My sense, as I began my 12-step journey, was that I needed to find a way to share my personal concerns in such a way that I did not feel I was simply dragging dark stories up from the mucky bottom of my dark side.
By observing and listening, I got to experience that when others simply complained about their situations, focusing on their indignation, their problems became larger and more disturbing to their listeners, including me. I saw how that kind of sharing monopolized meting time and attention. I also felt disappointment when those same people did not later share about their progress. This was not "working the program," I decided--it was letting the problem “work them."
I learned that in order to practice serene thinking, I needed to put my complaints about other people's shortcomings out of my mind and put Al-anon tools to work instead.
I needed to make my meeting a place where I didn't simply unburden (though unburdening is a good place to restart my program, each time I have a relapse to old symptoms.) For if I only use the meetings to unburden, I have only met my Higher Power halfway. If, instead, I can start believing a Higher Power can restore my sanity, I will find that I can rise up out of the muck to find Higher Perspective, and greater peace of mind.