3 Circles Method…

This week I for the 1st time taught a lesson at my Celebrate Recovery meeting. I’m sure it’s different hearing it over reading it, but I wanted to share with you what I learned and taught. 

I am humbled and honored by this experience and feedback I received.

Everytime I practiced, I cried at the same place….everytime. So I decided to just embrace who I am as a crier and not worry about it or try and stop it. After all there is healing in tears. And it’s just part of me being real. What I was not expecting is that I started to cry sooner and i forgot to bring tissues on the stage. My niece was there to support me and when I saw her leave the room I was concerned she was upset about what I said. But I was wrong, she left to get me tissues and walked on stage and gave me  the biggest hug. And then I was able to keep going. 

It’s a little long but enjoy. Please tell me what you think! And if you are not familiar with Celebrate Recovery, it is a Christian based 12 step program for anyone who wants to overcome hurts, hang ups or habits. 


Hi my name is Mar and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. I struggle with codependency, I’m the daughter of alcoholics. 

I am so grateful for doing this teaching this week as the holidays have been a difficult time for me. Before CR I would get into a bad headspace of what I don’t have during the holidays rather than what I do have. 

I listened to a Celebrate Recovery podcast and learned about the 3 Circles Method. I felt so strongly about doing this for myself that I wanted to share it with you and I am grateful for the opportunity. 

James has become one of my go to books of the Bible. Several years ago after I was first separated, I was missing something from my life. I grew up Catholic. We went to Church every week and I went to Catholic school for all 12 years. But my faith had become quiet in my adult life. 

So I started searching for a new Church home. It’s funny those of you who are Catholic know this but Catholics do not study the Bible. I found that by doing Bible Studies there were so many people I didn’t know about. There is Wisdom, Strength, Courage, Hope and Grace. 

Everywhere I turned at first, I found James. James 1:2-3 Dear brothers and sisters when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity of great joy. For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 

Great joy in trials, my life was falling apart how could this possibly be joy. My life continued to spiral into chaos but I never stopped searching. I knew there was more for me and my life. 

Did you know the Bible talks about addiction? You can find one example in James 1:14-15 Temptations comes from our own desire which entice us and drag us away. These desired give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. 

Some of us are one use away from losing everything or death. Many of us know someone who has died from their addiction. My Mother was an alcoholic. Her entire life she coped with or didn’t cope with life by drinking. I watched her die from cirrhosis. It was the saddest time of my life. Watching her body shut down and being helpless. She was in denial. She was in denial until the end. The day that they suggested there was nothing left to do but to go home with hospice care. My Mom sat up and said ‘hospice, hospice is for dying people’ and in that very moment, she realized she was dying. 24 hours later she was home. Her bed was set up by the window. I spent that evening brushing her hair and putting lotion on her hands and feet. My Mom passed away a few hours later. 

She never got to understand the freedom there is in recovery. 

But through recovery we learn that we need to admit we are powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors. We learn to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. And that we made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God. 

Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans but the Lord determined our steps. 

In recovery, wherever we are tonight, we can put the 3 Circles Method into action and it will keep you safe and keep you working your program and the 12 steps. 

Plan your work, work your plan. 

Because if you are not working on your recovery, you are working on your relapse. 

THE FIRST CIRCLE – The Center Circle

The first circle is your abstinence statement. Knowing what your are abstaining from is the place to start. Giving it a name. Defining it for you. 

What do I need to avoid? Substance or behavior. Whatever it is. YOU define what abstinence means to you and your program. Is it: Alcohol? Dependency on other? Drugs? Food? Sugar? Pornography? Anger?

For me, I struggle with codependency and have been involved in unhealthy relationships with active or dry alcoholics. But if that is not your struggle and drugs or alcohol is, than abstaining from those would be in your center circle. 

I had to look at my food issues and figure out where I struggle and what I need to avoid. For example, not eating from boredom or emotion is in my center circle. Or I have in the past I have just not eaten and lived on coke or coffee. So not eating is also in my center circle. 


The second circle is your boundaries list. This is self imposed limits that promote health and recovery. 

It’s boundaries around situations, people and behaviors and these limits keeps you safe. 

Early in my recovery I made boudraries without even knowing it. If I was in a situation where I felt uncomfortable, I quickly recognized that it was not a safe place for me. 

In the past, boundaries were like suggestions. And when someone crossed a boundary, I gave them a pass or just moved the boundary. 

But now boundaries or limits keep me working my program. 

If you struggle with alcohol, maybe having a boundary that you can’t go to a bar to play darts or listen to a band because it’s just not safe for you. 

Maybe you have to limit how much cash you carry so that you are not tempted to buy something you shouldn’t and having to use a card to get cash would stop you or would help it become noticed. 

Maybe you have to create a boundary around some of your old friends from your old life. I know I did. I reconnected with someone I went to high school with in late 2014. It ended in the worst of ways buts that’s a story for another day. We have many of the same friends on Facebook. Because I now have a protective order against him, I unfriended some and felt I needed to share with others what happened to keep me safe from indirect contact. 

If you are looking at your partners phone when they are asleep or in the other room to see what he/she are doing maybe you need to set a boundary not to and focus on your program and not take someone else’s inventory. 

A boundary may be to install software on your computer or phone so you don’t view certain websites that you shouldn’t. 

Whatever it is you need to keep you out of the center circle. 


The third circle is the best one of all. It’s where you create your plan. A plan you make using the tools we have to be healthy. Healthy physically, healthy spiritually and healthy emotionally. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is  faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endore. 

