion that I had built up because I didn't, I didn't. I don't know if anybody could ever really honestly claim they don't believe like, do you think you've created yourself?
Joe Van Wie 37:45
I don't know. I you know, I have heroes that are atheists that didn't, you know, magnificent jobs, arguing it. You know, Christopher Hitchens, you know, has always been a heart for me to watch him just bully theocratic people. But in the end, you know, there was things that he was denying that I have a contextual understanding that you're denying the whole experience of this weird, weird thing that, okay, we have we're a planet in a failed system. If life's the point of the galaxy, this manifestation of the universe. If the point of it was to produce complex life, say, us being this upright ape, now that something really unique is happened to we're conscious, we are now dealing in economies, travel curiosity, this is really profound. Why is there so many failed planets? Why isn't this visibly prolific? And it may or may not be we have the capabilities? Let's put that aside. He's saying that started from a simple expansion. So what how complex is the God say we're in the terms of understanding as a human took, he really created something really simple That in itself became this fractal of complexity recreating itself. So there could be a really simple God who that was the catalyst and we become more complex and as the creation, he starts to propose all these strange and interesting arguments. That always tickled my mind. But in the end, you know, I have addiction and substance use disorder, and it's a crisis of my spirit. I wasn't reaching out to those arguments. With the pain of me not being able to connect with my family loved one. There was something that wasn't there for me to chew on. But I was afraid of being disillusioned to believe something I was afraid I would had to believe something on justifiably. But then I see a guy like you, your cause of a spiritual awakening is numbered. It's action, right? Which is that where you perish maybe like
Jeff Brown 39:55
it is mine. I just definitely I believe what the 12 steps ultimately gave us was the science of God. Which is, it's interesting, I was raised to believe that you had to choose one or the other. And then you get people like Einstein, who was one of the greatest intellectuals of human had ever he that believed wholeheartedly and God. And I found out a couple of years ago that it in fact, was a Catholic priest that came up with the Big Bang Theory. Yeah, he was a Jesuit. So So you got this scientist who believes in God and this godly man who believes in science like why are we choosing one or the other? Why can't I believe that God created science, use them both and and see the bigger picture, but I do believe that it is. I read a quote once and it was by someone anonymous, they chose not to take credit for it. But it said that profound does not necessarily mean complex. No, doesn't be very, very simple. And what if you really look at the 12 step process, the only thing it's designed to do is help you get rid of or at least minimize your fear, dishonesty, selfishness and resentment toward step deals with those four defects of character, that 10 Step on page 84 deals with those four defects of character and then the nighttime elevens step on page 86 deals with those four defects of character. That's the whole point and purpose of the process. So maybe my addiction was caused by fear. Yeah, that turns into dishonesty manifests in the selfishness automates and resentment. The beauty of this process is all you have to do to fix it is the opposite. And what's the opposite of selfishness? unselfishness. There is no other. You can choose your own pathway to recovery. Yeah, but you will never fix your selfishness with anything other than unselfishness. The end? Yeah. How do you fix your dishonesty? With honesty, there is no other way. Now it's
Joe Van Wie 41:54
practice. And then being in a community, a group of people or at least a good relationship with a sponsor. I borrowed his courage for a little bit. As it got through some of the amends, I was scared, like if I was by myself, I might not have done them because they were so uncomfortable.
Jeff Brown 42:10
And that's where, again, the conversation to start it out on the patio, comes full circle and our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us. Can you do that alone? You can't we're not built to be alone. We're herd animals. If God wanted you to be alone, he would have created one of us instead of 6 billion it doesn't even have small
Joe Van Wie 42:31
caveat that should get down to the recovery Bank is a petition going around I don't know if it was turned in yet solitary confinement being cruel and unusual punishment to have it put on the Pennsylvania ballot. And I never thought about it. But I've always had nightmares just being contained in a room. There's I don't think there's a greater nightmare than being alone.
Jeff Brown 42:53
There's not that's why it's it's the biggest problem there is it's an attempt to fix it. All I've got to do is be willing to be helpful to others. Yeah, these people are gonna want to be around me if I'm helping them. You can't. You couldn't be alone. First of all, even if you want it to be but the alone we're talking about. It's usually the I feel alone even in a room full of people. Yeah.
Joe Van Wie 43:14
And there's a lot going on in this aloneness, where there's a loud jukebox in my head of night. My Nightmare box is telling me
Jeff Brown 43:22
sorts of things. That's where the dishonesty the internal dishonesty comes into play. But you fix your selfishness with unselfishness, your dishonesty with honesty, love, I mean, they're gonna love you or hate you. So the resentment and love are polar opposites in this particular context. And then the one that confused me was the purity, purity and fear or pull I wanted courage to be the opposite. Yeah, sure. But as a motive, that's not how it works. So I'm either going to do what I'm about to do because I'm afraid or because it's the right thing to do. Yeah, that's what purity ends up being doing the right thing for the right reason. So if I act on fear is guaranteed to lead me to dishonesty selfishness and resentment. Yeah, I do the right thing for the right reason or act on purity. It's gonna lead me to honesty, unselfishness, and love. They're the only two paths there are on this planet. It is that simple.
