“Always we are brought back to this fundamental truth, that life is a mirror and that external happenings are … correspondences of inner contemplations.”  ~Ernest Holmes


“That (small) statement hit me hard. It melted away the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last.” ~Bill Wilson


“Smallness is contagious.” I heard this at a conference recently. It occurred to me at times I’ve caught the smallness bug and even spread it. It feels ickier than the flu.  Symptoms may include difficulty swallowing others’ goodness, achievements, or successes. You may be infected if you find yourself gossiping, mocking, eye-rolling or feeling envious. Even worse for me was choking back my very own goodness, achievements, or successes. That is no way to live.

In 12-step work, when those qualities (aka “character defects” in AA) show up, the direction is to determine “where is my fear in this; what am I afraid of?” Turns out mine often trace to my inner lurking fears of inadequacy. “Healing Your Inner Shadow” coursework offered at my Center for Spiritual Living taught me those random acts of smallness were always a projection and reflection of something I didn’t like in myself. 

That was one big truth about smallness that was very hard for me to swallow at first. But then it became a great big key.

There’s another kind of smallness, but this type can have very positive outcomes. It has to do with the awareness that with even the smallest inkling of belief that a desire, need, or intuition is truly possible, a huge transformational change can start to snowball.

Our guest blogger William Alexander stated in his post “Ordinary Recovery” (March 10, 2016) that it was nothing more than “one small part of me that could see the way out.” Even in the foggy and fearful aftermath of a drunken black-out night, that small part of him latched on to a dim awareness, and he knew he could beat this thing called alcoholism. That became his first day of continuous sobriety. 

That type of “thinking small” I’d be happy to catch. And spread. With just a tiny spark of knowingness to grab onto, something amazing can grow. That tiny spark of clarity, strength, and trust can go a long way when paired with a conscious focus on the desired outcome.

I think of that as I look back on my more challenging accomplishments – including my sobriety.  I consider that a promise that new and wonderful things will continue to come to pass for me as I learn to grab that little spark, then fan it, and stoke it…


  • Are there areas of your life in which you are engaging in contractive smallness?
  • Is there a small spark of belief of yours worth expanding that would bring forth a desired outcome? 
  • What is something difficult or against the odds that you accomplished or achieved that started out as a small sense of desire, need, or intuition?


In gratitude, harmony and support,


Random Acts of Smallness

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