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Underearners Anonymous

Unlike other 12-Step Programs, Underearners Anonymous (UA) was created relatively recently. Like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), UA uses the Big Book to find spiritual support in abstaining from certain compulsive and maladaptive behaviors that stem from a lack of perceived self-worth. When reading from the Big Book, attendees are instructed to replace the words alcoholism with “underearning” and alcoholics with “underearners”. For example, when introductions are made at the beginning of groups, a person may identify himself or herself as a “toxic underearner”. Another possibility is to identify oneself simply as an “addict” of underearning. Becoming an active participant UA can help you regain your hopes for success and solvency.

UA has its own set of 12 steps and 12 traditions adapted from those of AA.

The Twelve Steps of Underearners Anonymous:

1. We admitted we were powerless over underearning – that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive underearners, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Copyright © 2004. A.A. World Services, Inc. Adapted and reprinted with permission.

The Twelve Traditions of Underearners Anonymous:

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon UA unity.

2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as is expressed in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.

3. The only requirement for UA membership is a desire to stop underearning

4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or UA as a whole.

5. Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry the message to the underearner who still suffers.

6. A UA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the UA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, or prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

7. Every UA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

8. Underearners Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

9. UA, as such, ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

10. Underearners Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the UA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.

12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Copyright © 2004. A.A. World Services, Inc. Adapted and reprinted with permission.

Is Underearners Anonymous Right for You?

Reasons for joining Underearners Anonymous can result from employment at a dead-end job, or from a lack of awareness about resources to find entry-level jobs. Repeated feelings of helplessness because of underemployment and/or lack of motivation can become an addiction just as injurious to the addict as one of drug or alcohol.

Underearners are a 12-step group not to be confused with Debtors Anonymous. While there are members of Debtors Anonymous [DA] that attend UA meetings, you don’t have to succumb to bankruptcy or overwhelming debt to be a participant. Some members commit white-collar crimes that fall under the ‘underearners’ category. People who identify as underearners often have problems with getting something for nothing, even though sometimes the best things are free!

One of the biggest symptoms of underearning is an abysmal lack of time management. Does this sound like it could be you? Keeping a timesheet to record your activities is a good place to start evaluating to see if you are a compulsive underearner. The symptoms of underearning, as they appear on the official UA website, are as follows:

The Symptoms of Underearning

1. Time Indifference – We put off what must be done and do not use our time to support our own vision and further our own goals.

2. Idea Deflection – We compulsively reject ideas that could expand our lives or careers, and increase our profitability.

3. Compulsive Need to Prove – Although we have demonstrated competence in our jobs or business, we are driven by a need to re-prove our worth and value.

4. Clinging to Useless Possessions – We hold onto possessions that no longer serve our needs, such as threadbare clothing or broken appliances.

5. Exertion/Exhaustion – We habitually overwork, become exhausted, then under-work or cease work completely.

6. Giving Away Our Time – We compulsively volunteer for various causes, or give away our services without charge, when there is no clear benefit.

7. Undervaluing and Under-pricing – We undervalue our abilities and services and fear asking for increases in compensation or for what the market will bear.

8. Isolation – We choose to work alone when it might serve us much better to have co-workers, associates, or employees.

9. Physical Ailments – Sometimes, out of fear of being larger or exposed, we experience physical ailments.

10. Misplaced Guilt or Shame – We feel uneasy when asking for or being given what we need or what we are owed.

11. Not Following Up – We do not follow up on opportunities, leads, or jobs that could be profitable. We begin many projects and tasks but often do not complete them.

12. Stability Boredom – We create unnecessary conflict with co-workers, supervisors and clients, generating problems that result in financial distress.

Copyright © 2012 Underearners Anonymous

Recovery through Underearners Anonymous

If you can come to recognize the toxicity of your underearning upon joining UA, you will be actively engaged in learning to value your contribution to the world of business. Make sure that you are more than merely appreciated, but compensated. You are getting paid, even working for a not-for-profit business. But, it is important to remember not to give away your time.

As is the case with underearning, addiction affects your way of thinking, like the imbalance your brain experiences when a mental disorder takes over and impedes function. Being diagnosed with a mental disorder is peripheral from being an underearner because there may be reasons that a person feels they legitimately cannot perform the function of work.

An underearner isn’t achieving in potential because of numerous processes going on in his or her brain. It may be hard to imagine how a family dynamic would exacerbate the trap of underearning, but it often does. The strong family connection people share in an AA-type community is present in underearners as well. This stems from eschewing compulsive behaviors, from the group dynamic, and from working the 12 Steps. Being in UA involves, in many cases, a service commitment and not simply working in underpaid jobs or having a fear of being a burden to society.

Underearners, for the most part, do not receive disability compensation for a mental ailment, and often hold jobs in which they are overqualified. After attending six meetings UA members can request an “Action Team” evaluation of their career track; though finding and working with a sponsor should probably be the first step upon joining the organization. Become a member and start realizing your potential!

Underearners Anonymous Meetings

While there are weekly meetings in several areas of the country, for example in and around Los Angeles, CA, the group primarily practices the Twelve Steps of UA through phone conferences. These are international in scope and are coordinated through a free conference-call center based in Iowa. See the current schedule of UA Phone Meetings. Note: The website shows times for phone conferencing sessions are Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Most of the in-person UA meetings occur on the West Coast of the United States, and the second annual multi-day conference was held in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA over five days in the last week of August 2013, although there are meetings near major cities throughout the world. See the complete Face to Face Meeting Schedule for Underearners Anonymous.

A Personal Experience as an Underearner

Compulsive underearners, including myself, are afraid that their symptoms may flare up while on the job. Having my relations exhibit excessive control over my life has had a crippling effect on my desire to work. Particularly, if you have a mental disorder like me (I don’t mind disclosing being diagnosed schizoaffective), it can be overwhelming to deal with the exigencies associated with how you are perceived by others, especially parents. My conservator not only could have had me hospitalized at any point in the six years of my conservatorship, was also directly answerable to my parents. Furthermore, when I finally got work my parents became like a broken record to have my treatment regimen stepped-up considerably: med changes, out-patient treatment, etc. etc.

It is not clear whether people with “co-occurring disorders” like myself who have undergone massive corrective treatment, will find their perfect place in UA. Every individual is different. On the other hand, in order to help me in the vital step of finding my Higher Power, it is the best Anonymous-related group for me.

Visit the Underearners Anonymous Website to learn more.

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