Joe Van Wie 44:15
For human dynamics. Yeah, I like keeping it that simple. Because it leaves less of that weird story I want to tell myself I to connection with others. You we talked about some influences that you kind of bird dog down Scotland. What other influences because you've been doing this for years and you've taken many people through the steps, seminars, privately. And it's it's been helpful, especially regionally to a lot of people. One of the other influences, like out of my own curiosity because I've known you you dig in, that you found may have surprised you from early age. A could have influence the way Bill articulated the steps. I mean, we know there's a common truth. These aren't new. But what did what you found some things that you've, I've heard you talk that are really interesting of connections you're making and what influence bill would have to write them that way.
Jeff Brown 45:20
Yeah. And some of them, I don't know how in depth we want to get with with some of this stuff.
Joe Van Wie 45:26
Just a chat, because, you know, let's pause for a second. I also want to establish if you don't mind, Jeff has a skill set for systems and from the Navy and finding patterns and cryptology. So let me just make a note there. What what was that? What was that experience you had in the Navy?
Jeff Brown 45:49
Well, that was that was a very, that was quite a profound experience versus a net. It's a bit of a long story, but I feel like some parts of it have to be told I almost drowned when I was six. My mother had me out in the pool in the backyard. My poor mother, God bless her swims like a stone. Yeah, she doesn't swim. Well, and this was long in 1970s. You could still have a six foot deep. No Fred's above legal anymore because too many people had to happen when i i literally literally had a rubber ducky around my waist. Yeah, flipped upside down. Oh, god, my feet are sticking up out of the water. My head's underwater, I'm not gonna just flip back over. My mother can't jump in and save me because she does not swim. So basically, she ended up dragging me out with the skimmer and saved me. So I had tremendous fear of water. From that point on anytime water hit my face, instantly stopped breathing, because the last time I breathed in water, it sucked. So I didn't want to ever experience that again. And I mean, even in the shower, like the shower nozzle would spray on my face, and I would stop breathing. That's traumatic. It's trauma. Absolutely. So I decided out of high school, I should probably join the Navy. Yeah. Yeah, it terrified. And I told my recruiter I said, I don't want to be on a ship
Joe Van Wie 47:08
to challenge yourself against water. Maybe he
Jeff Brown 47:11
would, is as wonderful as that story sounds. And I would like to claim that that's what I was doing. No, I was an alcoholic already. And I was lazy. And I did not want to work too hard. That's why I joined the Navy. Well, the idea of the drunken sailor appealed to me. So I told my recruiter that I don't want to be on a ship. And he said, why not? I said, because I almost drowned when I was young. And I, you know, I think that would make me a little nervous. He said, Maybe you should be down the army recruiter's office. I said, Oh, no, I'm way more afraid of having to run around with 80 pounds of gear on my back to drowning in a tank rather. Right? So. So they offered me a couple of positions that didn't sound all that appealing. And they were not going to keep me off of ship. They even tried to trick me with one of them. I feel like they offered me aviation ordinance. I'm like, Well, I don't have a fear of flying. I can do that. Aviation ordinance is not flying. It's loading bombs on the wings of airplanes on an aircraft carrier. So I was still going to see they almost got me without one. But I ended up walking out. I said, that's all you got. I'm leaving. And I had aced the ASVAB tests. I knew and we were a war had just started as well, the Gulf War, Desert Storm just got underway. So I knew they wanted and needed me, and I wasn't gonna settle. I walked out. And they called me back two weeks later, and they said, We think we found something for you. And they were even shocked, you know? And they said, How would you like to be a cryptologic technician? And said, Well, I have no idea what that is. But if you can guarantee me shore duty, I'll take it. That that's how that whole mess started. And so I went to Florida for a year. Training sent me to Scotland for a couple of years, which was right up my alcoholic alley. I walked into the end of that base, they literally because we the US military goes by the law, the laws of the land and the drinking age, your legal drink at 17 in Scotland. So I walked in there was a there was literally a beer machine right next to the Pepsi machine your machine just right next to the soda machine in the lobby of the barracks that you can put Wow, British pounds and it spits out cans of Budweiser. It was like heaven on earth that I had found. Now I am a third generation veteran so I didn't take it very seriously and I am a patriot you know as much as my alcoholism kinda, you know, was involved in that decision making process. I still took a great deal of pride in what I was doing and why I was there and working for national security basically. So on the job site I decided to do With basically my alcoholic were extremists. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I'm either going to be the best or over wasn't this or I'm not doing it. Yeah, yeah. Well, I do. And I took that same attitude into that job and excelled at it to the point where I literally do have a piece of paper that says that no one ever did what I did. Yes. 100% timely, let's
Joe Van Wie 50:23
talk about what you did a Scotland two is becoming a beautiful theme throughout this whole discussion. But what is the field of in cryptology? And why is it used in defense? What is it?