This is how you endore. This is your escape plan. This is your safely net. This is your relapse prevention tool box. 

I keep my bag in my purse. It’s actually a Bible cover. I like it because it’s the perfect size and had pockets. But you may keep your bag at home or work or in your car. Where ever you need it. when you are struggling to do the next right thing and that center circle is calling your name, this is where you go. 

This is what I have in my bag and other ideas of what you could have if yours. 

The serenity prayer, 12 steps and 8 principles. We get a copy at every meeting and sometimes simply reading these is enough to reset your mind. 

CR Book – You get one at your first meeting. It explains the program and it has testimonies. If you do not have one, they are available in the gathering space. 

List Of Meetings – if it’s not a Tuesday night and you want to go to a meeting, we have a list meetings in the area also available in the gathering space. 

Phone a friend – this is a list of people to call. Written down. No excuses that your phone is dead and you don’t know the number. You have a list of people to call. When I got my drivers license, my Dad taped a quarter to the inside of my glove box and told me no matter what, if I ever needed a ride home, no questions asked just call if I need a ride. So I glued a quarter to my phone a friend card to remind me….no risk, no judgment just call and ask for help. 

My Top 10 Things To Do Instead – these are personal and what brings you joy and distracts you. My top 10 are. Call my sponsor. Journal. Listen to music. Go to a meeting. Read the Bible. Meditate. Paint. Go for a walk. Write a thank you note. There is always someone to thank. And an act of kindness. Doing something for someone else feels good for them and for you. 

Remember Why I Started – in 2015 I was dating a dry and then active alcoholic. I was trying to save him from himself and make his fall a softer landing. But what I did was put myself and my family in harms way and I prevented him from growing from the experience. My life was unmanageable and I just needed the chaos to stop. So I started this journey to stop the chaos.

My 100 Things List – One of the first things my sponsor had me do was to write 100 positive words that describe me. This took me a month. And I asked friends. And I used the thesaurus.  But when it gets in my head that i am not enough, I read these words to remind me who I really am. 

I also created  a word bubble with the 12 steps and serenity prayer and other slogans. Reminding myself that God is in control, that I need to share my story with others, to live one day at a time, examine and confess, pray and meditate. This can easily change my focus from my current temporary situation to something positive. 

Nail – I have a nail to remind me that Jesus Christ died for me. He paid the price for my sins. I keep it in a little box on the front I wrote 1Timothy 2:6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. And on the back I wrote 2Peter 2:19 You are a slave to whatever controls you. 

Pictures of Loved Ones – on the back I wrote what is at risk if I relapse. 

Write a Letter – write a letter to yourself, write it now when you are feeling strong. What you would tell yourself in just moment you were about to use. Ask loved ones to write a letter too and explain why your sobriety matters to them. 

I AM Statements – it’s like my 100 words list. There is an app I AM that will send positive affirmations during the day. 

Play List – have a play list on your phone or iPod  loaded with your favorite songs. Mine is filled with many of songs we sing here at CR. 

Read the Bible – One thing I do when I don’t know where to start to look for something I Google ‘what does the Bible say about —-‘ it gives me a starting point. 

Write, Journal or Blog – I’ve been in the CR program for 9 1/2 months now and 8 months ago I started blogging. I have 104 posts and 150 followers that I don’t even know. I have 6000 hits from 2000 visitors from 33 countries. 

Meditate – there’s a app for that. I use Abide. It’s a prayer meditation style app. You can search by feelings and there even is a CR Guide that has a prayer for each step. 

Listen to a Podcast – just like I did to learn about the 3 circles method. Did you know there are hundreds of CR meetings available to listen to from the podcast app or online? 

The Three Circles

YOU define what YOU are abstaining from. 

YOU define YOUR boundaries. 

YOU define YOUR plan. 

I think this is a cool visual. Because people in recovery talk about those things in the black center circle. We are willing to be vulnerable, genuine and are willing to share with others what we struggle with. 

It makes these things small. Talking about it puts it in the light and it’s no longer a secret. You are no longer isolated in your addiction. And the more boundaries and plan you have around the center the smaller it becomes. Your life becomes healthy. Your plan keeps you on track when you live in the orange and grey circles.

Why do you need a fire escape plan? 

Having a plan helps you to avoid trigger situations. Being prepared for a situation will help you with alternatives when there is a trigger. 

Having a plan helps you to forgive yourself of slips. Having a plan will help a slip from becoming a full relapse. 

Having a plan helps avoid keeping cravings a secret. Talk to your sponsor or accountability partner. We are as sick as our secrets.,

Having a plan helps you to work on healthy behaviors and putting energy into healthy places is the best self care. 

Having a plan helps you to try something different and alternative choices. Be willing to try something else after all our best thinking got us into CR to begin with. 

This is My Final Thought

My final thought. 

From Philippians 4 8-9 And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right and pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. 

And the God of peace will be with you. Another word for peace is serenity. And the God of serenity will be with you. 

Keep coming back, it works if your work it and you are worth it. 

Thank you for letting me share. 
My journey to serenity continues…


8 thoughts on “3 Circles Method…”

      1. Help yourself!

        Your comments gave me goose bumps.

        I am humbled to have been used for His glory for this teaching that was put on my heart to share after I heard it. This teaching fit so well with my story that I had to share it.

        I can’t wait to read your post and see what touched your life.

        Liked by 1 person

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