The Most Important Person in the Room

 It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

In AA, there is yet another common saying… “the newcomer is the most important person in the room.”  What this means, of course, is that someone who is new to recovery needs more seasoned members to help him or her feel comfortable, to understand the routine, and to help him or her decide if the 12-step program is the right course of action.

I think maybe I have lost sight of this fact.  Because I go to meetings daily, I have come to know the regular attendees, and they have come to know me.  Because I like to second guess myself, I can be slow to share in meetings.  I will often have thoughts or insights on the topic, but by the time I have deemed them worthy to share, the meeting is usually long over.  Between this lack of self-confidence and the worry that I will be redundant, I often sit quietly during the actual meeting.

Yesterday I wrote about a woman who does not believe AA is right for her, and how one year ago I was in the same boat.  Today a friend who has about the same amount of sober time I do chaired the meeting, and spoke passionately of the need to hang on during the early days, and how much better life will get.  For me, her story was repetitive, because I have come to know her personally.  During the break, I watched as no less than 4 different people thanked her for chairing, and for sharing her experience.  They were all in the early days of sobriety, and hearing her tell what is was like and what it’s like now was a beacon of hope for them.  Hearing how she inspired them was a wake-up call to me:  I need to open my eyes and my mouth, and start paying forward what has been freely given to me.

Here’s the moral of the past two days:  thinking about others, rather than worrying about myself, is how I can be of service, both in an AA meeting, and in life.


Posted on November 7, 2012, in Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I try to do the same because there are people out there that have next to nothing, and I want to push for alternatives to society that can help all of us:))


  2. I like this post too. We all have something that someone can relate to. Many go out at a year or five years. Keep sharing. Everyone in the meeting is important. (That’s just my opinion)


  3. Thank you.


  4. The newcomer is the life blood of alcoholics anonymous, not the most important. No one is more important than anyone else, unless you’re implying they are no longer the most important person after they attain 30 days…. It is a saying taken from NA and brought to the rooms of AA. Our big book says ” the newcomer is the life blood of alcoholics anonymous”. Nowhere in the big book is it mentioned that they are the most important. Please stop giving your take on this matter and read our book. There it will tell you how to handle newcomers. But, they are not the most important. Just saying that kind of garbage implies the old timer is least important.


    • YES! YES! YES! Also, tradition 5 states that the primary purpose of the 12-step group is to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. This can be, and I’ve seen it many times, the old timer.


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