Jeff Brown 50:38
Primarily it's everybody is trying to decipher their communication. So the other guy doesn't know what they're doing. Like during World War Two, we had the the Japanese Purple Code that nobody could break. And nobody knew what they were saying or when they were when they were coming or what they were doing. And the German said Enigma
Joe Van Wie 50:58
enigma. Yeah. So Alan Turing data, we get the break the Enigma machine.
Jeff Brown 51:04
And they're the first group of naval cryptologist were the ones this story of Midway is basically was
Joe Van Wie 51:10
that we didn't talk. Like what Zach said something different with the Navajo language being used. That was a way to encrypt our communication. Right?
Jeff Brown 51:20
Okay, we're, I was on the other side of it, trying to decipher and decrypt their encrypt, decrypt. So, but but I literally was trained how to see things that are designed to not be seen, ya know. So I was looking at a computer screen full of seeming gibberish and have to pick out the one or two or three things that weren't gibberish that actually meant something. And let us know it was my job basically, to find out where the enemy was and what they were doing to tell my guys so they can avoid being killed. And
Joe Van Wie 51:58
not to litter alcoholism in but it's not separate of our personality, sometimes as we're adult. Was there a spirit in you that took to this pretty naturally like that? A you took it serious? You're a patriot? But is it a trainability? Is it meaning a natural ability to want to see something deeper? In reality it forget the code, but there's a deeper presence. And then there has to be a deeper awareness of what looks banal to most people. Right?
Jeff Brown 52:28
Yeah. And it kind of comes back to the curiosity that you mentioned earlier, because there were other people in that field in my department I worked with they couldn't care less walking to work, they have their feet up on the desk, or whatever. Yeah, we're putting a shift in Yeah, I would. It was a little nerve racking in the middle of war thinking. This is what national security looks like, sometimes, but yeah, sure. That was a little disheartening. But yeah, he had that curiosity and that inquisitive nature. So I think it's it is kind of a combination of the two of the extremist kind of attitude that comes with the alcoholism coupled with a natural desire to want to know.
Joe Van Wie 53:08
Well, I definitely didn't want to go further in our story without establishing that because it paints a whole different, you know, picture to envision who you are. Now, you're getting sober, you have a mind that that doesn't shut off. Like you left Miller, you see a pattern or you're stringing together things. Now you're reading a book from 1935, we talked about going through the steps you dug into that book? And how did you How do you know when to turn it on and off or when it's real or not real when you started research and say the big book?
Jeff Brown 53:46
Well, I did learn that what the book says that it's designed to do is teach us how to differentiate the true from the false. I mean, it literally is what it says it's supposed to do. And that's exactly what it did for me as as I did what it said. And, and I could see it from very early on in the book statements like we A's hang together or die separately. Yeah, like that. Sounds familiar to me from somewhere. And yeah, turns out Benjamin Franklin, as they were about to mail, the Declaration of Independence, was quoted in in Congress asked for a prayer session in Congress. He said, We better pray about this for a minute before we mail this out, he said, because if we don't stick together King George almost assuredly hang us all separate.
Joe Van Wie 54:41
It was the snake right to that represents that ideal chopped up into 100 or all the colonies. Yeah. And wow, that's that, of course that's from there. Yeah, there's
Jeff Brown 54:54
no question. It's an indirect Benjamin Franklin. Yeah, there's no doubt about it. And that happens all through the book and a lot of people don't see it like to thine own self be true dark it is before the dawn and yeah, I always thought that was a cokehead kind of line. There Shakespeare
Joe Van Wie 55:12
yeah Shakespeare but how dark it is for the dawn II I read this book to a 28 year old he's like all they did coke I make now it's not the dawn of birds attacking you man but whatever whatever way you want to poetically wrap that in. But you see Shakespeare a lot, too. Yeah, that's Shakespeare founding fathers. And what we always take for granted the Christianity, early Christianity influences.
Jeff Brown 55:37
And one, maybe the most important connection though, and this one, they even gave that guy's name and we still miss it and overlook it. But on page 27 and 28 it talks about Dr. Jung?
Joe Van Wie 55:54
Carl Jung Yeah, yeah, he gives the first description in the book of what a spiritual awakening would
Jeff Brown 56:00
look like, as he was discussing it with Roland Hazzard who was a ranking member of the Oxford group.
Joe Van Wie 56:06
And he was sort of would you describe him he was kind of an American industrialists like he came from extreme wealth.
Jeff Brown 56:13
A very wealthy alcoholic, and yes, he was flying all over the world trying to find a doctor that could cure his alcohol. He
Joe Van Wie 56:20
had all the wealth in the world, and he was still gonna die.
Jeff Brown 56:24
Because money wasn't gonna save him and he sat down with a psychiatrist who said that you've got a problem that medicine can't fix. Yeah, and he said so what I'm just screwed and he said, Oh, God can fix it. Can you imagine being told that by a sec I'd be terrifying that'd be terrifying. So when we're we're giving credit to doctors are starting a Why is he not getting
Joe Van Wie 56:47
i He doesn't get enough at least meetings to fellowship field meetings. He's not discussed like a patriarch or founding
Jeff Brown 56:56
any should be he's the one who led us to this. He gave it to Raul who then rescued me Thatcher from court and then me dad are of course at dawn and Bill Wilson's kitchen. And that's how we all ended up here. So but another important piece to that is the last thing that Dr. Bob publicly said about AAA before he died, was let's not louse this up with Freudian Freudian complexes for for complex AAA made it as clear as they possibly could, that they were going to young, not. Yeah, Roy believes that it's all your parents fault. You need pills and therapy to fix it. Young believes it's all your own fault and you got and spiritual principles to fix it to different planets of thought.
Joe Van Wie 57:41
So instead of just a general statement, and you know, you gave me more context right now. Wow, that that is the clear distinction is just not because Freud saying Freud wasn't like a adjective pop culture that we use today without comparing what Jung because they had a departure from each other, you know, they were corresponding working together but took a dramatic turn in their positions, and really kind of stopped their communication. Yeah, young crashes in to this role in Hazard, like you described. Now, I don't know in detail, but young and Bill later on, have a correspondence and they stay in touch and he influenced they have an influence on each other to use a little How would you describe that?
Jeff Brown 58:28
Well, I think, again, Bill just being inquisitive and curious. Yeah, he needed to know more. He's like that great role and came and told us what you said to him. And what else you got for Yeah, yeah, cuz he's an you can you can. They did such a beautiful job in this book. And it's a shame to watch it kinda fizzle out in the realm of recovery. A lot of people don't date they feel like it's outdated. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is outdated.
Joe Van Wie 58:56
It's a tough position. Yeah, say you're not alcoholic or didn't have the meaning for you. And I did save their lives. So you're really friend of recovery? What do you mean, you have it read? Like that's, you could see how easy the position is to take, but I think it would destroy us.
Jeff Brown 59:16
Yeah. And that frame of mind is coming about because of the misunderstanding of the word principle again, yeah, claiming that this big book full of principles is outdated, is the equivalent of saying, this gravity idea is getting old. Maybe it's time for something new.
Joe Van Wie 59:32
It's tough to say like, is it still a if it's revised? Do you keep original? I mean, I play with the thought I haven't had a discussion with anyone that's, you know, in the front of this argument, Id GSL. I don't even know if it's loud there. But I think to an outsider say that's secular, and we want to be helpful to them. Here's a book written in 1935 to 19. 39 published, littered with the distinct word God, but then you know, we have our catch all of your own understanding. Some of the chapters may not have dated too well to to a modern liberal two wives written by men. I can see the position, but what I can't understand who would rewrite it? And like, would you have two books to offer people like I don't even I don't understand it. But the point you're making earlier, it's an earlier this, this is just the language that drunks got in the 30s have something that's been happening for 10,000 years for most people that are looking for enlightenment.
Jeff Brown 1:00:43
And it's not any more outdated than the Bible. Why don't we throw that out there. So modernizing and it is a challenge is a massive challenge to modernize the language and change the wording without changing the meaning of it. And Dr. Bob, ironically, was quoted as saying, we had to write this book, because by the time there were three people in AAA, the message was already getting watered down.
Joe Van Wie 1:01:09
Well, and it's hard. So with that argument, why didn't the Bible work for us, like by itself, which is the chapter to alcoholics, the gospel of alcoholism? I see a lot of valid points for rewrite that are logical, rational, cultural. Not all cultural cultures being represented, which the demos have changed dramatically. I mean, we're only talking about a book that was written when half the species was females weren't allowed to vote in the country. Half of the country had racist laws that were gladly in effect, civil rights have happened. We weren't. So you can make a case. And
Jeff Brown 1:01:49
I couldn't agree more. The language definitely needs to be modernized. Yeah. And and what becomes ended actually, this will be an interesting twist on the conversation, somebody said to me once, I'm a 32nd degree Freemason, and I believe that once every 100 years or so someone comes into the world to redeem the truth. So what was happening around the Great Depression, was that we didn't have any there was nothing left to rely on with God, there were no jobs, there was no food, there was no money, there was nothing. The only reason AAA worked is because of despair. Yeah, you're right, as the only reason there's a cultural storm that was perfect for it to remind you mentally Santos fan of this gentleman from Freemasonry was right, yeah, we are seven short years away from the 90/200 anniversary of the Great Depression. So yeah, we're right on schedule. Hopefully,
Joe Van Wie 1:02:49
that message is someone who finds a free energy source that lets us grow creatively. In economics, that gives us free energy. That would be fantastic.
Jeff Brown 1:02:59
But the freedom that comes from this 12 Step Process gotta that's what will feed into that,
Joe Van Wie 1:03:06
you know, I was raised Catholic, so are you and I had some good, you know, understanding, at least, intellectually with a Bible timeframe, space time history. But the spiritual principles seem natural love others, but they didn't gel to me being. Now there's life after I got hurt. Right, my first paints you described years earlier, that wasn't easily put in practice, because of my relationship with alcohol. Now, I'm in a room full of people I know drank like me. The message was clear to me. And like, once I practice them, like, it's one thing to understand the steps. But if you don't experience the action of doing them, nothing happens.
Jeff Brown 1:03:49
Exactly, exactly. It's, it's the very simple statement that it works. If you work it, like you actually have to do it. You know, like, when I was dropped the very first AAA meeting I've ever had, I was very confused. I had not had, I had no contact with the world of recovery. I had never been to rehab, I knew absolutely nothing about what I was getting myself into. But at 32 years old, sitting on my bedroom floor with a gun in my mouth, I decided maybe it's time to do something about this. So I called her friend Eric, and he said, lucky for you. There's Wednesday night, there's a meeting right down the street from your house. Why don't you go check it out? Yeah. So I walk into this place. And immediately that training that analytical training kicks in and I've started analyzing everyone and everything in the room now because of the way I'm live. And I'm not real crazy while making eye contact with people. Yeah, I'm terrified what everybody thinks to me I feel like I'm being judged so I don't want to interact with other humans. So I focused on all the signs they had hanging on the wall with the cute little sayings on them are fantastic and I let go and let God live and let live. once said think think think and the very next sign said don't think Don't drink and go to a meeting. I'm like, wait a minute, am I supposed to think or not think am I confused? How are these people confused? And it didn't take long to realize, like the first words I ever heard spoken in a were Hi, my name is so and so I'm ungrateful, powerless, recovering alcoholic, and I will be until the day I die. And I'm analyzing this information. I'm like, I understand the powerlessness I can feel it. I know I'm powerless, I get that. But you're going to be that way the rest of your life means you there is no solution, even though there's a chapter that says there is one. And you're happy about that you're happy, you're grateful that you've got an unsolvable problem. That doesn't make sense to me. That's irrational. I cannot buy into that idea when I let it go, because my self esteem was destroyed. And I figured I just didn't get it. Yeah. And then the whole rest of the meeting kind of went the same way. They said nothing changes, nothing changes, but don't make any major changes in the first year. That doesn't add up.
Joe Van Wie 1:05:58
Yeah, yeah. That's what year was this? Late 92 to 2004 2004. How did you reconcile that? Was it did you immediately bring this to the attention of our friend Eric? I feel like where do you go to?
Jeff Brown 1:06:13
I did after the meeting was over. Very, very literally more confused than I was when I walked in. Sure. And I hate to say that, but that was that's just the fact.
Joe Van Wie 1:06:22
I had the same experience of 1694. You should have heard that. I mean, I was getting yelled at by World War Two vets that were just really angry.
Jeff Brown 1:06:30
Screaming, you better do this and you better than Oh, I was crazy. Like, first of all, they told me I can't smoke till I'm 18. I started smoking when I was eight. And they told me I couldn't drink till I was 21 full blown alcoholic by 14. I'm thinking Tell me a few more things I can't do and I'm gonna we're gonna find out who's really the boss here. Yeah, so we're rebellion dogs. I've every step like the 12. And 12 says like, I'm not going to do what you say just because you said so. But at the end of that meeting, confused, I went to the chairperson who had 18 years sober. And I said everybody in the room agreed on one thing, they said, keep coming back. It works if you work it nice. And what is it? You have lost me? I don't I don't know what's going on. What's it? And he literally looked at me like when you talk to your dog? And yeah, they tilt their head and go, because they don't understand the language you're speaking? Yeah, that was the look I got. And I got this 22nd blank stare. And I remember thinking like, why isn't he saying anything? You might not know the answer. He didn't. He had no idea. But he was not humble enough to admit that that was the real problem. Yeah, and
Joe Van Wie 1:07:35
I don't care if you're drunk, and you're on your back. Don't equate act of addiction for stupidity, analytics. And just because they have low self esteem. And I, I always felt inadequate when charged, but I don't need to be coerced, or it's not a power game, which I was used to what rehab was would be when I was younger, and I assume that's now a is an extension of this core version.
Jeff Brown 1:08:01
And it's after the the awkward blank stare. Then he finally got a big smile on his face. And he said, keep coming back, you'll find out and literally ran for the street continues. I'm sitting there thinking, Man, I would have more respect for you. If you just said, I don't know. See you later. Good luck. Yeah, hope you don't die. Hope you don't shoot yourself. And I got a job
Joe Van Wie 1:08:24
at FedEx. Everything worked out. I'll see you later.
Jeff Brown 1:08:29
So So to answer the question, absolutely. I walked out of that meeting, and I wasn't afraid anymore. Now I'm mad. And I'm calling my friend Eric. What in the world are you trying to do to me? What did you send me here for? Yeah. And he never did fess up to this. So I can't say it for certain, but I almost feel like he it was purposeful. Yeah, he wanted me to go experience that side of a where all you have to do is attend meetings and don't ever fix any of your problems. And hopefully, you'll stay sober. Yeah. But then he said, Why don't you come sit down with me? Let me show you what's in this book. I can tell you exactly what it is. I can clear up all these misconceptions. I'm not going to give you my humble opinion like those 40 people do. Yeah. And very skeptical. Still. I said, all right. I'm gonna come sit down with you and that you better have something to say to make sense
Joe Van Wie 1:09:20
though. Many of us are lucky. You've had that experience. I have friends, direct friends that you've saved their life. And the same guy we're talking about are intervened and said mine, I trusted him. And you know, I had experience I was cynical and knew the steps intellectually. I didn't think the experience was possible for me in any meaningful way again, and I was wrong, but I was desperate enough to do the steps. Kind of in that exact way methodically until it gelled with my spirit. I'm like I'm becoming my integrity is more important again, in the life I want it.
Jeff Brown 1:09:55
You were you were becoming it rather than trying to make it become you which is the ego based problem, you know,
Joe Van Wie 1:10:02
it was because Eric told me what was what it is not what we want it to be not softened it a little bit.
Jeff Brown 1:10:09
And that's that everybody needs that because I've told that story to many, many people. And they say, Well, it's the program and that doesn't answer the question, either. It's the steps that if I asked you, what's two plus two? Are you gonna say math? Yeah, are you gonna say four? And you're gonna be able to tell me how you got from point A to
Joe Van Wie 1:10:28
point two really distinct way to present that? Yeah,
Jeff Brown 1:10:31
I need there's an actual answer. I needed somebody to tell me what to do.
Joe Van Wie 1:10:36
And there's an exclusivity to it today, which is, you know, attracts alcoholic say, of our type you describe right? So Bruce used to tell me read the steps are in past tense, there's an action and they're weak, you are not the Wii, until you've taken the action of the steps. There's an exclusivity there's a there's, there's this inner secret of a there's a different AAA with an AAA, it's like what
Jeff Brown 1:11:05
we all are statistical data is based on people who may or may not have an honest desire to stop. And realistically, you're not even a member if you don't have an honest desire to snap. So why are your numbers being factored in? Well,
Joe Van Wie 1:11:16
yeah, and before that membership kind of idea was scratched out. It was the original, you want to be the we get to 12. And then you were, we tricked you, you know, you're working the rest of your alive.
Jeff Brown 1:11:31
And you do so. So I go and sit down with this guy. And one of the first things he began to explain to me is that this is not a token hope, type of thing. And this is not a humble, I have a book full of page 29 says further on clear cut directions are given showing how we recovered. So he said, Do you want to humble opinion? Or do you want to clear cut the reaction? Yeah. And the answer was easy for me.
Joe Van Wie 1:11:53
It's hard to do in a meeting. Where, you know, there was a time where it's fun to have the adversarial truth on your side. Even, you know, there's still complex, but they're not as bizarre as when I grew up. I think the returns coming though I'm seeing waves. We're in the middle of a mental health crisis a is going to be what is offered to there's not a lot of treatment centers offering Medicare services for not only detox stabilization, continual care 90 days. We're back on deck man. Yeah, 12 Step programs that are going to be that I feel I'm just speculating might be the front line again.
Jeff Brown 1:12:32
I certainly hope so. Because when they were the only solution, we were setting these higher astronomical rate now that there's now that everybody can choose their own pathway, nobody's
Joe Van Wie 1:12:41
gonna Well, I feel myself scared because I love science and you know, appreciate it. But I feel myself scared saying, it's, it's the recipe you said earlier, and it's what you know, our book shares, you get well spiritually, then the mental and physical. Because we're not holding snakes over yet. That's not what we're talking about.
Jeff Brown 1:13:03
Now. In fact, there's nothing like when I originally read the steps off the wall, yes, the only thing I could associate a spiritual experience was like this burning bush experience, or God was gonna come bursting through the clouds and, and speak to me. And but there's an appendix in the back of the book titled spiritual experience, they told you exactly what they meant when they use that term. And what they meant is that you're gonna have a personality change person that's your, your hedgerow isn't going to spontaneously combust, you're going to be a different person, you're gonna think different, act different, treat people different, you're gonna be different.
Joe Van Wie 1:13:35
That's how we I tried to break it down. Now, personality, addiction, let's take away use, drinking, shooting dope, whatever is in your wheelhouse. Let's stop talking about that and talk about four ideas of personality are defects. And then if those change, so, you know, dramatically, you overcome addiction. And that's, you know, people rehabs and clinical settings for, you know, the reasons in the course of science and modalities have departed from that. And then, you know, a lot of studies in how they were conducted and their methodology and the are flattering for a Freudian complexes, yeah. And so I think it continued the confidence of going down that path after the ad. So departing from a 12 step mission and a treatment center. I think you're seeing a rebound. As you rebound in the 12 steps, you're seeing a resurgence of something in psilocybin for stabilization, like as a tool that's not been fully explored for people. But even after that, what complements that yet as some kind of loss of ego and the 12 steps so you could always have a modality for life.
Jeff Brown 1:14:51
What we have such a difficult time wrapping our brain around and you just kind of touched on it like I do not go to these recovery based meetings. Use and feel like I'm different because my drug of choice is different than other people's like people drink too much because they're selfish, resentful, dishonest and afraid. People shoot up heroin because they're selfish, resentful, dishonest. They're afraid people gamble too much because they're selfish, resentful, dishonest and afraid. People cheat on their spouses because they're selfish, resentful, dishonest and afraid. There is no other problem on this planet. Those four things cause all of everybody's problems, whether they're addicts or not. Yet, would
Joe Van Wie 1:15:24
you agree with this? I kind of myself, I don't know what you would think and I I've been hedging it you talked earlier of the purity of life and the purity of life that's going to be conscious. You know, this perfection, this idea of curiosity, growth, love exploration, you can be conscious. What stalls that is a trauma. You've you spoke to, you know, scary moment, at an early age where you think you can lose life before you fully understand what it is drowning. heartache. I've had the experiences that detaches from that. And I think if you can't resolve a trauma, or you're in an environment, what grows out of it is those four ideas of a personality. No one saw me this fear, selfishness, resentment re feeling. The pain is always coming. And
Jeff Brown 1:16:16
And ironically, you're putting it in a perfect context. Because when you again, when you overanalyze the literature as I have, you get to page 70. I love it, though. I can't do it. And because I have to find answers, I have gotten to a place where I know in my heart when I hear the truth, and when when other people are in need of it. Yeah, it's got to somehow be explained at all costs. So when I'm sitting down with a vet who has PTSD, yeah, because they've had to do some things that they did really don't feel very good about themselves. I better have a solution.
Joe Van Wie 1:16:59
Yeah. Wow, Jeff, that's it, let's distinct.
Jeff Brown 1:17:05
And there is one, and it's written on page 70. In the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, it says, if you are sorry for what you have done, and have an honest desire, like bringing better things, we believe you will be forgiven and will have learned your lesson. That is the cure to PTSD, forgiveness, whether you are the aggressor or the victim, if I find a victim of abuse, and that's my trauma, I have to be the aggressor. If I want to get over it. lay my head, there is no other solution to it. If I have done things that I am ashamed of that I don't believe God will forgive me for I've got a I have to reconcile. I have to learn how to accept forgiveness, forgive myself in that respect, but forgiveness fixes the trauma. And that's at the end of that fourth step and on page 70. So the fourth step is apps, I have sat with people, you know, I used to kind of jokingly say, I've sat and listened to Ford steps on everything short of murder. And then somebody told me about that, too. So I have heard it all seen it all. And there's a solution to it all, you know, and it's not because I said, so this has got nothing to do with me. The difference between righteousness and self righteousness, because righteousness is just right. self righteousness means I'm right. And I have no concern for that at all. This is not about me, I don't care if I'm right or wrong, other than I need to help you not die. I want to be right for that reason. And that's where the righteousness rather than the self righteousness, because I'm, as you can imagine, I occasionally labeled as arrogant, self righteous, talking the way that I do, but it's not me. It's this. It's the book, I will not stray from that piece of literature. I'm just smart enough to know that I don't know better than they did. The people that put this together than God, of course, himself. So it isn't about me being right. I don't give a shit about being right. I don't care if I get credit for things that I just don't want people to die. I don't want people to have to suffer needlessly, this can be fixed. It can be fixed, man. And it goes way beyond that. Like, they didn't have the word bipolar in the 1930s. You know what word they should have, though? vicissitude. Yeah. Which means violent up emotional ups and downs, which is bipolar disorder that's dealt with on page 56. And your big book?
Joe Van Wie 1:19:27
Yeah, yeah. It's described different words, different concepts. They get a little more complex words changed. They
Jeff Brown 1:19:33
did have depression, that's cured on page 127. And the big one
Joe Van Wie 1:19:37
in anxiety. I look at Bill's story today, if I was, you know, in the context of not being too editorial, but like I'm doing Bill's story with a group of people I say, let's look at this a story about relapse, just a case study. And it's also a story of prior conditions. Loneliness and anxiety was immediately solved for Bill when he drank You know, in between the lines, its abandonment, he was raised by his grandparents. And what would that do for how we viewed the world and who
Jeff Brown 1:20:09
wanted him or being alone? causes all human difficulty? Then the first
Joe Van Wie 1:20:13
description of himself I was going to prove to the world I was important. Well, Bill, why does the world need to know you're important?
Jeff Brown 1:20:21
Because if you think I'm on board, you don't want to be around. Yeah,
Joe Van Wie 1:20:24
I am, I believe the opposite to have the world believes I'm important. Maybe I can believe it. Yeah, but I won't believe in until what the world the entire
Jeff Brown 1:20:32
world believes. So rather than getting self esteem from self, you are supposed to get in I need the world. Tell me that I'm good enough. It was a tragic mistake, you
Joe Van Wie 1:20:42
jumped into the deep end of the pool with spiritual ideas of what we can find in the steps forgiveness is the deep end for trauma, causing it receiving it, what would forgiveness unpack from it? It cuts a chain that's imprisoning you. Oh, absolutely.
Jeff Brown 1:20:58
Yes, it keeps you bound to your own misery. And it keeps you attached to other people that you don't really want them to be attached to
Joe Van Wie 1:21:06
your living with goes to your dead people could be killing you in your head because of the harm, you could let go of
Jeff Brown 1:21:12
that. And I saw that at the second AAA meeting I ever went to there was a gentleman there who his last conversation with his father before his father passed away was an ugly one of very, very ugly one. And he couldn't forgive himself or, and, and ultimately, it did end them drank himself to death over that, and it could have been solved. It could have been fixed, it could have been resolved, that people don't need to die from this. But the more the further away from an actual I don't even know how to say it really a practical application. To the 12 steps we get the more in trouble we are because you can't just I was reading them off the wall. Like it was a checklist. Yeah, I'm powerless. Whatever. No, it's a flow. And it's gotta be understood. In the first sit down with my sponsor, he said, Are you powerless over drugs and alcohol? He said, Yeah. Because I knew that was what he wanted to hear. And he said, How do you know? And I almost fell out of my chair. I didn't know how to answer that question. I'm like, Damn, he's gotta give me a week.
Joe Van Wie 1:22:20
I'll let you know. We're good. Yeah, let
Jeff Brown 1:22:22
me go figure this out. So I don't have to admit that. I don't know. Yeah. But I couldn't answer the question. And he said, Okay, let's go to page 31. And find out exactly how you found came to understand that you're powerless. I knew I was, but I didn't know how it got there.
Joe Van Wie 1:22:35
How do you think I felt I'm sitting there with them. I've taken many people through the big book, and he's asking me questions about a book. And I'm like, How do I not fucking know? Like, I would pause because I'm like, I'm scared. And I'm embarrassed. Like, I never asked this question,
Jeff Brown 1:22:51
or this thing. For years,
Joe Van Wie 1:22:52
other people would have thought. we're winding down. There's two things I'd like to mention. And I'd love to have a comeback. Not too long ago, you. You wrote a book of daily affirmations and inspiration, you have a second part of that book. I know you're not a guy to plug yourself. But in summary, what what are those two books that are used? I know a lot of people that use this everyday Well, how would you describe that
Jeff Brown 1:23:21
book? Practical, I titled them inspiration with explanation. And the reason that I did that is because I kind of was tired of just the empty promise type of stuff. This too shall pass. What does that mean? Platitude cliche kind of gonna go lay on the couch and take a nap and budget? Was it a kidney stone? Yeah, yeah. Like, it's not just gonna pass unless I take some action. So I, I'm actually working on another book called 101. things not to live by. Where I want to kind of clear some of that stuff up. I want to, like, love the people that lift you up. I'm like, God, that's not selfish. Like, aren't you supposed to love everybody, even your enemies unconditionally. And so we just
Joe Van Wie 1:24:11
learned my love. They'll put me down. Who the hell do I
Jeff Brown 1:24:15
think? So. So I wrote a book that doesn't just give you fluffy things that sound cute. I want to add some practical application to it. So you know that it's a real thing. Because when you go on Facebook and you read a meme, it makes you feel good for five minutes, and then you don't feel good.
Joe Van Wie 1:24:32
Or it lets you stop thinking critically about something like a cliches are powerful, because they can really sum up a really complex idea in a very short word or picture. It means that was the intention when memes develop. But now, the division and the lack of critical thought that can be applied to some of these books sounds like it's nice to unpack that as a daily affirmation. And it keeps people awake. Like that book would serve Being awake? What am I listening to? That I'm nodding my head to
Jeff Brown 1:25:03
exactly. And that that I feel like is my my purpose in life now is to encourage people to think for themselves think like, for example, I just had somebody recently telling me they were having a bad day. And I said, What have you done about it? And they said, I've been seeing a lot of African affirmative prayers this morning. I said, Good. Let me hear one. And used God as my refuge was when I said, Okay, what does the word refuge mean? They couldn't tell me. They had no idea. They just said words. These prayers are not magic spells. They're not going to read the magic words out of the magic book. And magically everything's gonna be okay. There if their faith without works is dead. Yeah, yeah, there has got to be some semblance of practical application. And if I don't know what the word means, how am I going to apply it? Hallowed? When you read it out of an etymology dictionary means holy, wholesome, whole or complete. So Hallowed be Thy name is the second step of Alcoholics Anonymous that says, either God has everything or he has nothing.
Joe Van Wie 1:26:04
Well, Jeff, I want to thank you for not being the most agreeable person in a room because that is not the person to trust you are carrying a message that is very old and was written really uniquely for all of us that have alcoholism, substance use disorder. We push 20 minutes past the hour, 24 minutes. I would love for you to come back. Especially when your books ready, please definitely come back. There'll be links at the bottom of Jeff's bio today, or daily affirmations books, and he'll be back because I love talking. I'll be thanks for listening, guys, and I hope to see you soon. I'd like to thank you for listening to another episode of all better. You can find us on all better.fm or listen to us on Apple podcasts. Spotify, Google, podcasts, Stitcher, I Heart Radio, and Alexa. Special thanks to our producer John Edwards, an engineering company 570. Drone. Please like or subscribe to us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. And if you're not on social media, you're awesome. Looking forward to seeing you again. And remember, just because you're sober doesn't mean you're right.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai