Instructions

There is a lot of material in the Big Book on Step Twelve (Chapters Seven through Eleven plus Dr Bob’s Nightmare, which I include as it has great material at the end on Step Twelve).

There  are literally thousands of points that could be made about the content  of these chapters, as they speak to the application of these principles  in innumerable settings.

To prepare oneself for Step Twelve, there is nothing for it but to read these chapters and extract the useful information.

Also read the blog – https://www.1st164steps.com/tag/step-12/

And read the 12 and 12 on step 12.

A good way of doing this is by extracting quotations and separating them out into:

  • Tips for how to carry the message to alcoholics
  • Tips for how to carry the message to people connected with alcoholics (family, professionals)
  • Tips for how to sponsor
  • Tips for how to run a group
  • Tips for how to grow the fellowship
  • Tips for early recovery
  • Tips for spouses, partners, and families
  • Tips on good relationships within the home or in a marriage or similar
  • Tips for how to practice the principles in other contexts
    • Religion
    • Work
    • Health
  • General spiritual principles (e.g. ‘Giving, rather than getting, will become the guiding principle’)
  • Anything else that you find useful.

It is important to read actively, asking:

  • What can I learn from this?
  • How could I apply this idea or principle in the context in question?
  • How could I apply this idea or principle more generally?

Note down anything you do not understand, have questions about, or find challenging.

Comments Off on Instructions

Carry The Message

‘It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities. “How can I best serve Thee—Thy will (not mine) be done.’” These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will.’ (Page 85, Big Book)

‘Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worthwhile to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have—the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them.’ (Page 124, Big Book)

‘Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.‘ (Page 77, Big Book)

‘God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.’ (Page 164, Big Book)

Putting these together, I can ask God, every day, how I can place myself in a position where God can use my experiences, story, knowledge, action, and results to help others through me.

  • I can actively create opportunities by:
  • hanging out with other people in recovery
  • participating in recovery events
  • doing service
  • going to meetings
  • getting their early and leaving late
  • reaching out to those who are new or struggling
  • building relationships with these people
  • constantly asking God to work through me, before, during, and after such experiences.
Comments Off on Carry The Message

Practicing these principles in all our affairs

Once a person has completed the Twelve Steps in Alcoholics Anonymous, problems can still arise, even decades later. Step Twelve suggests we practise these principles in all our affairs. Here is a format for applying the Twelve Steps to a problem.* **

*Bonus: for each Step, the experience can be deepened by reading the relevant section of the book Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, alone or with a friend or friends, placing oneself in the text, saying, ‘Did this happen to me?’ ‘Do I think like that?’ ‘Do I feel like that?’ and turning statements into questions, e.g. (page 60) ‘Am I driven by a hundred forms of fear?’. The actions below can also be supplemented and fleshed out using the contents of the two books. The labels on the right side of the desktop version of https://first164.blogspot.com/ also provide access to materials on individual steps and/or parts of the step in question. But don’t get bogged down. Be as thorough as necessary but as swift as possible. We’re here to get the job done, and to get the job done properly, but not to wallow in recovery-related activity or indulge ourselves in interesting but pointless ‘alconomics’. We’re here to wake up and live out a useful relationship with God in the world, not dream interesting dreams on our own.

For great insight into the Steps, listen to the following speakers (available from many websites): Don P (Colorado); Father Tom W (Oakland); Sandy B (Florida); Bob B (Minnesota); Clint H (California); Mike L (Indiana); Dr Paul O (Laguna Beach); Bob O (Colorado); Gary B (Indiana); Paul M (Riverside); Marilyn S (Los Angeles); Clancy I (Los Angeles); Tom I (North Carolina); Mildred F (Toronto); Don C (Colorado); Mark H (Texas); Joe H. (Colorado, California).

** If you get stuck, consult wiser friends and/or a sponsor/spiritual advisor.

Step 0: What is the problem?

Compulsive sexual activity? Compulsive use of sex / dating apps? Sexual / romantic intrigue? Overeating? Undereating? Gambling? Fear? Anger? Guilt / shame? Materialism? What else?

Give a brief description of the problem. What is the mental pattern or behaviour pattern that needs to change?

When you consider changing the pattern, what pain or fear do you experience?

What benefit are you getting out of holding onto the pattern?

What will it cost you if the pattern does not change?

What would you gain if the pattern does change?

How has this pattern threatened or damaged your important relationships?

Has this pattern made your home life unhappy?

Have you lost self-respect and/or reputation due to this pattern?

Has this pattern caused any type of illness?

Does anyone enable you to act out this pattern?

How are the people around you affected by this pattern?

How do the people around you respond to this pattern?

How you have tried to fix, change, or control this pattern (give examples)?

What emotions or states are you using this pattern to avoid, suppress, alter, control, or relieve?

Why do you think you’re stuck?

Are you willing to do anything to be relieved of this problem?

If you are willing, you are ready to take certain steps.

1. We admitted we were powerless over …— that our lives had become unmanageable.

Consider powerlessness as you would with alcohol:

‘I keep starting, despite knowing I shouldn’t (mental obsession). And when I start, I can’t moderate or stop (physical craving).’

Consider unmanageability as you would with alcohol:

‘If I keep starting, I can’t moderate, and I can’t stop, who or what is in control of (‘managing’) my life and how I experience it?’

(Answer: the ego, the devil, the yetzer hara, the animal soul, the disease, the addiction … however you describe it, it ain’t you!)

What tools of the programme have I been using to solve the problem?

To what extent have they worked/failed?

Where are the gaps?

Why do I think they have failed to solve the problem?

Am I powerless, at my current level of understanding, to solve the problem?

Is my life therefore unmanageable?

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

What false idols have I been worshipping rather than God? (See Annex One below)

What problems has a Higher Power solved before in my life?

Do I know anyone who reports the Higher Power solving a problem like this in their lives?

Do I believe that the Higher Power can solve this problem, too?

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

Am I willing to trust God with this area?

Am I willing to re-surrender the rest of my life to God along with this area?

Am I willing to take the remaining Steps in this area?

Am I willing to continue taking the remaining Steps in the rest of my life?

If so: take Step Three (see page 63 of the Big Book).

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

‘Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? The inventory was ours, not the other man’s. When we saw our faults we listed them. We placed them before us in black and white. We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight.’

Write out the answers to these eight questions in this area and any related or troublesome area.

If resentment, fear, and sex are particularly troublesome in this area, write out the relevant inventories as well.

Forgive anyone who needs to be forgiven (page 67).

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

Read out the inventory (or a summary of it) and discuss it with another person.

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

We have emphasized willingness as being indispensable. Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable? Can He now take them all—every one? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

When ready, we say something like this: ‘My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.’ We have then completed Step Seven.

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

Make the list! Become willing!

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

Make amends!

Write out a vision of God’s will (the overall destination) and a sane and sound ideal (what I should believe, think, and do) in this area and any related or troublesome area.

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

Measure my daily progress against the vision of God’s will and sane and sound ideal.

Adjust the vision and ideal as necessary.

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

Work tirelessly to raise my consciousness to a higher level. The purpose of my life is to be in touch with the One Power and to attune myself to that Power.

If you do not feel that God is with you, powering you, and providing you with light and joy all throughout every day, consider rereading and applying all of the contents of Emmet Fox’s book Power Through Constructive Thinking in every free moment for 40 days. Download a copy to your phone, and download the audiobook version. Listen constantly. Learn the prayers he suggests off by heart and repeat them morning, noon, and night.

If you’re Jewish, subscribe to various different daily and weekly emails from https://www.chabad.org/ and listen to Chabad Radio (available 24 hours a day) on the app. Study Torah. Rabbi Gordon’s classes on Torah and Tanya, available as podcasts and on the website, are particularly enlightening, entertaining, and engrossing.

For a whackier approach, try A Course In Miracles, and in particular listen to one of the best ACIM teachers, Ken Wapnick, here: https://facimstore.org/collections/mp3-download (not free of charge). For free classes go to https://www.youtube.com/user/annakujawa1 or  https://www.youtube.com/c/EARLPURDY/featured.

Check out the videos below.

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

Share how God has solved my problem, far and wide.


Annex One: False idols and dependencies

Here are some of the false idols and dependencies we have tried: Sex, money, power, prestige, comfort, thrills, and appearance.

‘Sex’ can include hunting for it and having it.

‘Money’ can include acquiring it, hoarding it, and spending it.

‘Power’ can include rescuing, policing, bullying, stalking, reform and crusade, over-organisation, living by rules, restriction, asceticism, worry, scheming, and dominating others.

‘Prestige’ can include pride (what others think of us), self-esteem (what we think of ourselves), attachment to identity (ethnicity, nationality, religion including a specific branch thereof, background, social status, economic status, career status, sex, gender, sexuality, political beliefs, ideology), and spiritual prestige (being good, nice, wise, calm, free of character defects, sought-after, ‘recovered’, useful, effective, efficient, harmonious, devout or pious, observant, learned, knowledgeable, skilled).

‘Comfort’ can include food and beverages, numbing out with entertainment, news and other media, social media, compulsive use of electronic devices, computer games, and apps, surrounding ourselves with people, constant activity, constant talking, constant texting, talking about feelings to avoid feeling them, withdrawing from society, duvet-diving, obsessive thinking, meditating to disassociate or zen out (‘being a bliss ninny’), and inducing physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social exhaustion.

‘Thrills’ can include risk-taking, danger-seeking, gambling, romance, exercise-related highs, fantasy, nostalgia, inducing physical injury or pain, engaging in aberrant, immoral, or antisocial behaviour in order to wallow in guilt and shame, creating crises, creating drama, and creating situations from which we require rescue.

‘Appearance’ can include the fostering of an image, clothes, cosmetic procedures and surgery, make-up & grooming, bodybuilding, body-sculpting, and weight control. We could increase the list ad infinitum.


Annex Two: Video resources to support the Twelve Steps

Rabbi Dr Abraham Twerski: Decisions

Rabbi Manis Friedman: Existing vs living

Rabbi Moshe Bryski: The Courage to Change

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/video_cdo/aid/1318390/jewish/The-Courage-to-Change.htm

Rabbi Shais Taub: You Ruined My Life! Getting Over Resentment

https://www.chabad.org/1780349

Rabbi Tali Loewenthal: How and Why of Chassidic Prayer

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/video_cdo/aid/2250676/jewish/The-How-and-Why-of-Chassidic-Prayer.htm

Shimona Tzukernik: A Life Worth Living

https://www.chabad.org/1525095

Rabbi Manis Friedman: Something from Nothing

https://www.chabad.org/897055

Rabbi Dr. Abraham Steinberg

The Biological Interface of the Brain and the Soul

(“There are scientists who believe that the mind is wholly material. But this position leaves many important neurological questions unanswered. Scientific and religious arguments both indicate that mind, soul and life in general, are likely irreducible to a purely biological explanation.”)

(Rabbi Dr. Abraham Steinberg is a senior pediatric neurologist and Chief of Internal Medicine B at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. He is Professor of Medicine at the Hebrew University where he directs the Center for Medical Ethics. He is the author of many books and articles on Jewish medical ethics, general medical ethics, the history of medicine and pediatric neurology. In 1999 he was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for his multi volume “Encyclopedia of Medicine and Halacha.”)

https://www.chabad.org/2425624

Rabbi Shais Taub: Honour your mother and father; a spiritual view on the challenges of the fifth commandment

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/video_cdo/aid/1421493/jewish/Honor-Your-Mother-and-Father.htm

Rabbi Yitzchok Schochet: Prozac for the Soul?

https://www.chabad.org/4256230

Rabbi Shais Taub: Finding Yourself, Finding G-d

https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/audio_cdo/aid/3006547/jewish/Finding-Yourself-Finding-G-d.htm

Rabbi Shais Taub: My Name is and I am a human being

Eckhardt Tolle: How to deal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK_sWWUvMjU

Earl Purdy & Anna Kujawa on special relationships

Comments Off on Practicing these principles in all our affairs

Sponsorship

Effective sponsorship in AA:

  • Identify with the prospect whether he is an addict, broadly speaking
  • Ask if he wants to quit for good and for all
  • If so, ask if he is willing to go to any lengths
  • If he says ‘yes’:
  • Give him a rock-solid daily and weekly program of applying the last three steps, service, and fellowship to daily living
  • Get him going on the steps
  1. Whatever system you establish, ensure that, if he does the work you ask him to do, you are available very promptly to go through it and progress him to the next exercise
  2. Never leave a sponsee with no step work to do
  3. Suggest at least an hour or two of step work a day
  4. Ensure that the combination of the daily/weekly program (the last three steps) plus this pathway through the first nine steps, together with work, family, and other obligations, means he always knows exactly what he’s supposed to be doing, when, where, and how.

Pretty much any sponsee who follows the above will not relapse. If relapse does happen, examine whether the above was being adhered to, and if not, why not. The individual is then given the chance to recommit, on a new and more honest basis.

Always start back at Step One to Three (reviewing thoroughly but not in a labored way any work performed to date, because relapse always suggests a reservation somewhere in these three steps: someone who has made a decision to turn his will and life over to God has decided to do what is right, not what he wants).

Watch out for:

  • Other unaddressed addictions
  • Resentments
  • Ongoing harmful behavior
  • Nasty little secrets

If someone appears to be ‘doing everything right’, one of the above four is usually the culprit.

These may help also

https://how2sponsor.blogspot.com/search/label/Sponsorship

https://first164.blogspot.com/search/label/Sponsorship

Good luck!

Comments Off on Sponsorship

Service

‘For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead.’ (Page 14)

‘Faith has to work twenty-four hours a day in and through us, or we perish.’ (Page 16)

‘Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.’ (Page 20)

‘Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.’ (Page 77)

‘Giving, rather than getting, will become the guiding principle.’ (Page 128)

‘… constantly thinking how they might present their discovery to some newcomer.’ (Page 159)

Each week, keep a record of:

How you have been of service within AA E.g.

Talking to newer people:

How many people have you been in contact with?

By what means (text, call, meeting)?

How much time was spent?

What did you learn?

Talking to peers:

How many people have you been in contact with?

By what means (text, call, meeting)?

How much time was spent?

What did you learn?

Going to meetings:

Were they literature-based meetings?

Were they focused on the solution?

Did you share?

What did you learn?

Group level service

What?

How long did you spend?

What did you learn?

Service within the AA structure (Intergroup, Region, etc.)

What?

How long did you spend?

What did you learn?

Other service within AA

What?

How long did you spend?

What did you learn?

Then review this with your Higher Power and ask:

What more could I do?

What could I do better / differently?

What could I do instead?

How you have been of service outside AA?

Look at:

Family Work / volunteering / study Friends Community Society

Then review this with your Higher Power and ask:

What more could I do?

What could I do better?

What could I do differently?

What could I do instead?

Comments Off on Service

Traditions and Concepts

Each week or so take one of the Twelve Traditions and then one of the Twelve Concepts (in order).

The basic resources for the Traditions and Concepts are here:

Traditions and Concepts: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1OKcTFuW74EE6BaSuToFDEyxMp6IjeZR7&usp=drive_fs

Some talks Tim gave on the Traditions and Concepts, which might be useful: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1L2w9GpyNj71y6zDoB1W5fkWcwWX6XPQ9&usp=drive_fs

With the Traditions, start with the Traditions essays in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. This is the ‘basic text’.

Then read the pamphlets on the Traditions.

With the Concepts, make sure to start with the essay by Bill W on the Twelve Concepts (best to use the ‘AA SERVICE MANUAL COMBINED WITH THE TWELVE CONCEPTS FOR WORLD SERVICE’).

Then read the pamphlet ‘3300 Twelve Concepts Illustrated’ (contained in the folder ‘AA pamphlets’)

Read the other materials on the Tradition or Concept.

Take your own notes of what you find important or useful.

In particular, consider how you could apply the Tradition or Concept in your service and in other areas, and how you would explain the Tradition or Concept to another person.

Talk through with someone else who has studied the Traditions or Concepts.

Once you’ve completed a Concept, make a list of questions you have or aspects you would like to discuss, and call me.

If it takes more than a week to get through a Tradition or Concept, so be it. Spend time every day (at least one hour on working days and two at weekends or other days off) and do the exercise diligently and thoroughly.

Don’t squeeze the work to fit the deadline of one week.

Comments Off on Traditions and Concepts

Getting back on track with serving God

‘Cause me to have all the honesty, open-mindedness, willingness I may need here and now. I ask for the guidance, love, and wisdom that I need to work through this process and gain the most I can at this time. I am as willing as I can be to set aside everything I even think I know about this area, this way of life, so that my chances for an open mind and to be teachable are better, so that I may realise Your Three Spiritual Gifts: awakening to You, to be the love I am, and to be the individual You created me as. Thank You.’

Treat pages 84 to 88 of the Big Book as the scaffolding for your daily programme. Refer to it constantly. Do precisely what it says without omission or embellishment.

Keep a record based on the following questions:

Worklife

What work have you done? Be precise. Give examples.

What studying have you done? Be precise. Give examples.

What job-seeking have you done? Be precise. Give examples.

What other actions have you taken to find work? Be precise. Give examples.

What other actions have you taken to fit yourself to be of maximum service in work? Be precise. Give examples.

Next to each item, indicate time spent per day plus a total for the week.

Indicate a grand total for the week for work life.

Service

How many newcomers / people in need have you helped? Give examples. Indicate time spent per day plus a total for the week.

What other service have you done within the world of recovery? Give examples. Indicate time spent per day plus a total for the week.

What other service have you done outside the world of recovery? Give examples. Indicate time spent per day plus a total for the week.

Indicate a grand total for the week for service.

Aim to perform each task to the absolute best of your ability. Don’t ask ‘How little can I get away with?’ Ask ‘How can perform this task maximising effectiveness, efficiency, and harmony?’ This applies also to this task itself.

WhatsApp me the above, weekly, by 9.00 a.m. UK time Monday morning.

Comments Off on Getting back on track with serving God

Work Fixing Stasis

Here are some ideas for improving work life

The order is not fixed

Aim to spend 35-40 hours a week working, volunteering, studying towards work, and other activities as set out below


Research the notion of Ikigai

Identify skills

Identify skills gaps

Identify opportunities for closing those skills gaps

Record and analyze all spending and produce monthly and yearly accounts

Produce monthly and yearly budgets

Track actual spending against monthly and yearly budgets

Identify variances, explain them, and feed the information into the next budget period

Identify opportunities for savings and economizing

Have a one-year (annual) and maybe a five-year plan for income, broken down by month

Review the plan for reasonableness and feasibility

Track income against the plan

Identify variances, explain them, and feed the information into the next budget period

Identify opportunities for earning more money

Where are the gaps between what I will earn and what am I spending?

How can those gaps be filled with temporary stopgaps?

How can those gaps be filled with permanent solutions?

If necessary, acquire skills in budgeting & financial planning

If necessary, seek professional help in doing so and / or read books or go on courses

Read books on careers and on choosing / changing careers

Read books on career development

Talk to careers advisers

Talk to everyone you know who is successful in their career

Note down what they did

Make a plan for replicating what they did, adapted to your circumstances

Get professional or other advice on filling out job application forms and interviewing

Do lots of interview practice with trained or experienced people

Read prospectuses for colleges, training schemes, universities

Talk to whoever is charge of these courses

Talk to the admissions departments for these institutions

Interview for courses

Enroll on courses

Attend courses

Find people to provide advice on vocational / professional development

Sign up with recruitment agencies

Sign up temporary work agencies

Bring a CV up to date

Get the CV reviewed by human resources or recruitment professionals

Go to careers libraries / accessing online resources about careers

Go to careers fairs

Find out about careers I’ve never even heard of

Find out more about careers I have heard of

Make lists of careers that are interesting to me

Make lists of careers that do not (yet) appeal but match my skills

Make lists of careers that do not (yet) appeal but are short of workers

Make lists of careers that do not (yet) appeal but offer the opportunity to make money

Research each of these careers with an open mind …

… asking God to help me grow beyond the limitation of my personal reality

Shortlist a dozen careers

Establish the trajectory for going from ‘here’ to ‘there’

Review the feasibility of these various trajectories

Make a shortlist of trajectories

Start to proceed along them

Reject options at the last feasible moment not the first opportunity

Identify opportunities for volunteering

Research them

Discuss these opportunities with advisers and with the relevant organizations

Take up these opportunities

There are many, many ways for any human being to be useful to the world

If I’m under-occupied, I’m saying ‘no’ where I should be saying ‘yes’ to one of the above

Comments Off on Work Fixing Stasis

Instructions

Read pages 85 to 88.

Read the blog on step 11 here – https://www.1st164steps.com/tag/step-11/

Read the 12 and 12 on step 11

Step Eleven connects  me to the Source of all direction and power. The solution to alcoholism  is to serve the Higher Power twenty-hours a day, in total  self-abandonment. Step Eleven has three elements: set-up, check-in,  debrief.

Comments Off on Instructions

Set-up – Check-in – Debrief

Set-up (morning)

  1. On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day.
  2. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives.
  3. In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision.
  4. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle.
  5. We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of such problems.
  6. We ask especially for freedom from self-will.
  7. We may ask for ourselves, however, if others will be helped.
  8. If not members of religious bodies, we sometimes select and memorize a few set prayers which emphasize the principles we have been discussing.
  9. There are many helpful books also. Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer.
  10. So we clean house with the family, asking each morning in meditation that our Creator show us the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness and love.
  11. In meditation, we ask God what we should do about each specific matte****r. The right answer will come, if we want it.
  12. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick.

Check-in (During the day):

  1. As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action.
  2. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day “Thy will be done.”

Debrief (At Night):

There are only two problems in life: being upset (‘agitated’) and  not knowing what to do (‘doubtful’). This single solution works for  both. Apply it constantly.

When we retire at night, we constructively review our day.

1. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid?

2. Do we owe an apology?

3. Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once?

4. Were we kind and loving toward all?

5. What could we have done better?

6. Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time?

7. Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life?

But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others.

After making our review we ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.

Essentially, I’m looking for where I went wrong in belief,  thinking, and behavior, and then looking for solutions. Don’t analyze  the resentments and fears. Resolve them using the tools set out in  previous steps. Resentment is about playing God: demanding that the  world confirm to my ideals. Fear is about self-reliance: when I rely on  God for direction and strength, I can master any situation confidently,  cheerfully, and successfully. It’s not about the content, so don’t  analyze: disclose!

Maybe write down the answers to the questions, but don’t feel you have to.

Definitely write down the corrective measures: you’ll need these for tomorrow.

5 to 10 minutes is good.

NB  the review can be done at the end of the working day or first thing in  the morning instead, before the set-up. It can also be done after a  difficult situation or whenever you realize you have not done a review  in a while.

Comments Off on Set-up – Check-in – Debrief

Meditation

Meditation as devised in AA’s Big Book is concentrated, directed thought at a higher level than the material world.

If  you want to incorporate Buddhist, other eastern, or other forms of  meditation and contemplation, go for it. But you don’t have to, in order  to comply with AA’s suggestion to meditate in the sense in which it was  intended by the authors. Our job is to understand what the writers of  the Big Book meant when they wrote it, and the above is what they meant. Adopt other practices in addition to not instead of the above.

Comments Off on Meditation

Emmet Fox: Power Through Constructive Thinking

Don’t just read the book or listen to. Do what it says.

Try this for forty days.


The following quotation from A Course In Miracles is important to apply:

W-in.8. Some of the ideas the workbook presents you will find hard to believe, and others may seem to be quite startling. 2 This does not matter. 3 You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do. 4 You are not asked to judge them at all. 5 You are asked only to use them. 6 It is their use that will give them meaning to you, and will show you that they are true.

W-in.9. Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. 2 Some of them you may actively resist. 3 None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. 4 But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. 5 Nothing more than that is required.

Comments Off on Emmet Fox: Power Through Constructive Thinking

Bridge

Having made the decision to turn your will and your life over to your Higher Power you are now beginning to enter the world of the spirit.

While we work the process of steps 4 to 9 to clear away the wreckage of our past and find whats been blocking us from God, we begin the process of living in steps 10, 11 and 12.

Read the Big Book Pages 84-88, the blog on steps 10,11 and 12 and the following link, as we proceed through steps 4-9 and begin to share your step 11 inventory nightly with a fellow member.

Listen to this: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1CNeYe6iVXiZsfy0xfMbDcyZFvMgxH4X1

And this for step 12: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Tquu1ujK_tWC82BUk0IcCt2LTmj2RLlS

Comments Off on Bridge

Emergency Pack

The AA symbol—the triangle in the circle—represents the wholeness, the soundness of mind, body, and spirit, that comes from living inside the triangle it contains, the triangle of recovery, unity, and service.

This will serve as a check-list for anyone concerned with slipping from the grace of God or identifying where the shortfall or deficiency may be in their application of the programme.

Recovery

Steps One–Nine

  • Do I have a sponsor who practises the Twelve-Step programme of recovery set out in Alcoholics Anonymous (‘Big Book’)?
  • Is my sponsor taking me through the first nine Steps?
  • Which Step am I on? Which part of that Step am I on? What action am I taking today on that Step?
  • If I am blocked, is that because I am unclear what to do next, or is the problem lack of willingness?
  • How soon can I call my sponsor to discuss what action to take to remove the block?

Steps Ten–Twelve

  • Am I practising Step Ten today, throughout the day (see below)?
  • Did I carry out the ‘when we retire at night’ Step Eleven exercise last night (see below)?
  • Did I carry out the ‘on awakening’ Step Eleven exercise this morning (see below)?
  • Am I pausing when agitated or doubtful (see below)?
  • Am I making and taking every opportunity to give away everything I have learned and been shown in AA to those who are newer or struggling more than me?
  • Is there any area where I am not practising Steps Ten to Twelve?

Unity

“But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful… The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined.

The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carried to those who suffer from alcoholism.” (17:2–3)

“Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends—this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.” (89:2)

“Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.” (Tradition Three, Long Form)

  • Am I going to meetings of a fellowship(s) where people have the same addiction(s) as me?
  • At those meetings, do people talk as much or more about this solution as they do about the common problem?
  • Am I joining in before, during, and after these meetings?
  • In between meetings listed in the meetings directory, do I spend time on the phone and in person sharing experience on the solution to our common problem?
  • Do I have fellowship with people who are newer, people who are peers, and people with more experience?

Service

“For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that.” (14:6)

“Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.” (20:0)

“We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well.” (63:1)

“Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.” (77:0)

“Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful.” (102:2)

  • Do I perform group-level service (‘unity commitments’)?
  • Do I perform service which involves carrying the message (sponsorship, helping newcomers understand the basics of the programme, public information/health liaison work, etc.)?
  • Do I apply this principle in all my affairs: “Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it,” (102:0) and follow through with practical action?

Step Ten basic instructions (84–85)

  • We continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear, as we go through the day.
  • When (not ‘if’) these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. Note there is no analysis. Do not seek to ‘understand’ as a method of ‘processing’ these. Understanding comes automatically from this process. Note that we ask God at once, not at the end of the day.
  • We discuss them with someone immediately. Apply this if you are so deeply involved in your own drama you cannot function. Otherwise, get on with being helpful wherever you are.
  • We make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone.
  • Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Take whatever action suggests itself on the basis of this.
  • When disturbed, we ask God to show us how to be loving and tolerant. We use love and tolerance as our yardsticks for making decisions and treating others.

“God, have me watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear. When these crop up in me, have me immediately ask you to remove them from me and have me discuss them with someone. God, help me quickly to make amends if I have harmed anyone and have me resolutely turn my thoughts to someone I can help. Have me be loving and tolerant of everyone today. Amen.”

“God, have me carry the vision of Your will into all my activities. How can I best serve You? Your will be done! Have these thoughts go with me constantly. Have me exercise my will power along this line. God, the Source of all knowledge and power, grant me strength, inspiration, and direction. May Your Spirit flow into me. Amen.”

Step Eleven basic instructions (86–88)

At the end of the day, carry out a 5–10 minute review of the period since the last review. This is part of the evening meditation. Start with realising that a loving God is present with you. Then ask God to show you the truth. Do not beat yourself up for what you find.

  • Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest, or afraid? Pick the top one of each and resolve to discuss with a sponsor or friend the next morning.
  • Do we owe an apology? Make a list of people to apologise or make amends to the next day, where applicable.
  • Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Make a list of such matters and whom they will be discussed with.
  • Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better?
  • Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life?
  • Be careful not to drift into worry, remorse, or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others.
  • Ask God’s forgiveness (and know that it will be totally given).
  • Inquire (of God) what corrective measures should be taken. Keep it simple (a couple will do). Check them out with someone with more experience in the programme if you are new to this or unsure.

At the beginning of the day:

  • We ask God to direct our thinking.
  • We ask God especially that our thinking be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives.
  • We consider our plans for the day. If we have none, we ask God to show us how to be useful and draw up plans.
  • We consider how the corrective measures from the night before can be applied.
  • We ask that God show us the way of patience, tolerance, kindness, and love (83:2).
  • We ask God to show us how we can help anyone who is suffering from alcoholism (164:2).
  • If we face indecision: we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought, or decision. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle.
  • We pray some set prayers that emphasize the principles of AA.
  • We read some spiritual literature and ask God to show us how we can apply it to our day.
  • Finally, we pray that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of such problems. We ask especially for freedom from self-will, and are careful to make no request for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves, however, if others will be helped.

If agitated or doubtful:

  • We ask God for the right thought or action.
  • We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show.
  • We say to ourselves many times each day “Thy will be done.”

Resentment buster (64–67)

Use this when you are angry, resentful, hurt, threatened, sore, burned-up, or injured, are holding a grudge, or are feeling your life is being ‘interfered with’.

  • Do I want to be free of this anger, resentment, etc?
  • Do I want to continue being dominated by the actions of others or my own failings?
  • I realise that the person who I think has harmed me is spiritually sick—driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity—just like me. The harm—real or fancied—is not personal. It is an expression of their self-centredness, just like my harm to others.
  • I ask God to help me see things from their point of view (the ‘entirely different angle’) and to show them tolerance, pity, and patience.
  • I pray this prayer: “This is/may be a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.” Note that I am the one who needs saving, not him.
  • I avoid retaliation or argument (including mentally).
  • I ask God to show me how to take a kindly and tolerant view of the person.
  • When thoughts of the resentment reoccur, I bless the delinquent briefly and get on with my day.

Fear buster (68)

  • I realise I am scared because I think I will not gain something or lose something I need to be happy or satisfied. Self-reliance has failed me.
  • I realise that God can provide whatever I need if I stay close to Him and perform His work well.
  • I make the decision to trust infinite God rather than my finite self.
  • I make the decision to let Him demonstrate through me what He can do.
  • I ask Him to remove my fear and direct my attention to what He would have me be, both in relation to the situation in which the fear is arising, and right here, right now, in the situation I am actually in.

Examples of what He would have me be (pages 77–83 and elsewhere):

Patient, tolerant, kind, loving, understanding, sensible, tactful, helpful, forgiving, calm, frank, open, considerate, humble, quiet, sane, etc.

Guilt and shame buster (28, 76–83)

Make amends now for recent harms.

  • I find the person I need to make amends to and ask for a little time to talk.
  • I list the wrongs.
  • I express regret. I say I was wrong.
  • I ask if there is anything else I have done wrong.
  • I ask what I can do to make things right.
  • I do it.

I then remember a few points:

“It should not matter, however, if someone does throw us out of his office. We have made our demonstration, done out part. It’s water over the dam.” (78:1)

We all get to make mistakes. If I make amends, I then have to treat the matter as dealt with. I cannot wait remorsefully for the forgiveness of others.

“… all of us, whatever our race, creed, or colour, are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.” (28:2)

“… intelligent agents, spearheads of God’s ever advancing Creation …” (49:1) 

This means I am of infinite value, as a child of God, as are you, and cannot be worth more or less than anyone else, whatever I do or do not do. Without us, nothing can be achieved. We are all of vital importance in God’s creative endeavour.

“… humble without being servile or scraping. As God’s people we stand on our feet; we don’t crawl before anyone.” (83:3)

Comments Off on Emergency Pack

Instructions

Read pages 84 and 85.

Read the blog on step 10 here: https://1st164steps.com/tag/step-10/

Read the 12 and 12 on step 10

Continuing to take personal inventory takes three forms:

  • Spot-check inventory during the day / ‘adjusting the steering wheel’
  • The Step Eleven nightly review 
  • A more extensive examination using any or all of the tools of Step Four / ‘periodic servicing’

See Step Eleven for the second of these.

Examine  problems using the Step Four tools when Step Ten (see below) and Step  Eleven are insufficient to shift the problem. Follow your sponsor’s  guidance on this.

What does the Big Book say?

Continue  to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these  crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone  immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we  resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. … Every day is a  day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our  activities. “How can I best serve Thee—Thy will (not mine) be done.”  These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our  will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the  will.

Key points:

  • Essentially, this is a practice to develop in real time as we proceed through the day
  • Think of it like a monitoring / early-warning system
  • The emotions of resentment and fear, and the guilt / self-justification associated with selfishness and dishonesty are like the lights on the dashboard
  • Watch out for these
  • Do not analyse
  • Drop resentment by using the tools learned in Step Four (drop the condemnation, drop the demand, empathize, love)
  • Drop fear by using the tools learned in Step Four (trust God, ask God to remove the fear, ask God how to be, ask God what to do)
  • Drop dishonesty and selfishness by redirecting mind and actions towards serving God
  • Apologize where necessary
  • Discuss where necessary
Comments Off on Instructions

Watching / Thinking

In Step Ten, on page 84, we’re asked to watch out for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear.

The last two are clearly internal and refer both to belief and thought. The first two could obtain at the level of belief, thought, or behavior.

At the level of thought, there are a number of patterns that fall into the above four categories.

Sometimes it’s not self-evident that a thinking pattern is undesirable. Unless I know what bad mental habits to watch out for, I won’t ask God to remove them and resolutely turn my thoughts elsewhere.

Here are some forms wrong thinking take:

  • Pre-playing future (usually fearful) scenarios, including permutations. The dry run: mentally pre-performing certain actions or activities. Cross-examination (as if by a police officer or lawyer). Verdict giving (as if by a judge).
  • Criminal justice: imagining how someone will be punished.
  • Self-flagellation.
  • Conviction: imagining how one would explain something to someone to convince them you’re right.
  • Persuasion: imagining how one would explain something to someone to persuade them to act a certain way.
  • Fantasizing about a particular action or activity.
  • Fantasizing about a different life.
  • Nostalgia for a particular action, activity, or past life.
  • ‘What if’: imagining what life would be like if a different course had been taken.
  • Sniper: mentally attacking any person, institution, or situation that crosses the mind.
  • Eeyore: adopting a gloomy, despairing, or defeatist attitude to any person, institution, or situation that crosses the mind.
  • Pseudo inventory: unstructured, circular, morbid, and purposeless self-examination.

Some of these imaginative activities are legitimate if undertaken for the purposes of genuine strategic planning, under the guidance of God, in order to determine how to handle a situation that cannot be left to chance. If these are happening purposelessly, recreationally, involuntarily, repetitively, intrusively, compulsively, etc., they’re a problem.

Comments Off on Watching / Thinking

Major Issue

Sometimes, during the course of the day, something knocks you sideways, and simply batting it off and turning your attention to those you can help (pages 84–85) does not dislodge it.

If that be the case, try this:

Column 1: Trigger

Who has bothered me?

Column 2: Cause

What did they do / say / fail to do / fail to say?

Column 3: This affects my … demands

Personal relations: He / she / they should … Sex relations: He / she / they should …

Pocketbooks: What has happened / will happen / might happen? How does this affect my income, expenditure, assets, or liabilities?

Security: To be OK, I need … Ambitions: I want … Pride: He / she / they see me as …; I want him / her / them to see me as … Self-esteem: I see myself as …; I want to see myself as …

Bridge passage

Drop the moral judgement and adopt a position of neutrality.

Drop the demands, downgrade them to preferences, and/or ask God what action to take yourself.

Look at the situation from the other person’s point of view: identify with them.

Pray these prayers

(1) ‘God, please help me show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend.’

(2) ‘This is a sick person (= spiritually asleep). How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.’

(3) ‘God, please help me avoid retaliation or argument.’

(4) ‘God, please show me how to take a kindly and tolerant view of this person.’

Column 4

What were my mistakes? Where was I selfish? Where was I dishonest? What was I after (self-seeking)? What was I frightened of?

Where was I to blame? Where was I at fault (pick the top three character defects)? What were my wrongs (harms towards others)?

Corrective measures

What should I have believed, thought, and done instead? What should I believe, think, and do now?

Call a friend or two and share.

Comments Off on Major Issue

Everyday Issue

Here’s a simple inventory inspired by the writings of Dennis F.

When you have identified an area in which you have a problem, and have reviewed the first three Steps in relation to the problem, ask:

(1) What’s the story?

(2) Where am I going wrong?

(3) What is the solution?

Write answers in the form of simple sentences. Bullet point. Keep it factual. Here’s a template:

What’s the story—give a brief summary of the situation including any problems?Where am I going wrong in what I believe, think, and do?What’s the solution—what would God have me believe, think, and do?

Having taken inventory:

  • Share it with another person or persons.
  • Amend the inventory, if necessary, under their guidance.
  • Ask: am I willing to do what is written in the third column?
  • If not, pray for the willingness.
  • Pray the Step Seven prayer on page 76, with this area in mind.
  • Forgive who you need to forgive.
  • Make amends to whom you need to make amends.
  • Implement the other corrective measures indicated.
  • Use Steps Ten and Eleven on a daily basis to track progress.
  • Share the amazing results you will get with others in AA.
Comments Off on Everyday Issue

Preliminary Readings

Step 09: Preliminary readings

(1) Read Step Nine in the Big Book

(2) Read the chapter on Step Nine in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

(3) Read the articles on Step Nine on the blog: https://1st164steps.com/tag/step-9/


What struck you particularly? Write these things down.

What questions do you have? Write these questions down.

Do all this then we will go back and do Step Eight

Comments Off on Preliminary Readings

How to Take Step Nine

All references are to the Big Book.

The spirit of amends

Real purpose: fitting ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us (77:0)

Demonstration of good will (77:0)

Sincere desire to set right wrong (77:0)

Tact and common sense (77:1)

Helpful and forgiving spirit (77:1)

Do not criticise or argue (77:2)

Do not tell others what to do (78:0)

Do not discuss their faults (78:0)

Calm frank and open (78:0)

Quietly (80:3)

Good sense and loving kindness (82:1)

Patience, tolerance, kindliness, and love (83:1) Lead the way with behavior as well as words (83:2)

Do not urge others to following a spiritual path or bang on about spiritual matters (83:2)

Sensible, tactful, considerate, and humble, without being servile or scraping (83:3)

Stand on our feet as God’s people (83:3)

Do not crawl before anyone (83:3)

Concentrate on one’s own spiritual demonstration (98:3) Avoid argument and fault-finding like the plague (98:3) Sober, considerate, helpful (99:1)

How to make amends

Say why we are making the appointment to see someone, calling them, writing them a letter, etc. (77:2)

Be direct about the drinking and recovery (77:2, 78:2)

Mention God/spirituality if it would help (77:0)

Admit faults (78:0, 79:3, 81:1)

Frankly analyse the past (83:1)

Confess former ill-feeling (if they know about it!) (77:1)

Express sorrow, regret (77:1, 78:2, 81:1)

Ask forgiveness (79:3)

Ask if there is anything else we have done to harm the person and if they want to tell us how it affected them.

Ask what we can do to make things right (83:2—’our behavior . . .’)

Follow-through with family or other people close to us

“So we clean house with the family, asking each morning in meditation that our Creator show us the way of patience, tolerance, kindness, and love.

The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it. . . Our behavior will convince them more than our words.” (83:1–2)

“. . . thoroughly explain to them the new principles by which he is living . . . proceed to put these principles into action at home.” (98:3)

“Though his family be at fault in many respects, he should not be concerned about that. He should concentrate on his own spiritual demonstration. Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like the plague.” (98:3)

“. . . provided, however, the alcoholic continues to demonstrate that he can be sober, considerate, and helpful, regardless of what anyone says or does. Of course, we all fall much below this standard many times. But we must try to repair the damage immediately lest we pay the penalty by a spree.” (99:1)

What to do if you cannot see the person directly

Write a letter (83:3).

Other options (not in the Book) for where it is agreed the direct approach is impossible or inadvisable— consult with a sponsor concerning these:

  • Praying for knowledge of God’s will as to how to make alternative/indirect amends.
  • Writing an anonymous letter.
  • Writing a letter and reading it to a friend, sponsor, or spiritual advisor.
  • Writing a letter and reading it at a person’s grave or a place with significance for the person in question.
  • Sending money anonymously.
  • Giving money or time to an appropriate charity.
  • Making indirect amends, e.g. finding a way to help people in a similar position to those your have harmed but cannot make direct amends to.
  • Considering what changed behavior patterns are required on an ongoing basis and adopting those new behavior patterns.
  • Ask your sponsor for further ideas on how an indirect amend can be made.

In any case, place the matter in God’s hands (120:3).

When not to make amends directly (because it would harm them or others)

“Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.” (77:0)

“Therefore, we are not to be the hasty and foolish martyr who would needlessly sacrifice others to save himself from the alcoholic pit.” (79:2)

If the amend would actually make it harder for us to be of maximum service to God and the people around us, we need to be careful, and consult with others and God (80:1).

Examples could include causing ourselves to be unemployable or costing taxpayers money through court cases, etc., or placing those dependent on us financially in a worse financial position.

If possible, obtain the permission of those who may be affected (80:1). Do not generally reveal new information (81:1).

Do not involve other people (81:1).

Factors that do not stand in the way of amends

Them having harmed us more than we harmed them (77:1)

Still not liking the person (77:1)

A negative response from them (anticipated or actual) (78:1)

Financial harm to us (78:2)

Personal consequences in general (loss of position or reputation, or jail) (79:1)

When do you make amends?

Now (83:3)

Financial amends

Face the creditors now and arrange the best deal (“Arranging the best deal we can we let these people know we are sorry … We must lose our fear of creditors no matter how far we have to go, for we are liable to drink if we are afraid to face them.”) (78:2)

A practical note: prioritise debts where you will be pursued legally and consider consolidating such debts through an agency. Consider how much you can afford to pay off per month in total and split, if possible, between all your creditors, in terms of an opening offer for how much to pay back. Then you will be able to approach everyone more or less simultaneously and will not have to delay approaching any particular creditor. It may be best to approach and negotiate deals with all of the creditors who can pursue you legally first before entering into any arrangements with people who do not have a legal claim or do not even know you owe them money.

The key priority is approaching creditors promptly.

Step Nine prayers

“God, please fit me to be of maximum service to you and to those around me.” (77:0)

“God, show me whether or not to make these amends directly.” (80:1) “God, let me place the outcome of these amends in your hands.” (80:4)

“God, show me the right way to approach these amends; have me keep the happiness of X uppermost in my mind.” (82:1)

“God, show me the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness, and love.” (83:2)

A way of ‘managing’ the amends

Split the amends cards/sheets into four piles:

  • Willing and able
  • Willing and unable
  • Unwilling and able
  • Unwilling and unable

‘Willing’ means you are prepared to make the amend today.

‘Able’ means you understand clearly the harm, are clear on how to make the amend, and have the details for how to contact the person in question.

Proceed with the willing-and-able pile (under the guidance of a sponsor) and pray to God for willingness/ability/further preparatory steps to take for those where you are unwilling or unable.

Review periodically to see which amends have shifted from unwilling and/or unable to willing and/or able.

Comments Off on How to Take Step Nine

Preparing for a Step 9 Amend

When you decide you owe someone an amend, do a mental walk-through:

How will I approach them to ask to make amends?

What mode will I use?

In person

Telephone

Letter

Email

WhatsApp

Instagram

Through a third party etc.

Tip: face-to-face is often best, but sometimes written amends

can appear more serious and thoughtful

are less intrusive

allow others to respond in their own way and in their own time

and prevent distortion in what the recipient ‘hears’

Am I aiming to make amends in the same interaction as the approach?

Or is the aim to approach them to set up an appointment to make amends?

For the actual amend, which mode will I use (see above)?

Will I leave the decision on mode to them?

How will I ask they get back to me (if relevant)?

If they don’t respond to the approach (e.g. by email), what will I do?

Some options:

Write a letter two weeks later under a cover note …

… and let them know you will do that if you do not hear from them

Try again using the same mode

Try again using a different mode

Try again through a third party

If the amend is going to be made in person: when and where?

Will a specific appointment be made?

Will the amend be made as part of another event?

Pro tips:

Meeting over dinner can give rise to awkwardness if the amend is over before the food is ordered

Awkward amends are usually best arranged in such a way that either person can extract themselves simply and without delay or embarrassment

In the amend itself:

Will I mention being an alcoholic (etc.)?

Will I mention sobriety?

Will I mention recovery?

Will I mention AA?

Will I mention the Twelve Steps?

Will I mention Step Nine?

Will I mention God?

What harms will I present?

Exactly what will I say?

How will I express regret?

How will I encourage them to respond openly and freely?

How will I offer to make amends / make it right?

Will anyone else be implicated?

Will anyone else be involved in any way?

Will anyone else be harmed? If so, exactly how?

Would I be revealing new information?

Would that information be helpful?

Or would it be hurtful?

Would the revelation itself constitute a harm?

Will the amend improve my ability to be useful?

Will the amend impair my ability to be useful?

How can I be maximally tactful and considerate?

If the amend could turn tricky or nasty, what will I do (be concrete and practical)?

Do I need to take anyone else with me?

Do I need to arrange people to be available to speak to afterwards?

Do I need to arrange a meeting for after?

With each element, consider:

Alternatives

Advantages of each

Disadvantages of each

Ways to mitigate the disadvantages

The overall best

Pray, meditate, read, consider the principles of Step Nine, and consult others

If doubtful, set the material aside and come back to it later

Comments Off on Preparing for a Step 9 Amend

Approaching people to make amends

When taking Step Nine with someone you are not in regular contact with, approach them with tact and consideration.

To to this, approach them in writing explaining why you are in contact with them.

If you do not explain why you are contacting them, they have no cause to reply, as you are not someone they are in regular contact with.

Secondly, if you have harmed them, they may not perceive you benevolently.

Do not, therefore, say, ‘I would like to talk to you,’ or ‘Can we meet for coffee?’ without further explanation.

If you explain you would like to make amends or apologise for past poor behavior, they are more likely to respond.

If necessary, make clear there are no ulterior motives. Offer them the choice of how to receive the amend: in person, by telephone or similar, or in writing.

Say that you quite understand if they do not wish to have further contact, but that, if you hear nothing, you will send through the amend in writing, which they may read or discard as they wish.

Then wish them well in any case.

Two weeks later or so, send the amend through in writing, expressing your openness to follow-up in person, by telephone or similar, or in writing.

Comments Off on Approaching people to make amends

Forms of Step Nine

Step Eight identifies where our behavior is wrong. It also identifies if and how we have harmed others.

Depending on the nature, severity, and circumstances of the wrong and the harm, there are six possible course of action. More than one may apply.

Amend: Full-blown Big Book amend. Where there is harm, an amend is due, except where the usual caveats apply.

Apology: Low-key apology. We’ve been out of line, no one has been harmed, but courtesy and manners demand an apology.

Acknowledgement of impact: A recognition that one has impacted another but without admitting fault. Practical, emotion, and psychological difficulties can negatively impact others. Where there was nothing we could or should reasonably have done differently in the circumstances, amends and apologies are inappropriate, but acknowledging impact is appropriate*.*

Thanks: Long-overdue thanks are often welcomed.

Remedial action: Return the book. Clean the mess. Clear the shelf.

Altered behavior: Our behavior was wrong but it’s below the threshold for an amend or apology, and the ‘acknowledgement conditions’ are not met. This may apply, too, even where there is an amend or an apology due.

Tactical learning: Sometimes we don’t handle something optimally but it wasn’t wrong or harmful in any material way. Lessons can nonetheless be learned. This may apply in all of the above cases.

Comments Off on Forms of Step Nine

When A Letter is Better

It may be better to put the amend in writing in the following scenarios:

  • When the person will not see you.
  • When the person will not talk to you on the phone or similar.
  • When the person is dead.
  • When you have completely lost touch with the person and need to approach them in stages. When they are much older, more senior, more important, or more strapped for time.
  • When you need to approach the person with particular tact and consideration.
  • When the subject matter is particularly sensitive.
  • When the harm involved considerable embarrassment or humiliation of the other person.
  • When the amend needs to be worded very carefully.
  • When there is a lot of material to get out onto the table.
  • When there is a risk the other person will misconstrue what is said.
  • When there is risk the other person will prevent you from completing an orally delivered amend. When there is a risk of the conversation becoming derailed.
  • When there is a risk of other matters eclipsing the amend.
  • When there is a risk of a romantic or sexual flare-up.
  • When the harm consisted in violence, stalking, nuisance, interference, or intrusion.
  • When they have said they do not want to see you or speak to you.
  • When they terminated the relationship in the first place.

Letters can often open the door to a phone call and / or a face-to-face meeting.

Indeed, a more immediate expression of regret and follow-up should always be offered.

The job is to get the job done in the best way taking into account the other person and approaching them the way we would want to be approached if the tables were turned.

Comments Off on When A Letter is Better

…except when to do so would injure them or others

If instinct tells you an amend might be tricky, because it could injure them or others, here’s a set of questions to consider in discussion with a sponsor:

  • The person, the event, and the harm
  • Does the person know they were harmed?
  • Does the person know who harmed them?
  • Is there any other information that the amend might reveal that is new?
  • Might the event have been forgotten?
  • Might its memory have been repressed?
  • Might it have occurred before an age when memories were consistently formed?
  • Is the event linked with other difficult or traumatic events?
  • Could bringing up the individual harm trigger associations with a larger traumatic context?
  • If the amend introduces new information or retrieves lost information, how might they respond?
  • How might their response involve other people?
  • What other negative consequences might the introduction of new information or retrieval of old information have?
  • What would have been the impact of the event at the time?
  • What might have been the lasting impact of the event on the person?
  • What might have been or was the impact on the relationship with you?
  • What might have been or was the impact on the relationship with others?
  • What is the evidence of any impact?
  • Is there any evidence that they have gotten over or past the event?
  • Is there any evidence of an ongoing difficulty, in personality or in relationships, due to the event? What other consequences might have flowed from the harm?

The relationship with the person

  • Does the person know you already?
  • Did you have a relationship with the person in the past?
  • Do you have a relationship with them still?
  • Is there a current problem in the relationship? Might that be connected to the past harm?
  • Is there any overt evidence of that?
  • Has the harm been discussed before?
  • Has the harm been apologised for before?
  • How else might the amend affect the relationship?

Involving third parties

  • Was anyone else involved in causing the harm?
  • If you admit the harm, are you also admitting their harm?
  • Have they already made amends / are they fine with you making amends? Could your amend implicate them or otherwise get them in trouble?

Triggering procedures / proceedings

  • Could the admission trigger legal, administrative, human resources, or other formal grievance procedures?
  • Does the admission of the harm implicate the setting in which the harm took place (a school, an institution, an employer)?
  • Who would be involved if procedures were triggered? What would it cost in time and money?
  • Who would foot the bill for those?
  • Who would benefit from such proceedings?
  • If you (the amender) are subject to such proceedings, how might that affect your ability to be useful (e.g. in terms of future employment)?
  • Who would be affected by that, other than you? Have you secured their consent?

This is not an exhaustive list of questions but will certainly take you some of the way.

Consideration, consultation, and (prayerful) contemplation will reveal whether the benefits of the proposed amend outweigh any of the possible harms.

Comments Off on …except when to do so would injure them or others

Amends letters examples

1

Dear Dr. …,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to you to apologize and make amends for my past behaviour. As you are aware, I had been having significant problems with alcohol, drugs and prescription medication for the past three-and-a-half years. I entered a 90-day treatment facility in … last August, and have been sober and clean since then. I am very grateful to be sober today and free of the various forms of drugs and tablets I had been taking. However, I will never get over my substance abuse until I have set right the wrongs I have done to many people in my life. I am not writing for any other purpose than to apologize for my behaviour, and to enquire if there is anything I might do that would return the kindness you showed me as your patient.

Whilst under your care, I believe I was a nuisance to you. I lied many times. I was antagonistic last summer when asking for diazepam or other benzodiazepines. I also missed many appointments due to my substance abuse, often not calling or cancelling at the last minute.

I am grateful you recommended the appropriate course of action as re-entering treatment. I was in a very bad place for a long time, and there were several competent physicians who guided me to the right decision.

I would like to thank you for your care and kindness. Your treatment of me was an integral part of my path back to recovery. If there is anything I might be able to do today or in the future to correct any of my wrongs, kindly let me know.

Warm regards,

2

Dear …,

I sincerely hope this letter finds you well. I am writing a long overdue letter to you to apologize and make amends for my past behaviour. As you are aware, I completed a 90-day in-patient treatment in November. I had been having massive problems with drugs, alcohol, and pills for a period that pre-dates our meeting, going back to … I am sober today, free of all substances, and have been for five months.

However, I will not fully recover until I have set write the very significant harm I’ve done to so many people in my life. You are foremost among them. I am not writing for any other purpose than to sincerely apologize and to ask if there is anything I can do to set things right with you. There is no ulterior motive to this letter. I hope you will allow me to make this up to you in whatever way you deem appropriate. …, I realize I have done the following to you during and after our relationship:

    I lied to you constantly about my drinking and drug use.

    I lied when I tried to hurt you by saying I was dating someone in … in fall of …

    I lied when I said I threw your grandmother’s bracelet in the river.

    I harmed you after we first met in September … by not calling, leading you on, trying to get back together, and pulling away.

    I put my job before you many, many times.

    I walked into your apartment in August of …, very drunk, yelled and screamed, threw a fit, and then walked out. I said I was just going to die. This was all some form of manipulation, without any knowledge or consideration on my part of how this affected you or … You did the right thing by calling the emergency services.

    I called your friend … for a cocaine connection in early June …, a highly inappropriate act that must have been embarrassing to you.

    I was so drunk and high on … Island in early June … that I was passed out amongst your friends, drunkenly slurring that they had to help me find you. How embarrassing and harmful to you this was I can only guess.

    I constantly denied you sex.

    I was careless in my benzo use, and played a significant part in your use of those pills. I contributed to your seizure and subsequent injury.

    I constantly led you on after I moved to …, for over a year. Breaking up, then pledging my love, then breaking up, then going silent. God only knows how much this must have harmed you. I was always careless about your feelings, stepped on your love, and abused your affection, with no thought of anyone other than myself.

    I was never there as I could have been to you, …, or your family.

    I drank your parents’ liquor when I stayed there last year during Christmas, sneaking down at night and sipping a lemon liqueur, to calm my nerves from all the cocaine I was doing in the bathroom while you were asleep or watching TV. I would like to recompense your parents for this, but only in a manner you suggest and to which you guide me.

    My silence since I was in rehab in … hurt you. It is only because of my own blocks, and my desire to only contact you with a full inventory of my harms. It was pure of motive, but absolutely slow in coming. I ask you to forgive me for my silence and any harm it has caused.

    You know how much I adore … I never hurt her in any way. But in my state of inebriation, I was not as good to her as I could have been. …, when I was alone with her, however, is an exception. I cared for her as if she was my own child or nephew, as did my parents.

    I said insane, crazy, absurd, and hurtful things to you.

    I ignored you in late June/early July … when I was packing, when in truth I wanted to be home alone to drink and do cocaine.

    I was not the boyfriend you deserve.

If you feel you harmed me in any way, I forgive you unconditionally and completely for everything. In that phase of my life, it’s almost certain that I would have found my own way to any number of hard drugs, and possibly worse drugs. The same applies to alcohol.

Please let me know, if you will, how any of this or anything else I have done has affected you. Do not hold back: part of this process is me learning what effect I have had on others. If there are other harms I’ve caused, and you would like to raise them with me, please let me know. If there is anything else I can do to set this right, tell me. Please let me know, if appropriate, if and how I should repay your parents in any way you see fit. If you would prefer to have no contact, I completely understand and thank you for even reading this letter and giving it consideration.

I learned so much from you. I always think of you kindly. Today, my life is wholly focused on cleaning up my past, helping other alcoholics, and living in the middle of AA.

I wish you joy, happiness, peace, and love.

3

Dear [FATHER OF THE PERSON I OWE AMENDS TO],

I have been trying to trace someone I was at school with, [THE PERSON I OWE AMENDS TO]. I have been unable to trace him directly. […] This is a bit of a long shot, but I hope I have found the right […]. I obtained your address, incidentally, from […].

The reason I would like to contact him is this:

I am a recovered alcoholic and a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. As part of the programme of recovery, we approach everyone we have harmed in our lives and attempt to make restitution for the harm we have caused.

I was at […] School between 1985 and 1990. Alex was in my year and my house […]. Alex was picked on badly by a lot of people at […]. My memory of the circumstances in which he left is hazy. What I do remember is that I was active and complicit in this ostracism and I did not defend him when I saw others behaving cruelly. This must have badly affected him and, by extension, his family.

I greatly regret my conduct at this time, and would like to make amends to you and your family and, in particular, Alex. Alex’s memories of this time may be far clearer than mine, and he may remember specific incidents of my poor conduct that are lost to my memory. I would be happy to hear his side of this and to hear how this affected all of you. Lastly, I would like to know if there is any way I could make amends for this.

I would be prepared to meet you and/or Alex in person to discuss this.

I understand that bringing up these episodes from the past may be troubling and I would quite understand if you wished to let the matter rest at this letter.

Nonetheless, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to straighten out the past.

Best regards,

4

Dear …,

I am writing because I have recently found a spiritual pathway that requires me to revisit all of the harms I have done to others and to rectify them. Yes, it’s a twelve-step programme, and yes, after all these years,

I finally realised that I am an alcoholic. It’s been with me since my mid twenties and was with me on and off during my days at …. Probably about in about year two of my … journey when I started back at university, I stole two bottles of wine from you—a bottle of …, and a bottle of …. It was straight up and down wrong, and I am extremely embarrassed to have to admit this to you now. However, if I don’t, there is a chance I may drink again, and this may very well kill me.

Given the generosity you ladies showed me during my … days, acting that way was no way to repay you. First by taking this action when I was a trusted employee, and then by taking twenty years to redress the situation.

I hope you can forgive me. The enclosed money order is to right the wrong—to cover the cost of the harm, with some inflation. I remember these as being two bottles that I definitely couldn’t afford at the time, and I am reflecting that value in the amount I am sending. I am, very, very sorry for having done this. I would also be grateful if you could confirm if there is anything else you need from me to rectify the situation, or if indeed there are any other amends you require from me of which I’m not aware.

Dispensing with the formalities for a second—and while I still have your attention—I am so very proud to have worked at … and watch keenly from a distance as I see it and … reach ever higher levels.

With love to you three and wishing you the very best always.

5

Dear Mum,

You have seen how well I am these days. I am very happy and have a lot to be thankful for, not least you! I feel our relationship is good today, and we both have a lot to look forward to. My turnaround, entirely due to AA, has been nothing less than miraculous, and I am very grateful to have had your love and support.

As you know, I have been undertaking the Twelve Steps. The basis of the programme of recovery that works for so many is: admitting powerlessness, turning our problem and our lives over to the care of God, undertaking a moral inventory, humbly asking God to remove our shortcomings, making amends for our actions, and continuing to live a spiritual life by using our experience to help others.

I am currently on Step Nine, which is about making amends to those I have harmed. I know I have had a conversation about this with you before, but I am not sure that I have sufficiently done my part. I realise from our last conversation that you feel I do not need to do this; however, it has proved to be a crucial part of the process of recovery since the beginning of AA. Therefore, I am writing you a letter this time to save you any awkwardness and to save me from failing to express myself as I would wish, and I am asking you for the opportunity for me to make amends.

It is important to understand, however, that, although it is a crucial part of the programme, I am not doing this purely for my own sake, nor because I have been advised to, but because I genuinely feel I need to and want to for your sake—because I love you very much, and I wish to make things right.

Due to the nature of my past behaviour and the harm I caused—and the highly imperfect record of my own memory—I imagine it’s neither feasible nor useful at this point to attempt to list all the instances of my negative behaviour towards you and to attempt to make amends for them all. Rather, I would like to attempt to acknowledge in a general way the harm I have caused you, and, if you wish, I would be happy to explore it at greater length with you in future if you would find this helpful.

I am deeply sorry for my behaviour towards you over the years I was drinking.

I considered myself essentially a good person, and, when evidence to the contrary occurred, my own self-centeredness seemed to blind me to it. I would direct blame away from myself and towards you, which was wholly unwarranted.

I was arrogant, snobbish, and proud; I was selfish, vain, and gluttonous; I was lazy and indifferent; I was disobedient. The way I spoke to you was sometimes contemptuous and cruel. It shocks me to think of it now that the haze of self-centredness has been lessened, and I can at least glimpse at my own reflection. I am sorry for it all.

I am sorry for all the times you saw me drunk, how I talked to you and how it affected you. I realise that my behaviour caused you much worry. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for you, when I was drinking, to deal with the worry and hurt, but I can only attempt to put myself in your shoes. It must have been awful, and I am truly sorry.

I am sorry for all the harm I caused you, and to those around you as a result of my behaviour, particularly to […].

I am sorry for any way in which my actions negatively affected your health.

I am sorry for taking money from you as a result of my drinking, and I am willing to repay you for this when I am able.

I love you very much—and I always have, even when my behaviour would suggest otherwise. I am trying to make amends for the past and to turn over a new leaf, and work to be a better person. I realise that no number of apologies really rights wrongs, and that the best thing that I can do to make amends is to improve my behaviour from now on.

It is important to stress absolutely that you were as good and as loving a mother as anyone could wish for—I am extremely grateful to you—and that you are not at fault whatsoever for what happened. My defects, including my unnatural reaction to alcohol, are innate in me, and not caused by you whatsoever—you were and are just as powerless over my drink problem as I am, I assure you.

I would be happy to talk about any of this further in person if you wish, although of course I understand if you would rather not.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to make things right.

Yours with much love,

6

Dear …,

I am writing to take accountability and responsibility for my role in …’s suffering, in his passing, and for the ongoing harm I have done to you and to your family. Words fail me in expressing my regret for what I was to …, and for what I am to you, to his sisters, his nieces and nephews, to everyone that knew him; I understand that there is nothing I can do to repair the damage that I’ve done.

My desire is to express my remorse and sorrow, to accept unequivocal responsibility for the harm I’ve caused, and to express my complete willingness to do whatever I can (paltry and tardy as it is). If you have anything you want to say to me, I will listen without argument, rebuttal, or qualification while you share it. If I can help you to understand what the last year of …’s life was like, I will truthfully and completely answer any questions you have. If there is anything I can do, it is my wish to do it; the terms are yours to set. If you don’t want to communicate further, no response is necessary, I will not contact you again. It is not my intention to interrupt your lives or cause you any further pain.

This is not a mitigation, but it is true: I got sober in early … and have remained so since, am an active member of a 12-step fellowship, and spend much of my free time in the mentorship and service of other alcoholics/addicts. I appreciate that the beginning of my spiritual accounting will happen when I die sober, and not a second before. It is my intention and desire to live the rest of my life in a way that atones for my past wrongdoing. I say this not to absolve myself of responsibility, rather so that you have as much context as possible in deciding whether or how to respond. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Comments Off on Amends letters examples

Preliminary Readings

Step 08: Preliminary readings

(1) Read Step Eight in the Big Book

(2) Read the chapter on Step Eight in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

(3) Read the articles on Step Eight on the blog: https://1st164steps.com/tag/step-8/


What struck you particularly? Write these things down.

What questions do you have? Write these questions down.

Comments Off on Preliminary Readings

Instructions

Make a list of:

Everyone from your Step Four whom you have harmed. Any other relationship where your conduct has been anything less than ideal.

Include anyone since the last Step Eight and anyone from the last Step Eight to whom you have not already made full amends.

Ask God to guide the consideration. For each person, take a separate small sheet of paper or index card and write. Introduction: Write out a brief description of the relationship with the person and the context. Answer the three questions:

(1) What did I do / say (or fail to do / say)? *

(2) What should I have done / said instead? **

(3) Who suffered and how? ***

Look at questions (2) and (3) for each separate answer to (1) or in aggregate, depending on what will make most sense.

In most cases, this is a simple matter. However, in some cases it’s hard to get to the answers. If you’re struggling for clarity, the notes below may help. I’m sorry they’re long: they’re designed to cover every possible situation. Scan these notes for questions or ideas that might help with your particular situation.

Regarding (1)

Stick to the facts: What would a CCTV camera have recorded? What would a sound recorder have recorded?

Don’t describe internal states (‘I resented him’) Do describe actions (‘I scowled at him and refused to answer his questions’) Don’t be vague (‘I disrespected him’) Do be specific (‘I told him his taste in clothes was terrible’) Don’t use figurative language (‘I led him up the garden path’) Do use concrete language (‘I told him the car had been serviced when it hadn’t been’) Don’t describe intention (‘I manipulated him into giving me money’) Do describe facts (‘I told him I was broke and asked for money’)

Don’t bundle in their response (‘I persuaded him to leave his girlfriend’) (persuasion involves the other person’s compliance)

Do separate out my contribution (‘I counseled him to leave his girlfriend’) Don’t describe consequences (‘I ruined his lawn’) Do describe causes (‘I drove my Landrover Discovery over his lawn’)

When describing verbal and other interactions, separately examine content, manner, tone, and timing E.g. it might have been right to express dissatisfaction but not in the tone of voice used

E.g. it might have been right to terminate the conversation but not without warning the other person you were going to put down the phone before proceeding to do it

E.g. it might have been right to interrupt but not without the courtesy of signalling the interrupt and explaining why

E.g. it might have been right to separate from a partner but not by means of a blazing row in a restaurant

E.g. it might have been right to highlight a dereliction of duty but not the moment he came in from a stressful day at work

In complex interactions, examine each contribution to the interaction separately

Regarding (2)

This question is relevant because actions are wrong only if taking a different action would have been right

For instance

Hitting someone might be right if it’s in self-defense Leaving someone might be right if to stay would cause more pain

Criticizing someone might be right if you’re their manager and you’re reviewing their performance

Sometimes realizing we did the right thing relieves us of inappropriate guilt

Just because someone else reacted badly does not mean we did the wrong thing Just because there was a bad consequence does not mean we did the wrong thing

Sometimes what we did was the best in the circumstances … … the consequences would otherwise have been far worse

The ‘right action’ …

… might stem from a universal principle (e.g. physical violence should only be a last resort, raising your voice is rarely warranted)

… might be more specific to the situation in question:

Consider what rule or principle has been broken:

Is the rule or principle a moral absolute? Or is it merely a custom or convention?

NB breaching a custom or convention can require an amend just as much as breaching an universal or absolute rule or principle

With the rule, principle, custom, or convention:

It is universal?

Or is it specific to a particular society; industry; cultural, religious, or social setting; organization; institution; family; or relationship?

Is it followed rarely, commonly, usually, or always? Do people legitimately differ in its observance? Do individuals vary over time in its observance? Am I holding myself to a higher, lower, or different standard than others? Did I overtly or covertly create a particular expectation regarding my future conduct? What would the other person have legitimately expected in the situation?

For them, was ‘the destination clearly printed on the ticket’? Examples of variation:

What is right in business is largely a question of custom and expectation in the sector in question: chartered accountants transact differently than night-club promoters

Some sections of society are untroubled by sexual promiscuity or casualness in relation to sex …

… but other sections of society are greatly troubled and offended by these Bobby and Peter might tease each other mercilessly, but to them it’s fun

… but if Andrew teases David, David might be upset because they don’t have ‘that kind of relationship’

People who are particularly vulnerable (the young, the old, and the mentally, physically, or emotionally fragile or impaired) might require particular care

Consider the respective roles of the individuals and their relationship

There can be a greater duty of care on the part of someone senior, older, or with perceived or actual authority

Play through the various alternative courses of action and consider which would have caused the least harm / avoided the harm altogether

Don’t worry if you would not have had the wit or wherewithal to act right in that situation: ask yourself only what the right thing would have been, in retrospect, knowing what you know now

Regarding (3)

In Step Eight, I look at the different types of harm I cause.

Level one: point of impact

Physical injury

Damage to or theft of property

Monetary loss

Deprivation of time

Interference, intrusion, and nuisance

Unnecessary emotional suffering

Harm to relationships with third parties

Reputational harm

Level two: relationship level

Damage to the relationship: sometimes the incident is minor, but it causes a rupture in the relationship, and it is the rupture that is the harm. That rupture also deepens the sense of separation and perception of others’ hostility, coldness, or distance.

Level three: spiritual harm

Standing in the way of someone’s development: if I remain enmeshed in an enabling situation that prevents someone from hitting a rock bottom or learning to develop their own resources, I am blocking their development.

I am also doing the same if I fail to offer help that is genuinely needed to develop.

Misdirection: especially in recovery, I can either misdirect when I disturbed or mistaken or, maybe worse, when I set a bad example through my conduct.

Increasing separation: any action which divides rather than joins, including by encouraging separation, hostility, and ill-natured opposition in discussions.

Comments Off on Instructions

Types of Harm

In Step Eight, I look at the different types of harm I cause.

Level one: point of impact

Physical injury

Damage to or theft of property

Monetary loss

Deprivation of time

Interference, intrusion, and nuisance

Unnecessary emotional suffering

Harm to relationships with third parties

Reputational harm

Level two: relationship level

Damage to the relationship: sometimes the incident is minor, but it causes a rupture in the relationship, and it is the rupture that is the harm. That rupture also deepens the sense of separation and perception of others’ hostility, coldness, or distance.

Level three: spiritual harm

Standing in the way of someone’s development: if I remain enmeshed in an enabling situation that prevents someone from hitting a rock bottom or learning to develop their own resources, I am blocking their development.

I am also doing the same if I fail to offer help that is genuinely needed to develop.

Misdirection: especially in recovery, I can either misdirect when I am disturbed or mistaken or, maybe worse, when I set a bad example through my conduct.

Increasing separation: any action which divides rather than joins, including by encouraging separation, hostility, and ill-natured opposition in discussions.

Comments Off on Types of Harm

Checklists

When I’m doing a Step Eight on someone I have lived with or have otherwise had a close relationship with, I use checklists of behavior to uncover what I might have done wrong.

Here are four. Pick one or more.

With each item identified, write out examples.

Go through those

Which of those do I do with that person

Then see 1/2 examples of how you do it

Fundamental attitudes and thought patterns

You’re concerned with what goes on to the outside

You’re pinpointing the precise point at which the disturbance manifests on the outside.

Chapters Seven to Nine: the spiritual ‘dos’

A list of the ‘dos’ in Chapters Seven to Nine. Overly specific instructions have been ignored; what is set out below is a list of general spiritual principles. Duplicates are ignored.

Cooperate (89:3)

Be helpful (89:3)

Be patient (90:1)

Put yourself in the other person’s place (90:2) Wait (90:3)

Be sane (94:1)

Be quiet (94:1)

Be full of human understanding (94:1)

Offer friendship (95:1)

Offer fellowship (95:1)

Use discretion (96:3)

Concentrate on your own spiritual demonstration (98:3)

Be considerate (99:1)

Increase the pleasure of others (102:1)

Attend to your business enthusiastically (102:1)

Be of good temper (111:1)

Use your energies to promote a better understanding (115:3) Defuse heated discussion (118:1)

Be tolerant (118:2)

Be loving (118:2)

Live and let live (118:2)

Show a willingness to remedy defects (118:2)

Count blessings (119:1)

Think of what you can put into life (120:0)

Cheer others up (120:1)

Ask how you can be helpful (120:1)

See what you can give (122:2)

Face and rectify errors and convert them into assets (124:1) Be thankful (127:0)

Praise progress (127:0)

Be flexible (‘yield here and there’) (131:2) Thoughtfully consider the needs of others (131:2) Insist on enjoying life (132:1)

Cheerfully capitalize trouble (133:0)

First things first (135:5)

Easy does it (135:5)

Chapters Seven to Nine: the spiritual ‘don’ts’

A list of the ‘don’ts’ in Chapters Seven to Nine. Overly specific instructions have been ignored; what is set out below is a list of general spiritual principles. Duplicates are ignored.

Criticizing (89:3)

Forcing yourself on people (90:4)

Pleading hysterically (90:4)

Being over-anxious (91:0)

Putting pressure on people (91:2)

Moralising (91:3)

Lecturing (91:3)

Nagging (91:1)

Taking offense (94:1)

Being contradictory (94:2)

Wearing out your welcome (95:1)

Exhibiting passion for crusade or reform (95:1)

Talking down from a spiritual hilltop (95:1)

Prodding (95:3)

Pushing (95:3)

Discouragement (96:1)

Avoiding responsibilities (97:1)

Depending on people ahead of God (98:1)

Arguing (98:3)

Fault-finding (98:3)

Participating in the quarrels of others (100:2)

Thinking of what you can get out of a situation (102:0)

Withdrawing (102:1)

Intolerance (103:1)

Hatred (103:1)

Bitterness (103:2)

Hostility (103:2)

Fighting anything or anyone (103:3)

Condemnation (108:1)

Anger (111:0)

Being a killjoy (111:2)

Hurry (113:1)

Crowding people (113:2)

Taking sides in arguments (115:3)

Resentful or critical disagreement (117:3)

Expecting too much (118:2)

Urging attention for yourself (119:1)

Dampening enthusiasm (119:1)

Complaining (119:2)

Reminding others of spiritual deficiency (120:2)

Arranging others’ lives (120:3)

Guiding the appointments or affairs of others (120:3) Wrapping others in cotton wool (122:1)

Placing others on a pedestal (122:1)

Having fixed ideas about others’ attitudes towards you (122:1) Interest in having your wishes respected (122:1)

Demanding that others concede (122:1)

Playing the lead (122:2)

Arranging the show to your liking (122:2)

Measuring life against that of other years (123:1)

Reproach (123:3)

Digging up past misdeeds (124:3)

Gossip (125:2)

Ridicule (125:2)

Making careless or inconsiderate remarks (125:2)

Placing money first (127:1)

Self-pity (127:3)

Self-justification (127:3)

Rancor (134:3)

Bias (134:3)

Standing in judgment (135:2)

Pettiness (‘making a burning issue out of …’) (135:2)

Step 06: Defects of conduct (including communication and interaction with others)

Arguing

Attention-seeking

Avoiding amends

Avoiding intimacy

Bad-temperedness

Being different to gain an identity

Bitching

Boasting

Brusqueness

Bullying

Charm

Choosing chaos

Choosing short-term gain over long-term pain

Coldness

Complaining

Complying just to gain approval

Compulsive busyness

Concealing the truth

Controlling

Criticizing

Defensiveness

Dismissing people

Distortion

Dominating conversations

Duvet-diving

Exhibitionism

Fire-fighting (only dealing with the urgent)

Fishing for compliments

Fitting in to gain an identity

Fixing

Flattery

Focusing on people who don’t like you

General

Giving people attention only when they ignore you

Giving to get

Gossiping

Graciousness

Ignoring people

Imbalance between different areas of life

Impatience

Impoliteness

Inaction

Inappropriate self-expression

Inconsistency

Indifference/apathy in dealings with others Indiscretion

Inflexibility

Ingratiation

Interfering

Isolating

Lack of discipline

Lying

Making (excessive) demands

Malice

Managing situations

Manipulation

Martyrdom

Monkey-mind (mental restlessness)

Mothering

Neglect

Not asking for help

Not listening

Not playing enough

Not resting

Not setting boundaries

Not spending enough

Not working enough

Over-dependence

Overeating

Overspending

Overworking

Patronization

Physical violence

Procrastination

Provocation

Pulling rank

Punishing

Rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic

Recklessness

Repeating mistakes and expecting different results

etaliation

Sarcasm

Saying ‘no’ too often

Saying ‘yes’ too often

Scaring people

Secretiveness

Self-justification

Self-neglect

Shaming people

Showing off

Sloth

Stealing

Stealing other people’s crises and making them your own

Stewing

Sticking your head in the sand

Taking people for granted

Verbal abuse

With other people: Withdrawing

Withholding yourself

Step 06: Defects of manipulation

Manipulation: inappropriate means to get someone to act a particular way (in contrast to a polite request, legitimate overt or covert boundaries, and/or positive reinforcement)

(The following may be legitimate or illegitimate depending on context.)

Verbal anger

Making noise (with furniture, household objects, doors, windows, and vehicles)

Encroaching on physical space (including using vehicles)

Criticism

Blaming

Chiding

Inventory-taking

Ordering

Hostility

Argument

Nit-picking

Sophistry

Legalism

Threatening

Punishing

Shaming

Sighing

Face-pulling

Glaring

Ridiculing

Sarcasm

Interrupting

Talking over

Repetition

Long-windedness

Filibustering

Terseness

Incoherence

Rambling

Expressing grudging acceptance

Withholding thanks

Mismatch between tone and words

Running away

Storming out

Weeping

Expressions of upset

Expressions of victimhood

Expressions of good motive

Assertion of the reliance on God

Assertion of the reliance on prayer

Silence

Patchy engagement

Ignoring

Sullenness

Self-pity

Grumbling

Promises

Bribery

Flattery

Charm

Flirting

Seduction

Intermittent reward

Invoking favors

Invoking obligation

Comments Off on Checklists

Thorny Situations

If a situation is complex and thorny, write out:

Dramatis personae: that’s the list of characters in the play. Who is involved in this situation? How do they relate to each other?

I write out who did what / said what, in the order it was done / said. I strip out speculation, interpretation, and commentary.

I then look at each element for which I am responsible, in the context of what came before and the information available at the time, and apply the three columns of Step Eight:

(1) What did I do / say (or fail to do / say)?

(2) What should I have done / said instead?

(3) Who suffered and how?

Comments Off on Thorny Situations

Sane and Sound Ideal

The first nine Steps break down our old life and strip us away to the bone. But this is not all: if we are to build a new life, we must have a vision and a pathway. These come from God.

‘Steps Eight and Nine are concerned with personal relations. First, we take a look backward and try to discover where we have been at fault; next we make a vigorous attempt to repair the damage we have done; and third, having thus cleaned away the debris of the past, we consider how, with our newfound knowledge of ourselves, we may develop the best possible relations with every human being we know.’ (T**welve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Step Eight, paragraph 1)

Part of Steps Eight and Nine is therefore to ask God for this vision and pathway.

This restores our relationships with others, or in some cases builds entirely new ones.

The sane and sound ideal that we come up with for each major relationship, category of relationship (e.g. sponsees, pupils, cousins), or area (e.g. finances, work, housekeeping, house maintenance, local community, religious practice) evolves over time.

For each, ask:

What is the vision of God’s will for me, what is the sane and sound ideal for my conduct in this area?

Consider long-term direction and what is required to move your life forward (i.e. big changes) as well as daily conduct (i.e. small changes).

**Example: **

Work:

  • Seek to earn enough money to cover my costs and have a prudent reserve. Seek to be maximally helpful to my clients.
  • Don’t take on inappropriate work out of fear.
  • Focus on doing the job effectively and efficiently.
  • Leave work at work (don’t think about it elsewhere).
  • Be brief, simple, and courteous in my communications with clients.

Further tips

The sane and sound ideal will evolve over time. It should represent what we’re currently working towards, to expand our lives to become the person the Higher Power always meant us to be.

It’s a good idea to have a mix of the abstract and the concrete. Ideas, beliefs, attitudes, thinking, behavior, specific practices.

It can have everything from the abstract ‘patience’ to ‘never mention politics in front of Susan’; it can have everything from ‘show kindness’ to ‘write all of my family members’ birthdays in my diary and send them gifts in good time’.

Some ‘don’ts’ are probably necessary. But ‘dos’ are better than don’ts. We want to expand rather than contract.

Relationships with human beings, in particular, are difficult. To this end, certain other resources may be necessary for inspiration:

Basic resources

Any Al-Anon literature (go to the website or order e-books using the Books app on the iPhone, etc.) The stories at the back of the Big Book

Step Twelve in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (plus some of the other Steps) Chapters Seven to Eleven of the Big Book

Comments Off on Sane and Sound Ideal

Clean-up meditation & follow-up

Sit somewhere peaceful or go for a walk for one hour. Have a pen and piece of paper with you.

Ask God to show you any people in your life, present or past, with whom you have unfinished business (any sense of dis-ease).

What is unfinished business?

A harmful left unamended. An apology left unmade. Gratitude left unexpressed. An obligation left unfulfilled. A wrong (fancied or real) of theirs left unforgiven.

Write down the names. When you’ve finished the meditation, take the list of names, and note down the appropriate action:

Make an amend.

Make an apology.

Express gratitude.

Fulfill an obligation.

Forgive a wrong.

Use the Steps Eight and Nine process to address the amends / apologies.

Use the forgiveness process from Step Four for the forgiveness of wrongs.

With the expression of gratitude / fulfillment of obligations: get to it.

When you have completed these, repeat the meditation.

When you can get through the hour without any new names coming up, you’re done.

Comments Off on Clean-up meditation & follow-up

In A Nutshell

  • Step Seven is a commitment to pursue the remaining five Steps.
  • When I’m ready, I say the prayer, then engage wholeheartedly in Steps Eight through Twelve.
  • In doing so, I am submitting every belief, thought, and action to God.
  • God will then make of me what He needs to make of me.
  • I need do nothing but surrender to this process.
  • The only choice I ever need to make is this: to choose the voice of the ego (the lower self, the loud voice I think is my own) or the voice of the Higher Power (the higher Self, the quiet voice).

God removes defects.

We take the initiative.

We ask God for the right belief, thinking, and behavior (virtue).

We ask for strength to implement these.

We ask for strength to withstand the pain of doing so.

Eventually the temptation to act out old beliefs, thinking, and behavior fades.

Defects remain ever available.

They are therefore ‘removed to the side of the road’, not zapped forever.

We do not focus on the removal of defects.

We focus on doing God’s will, which is the practice of virtues.

Steps 8 and 9 clear the way practically for doing God’s will.

Steps 8 and 9 help us access the right beliefs, thinking, and behaviors in a general way.

Steps 10, 11, and 12 help us access the right beliefs, thinking, and behaviors in the day and moment.

Comments Off on In A Nutshell

Exercises

‘When ready, we say something like this: “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.’’ We have then completed Step Seven.’

(1) Read the chapter on Step Seven in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

(2) Read the articles on Step Seven on the blog: https://1st164steps.com/tag/step-7/


What struck you particularly? Write these things down.

What questions do you have? Write these questions down.


(3) When ready, find someone nice, say the prayer.

Comments Off on Exercises

Instructions

Ask:

  • Am I willing to take Steps Seven through Twelve?
  • Am I willing to have all unhelpful beliefs, thinking, and behavior replaced with something better?
  • If not:
    • Pray
    • Discuss
    • But don’t dawdle:
      • I can go back to alcoholic drinking
      • Or forward to a better life
      • Which is it to be?

Go through the lists of defects. Pull out any defects not already addressed in step 4 and 5 that you connect with and write one example of where you have exhibited that behavior.

Lists for reference:

Comments Off on Instructions

Defects – 7 Deadly Sins

Character defects

PRIDE is putting self in the place of God as the centre and objective of our life, or of some department thereof. It is the refusal to recognize our status as creatures, dependent on God for our existence, and placed by him in a specific relationship to the rest of his creation.

[→ HUMILITY is putting God in the place of self as the centre and objective of our life, or of some department thereof. It is the recognition of our status as creatures, dependent on God for our existence, and placed by him in a specific relationship to the rest of his creation.]

Irreverence. Deliberate neglect of the worship of God, or being content with a perfunctory participation in it. Disregard of additional opportunities for giving God honour. Failure to thank God or to express our gratitude adequately.

Disrespect for God or holy things by deliberately treating them, in thought, word or deed, in a profane, contemptuous or over-familiar manner. Use of holy things for personal advantage, or the attempt to bribe or placate God by religious practices or promises.

Sentimentality. Being satisfied with pious feelings and beautiful ceremonies without striving to obey God’s will.

Presumption. Dependence on self rather than on God, with the consequent neglect of the means of grace—sacraments and prayer. Dispensation of ourselves from ordinary duties on the grounds that we are superior persons. Satisfaction or complacency over our spiritual achievements. Refusal to avoid, when possible, immediate occasions of temptation. Preference for our own ideas, customs, schemes or techniques. Foolish optimism.

Failure to recognize our job as a divine vocation or to offer our work to God. Unwillingness to surrender to and abide in God, to let him act in and through us. Failure to offer to God regularly in intercession the persons or causes that have, or should enlist our interest and support.

Distrust. Refusal to recognize God’s wisdom, providence and love. Worry, anxiety, misgivings, scrupulosity, or perfectionism. Attempts to discern or control the future by spiritualism, astrology, fortune-telling or the like. Magic or superstition.

Over-sensitiveness. Expectation that others will dislike, reject or mistreat us; over-readiness so to interpret their attitude, or quickness to take offense. Unfounded suspicions.

Timidity in accepting responsibility, or cowardice in facing difficulty or suffering. Surrender to feelings of depression, gloom, pessimism, discouragement, self-pity, or fear of death, instead of fighting to be brave, cheerful and hopeful.

Disobedience. Rejection of God’s known will in favour of our own interests or pleasures. Disobedience of the legitimate laws, regulations or authority of state, parents, teachers, etc.; or slow and reluctant obedience. Failure when in authority to fulfill responsibilities or to consider the best interests of those under us.

Refusal to learn God’s nature or will expounded in instructions or expert advice, or discernible through prayer, meditation or the reading of spiritual books. Absorption in our own affairs, leaving little time, energy or interest for the things of God.

Violation of confidence. Breaking of legitimate promises or contracts. Irresponsibility. Treachery. Unnecessary disappointment of another, or the causing of shame or anxiety to those who love us.

Impenitence. Refusal to search out and face up to our sins, or to confess and admit them before God. Disregard of our sins or pretense that we are better than we are. Self-justification or discounting our sins as insignificant, natural or inevitable. Self-righteous comparison of ourselves with others.

Refusal to accept just punishment or to make due reparation when possible. Deceit or lying to escape the consequences of our sins, or allowing another to suffer the blame for our faults. Overcompensation or attempts at self-reform or self-vengeance, to avoid surrender to God in humble penitence.

Shame (hurt pride), sorrow for ourselves because our sins make us less respectable than we like to think we are, or because we fear punishment or injury to our reputation, rather than sorrow for what sin is in the eyes of God. Refusal to admit we were in the wrong or to apologize. Refusal to accept forgiveness from God or others. Doubt that God can forgive our sins, or failure to use the means of getting assurance of his forgiveness when we need it. Unwillingness to forgive ourselves.

Vanity. Crediting to ourselves rather than to God our talents, abilities, insights, accomplishments, good works. Refusal to admit indebtedness to others, or adequately to express gratitude for their help. Hypocrisy. Pretense to virtues we do not possess. False humility. Harsh judgments on others for the faults we excuse in ourselves.

Boasting, exaggeration, drawing attention to ourselves by talking too much, by claiming ability, wisdom, experience or influence that we do not have, or by eccentric or ostentatious behavior. Undue concern over, or expenditure of time, money or energy on looks, dress, surroundings, etc., in order to impress others; or deliberate slovenliness for the same purpose. Seeking, desiring or relishing flattery or compliments.

Arrogance. Insisting that others conform to our wishes, recognize our leadership, accept our own estimate of our worth. Being overbearing, argumentative, opinionated, obstinate.

Snobbery. Pride over race, family, position, personality, education, skill, achievements, or possessions.

ANGER is open rebellion against God or our fellow creatures. Its purpose and desire is to eliminate any obstacle to our self-seeking, to retaliate against any threat to our security, to avenge any insult or injury to our person.

Resentment. Refusal to discern, accept or fulfil God’s vocation. Dissatisfaction with the talents, abilities or opportunities he has given us. Unwillingness to face up to difficulties or sacrifices. Unjustified rebellion or complaint at the circumstances of our lives. Escape from reality or the attempt to force our will upon it. Transference to God, to our parents, to society, or to other individuals of the blame for our maladjustment; hatred of God or antisocial behaviour. Cynicism. Annoyance at the contrariness of things: profanity or grumbling.

Pugnacity. Attack upon another in anger. Murder in deed or desire. Combativeness or nursing of grudges. Injury to another by striking, cursing or insulting him; or by damaging his reputation or property. Quarrelsomeness, bickering, contradiction, nagging, rudeness, or snubbing.

Retaliation. Vengeance for wrongs real or imagined, or the plotting thereof. Hostility, sullenness or rash judgment. Refusal to forgive or to offer or accept reconciliation. Unwillingness to love, to do good to, or to pray for enemies. Boycotting or ostracizing another for selfish reasons. Spoiling others’ pleasure by uncooperativeness or disdain, because we have not got our way, or because we feel out of sorts or superior.

ENVY is the dissatisfaction with our place in God’s order of creation, manifested in begrudging his gifts and vocation to others.

Jealousy. Offense at the talents, success or good fortune of others. Selfish or unnecessary rivalry or competition. Pleasure at others’ difficulties or distress. Belittling others.

Malice. Ill-will, false accusations, slander, backbiting. Reading false motives into others’ behaviour. Initiation, collection or retailing gossip. Arousing, fostering or organizing antagonism against others. Unnecessary criticism, even when true. Deliberate annoyance of others, teasing or bullying.

Contempt. Scorn of another’s virtue, ability, shortcomings, or failings. Prejudice against those we consider inferior, or who consider us inferior, or who seem to threaten our security or position. Ridicule of persons, institutions or ideals.

COVETOUSNESS is the refusal to respect the integrity of other creatures, expressed in the inordinate accumulation of material things; in the use of other persons for our personal advantage; or in the quest for status, power or security at their expense.

Inordinate Ambition. Pursuit of status, power, influence, reputation, or possessions at the expense of the moral law, or other obligations, or of the rights of others. Ruthless or unfair competition. Putting self or family first. Conformity to standards we recognize as wrong or inadequate in order to get ahead. Intrigue or conspiracy for self-advancement.

Domination. Seeking to use or possess others. Overprotection of children; refusal to correct or punish lest we lose their affection; insistence that they conform to our ideal for them contrary to their own vocation. Imposing our will on others by force, guile, whining, or refusal to cooperate. Over-readiness to advise or command; abuse of authority. Patronizing, pauperizing, putting others under a debt of gratitude, or considering ourselves ill-used when others’ affection or compliance is not for sale.

Respect for persons, favouritism, partiality, flattery, fawning, or bribery to win support or affection. Refusal to uphold the truth to fulfil duties, to perform good acts, or to defend those wrongfully attacked, because we fear criticism or ridicule, or because we seek to gain the favour or approval or others. Leading, tempting or encouraging others to sin.

Avarice. Inordinate pursuit of wealth or material things. Theft, dishonesty, misrepresentation, or sharing of stolen goods. Cheating in business, taxes, school or games. Making worldly success the goal of our life or the standard for judging others.

Prodigality. Waste of natural resources or personal possessions. Extravagance or living beyond our income, to impress others or to maintain status. Failure to pay debts. Gambling more than we can afford to lose, or to win unearned profits. Unnecessary borrowing or carelessness with others’ money. Expenditure on self of what is needed for the welfare of others.

Penuriousness. Undue protection of wealth or security. Selfish insistence on vested interests or on claimed rights. Refusal to support or help those who have a claim on us. Sponging on others. Stinginess. Failure to give due proportion of our income to charity, or of our time and energy to good works. Failure to pay pledges promised to the charities, when able to do so.

GLUTTONY is the overindulgence of natural appetites for food and drink, and by extension the inordinate quest for pleasure or comfort.

Intemperance. Overindulgence in food, drink, smoking, or other physical pleasures. Fastidiousness, fussiness, demanding excessively high standards, or dilettantism. Condemnation of some material things or pleasures as evil in themselves, attempting to prohibit their use rather than their abuse.

Lack of Discipline. Negligence in keeping the days of fasting or abstinence, or failure to use other needed means of self-discipline. Neglect of bodily health—not getting sufficient rest, recreation, exercise, or wholesome nourishment. Failure to use or to cooperate with available medical care when ill. Use of sickness as a means of escape from responsibilities.

LUST is the misuse of sex for personal gratification, debasing it from the holy purpose for which God has given it to us.

Unchastity. Violation of the sane and sound ideal for sexual conduct. Lack of consideration for one’s partner in the use of the relationship. Failure to give adequate care to children, or to take our full share in responsibilities or work involved. Unfaithfulness to one’s spouse or partner. Harmful sexual indulgence, in thought or act, alone or with others.

Prudery. Fear of sex or condemnation of it as evil in itself. Refusal to seek adequate sexual instruction or the attempt to prevent others from obtaining it. Stimulation of excessive and harmful curiosity by undue secrecy. Repression of sex.

Cruelty. Deliberate infliction of pain, mental or physical. Tormenting of animals.

SLOTH is the refusal to respond to our opportunities for growth, service or sacrifice.

Laziness. Indolence in performing spiritual, mental or physical duties, or neglect of family, business or social obligations or courtesies. Procrastination of disliked tasks. Busyness or triviality to avoid more important commitments. Devotion of excessive time to rest, recreations, amusement, television, light reading or the like. Waste of employer’s time, or shoddy or inadequate work.

Indifference. Unconcern over injustice to others, especially that caused by currently accepted social standards; or unmindfulness of the suffering of the world. Failure to become adequately informed on both sides of contemporary issues or on the spiritual principles involved. Neglect of duties to state or community. Failure to provide adequately for, or to treat justly those in our employ.

Ignoring of needy, lonely or unpopular persons in our own or the parish family, or in the neighbourhood; or unwillingness to minister to them. Insufficient attention to the needs of our family.

Comments Off on Defects – 7 Deadly Sins

Defects of Manipulation

Manipulation: inappropriate means to get someone to act a particular way (in contrast to a polite request, legitimate overt or covert boundaries, and/or positive reinforcement)

(The following may be legitimate or illegitimate depending on context.)

Verbal anger

Making noise (with furniture, household objects, doors, windows, and vehicles)

Encroaching on physical space (including using vehicles)

Criticism

Blaming

Chiding

Inventory-taking

Ordering

Hostility

Argument

Nit-picking

Sophistry

Legalism

Threatening

Punishing

Shaming

Sighing

Face-pulling

Glaring

Ridiculing

Sarcasm

Interrupting

Talking over

Repetition

Long-windedness

Filibustering

Terseness

Incoherence

Rambling

Expressing grudging acceptance

Withholding thanks

Mismatch between tone and words

Running away

Storming out

Weeping

Expressions of upset

Expressions of victimhood

Expressions of good motive

Assertion of the reliance on God

Assertion of the reliance on prayer

Silence

Patchy engagement

Ignoring

Sullenness

Self-pity

Promises

Bribery

Flattery

Charm

Flirting

Seduction

Intermittent reward

Invoking favours

Invoking obligation

Comments Off on Defects of Manipulation

Chapters Seven to Nine: A list of ‘dont’s’ in Chapters Seven to Nine.

A list of the ‘don’ts’ in Chapters Seven to Nine. Overly specific instructions have been ignored; what is set out below is a list of general spiritual principles. Duplicates are ignored.

Criticising (89:3)

Forcing yourself on people (90:4)

Pleading hysterically (90:4)

Being over-anxious (91:0)

Putting pressure on people (91:2)

Moralising (91:3)

Lecturing (91:3)

Nagging (91:1)

Taking offence (94:1)

Being contradictory (94:2)

Wearing out your welcome (95:1)

Exhibiting passion for crusade or reform (95:1)

Talking down from a spiritual hilltop (95:1)

Prodding (95:3)

Pushing (95:3)

Discouragement (96:1)

Avoiding responsibilities (97:1)

Depending on people ahead of God (98:1)

Arguing (98:3)

Fault-finding (98:3)

Participating in the quarrels of others (100:2)

Thinking of what you can get out of a situation (102:0)

Withdrawing (102:1)

Intolerance (103:1)

Hatred (103:1)

Bitterness (103:2)

Hostility (103:2)

Fighting anything or anyone (103:3)

Condemnation (108:1)

Anger (111:0)

Being a killjoy (111:2)

Hurry (113:1)

Crowding people (113:2)

Taking sides in arguments (115:3)

Resentful or critical disagreement (117:3)

Expecting too much (118:2)

Urging attention for yourself (119:1)

Dampening enthusiasm (119:1)

Complaining (119:2)

Reminding others of spiritual deficiency (120:2)

Arranging others’ lives (120:3)

Guiding the appointments or affairs of others (120:3)

Wrapping others in cotton wool (122:1)

Placing others on a pedestal (122:1)

Having fixed ideas about others’ attitudes towards you (122:1)

Interest in having your wishes respected (122:1)

Demanding that others concede (122:1)

Playing the lead (122:2)

Arranging the show to your liking (122:2)

Measuring life against that of other years (123:1)

Reproach (123:3)

Digging up past misdeeds (124:3)

Gossip (125:2)

Ridicule (125:2)

Making careless or inconsiderate remarks (125:2)

Placing money first (127:1)

Self-pity (127:3)

Self-justification (127:3)

Rancour (134:3)

Bias (134:3)

Standing in judgment (135:2)

Pettiness (‘making a burning issue out of …’) (135:2)

Comments Off on Chapters Seven to Nine: A list of ‘dont’s’ in Chapters Seven to Nine.

Defects – Simple Version

Anxiety

Arguing

Arrogance

Attention-seeking

Avoiding amends

Avoiding intimacy

Bad-temperedness

Beating yourself up

Being different to gain an identity

Believing feelings

Believing you’re special & different

Bitching

Bitterness

Black-and-white thinking

Blame

Boasting

Brusqueness

Bullying

Charm

Choosing chaos

Choosing short-term gain over long-term pain

Coldness

Complaining

Complying just to gain approval

Compulsive busyness

Concealing the truth

Contempt

Controlling

Criticising

Defensiveness

Denial

Despair

Dismissing people

Distortion

Dominating conversations

Duvet-diving

Embellishment

Envy

Exaggeration

Exhibitionism

Expectation

Fantasy

Fire-fighting (only dealing with the urgent)

Fishing for compliments

Fitting in to gain an identity

Fixing

Flattery

Focusing on people who don’t like you

General

Generalisation

Giving people attention only when they ignore you

Giving to get

Gossiping

Graciousness

Greed/gluttony

Guilt

Gullibility

Hatred

Hypersensitivity

Hypocrisy

Ignoring people

Imbalance between different areas of life

Impatience

Impoliteness

Inaction

Inappropriate self-expression

Inconsistency

Indecision

Indifference

Indiscretion

Inflexibility

Ingratiation

Interfering

Intolerance

Irrationality

Isolating

Jealousy

Judging

Lack of discipline

Lack of perspective

Lack of proportion

Lack of self-evaluation

Lying

Making (excessive) demands

Malice

Managing situations

Manipulation

Martyrdom

Mercilessness

Mistrust

Monkey-mind (mental restlessness)

Mothering

Negativity

Neglect

Nostalgia

Not asking for help

Not listening

Not playing enough

Not resting

Not setting boundaries

Not spending enough

Not working enough

Obsessing

Over-ambition

Over-analysing

Over-dependence

Overeating

Overspending

Overworking

Patronisation

Perfectionism

Pessimism

Physical violence

Procrastination

Projection

Provocation

Pulling rank

Punishing

Rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic

Recklessness

Repeating mistakes and expecting different results

Resistance to change

Retaliation

Rigidity

Sarcasm

Saying ‘no’ too often

Saying ‘yes’ too often

Scaring people

Scorn

Secretiveness

Self-centeredness

Self-consciousness

Self-doubt

Self-importance

Selfishness

Self-justification

Self-neglect

Self-obsession

Self-pity

Self-righteousness

Self-satisfaction

Sense of fraudulence

Shame

Shaming people

Showing off

Sloth

Stealing stuff

Stealing other people’s crises and making them your own

Stewing

Sticking your head in the sand

Suspicion

Taking people for granted

Tunnel-vision

Verbal abuse

Withdrawing

Withholding the truth

Withholding yourself

Worry

Zero–sum thinking

Comments Off on Defects – Simple Version

Defects of Conduct

  • Arguing
  • Attention-seeking
  • Avoiding amends
  • Avoiding intimacy
  • Bad-temperedness
  • Being different to gain an identity
  • Bitching
  • Boasting
  • Brusqueness
  • Bullying
  • Charm
  • Choosing chaos
  • Choosing short-term gain over long-term pain
  • Coldness
  • Complaining
  • Complying just to gain approval
  • Compulsive busyness
  • Concealing the truth
  • Controlling
  • Criticising (even when true)
  • Defensiveness
  • Dismissing people
  • Distortion
  • Dominating conversations
  • Duvet-diving
  • Exhibitionism
  • Fire-fighting (only dealing with the urgent)
  • Fishing for compliments
  • Fitting in to gain an identity
  • Fixing
  • Flattery
  • Focusing on people who don’t like you
  • General
  • Giving people attention only when they ignore you
  • Giving to get
  • Gossiping
  • Graciousness
  • Ignoring people
  • Imbalance between different areas of life
  • Impatience
  • Impoliteness
  • Inaction
  • Inappropriate self-expression
  • Inconsistency
  • Indifference/apathy in dealings with others
  • Indiscretion
  • Inflexibility
  • Ingratiation
  • Interfering
  • Isolating
  • Lack of discipline
  • Lying
  • Making (excessive) demands
  • Malice
  • Managing situations
  • Manipulation
  • Martyrdom
  • Monkey-mind (mental restlessness)
  • Mothering
  • Neglect
  • Not asking for help
  • Not listening
  • Not playing enough
  • Not resting
  • Not setting boundaries
  • Not spending enough
  • Not working enough
  • Offering unsolicited advice
  • Over-dependence
  • Overeating
  • Overspending
  • Overworking
  • Patronisation
  • Physical violence
  • Procrastination
  • Provocation
  • Pulling rank
  • Punishing
  • Rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic
  • Recklessness
  • Repeating mistakes and expecting different results
  • Retaliation
  • Sarcasm
  • Saying ‘no’ too often
  • Saying ‘yes’ too often
  • Scaring people
  • Secretiveness
  • Self-justification
  • Self-neglect
  • Shaming people
  • Showing off
  • Sloth
  • Stealing
  • Stealing other people’s crises and making them your own
  • Stewing
  • Sticking your head in the sand
  • Taking people for granted
  • Verbal abuse
  • With other people:
  • Withdrawing
  • Withholding yourself
Comments Off on Defects of Conduct

Chapters Seven to Nine: A list of the ‘dos’ in Chapters Seven to Nine

A list of the ‘dos’ in Chapters Seven to Nine. Overly specific instructions have been ignored; what is set out below is a list of general spiritual principles. Duplicates are ignored.

Cooperate (89:3)

Be helpful (89:3)

Be patient (90:1)

Put yourself in the other person’s place (90:2)

Wait (90:3)

Be sane (94:1)

Be quiet (94:1)

Be full of human understanding (94:1)

Offer friendship (95:1)

Offer fellowship (95:1)

Use discretion (96:3)

Concentrate on your own spiritual demonstration (98:3)

Be considerate (99:1)

Increase the pleasure of others (102:1)

Attend to your business enthusiastically (102:1)

Be of good temper (111:1)

Use your energies to promote a better understanding (115:3)

Defuse heated discussion (118:1)

Be tolerant (118:2)

Be loving (118:2)

Live and let live (118:2)

Show a willingness to remedy defects (118:2)

Count blessings (119:1)

Think of what you can put into life (120:0)

Cheer others up (120:1)

Ask how you can be helpful (120:1)

See what you can give (122:2)

Face and rectify errors and convert them into assets (124:1)

Be thankful (127:0)

Praise progress (127:0)

Be flexible (‘yield here and there’) (131:2)

Thoughtfully consider the needs of others (131:2)

Insist on enjoying life (132:1)

Cheerfully capitalise trouble (133:0)

First things first (135:5)

Easy does it (135:5)

Comments Off on Chapters Seven to Nine: A list of the ‘dos’ in Chapters Seven to Nine

Preparing The Material

“We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past.” (75:2)

Go through your Step Four and isolate

(1) good examples of what your twists of character are—one example of each will suffice

(2) ‘dark crannies of the past’ (= anything you’re ashamed of).

A good Step Five lasts somewhere between half an hour and an hour or two.

Comments Off on Preparing The Material

Taking Step Five

Read out the summary to me.

Read it out to two other people.

Bear in mind the following:

Choosing someone to hear a Step Five

Whether one chooses one or more people (yes, you can share your Step Five with more than one person, and it is usually beneficial), there are certain criteria to follow in choosing (from pages 74 to 75 of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous):

(1) ‘Close-mouthed …’, ‘It is important he be able to keep a confidence …’

Ask someone who can keep secrets.

(2) ‘… understanding …’, ‘… that he fully understand and approve what we are driving at …’

Ask someone who is going to receive and understand, not condemn etc.

There is a caveat, however: the ego will perceive itself under attack due to this process, as it is, in fact, although the attack takes this form: the ego’s goals are perceived as fruitless, its conceptual framework, insane, and its effects, null. Someone ‘understanding’, in this context, is someone who will help us laugh at the false conceptual structure we have used to ‘understand’ the world and run our lives.

Ask yourself: is it me that is under attack, or is it the ego, the mind-made false images of self and the world it has constructed?

Sometimes people say they feel ‘vulnerable’ after a Step Five. This may be due to choosing the wrong person (see below, particularly). Or it may be a good sign. If you want to be close to people, you have to make yourself vulnerable, in the sense of being candid. If you have spent years being cagey, out of fear, and you are suddenly candid, you will feel vulnerable. This may be a sign not that you are genuinely vulnerable to attack but that you have historically associated candour with fear. This is a reason not to withhold or cloak the truth but to challenge the belief system giving rise to the fear.

It is important also that the person be well-versed in the Big Book, have taken Step Five himself, and believe in this process.

Spiritual danger lies in taking Step Five with someone who himself is harbouring secrets, other agendas, or is not signed up to this process.

(3) ‘… friend …’

Although a sponsor won’t usually share the whole of his Step Five back, he may share excerpts. Sharing a Step Five also with friends can often best be done by swapping.

Also, test-drive your potential Step Five listener with various problems in your life. See how he responds. If, over time, his response gives rise to healing or is practically helpful, good: he will likely be helpful in hearing the whole Step Five. If he induces fear, he may be unhealed himself, or you may simply not be ready for what that particular person has to offer. Find someone else.

(4) ‘… it may be one of our own family, but we cannot disclose anything to our wives or our parents which will hurt them and make them unhappy …’

This point speaks for itself.

(5) ‘… that he will not try to change our plan …’

Sometimes a Step Five hearer, on hearing a Step Five, will suggest other or additional approaches to recovery.

This can be beneficial, e.g. the suggestion of Al-Anon if the person reveals an undealt-with family history of alcoholism and a childhood badly affected by the alcoholic drinking of a parent, but can sometimes create great confusion if what is suggested is not consistent with the programme the individual is currently in the middle of.

Spiritual consent is there with a sponsor, but may not be there (in terms of full-on suggestions and advice) with someone roped in merely to be the witness to the Step Five and to provide a human presence for the process.

* * * * *

If these suggestions are followed, this will maximise the chance of the Step Five being a positive, effective experience.

Comments Off on Taking Step Five

Finishing Step Five

Returning home we find a place where we can be quiet for an hour, carefully reviewing what we have done. We thank God from the bottom of our heart that we know Him better. Taking this book down from our shelf we turn to the page which contains the twelve steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything, for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at last. Is our work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? Have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation? Have we tried to make mortar without sand?

Do this, and then call me if there is anything that comes up.

Comments Off on Finishing Step Five

Step Four

Comments Off on Step Four

Introduction to Step Four

Step Four is about finding out where I’ve been wrong in my:

  • Beliefs
  • Thinking
  • Behavior

Why? I can change these. If these change, my life changes.

Plus: I find out what I’ve done wrong, so I can repair the damage.

There  are three inventories. We’re going to do some writing. If you want to  use pen and paper, that’s fine. If you are happier typing, that’s fine  too. If you’re typing, adjust the instructions accordingly.

All through this process, follow along with your Big Book. The instructions below help clarify how to follow the Big Book instructions effectively.

Key points:

  • Let’s get going straight away
  • Let’s plug away diligently and daily
  • We’re after facts, not judgements
  • We’re not finding out who we are
  • We’re finding out what we believe, think, and do
  • A carpenter is not her tools
  • If the tools don’t work, she can find new tools
  • That’s what we’re doing
  • We’re perfect children of the universe
  • We’ve been using terrible tools
  • Let’s find them so we can replace them with better ones

We start by listing things that have upset us through our life.

Start Here – https://www.1st164steps.com/resentment-column-1-introduction/

Comments Off on Introduction to Step Four

Resentment: Column 1 & Introduction

Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions. (P. 63, ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’)

Note: ‘next’, ‘vigorous action’, and ‘at once’. No delay. No excuse. Why? We’re dying of untreated alcoholism.

A failure to take Step Four immediately will mean that Step Three will have no permanent effect. Conversely, if we do take Step Four immediately, the permanent effect of Step Three—the actual turning of our wills and lives over to God—becomes attainable.

Fancy testing this out by delaying and seeing if you drink again? Thought not. Write on. Right on. Right now.

This is an effort to face and be rid of—not to work on, work through, rearrange, analyze, understand, or cope with what we find.

Send a child to his room to clean it, and he’ll drag his feet. Send a child to his room with a big black bin bag and the instruction, ‘stick everything that you don’t like or are bored with or that does not work in the bag, we’ll take it to the tip, and then I’ll go and buy you a whole load of new stuff,’ and the child will race up the stairs.

That is what the point of this is; to be rid of that which has been blocking us—selfishness and self-centeredness (p. 62).

Funnily enough, the Step Four itself does not do this ‘ridding’. All it does is catalogue the flowerings of selfishness and self-centeredness—resentment and poor conduct (which trap us in the past and separate us from our true selves, others, and God) and fear (which traps us in the futures and separates us from our true selves, others, and God). What it does do is allow us to take Step Five, which lessens the feelings of separation and starts to unhook us from our resentment, fear, and poor conduct—i.e. we realize what we have been being, doing, and thinking, and that this being, doing, and thinking are not us, but the characters we have been playing. Big difference. It also, with any luck at all, engenders such horror at how miserably ineffective a life based on self is that we develop genuine willingness to have God remove these defects, through the purifying fires of Steps Eight through Twelve. It is only through these last five Steps that the permanent change is effected.

Once the selfishness and self-centeredness are relieved, we find ourselves safe and protected from alcohol by God, with whom we are reconnected through our inner beings and through other people, by this process. Our true selves are reborn.

Therefore, we started upon a personal inventory. This was step Four. A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke. Taking a commercial inventory is a fact-finding and fact-facing process. It is an effort to discover the truth about the stock in-trade. One object is to disclose damaged or unsalable goods, to get rid of them promptly and without regret. If the owner of the business is to be successful, he cannot fool himself about values. (P. 64:1)

By inference, a person who takes no regular inventory usually goes broke. The full inventory is set out in Step Four; the daily maintenance is contained in Steps Ten and Eleven (adjusting the steering wheel as we go through the day in Step Ten and checking over the engine at night in the Step Eleven review—pp. 84–85 and 86, respectively). Step Four is taking the car into the workshop to be properly serviced.

The Book clearly suggests this is regular. Yearly is good.

Nothing in the human realm seems to get fixed and then stay fixed just on daily maintenance. Gardens need daily care and, periodically, much more radical work. Kitchens need daily cleaning, but, boy, do you sometimes need to get to the back of the cupboard and behind the cooker to find out what that weird smell is. Ships have engineers who engage in daily maintenance, but ships’ engines need periodic overhauling. And shops have staff who manage stock year-round yet still carry out an annual stock-take.

The presumption has to be that regular Step Fours are what is required. One glance at what typically happens to alcoholics over any considerable period of time when Step Four is not repeated will confirm this presumption.

I go stir crazy and end up back on p. 60–62 and p. 52 unless I periodically have a deeper look at the machinations of my resurgent ego. Some people may have egos that are kept in check by daily maintenance. All I can say is, ‘good luck!’, because my ego ain’t that pliable.

Note that this inventory is ‘fact-finding’ and ‘fact-facing’. We are interested in facts, not judgement, opinion, or analysis.

We did exactly the same thing with our lives. We took stock honestly. First, we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure. Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations. (P. 64:2)

The third column will cover the various manifestations of self, in the seven areas of pride, self-esteem, personal relations, sex relations, ambitions, security, and pocketbooks. This paragraph indicates that this is what lies at the root of the inventory process. More later, with reference to column three.

Resentment is the ‘number one’ offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. (P. 64:3)

See below for an explanation of the word ‘resentment’.

It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. Even alcohol? I was brought to the edge of suicide, sober, by resentment. I did not realize that that was what it was: I could only identify feeling hurt and threatened, injured, interfered with, burned up, sore, and grudging (see the list of ‘trigger words’ below). But buried behind each of these was anger and resentment. I do not need alcohol to die of alcoholism.

My spirit cannot be sick; the sickness derives from disconnection from my spirit, caused by resentment. That in turn is caused by selfishness and self-centeredness. And where does that come from?

The best explanation I have heard is this: the putting of self in the place of God as the centre and main objective of my life, combined with the failure to recognize my dependence upon Him for my existence and to recognize the specific relationship I have been placed in by him with the rest of creation.

I cannot, thus, connect with God because I am sitting in his seat. This is cosmic dislocation.

Starting from the surface manifestation of resentment, I can ultimately, always, track back to this root-cause: self-reliance in the stead of God-reliance.

This is why the first inventory is about resentment.

A note on ‘resentment’

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of the verb resent:

7. trans. To feel oneself injured or insulted by (some act or conduct on the part of another); to show that one is displeased or angry at (some wrong, injury, etc. sustained).

A ‘resentment’, therefore is any time you feel injured, insulted, displeased, or angry.

The etymology (word history), contrary to what you will hear in meetings, is not ‘to feel again’ (from the Latin re, meaning ‘again’, and the Latin sentire, meaning ‘feel’). The sentire part is correct; the re, however, has the sense ‘in response to a stimulus, with intensive force’.

You could therefore understand ‘to resent’, for the purposes of your Step 4, to mean ‘to feel intensely in response to a stimulus’. The Big Book (p. 64:3 and p. 65:1) uses the following ‘trigger words’:

resentful

angry

hurt

threatened

sore

burned up

grudge

injuries

a sense of being interfered with

When the text below uses the word ‘resentment’, take that to include any of these emotional states or responses.

Throughout the Step 4, before starting a writing session, read from the ABCs (“(a) That we were alcoholic … if He were sought“) (p. 60:4–6) to the relevant part of the Step 4 instructions in the Big Book that you have reached and meditate for a couple of minutes on why you are doing this.

If you stay connected with the purpose of this—to face and to be rid of the things in ourselves which had been blocking us from God—the writing will come more easily.

Then pray the Step 4 set-up prayer: “God, please help me face and be rid of the things that are blocking me; show me the truth.”

Only then start to write.

Once you have completed a writing session, ask God to return you to your day and to keep what you have written on the page, so that you do not then drag it into your day and your meetings, like a piece of tissue paper stuck to your shoe.

Instruction 1—”I am resentful at”

In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions, or principles with whom we were angry. (p. 64)

We went back through our lives. (p. 65)

Make a single list. Do not worry about space—the detail comes later. All you want, here, is names. Institutions would include things like schools, universities, employers, public authorities, councils, the police, etc. Principles would include AA slogans, principles from a religious upbringing, norms in society, etc.

Make this list in full, before going any further. To make this thorough, write anyone or anything that upsets you in any way, not just what you are angry at, i.e. people, institutions, or principles who or which have disappointed you, hurt you, injured you, threatened you, etc. You can put yourself on the list, and you can put God on the list.

Use the full list of nine ‘trigger words’ above.

Where do you start? To go “back through our lives”, we have to start with today, so start with what is current in your life.

How do you know when it is complete? Ask God to show you if there is anyone you have missed. Close your eyes, and wait to be shown, for a few minutes. If any more names need to come, they will come. If names occur to you later, they can always be added later.

Call/Message me when the list is complete.

Comments Off on Resentment: Column 1 & Introduction

Resentment: Column 2: Whittling down the names

If you have more than 20 names, isolate the top twenty. That means the people who bother you the most. We  do this because, after we have carefully reviewed our relationships  with about twenty people, we tend to discover that the underlying causes  of the difficulties repeat.

Choose the ones which:

  • Represent the most important relationships
  • Reflect the most deep-seated problems
  • In aggregate cover all major areas of your life.

We want to keep the full list, though, because we  need to know:

  • Who to forgive
  • Who to make amends to
Comments Off on Resentment: Column 2: Whittling down the names

Resentment: Column 2: Writing out the cause

Take a stack of paper.

Write the first name from the list at the top of the first sheet of paper (‘the first column’).

Below (‘the second column’), write why you are resentful (or why you feel hurt, threatened, injured, etc.)

Be concrete—list the person’s acts or words of omission or commission.

Be concise—no waffle, no back-story, not even how it affected you or made you feel—that will come later.

Stick to the facts. Avoid generalization, interpretation, extrapolation, or speculation.

What did the camera see.

What did the microphone hear.

Do not write on the back of the paper: you’ll need this later on!

If you get very bogged down, try meditating for a few minutes on what the cause is, and ask God to show you. Try leaving it and coming back the next day. Try discussing it with another person to pinpoint exactly why you are resentful.

Nothing counted but thoroughness and honesty. (p. 65).

This means that complex analysis etc. is irrelevant: with each item, you need ask yourself only ‘am I being thorough?’ and ‘am I being honest?’ If you are, you are doing it right. Be a camera, not an analyst. Keep it simple.

Stick to five charges per person, max.

Comments Off on Resentment: Column 2: Writing out the cause

Resentment: Column 3: Instructions (V2)

When I’m upset at someone (column 1) because of what they did or didn’t do (column 2), it’s really because they haven’t followed my plan.

That plan breaks down into seven areas. If my plan has not come off, if I have not gotten my own way, that area has been affected.

If I’m bothered by how others (the offender or third parties) see me, my PRIDE is affected.

If my self-image is tainted or wounded, my SELF-ESTEEM is affected.

If my ordinary relationships are hurt or threatened, my PERSONAL RELATIONS are affected.

If my sexual relationships are hurt or threatened, my SEX RELATIONS are affected.

If my finances (income, costs, assets, liabilities) are hurt or threatened, my POCKETBOOKS are affected.

If my needs (basic physical, material, and other needs common to all people) have not been, are not being, or might not be met, my SECURITY is affected.

If I have not got, am not getting, or might not get my own way in any other regard, my AMBITIONS are affected.

For each charge, note down, in the third column (see page 65 of the Big Book) which area or areas is or are affected. Use abbreviations:

P = PRIDE

SE = SELF-ESTEEM

PR = PERSONAL RELATIONS

SR = SEX RELATIONS

PB = POCKETBOOKS

S = SECURITY

A = AMBITIONS

Note (mentally) that the reason one is upset is because one has plans, expectations, and demands in these areas. These can be positive (what we want to happen) or negative (what we don’t want to happen). What we want to happen (SELF-SEEKING) and what we don’t want to happen (FEAR) will be covered in the page 67 questions.

Start noticing, from now onwards, how all emotional upset comes from something getting in the way of one’s plans, expectations, and demands. It is these, therefore, that are the problem, not others’ behaviour, even if that behaviour is morally wrong or breaches custom or practice.

Comments Off on Resentment: Column 3: Instructions (V2)

Resentment: Column 3: Instructions (V1)

In the third column, we identify how others’ (column 1) behavior (column 2) affects us.

How to work out which area is affected

Scripts

If I don’t think others are acting right in a non-sexual scenario, my personal relations are affected.

If I don’t think others are acting right in a sexual scenario, my sexual relations are affected.

Outcomes

If my income, expenditure, assets (including property), or liabilities are harmed or threatened, my pocketbook is affected.

If I need something I’ve not got, might not get, or might lose because of the event in column 2, my security is affected.

If I want something I’ve not got, might not get, or might lose because of the event in column 2, my ambitions are affected.

Image

If I’m bothered by what others think about me because of the event in column 2, my pride is affected.

If I feel ashamed or inadequate because of the event in column 2, my self-esteem is affected.

How to ‘consider it carefully’ (bottom of page 65)

Personal relations: What script am I giving the person? How should he/she/they behave?

Sex relations: What script am I giving the person? How should he/she/they behave?

Pocketbooks: How does the situation affect my income, expenditure, assets (including property), or liabilities)?

Security: What do I need that I have not got, might not get, or might lose?

Ambitions: What do I want that I have not got, might not get, or might lose?

Pride: How do I think he/she/they see(s) me? How do I want him/her/them to see me?

Self-esteem: How do I see myself? How do I want to see myself? 

Example answers:

Personal relations:

He should be clear and straightforward.

They should seek our advice and act accordingly.

He should share on the topic.

She should be polite and not be accusatory.

She should not tell me off.

Sex relations:

He should fancy me.

He should initiate sex with me.

Pocketbooks:

If they don’t like my work, they will not commission more. Affects my income.

Because the washing machine broke, I will have to pay £200 to have it repaired. Affects my expenditure.

When the stock market goes down, my savings drop. Affects my assets.

When interest rates go up, my credit card debt increases faster. Affects my liabilities.

Security (another word for wellbeing):

To be OK, I need somewhere to live (physical wellbeing)

To be OK, I need the AA group to remain stable (mental and physical wellbeing)

To be OK, I need my other half to be happy (emotional wellbeing)

To be OK, I need a sponsor to provide guidance (developmental wellbeing)

To be OK, I need to spend time with my best friend (social wellbeing)

To be OK, I need free speech to be maintained (societal wellbeing)

Ambitions:

I want to be given high-profile work.

I want to have lots of free time to read.

I want to go on holiday to Germany.

I want to look like Justin Bieber.

I want to look like Marilyn Monroe.

Pride:

He sees me as a pushover, a patsy. I want him to see me as a respected authority.

He sees me as an equal. I want him to see me as a superior.

She sees me as difficult and thoughtless. I want her to see me as helpful and professional.

Self-esteem:

I see myself as inefficient and useless. I want to see myself as effective and competent as a sponsor.

I see myself as error-prone and uninteresting. I want to see myself as flawless and impressive as a writer.

Template

Personal relations: He should/she should/they should …

Sex relations: He should/she should/they should …

Pocketbooks: What has happened/will happen/might happen? Does this affect my income, expenditure, assets, or liabilities?

Security: To be OK, I need …

Ambitions: I want …

Pride: He/she/they see me as …; I want him/her/them to see me as …

Self-esteem: I see myself as …; I want to see myself as …

Here are some more tips for this – https://www.1st164steps.com/resentment-column-3-tips/

Comments Off on Resentment: Column 3: Instructions (V1)

Resentment: Column 3: Tips

Step 04: Resentment inventory: Column 3 tips

We’re after the demands that are not being met (so the ‘self-seeking’ from page 67). These demands slot under the seven areas of self.

Describe the demands by picturing the world as you would like it, in as far as it relates to this situation.

Don’t just reword, amplify, invert, or embellish the resentment.

Start with personal relations. A good starting point is to invert the resentment, but then generalize a little to derive the demand. Then ask how outcomes and image are affected.

Example

I’m resentful at Susan (employee).

Cause: She called me a bossy boots.

Personal relations:Don’t call me a bossy boots. Do not criticize me. Express gratitude.

Pride: She sees me as a bossy boots. I want her to see me as a great authority.

Full worked example

I’m resentful at Martina.

Cause: She has a successful career.

Personal relations: She should fail or she should be mediocre.

Self esteem: I see myself as a failure. I would like to see myself as a success.

I’m resentful at Peter.

Cause: He blames me for his negative emotions and problems.

Personal relations: He should take responsibility for his negative emotions and problems.

Pride: He sees me as inconsiderable and selfish. He should see me as innocent and helpful.

Further questions and considerations

Ask whether what you have written in the third column adequately explains the resentment in the second column.

If the plan were to be fulfilled (i.e. all the third column demands were met), would that eliminate the resentment, or would some element remain?

Is my third column a tight, clean, clinical analysis of why I’m resentful in column 2? Or is it a splurging, venting, stream of consciousness? Aim for a tight, clean, clinical analysis.

Sometimes the demands you discover actually go beyond the scope of explaining the resentment you wrote about in the second column. If that is the case, you might have discovered there is a further resentment. If that is the case, add that resentment and separate it off.

Try to word the demands under ‘personal relations’ positively (where possible), e.g.:

Be kind. Be supportive. Break bad news with gravity and decorum. Tell the truth. Tell nothing but the truth. Tell the whole truth. Think before you speak. Comply with my requests. Get sober. Stay sober. Go to meetings. Provide well-informed clear advice to the public. Call me regularly. Tell funny jokes. Accept my boundaries with grace.

Avoid figurative and/or vague language, e.g.

Show respect. Don’t be an arsehole. Go the whole hog. Suck it up.

Speak deferentially. Do not attack me verbally. Complete the tasks you are assigned. Don’t complain. Be cheerful.

Comments Off on Resentment: Column 3: Tips

Resentment: Column 3: Summary (V2)

Count how many times each of the seven areas of self is marked as affected in your Step Four. Write out the answers like this:

P = PRIDE: 78

SE = SELF-ESTEEM: 76

PR = PERSONAL RELATIONS 47

SR = SEX RELATIONS: 35

PB = POCKETBOOKS: 98

S = SECURITY: 45

A = AMBITIONS: 37

This is the measure and focus of self-will.

Comments Off on Resentment: Column 3: Summary (V2)

Resentment: Column 3: Summary (V1)

Step 04: Third column summary

Take a sheet of paper

Divide it into seven rows

In each row, summarize the findings of the third column:

The ego’s demands and expectations in the seven areas of self:

Personal relations

Sex relations

Pocketbooks

Security

Ambitions

Pride

Self-esteem

Comments Off on Resentment: Column 3: Summary (V1)

Resentment: Column 3: Lessons

What do we do with demands?

Some demands serve only egoic purposes (e.g. wanting to be popular, wanting the world to obey you, wanting huge amounts of money).

With these, we drop them like they’re hot.

Some demands do need to be fulfilled for us to be free to do God’s will and to do God’s will effectively (e.g. needing an income, somewhere to live, cooperativeness on the part of a sponsee, reasonable conduct by others in the workplace, etc.) Still others are harmless (e.g. travelling premium economy rather than economy, having nice cushions, or having access to a good French bakery).

With these, we downgrade them to preferences (which means we’re not bothered when they’re not met) and we take reasonable steps to ensure they are met (e.g. get a job, find somewhere to live, establish boundaries with the sponsee, choose an employer carefully + troubleshoot workplace issues appropriately, work harder to earn more money, look after the home + shop wisely, move somewhere with a good French bakery), provided that we’re still putting our relationship with God first.

If we drop / downgrade our demands and take the necessary action, our emotions become appropriate, proportionate, and timely, and cease to be lengthy visitors or lingering odors.

Demands and preferences

A demand is a preference with an emotional charge. If I want a fiorentina pizza but they have only a four seasons, and I’m fine with the four seasons, it’s a preference. If I’m upset, it’s a demand.

Why we drop demands is covered elsewhere. In brief, they’re the set-up for resentment and fear. How do you drop demands (in the sense of a preference with an emotional charge)?

Unreal demands are easy to see through. Wishing the moon were full of cheese or the walls were full of gold is clearly lunatic. There are many things that are wished for that simply are not so.

Unreasonable demands are relatively easy to see through. Wishing for a life of unending leisure is unrealistic and morally dubious, and unending leisure will in any case fail to yield happiness.

‘Reasonable’ demands are harder. Let’s take one:

For example, my client should pay on time. This is incontrovertibly true. We have a contract, and that is what the client should do.

However, just because the client should pay on time does not mean he will. Legally, we can require him to pay on time. Psychologically, demanding him to is unrealistic. Some people just will not. That’s a fact. It’s more realistic, therefore, to say that we prefer people to pay on time but recognize that they will not always do so.

This does not mean that we do not take action to bring about timely payment (being careful who we contract with, negotiating and drawing up a contract, sending an invoice on time, sending a reminder on time, suing if necessary).

But none of that requires emotional involvement. Setting terms, boundaries, etc. can be done with complete emotional neutrality.

We prefer the client to pay on time, but this preference is not furnished with an emotional charge which results in us being upset if he does not. The preference is also not furnished with an expectation that the preference will be met, so that, if it is not, we are not surprised. To summarize, a preference is a neutral recognition that things might be better a particular way, but without an emotional charge attached to whether they are, and without the unquestioning assumption they will be that way.

When are preferences legitimate?

Some preferences concern doing God’s will effectively, efficiently, and harmoniously. These are always legitimate. E.g. we prefer the sponsee to be cooperative, the boss to give clear instructions, the colleague to be pleasant.

Some preferences are personal matters of taste. E.g. fiorentina pizzas.

Some preferences are personal matters of temperament. E.g. being super organized or being super flexible.

Some preferences concern comfort and thrills. E.g. having a nice sofa or bungee-jumping. Some preferences concern keeping ourselves healthy. E.g. enough sleep, healthy food.

The preferences to be cautious about are those chiefly focused on ego goals: sex, money, power, prestige, and appearance. These easily convert to demands, tend to be addictive, and contribute little to profound happiness.

I have found it is best to treat these latter categories as bonuses dispensed by the Higher Power at the Higher Power’s pleasure. It’s safe to let them go, as they’ll be delivered in some measure as a result of right living.

To sum up:

Drop ego demands.

It’s OK to have legitimate preferences.

It’s OK to take action to bring about their attainment.

Make a list of:

Ten demands you’re going to drop

Ten demands you’re going to downgrade plus possibly work for

Comments Off on Resentment: Column 3: Lessons

Resentment: Column 3: So what? (Short)

In the third column of the resentment inventory, we discover that we are unhappy because various people and circumstances are affecting the seven areas of self. Many people stop there.

A new perspective is necessary on all seven for us to move beyond victimhood.

Pride. This is where I am concerned with what others think about me. The lesson: what others think is of no significance. What I am and what I am worth are unaffected by good or bad opinion. Approval is a vile, worthless drug. Drop the senseless, childish vanity and know who and what I am.

Self-esteem. This is where I am concerned about what I think about myself. What I really am is spirit, born of God. I inhabit a human existence where I play roles assigned, but I am not the characters I play. What I am is of infinite value and changeless. Drop all external identification and live with integrity, and self-esteem ceases to be a problem.

Personal and sex relations, plus ambitions. This is the set of scripts I have given others to follow for my plans to be fulfilled, plus the fulfilment of those plans. The plan (the ambitions) and the scripts need to be dropped, as we have decided in Step Three that our plans for money, sex, power, prestige, comfort, thrills, and appearance largely bring anxiety, frustration, disappointment, and despair. The decision has already been made to drop these plans in return for doing God’s will. Now it is time to put my money where my mouth is and recognise these plans, scripts, and ambitions as worthless.

Security and pocketbooks. These do matter but are rarely well managed directly. Serve God and these take care of themselves.

If I genuinely wish to jettison my false images of self, my false attachments, and my little plans and designs, instead to serve God, knowing I will be given everything I need for health, happiness, harmony, love, joy, peace, and connection, I can, in turn, be free of unwanted disturbance, if, that is, I am happy to completely abandon myself.

Comments Off on Resentment: Column 3: So what? (Short)

Resentment: Column 3: So what? (Long)

In 1993, I wrote my first Fourth Step inventory. I was instructed to use the Big Book as the guide. I had a wonderful experience, and it changed my life. I remained confused, however, about the purpose of the third column of the resentment inventory.

In this column, according to the Big Book, we are encouraged to write which area of ‘self’ is affected by a resentment. There are seven: pride, self-esteem, personal and sex relations, ambitions, security, and pocketbooks (= money). The Big Book then remains silent on the significance of the results—in other words what to ‘do’ with this information.

The Fourth Step inventory is certainly effective, even without further work on this third column, as the suggestions on forgiveness on page 67 will be largely effective in removing most resentments, at least for the time being.

I remained stuck, however, in double-digit sobriety, with resentments I could not get rid of and resentments that kept cropping up in different forms.

It was only when I got to grips with this third column and what it means that I learned how to adjust my attitudes such that these resentments would not crop up in the first place.

A friend of mine says: ‘if I’m upset, it means I have not gotten my own way. If I do not want to be upset, I have to drop “my way”.’

The third column can be used to discover what ‘my way’ is.

Basically, when I am upset, my demands have not been met. Those demands can be seen as a design for how the world should look. That design, in turn, can be analysed out into these seven areas.

  • What others think of me (pride)
  • Who I think I am (self-esteem)
  • Personal relationships (how others behave)
  • Sex relations (how others behave in a sexual arena)
  • Ambitions (what I want; my dreams)
  • Security (what I need)
  • Pocketbooks (financial security)

There isn’t a demand that does not fit somewhere into this.

When I have a resentment, therefore, I can use it to find out what my design for the world is, in other words how I have been playing God. It is supposed to be God who designs how everything should be, not me.

Examples

  • If I’m judgemental about a client for exploding over a minor flaw in my work, my pride is affected: I want clients to think I’m perfect at my job, the best there is.
  • If I’m disappointed at a sponsee for not following suggestions, my self-esteem is affected: If I were a better sponsor, she would follow my instructions—I have failed.
  • If I’m resentful that a friend jabbers endlessly on the phone, my personal relations are affected: Don’t waste my time on meaningless wittering.
  • If I’m gutted because someone I like won’t sleep with me, my sex relations are affected: If I want you, you must want me back!
  • If I’m jealous because a friend of mine gets to fly around the world for work, my ambitions are affected: I want to be a jet-setter.
  • If my stomach is turning over because the neighbours are noisy again, my security is affected: I need somewhere quiet to live, so I can sleep well and function properly in my life.
  • If I’m furious because my computer has broken down after just a year and needs replacing, my pocketbook is affected: I work hard for my money and should not have to spend a penny more than absolutely necessary.

It’s pretty clear from doing a few of these that I have a whole slew of demands, which are largely nonsensical. The more demands I have, the unhappier I will be. If I want to be happy, I have to drop the demands.

Furthermore, in teasing out the demands I am making, I often see that there is a good dose of speculation, interpretation, generalisation, and extrapolation in there. For instance, the sponsee is not failing to follow suggestions because I am a bad sponsor: the truth is that I am responsible only for carrying a message, not for how that message is received.

Once the underlying thinking is teased out, work with a good sponsor will often reveal that the resentments are flowing from a very distorted perception of reality.

But back to the demands. How can I get rid of them?

Each of these seven areas of self can be looked at differently:

Examples

  • Pride: what others think of me is of no great concern. If I behave well, and do my best to be useful, cheerful, and kind, others will generally think well of me anyway. The demand to be highly regarded is an empty demand: when the demand is met, I am ‘fixed’ momentarily, but even this is outweighed by the frustration, fear, disappointment, and despair that come with having these demands in the first place. Solution: focus on being cheerful, useful, and kind, and leave my reputation to look after itself.
  • Self-esteem: I am a perfect child of God, and so is everyone else. My defects are not who I am, they are attitudes plus thinking and behavior patterns I have been taught. My virtues are not who I am: to the extent they are inherent, I cannot take the credit; to the extent they are taught, I owe a debt of gratitude. Most of my virtues belie enlightened self-interest, anyway. No, any sense of self-esteem that goes up and down in response to my performance in the world will be perpetually fragile. My sense of self must stem from being a child of God, borne of something greater and universal and made in its image. If that is the substance and everything else, a transient dream, self-esteem and my esteem of others cease to be problems.
  • Ambitions, security, and pocketbooks: these form the substance of my plan—e.g. If I am amazing at my job, earn lots of money, have a big house away from other people, get to go on lots of expensive holidays, have lots of free time, and am free of depending on others, I will be happy. Let’s look at the results. How happy are you? If you’re not, it’s best to question the plan. The trouble with having a results-based plan is that I will be perpetually frustrated (that the plan is not coming off), frightened (that the plan will not come off), disappointed (that the plan, even when it succeeds, has not permanently ‘fixed’ me), and despairing (of ever ‘making it’). The only solution is to have an attitude-and-action-based plan: my attitude is to rely for everything on God—God is the source, and He will decide on the channels (the concrete situations and people) to supply my needs; my action is to attempt to do God’s will on a daily basis, which is to be useful, cheerful, and kind. Since all I have to do is try to make progress, if I try, I cannot fail. My experience suggests that when I live this way, the levels of frustration, fear, disappointment, and despair are massively reduced, and I achieve a lot more health, happiness, harmony, love, joy, peace, and connection than I ever could by following my own plans.
  • Personal and sex relations: remember the plans and designs we have? Well, these two areas of self consist in the scripts we have given other people in relation to these plans and designs. If, as we have discovered above, the plans are worthless, then so are the scripts. Without the plan, the scripts are unnecessary. Without the play, no actors are required.

A very large proportion of my inventory will boil down to the world (including me) not following the elaborate screenplay I have written. The truth is that, even if the world (including me) complied, I would not be happy.

The inventory usually contains more innocent elements, however: pain that has arisen not from my bloated ego but from very basic needs not being met. There will be instances of violence, death, abandonment, sickness, cruelty, reversals of fortune, and other attacks on the network of relations that sustain me at a very basic level.

With these, even the most evolved among us will be affected when the event in question takes place, and, the more significant the event, the longer adjustment will take. The adjustment in the case of death is said to run through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, before acceptance is achieved. I have found this to be true in my case also.

Most people find, however, that they make dramas out of crises and build a superstructure of interpretation on top of these events, which adds considerably to the pain and can solidify the suffering into a permafrost of bitterness.

The three character defects that operate within this superstructure might be these (although there are surely more):

  • Ingratitude—focusing solely on the one or two things that have gone horribly wrong and ignoring the ninety-eight or ninety-nine that are going perfectly well.
  • Cowardice—not trusting that God will give you the resources (both directly and through the people in your life you have sought out to help you) to cope in the moment with whatever happens in that moment.
  • Entitlement—the sense that bad things may happen to others, but not to me.

So, even with ‘genuinely’ bad events, the suffering can be reduced to its natural proportions by fostering gratitude for all of the things that are indeed going well, courage that God will look after me, and acceptance that pain is part of life, and that I am no more exempt than anyone else.

* * * * *

This is merely one brief exposition of what can be learned from the third column. There are surely other ways to look at this column, and many will suggest that all of the above is fruitless analysis. As ever in recovery: use what helps, and file away the rest for later consideration.

Comments Off on Resentment: Column 3: So what? (Long)

Readings

Read from the bottom of page 65 to the top of page 67.

We’re going to look at forgiveness.

There are some readings and things to listen to or watch, then some things to do. Gradually work your way through them and stay in touch during the process.

With the materials below:

Read the reading(s). [Watch the video.]

Make a list of major points of identification.

Make a list of new beliefs, thinking, and behavior to adopt on the basis of these. Make a list of any questions you have.

———————————————-

Dennis F: Tradition Three: The only requirement for AA membership is the desire to stop drinking’

For last week’s homework, we suggested making a list of expectations or requirements we have in life beyond sobriety. My list reads like this:

1. Financial and musical success

2. Happy family

3. Tennis success

I am going to tear up the list.

The only requirement I am supposed to have in life is a desire to stay sober. All else will be added to me as long as I keep this as my only goal.

You might say that the homework assignment was a way of exposing to myself how complicated and self-seeking I make my life when I get away from keeping it simple by only pursuing sobriety. I need have no fear of loneliness, financial or other problems if my goal in life is only to pursue sobriety. I can express the essence of the meaning of my life today to myself in just five words: I grow or I drink.

I grow in AA by working the principles of the steps, traditions, and concepts of service in my life a day at a time.

I work the third tradition in a personal way by eliminating all my desires in life other than pursuing sobriety.

There is nothing wrong in wanting emotional and financial security. However, I make obsessions of these goals rather than seeing them as the by-products of giving service in working a program whose goal is to pursue sobriety.

Whenever I complicate my life by having any goal other than pursuing sobriety, I notice that I become ungrateful and take it for granted.

Thus, the beauty of the third tradition is that it restores perspective through an attitude of gratefulness for the miracle of my sobriety.

I keep perspective when I remember that a financial problem is only a financial problem. It is not the serious problem I have. It is not a drinking problem. If I keep sobriety first and not relationships or the lack of them in my life, I can live to love someday.

I like the perspective of Allen McG on the third tradition when he says that sobriety is an end in itself. We don’t stay sober in order to be rewarded with relationships or financial success.

If we stay sober for rewards, we might drink when we get them because we have no more reason to stay sober. Or we might drink if we don’t get them, when we say, ‘What’s the use?’ We don’t stay sober to be virtuous. We stay sober to survive. We place sobriety first because we must in order to live! This is the theme of the third tradition.

The relationship of the third tradition to the third step is a profound one. The third step poses the question: What do I need to do in order to turn my will and my life over to the loving care of God as we understand him?

The tradition answers the problem posed in the third step. The only requirement I need to fulfill in order to turn my will and my life over to God’s loving care is a desire to stop drinking. It is unbelievable that all the power of the universe is available to care for me if I only have one desire: to stay sober.

How can I maintain a good relationship with God and other people? If I have no demands on God except a desire to be sober, I can turn my will and my life over to his care. If I insist on financial success or a soul mate first, then I can’t turn this area over to God because I am running the show by placing these demands on him.

God is a loving God and he will not keep mine from me as long as I place sobriety first. As I grow in sobriety, all else will be added to me.

My relationships with others are a reflection of my relationship with God. If I have poor relationships in life, it means that I need to straighten out my relationship with God by only seeking sobriety.

A desire for emotional and financial security is not the requirement that makes God’s projecting power available to an alcoholic. Therefore I need to rid myself of these demands or any other that I have placed on my relationship with God. I need to make amends to God for trying to manipulate him to suit my desires and to tell him I only desire to stay sober and am grateful for my sobriety.

The desire for sobriety is the basis of my relationship with God. He gives me the power of sobriety and the freedom to grow and do his will as I understand it.

When I first got sober, God looked at my desire for sobriety and rescued me.

I need to be the same to other alcoholics in carrying the message. If a person expresses a desire for sobriety, I need to be willing to go to any length to help him or her just as God helps me. I am not put off by other desires a sick and suffering alcoholic might have as long as the desire for sobriety is present.

The third tradition also takes care of my perfectionism. My desire to be perfect is a reflection of my desire to be God in my own life, the exact nature of my wrongs. I am reminded by the third tradition that the only desire I am to have is to stay sober, not to be perfect.

The opposite of perfectionism is unworthiness. I would frequently bounce around between the two extremes. I would want to be perfect in my work and get upset at myself when I wasn’t. Then I would feel I was unworthy of significant achievements in my life and people please to combat my unworthiness.

Perfectionism and people-pleasing, superior and inferior, arrogance and unworthiness, are all sides of the same coin. I try to be God in my own life and when I see that I am failing at it, I people-please in order to try to find some worthiness to assuage my crushed ego at not being God.

The only leveling attitude to these desires is to get back to the simplicity of the only desire I am to have in life – a desire to stay sober as expressed in the third tradition.

This tradition also guides me in my relationship with you. I am not to judge you or have any demands or expectations of you. We share a desire to stay sober and that is our bond. I don’t try to manipulate you for any desire, emotional or financial.

The third tradition states the similarity that binds us together despite our various drinking backgrounds: high bottom or low bottom; skid row or college professor; periodic or daily drinking. We all belong because of our desire to stay sober.

The most startling thought to me in our reading of the third tradition in the ’12 & 12′ is the one question that puts to rest any problems I have about what I should do. The one question that immediately gives me proper perspective any about any problem is: ‘What would the Master do?’

Just as this question straightened out the controversy limiting the membership of AA to alcoholics only, it straightens out my self-centered perspective when I ask it of myself.

When I am not sure what to do, I ask myself. ‘What would God do?’ and all of a sudden I know what to do, I have not yet had a conflict that this question has not resolved correctly. God only looks to my desire; he does not judge me.

May I not judge the motives of others, but only be sensitive to their desire to grow in sobriety. I consecrate myself to this end.

Working a step, tradition, or concept to me means that I am willing to take written inventory and allow it to surrender something within me. The third tradition suggests to me that that I surrender all of the requirements and expectations I have in life beyond sobriety. Emotional and financial successes are the result of being of service. But when these are things that I demand in my relationships with God and others, then I have lost the simplicity and perspective envisioned in the third tradition.

The only requirement I have to turn my will and life over to the care of a loving God is a desire to stop drinking. Other requirements ruin the relationship.

Let us prepare to write inventory by asking ourselves in meditation if we are anxious about anything at all in our lives. Do I have any requirement of God in my life beyond looking to him for sobriety only? In silent prayer let us make amends for these demands and purify our motives by asking only for sobriety. God has only one requirement to take care of me. Am I content to be grateful for sobriety? Let us purify and simplify the basis of our relationship with the Almighty!

Fear as activator

‘The chief activator of our defects has been self-centered fear—primarily fear that we would lose something we already possessed or would fail to get something we demanded. Living upon a basis of unsatisfied demands, we were in a state of continual disturbance and frustration. Therefore, no peace was to be had unless we could find a means of reducing these demands. The difference between a demand and a simple request is plain to anyone.’

Discipleship (from The Way To Love)

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

—Luke 14:

Take a look at the world and see the unhappiness around you and in you. Do you know what causes this unhappiness? You will probably say loneliness or oppression or war or hatred or atheism. And you will be wrong. There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them. Because of these false beliefs, you see the world and yourself in a distorted way. Your programming is so strong and the pressure of society so intense that you are literally trapped into perceiving the world in this distorted kind of way. There is no way out, because you do not even have a suspicion that your perception is distorted, your thinking is wrong, and your beliefs are false.

Look around and see if you can find a single genuinely happy person—fearless, free from insecurities, anxieties, tensions, worries. You would be lucky if you found one in a hundred thousand. This should lead you to be suspicious of the programming and the beliefs that you and they hold in common. But you have also been programmed not to suspect, not to doubt, just to trust the assumptions that have been put into your by your tradition, your culture, your society, your religion. And if you are not happy, you have been trained to blame yourself, not your programming, not your cultural and inherited ideas and beliefs. What makes it even worse is the fact that most people are so brainwashed that they do not even realize how unhappy they are—like the man in a dream who has no idea he is dreaming.

What are these false beliefs that block you from happiness? Here are some examples. First: you cannot be happy without the things that you are attached to and that you consider so precious. False. There is not a single moment in your life when you do not have everything that you need to be happy. Think of that for a minute. The reason why you are unhappy is because you are focusing on what you do not have rather than on what you have right now.

Another belief: happiness is in the future. Not true. Right here and now you are happy and do not know it because your false beliefs and your distorted perceptions have got you caught up in fears, anxieties, attachments, conflicts, guilt, and a host of games you are programmed to play. If you would see through this you would realise that you are happy and do not know it.

Yet another belief: happiness will come if you manage to change the situation you are in and the people around you. Not true. You stupidly squander so much energy trying to rearrange the world. If changing the world is your vocation in life, go right ahead and change it, but do not harbour the illusion that this is going to make you happy. What makes you happy or unhappy is not the world and the people around you, but the thinking in your head. As well search for an eagle’s nest on the bed of an ocean, as search for happiness in the world outside of you. So if it is happiness that you seek you can stop wasting your energy trying to cure your baldness or build up an attractive body or change your residence or job or community or lifestyle or even your personality. Do you realise that you could change every one of these things, you could have the finest looks and the most charming personality and the most pleasant of surroundings and still be unhappy? And deep down you know this is true but still you waste your effort and energy trying to get what you know cannot make you happy.

Another false belief: if all your desires are fulfilled you will be happy. Not true. In fact it is these very desires and attachments that make you tense, frustrated, nervous, insecure, and fearful. Make a list of all of your attachments and desires and to each of them say these words: “Deep down in my heart I know that even after I have got you I will not get happiness.” And ponder on the truth of those words. The fulfilment of desire can, at the most, bring flashes of pleasure and excitement. Don’t mistake that for happiness.

What then is happiness? Very few people know and no one can tell you, because happiness cannot be described. Can you describe light to people who have been sitting in darkness all their lives? Can you describe reality to someone in a dream? Understand your darkness and it will vanish; then you will know what light is. Understand your nightmare for what it is and it will stop; then you will wake up to reality. Understand your false beliefs and they will drop; then you will know the taste of happiness.

If people want happiness so badly, why don’t they attempt to understand their false beliefs? First, because it never occurs to them to see them as false or even as beliefs. They see them as facts and reality, so deeply have they been programmed. Second, because they are scared to lose the only world they know: the world of desires, attachments, fears, social pressures, tensions, ambitions, worries, guilt, with flashes of the pleasure and relief and excitement which these things bring. Think of someone who is afraid to let go of a nightmare because, after all, that is the only world he knows. There you have a picture of yourself and of other people.

If you wish to attain to lasting happiness you must be ready to hate father, mother, even your own life, and to take leave of all of your possessions. How? Not by renouncing them or giving them up because what you give up violently you are forever bound to. But rather by seeing them for the nightmare they are; and then, whether you keep them or not, they will have lost their grip over you, their power to hurt you, and you will be out of your dream at last, out of your darkness, your fear, your unhappiness.

So spend some time seeing each of the things you cling to for what it really is, a nightmare that causes you excitement and pleasure on the one hand but also worry, insecurity, tension, anxiety, fear, unhappiness on the other.

Father and mother: nightmare. Wife and children, brothers and sisters: nightmare. All your possessions: nightmare. Your life as it is now: nightmare. Every single thing you cling to and have convinced yourself you cannot be happy without: nightmare. Then you will hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even your own life. And you will so easily take leave of all of your possessions, that is, you will stop clinging and thus have destroyed their capacity to hurt you. Then at least you will experience that mysterious state that cannot be described or uttered—the state of abiding happiness and peace. And you will understand how true it is that everyone who stops clinging to brothers or sisters, father, mother or children, land or houses … is repaid a hundred times over and gains eternal life.

Anthony De Mello

The Extra Mile (from The Way To Love)

And if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

—Matthew, 5:40–41

If you take a look at the way you have been put together and the way you function, you will find that inside your head there is a whole programme, a set of demands about how the world should be, how you should be, and what you should want.

Who is responsible for the programming? Not you. It isn’t really you who decided even such basics as your wants and desires and so-called needs; your values, your tastes, your attitudes. It was your parents, your society, your culture, your religion, your past experiences that fed the operating instructions into your computer. Now, however old you are or wherever you go, your computer goes along with you and is active and operating at each conscious moment of the day, imperiously insisting that its demands be met by life, by people, and by you. If the demands are met, the computer allows you to be peaceful and happy. If they are not met, even though it be through no fault of yours, the computer generates negative emotions that cause you to suffer.

For instance, when other people don’t live up to your computer’s expectations, it torments you with frustration or anger or bitterness. Another instance: when things are not under your control or the future is uncertain, your computer insists that you experience anxiety, tension, worry. Then you expend a lot of energy coping with these negative emotions. And you generally cope by expending more energy trying to rearrange the world around you so that the demands of your computer will be met. If that happens, you will be granted a measure of precarious peace; precarious because at any moment some trifle (a delayed train, a tape recorder that doesn’t work, a letter that doesn’t arrive—anything) is going to be out of conformity with your computer’s programming and the computer will insist that you become upset again.

And so you live a pathetic existence, constantly at the mercy of things and people, trying desperately to make them conform to your computer’s demands, so that you can enjoy the only peace you can ever know—a temporary respite from negative emotions, courtesy of your computer and your programming.

Is there a way out? Yes. You are not going to be able to change your programming all that quickly, or perhaps ever. And you don’t even need to. Try this: imagine you are in a situation or with a person that you find unpleasant and that you would ordinarily avoid. Now observe how your computer instinctively becomes active, insisting that you avoid this situation or try to change it. And if you stay on there and refuse to change the situation, observe how the computer insists that you experience irritation or anxiety or guilt or some other negative emotion. Now keep looking at this unpleasant situation or person until you realise that it isn’t they that are causing the negative emotions. They are just going their way, being themselves, doing their thing whether right or wrong, good or bad. It is your computer that, thanks to your programming, insists on your reacting with negative emotions. You will see this better if you realise that someone with a different programming when faced with this same situation or person or event would react quite calmly, even happily. Don’t stop till you have grasped this truth: the only reason why you too are not reacting calmly and happily is your computer that is stubbornly insisting that reality be reshaped to conform to its programing. Observe all of this from the outside, so to speak, and see the marvellous change that comes about in you.

Once you have understood this truth and thereby stopped your computer from generating negative emotions, you may take any action you deem fit. You may avoid the situation or the person; or you may try to change them; or you may insist on your rights or the rights of others being respected; you may even resort to the use of force. But only after you have got rid of your emotional upsets, for then your action will spring from peace and love, not from the neurotic desire to appease your computer or conform to its programming or to get rid of the negative emotion it generates. Then you will understand how profound is the wisdom of the words: ‘If a man wants to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat. If a man in authority makes you go one mile, go with him two.’ For it will have become evident to you that real oppression comes, not from people who fight you in court or from authority that subjects you to slave labour, but from your computer whose programming destroys your peace of mind the moment outside circumstances fail to conform to its demands. People have been known to be happy even in the oppressive atmosphere of a concentration camp! It is from the oppression of your programming that you need to be liberated. Only then will you experience that inner freedom from which along all social revolution must arise, for the powerful emotion, the passion that arises in your heart at the sight of social evils and impels you to action, will have its origin in reality, not in your programming or your ego.

Anthony De Mello

#Rabbi Shais Taub: You Ruined My Life! Getting Over Resentment

https://www.chabad.org/1780349

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1qyZSE82PI3n-hSTFRr1GEDM5qQWcx8mB

Video or audio

Jonah 3 and 4

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:

“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city–a visit required three days.

On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”

The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.

Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink.

But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.

Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.

He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.

Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”

Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city.

Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine.

But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered.

When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?” “I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”

But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.

But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

The Case of the Mistaken Identity

The Case of the Mistaken Identity

First of all, a chassidic tale:

“Reb Yitzchak of Vorki had a friend who was a rabbi of repute, but a great antagonist of Reb Yitzchak’s rebbe [spiritual leader], Reb Simchah Bunem of Pshischah. The friend always had hard words to say about Reb Simchah, even in the presence of Reb Yitzchak, who never answered a word.

This attitude astonished Reb Yitzchak’s followers, who asked him how he found it possible to hear such harsh language about his rebbe, and yet to hold his peace.

“I will tell you about an incident that happened to me,” replied Reb Yitzchak, “and then you will understand. I was once travelling in a certain city when a stranger approached me, looked at me for a moment, and exclaimed: ‘That’s him!’ A second man did the same thing soon after, and then a third, and I had not the slightest notion what it was all about. Then I was approached by a deserted woman in need of a bill of divorce, an agunah, who was accompanied by a noisy little group of men, including the three who had approached me earlier. All in a chorus they showered me with curses and abuses, the gist of which was: ‘You are the man who all these years has left this poor woman as an agunah!’ They were so convinced that they knew who I was, that no amount of explanation on my part could convince them that I was not the irresponsible gentleman they were seeking. In the end I had to go along with them to the local rabbinical court, which accepted my evidence of identity.

“Now while they were busy abusing me I was not in the slightest angry at them, because I knew that it was not at me that they were directing their complaints and their curses. They thought I was her husband, and had they known me better they would not have abused me. In a word, whatever they did, they did to someone else.

“So, too, with this rabbi. When he says unpleasant things about my rebbe, Reb Simchah Bunem, I don’t get excited, because I know that he talks this way only because he doesn’t know my rebbe. If he knew him, he wouldn’t say a thing. In a word, he talks about someone else, not about my rebbe.”

When I first approached Step Four, I was frightened of all of the terrible things I would have to write about myself. I was sure Step Four was about finding out “who I really was”. Some Step Four methods even anticipate and try to counteract this by suggesting that we write out assets as well as liabilities.

An inventory is different: we are the shop, we are interested in the ‘stock-in-trade’ (p. 64:1, ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’). Is a shop its stock-in-trade? Is the shop so identified with the old stock it cannot sell that it refuses to part with it? No! It may acknowledge its poor judgement in the past for investing in the wrong stock, but it will get rid of it promptly and without regret (p. 64:1). And what if the shop is inherited? It will have even less remorse about the stock that won’t shift—after all, this stock was acquired, not chosen.

What I find in Step Four is not me. It is what I’ve been play-acting, and the thinking and behavior that has flowed from that play-acting. And all of that was inherited, taught. Get rid of everything I’m not, and who I really am will show up.

Page 68:2 tells me that I am “in the world to play the role He assigns.” Let’s say I’m assigned the role of sponsor. Let’s consider, also, that what has “caused our failure” are the manifestations of self (p. 64:2).

There is nothing wrong with being a sponsor. In fact, it’s a great job, a privilege, and a joy. So far, so good. Where things start to go awry is that my ego attaches to the role and decides that ‘sponsor’ is no longer just a role assigned, like being assigned a role in a play by the director, but my very identity. The ego, of course, is not satisfied with being just any sponsor. I have to be the ne plus ultra of sponsors, the tippest of the top, the apex, the summit, the zenith, the acme. And this is the ‘being’ I take into the world.

“What usually happens? The show doesn’t come off very well.” (p. 61:1)

First of all, the sponsee may decide that I’m a terrible sponsor and say, “screw you” (first bullet in the stomach to the stage character—third column: “pride”). I internalise that and conclude I cannot live up to my own job description (second bullet in the stomach—”self-esteem”). He then ‘sacks’ me (which is not how you treat the ne plus ultra of sponsors—”personal relations”). And what will everyone else think about me if they knew I was sacked by my sponsee, who obviously has very good judgement (“pride”)? And who am I if I’m not a sponsor? (“Security”—needing to be ‘someone’ to be OK). And so it goes on.

And what do I end up? An actor dressed up as Hamlet trotting round London months after the production has closed, still in costume, still in make-up, perhaps a little dishevelled, but desperately clinging on to something he longer is. If I cannot let go of the role when it is attacked or taken from me altogether, I will die with the role.

And this is repeated throughout the whole of my Step Four. My life up to Step Four was a huge case of mistaken identity!

So, if all of these things I’ve been doing and being (student, teacher, son, brother, sponsor, sponsee, friend, boyfriend, husband, lover, neighbour) are just roles that I get to play, sometimes well, sometimes badly, and I am not these roles, where does that leave me?

“If what we have learned and felt and seen means anything at all, it means that all of us, whatever our race, creed, or colour, are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms.” (P. 28:2)

That is who I am: child of God. I do not have to do anything to deserve God’s love; I cannot do anything to shed myself of it. I am of infinite value, simply by dint of being. And if this is true for me, this is true for you.

There is no need in Step Four to write about assets: we write about the illusions, and the pure asset that we are will become revealed as these illusions are shed. And this pure asset should not be boxed inside little words (“kind”, “nice”, “thoughtful”). This is just another set of illusions. We’re infinitely more than a list of pleasant qualities, just as God is infinitely more than any words we could use to label Him.

If anyone has a problem with me, they don’t really. They have a problem with their image of me, floating like an avatar above my head. That’s who they are shooting: they’re shooting the role, the picture, the stage costume and make-up—the cloak falls to the ground, and there’s nothing there.

Similarly, if I have a problem with someone else, I don’t really. I have a problem with my image of them, floating like an avatar above their heads. I am not seeing who they really are; I’m seeing only my image of them. The role I think they should be playing, because, after all, I see myself as the Director, not the actor, and we’re back to me playing God, once more.

Someone once said to me, “if the knowledge that we are all children of God could go from your head to your heart, you’d never have a problem with another human being again.” Step Four starts that journey.

The Next Frontier: Emotional Sobriety

by Bill Wilson

Copyright © AA Grapevine, Inc., January 1958

I think that many oldsters who have put our AA “booze cure” to severe but successful tests still find they often lack emotional sobriety. Perhaps they will be the spearhead for the next major development in AA —the development of much more real maturity and balance (which is to say, humility) in our relations with ourselves, with our fellows, and with God.

Those adolescent urges that so many of us have for top approval, perfect security, and perfect romance —urges quite appropriate to age seventeen—prove to be an impossible way of life when we are at age forty-seven or fifty-seven.

Since AA began, I’ve taken immense wallops in all these areas because of my failure to grow up, emotionally and spiritually. My God, how painful it is to keep demanding the impossible, and how very painful to discover finally, that all along we have had the cart before the horse! Then comes the final agony of seeing how awfully wrong we have been, but still finding ourselves unable to get off the emotional merry-go-round.

How to translate a right mental conviction into a right emotional result, and so into easy, happy, and good living—well, that’s not only the neurotic’s problem, it’s the problem of life itself for all of us who have got to the point of real willingness to hew to right principles in all our affairs.

Even then, as we hew away, peace and joy may still elude us. That’s the place so many of us AA oldsters have come to. And it’s a hell of a spot, literally. How shall our unconscious—from which so many of our fears, compulsions and phony aspirations still stream—be brought into line with what we actually believe, know and want! How to convince our dumb, raging and hidden “Mr. Hyde” becomes our main task.

I’ve recently come to believe that this can be achieved. I believe so because I begin to see many benighted ones—folks like you and me—commencing to get results. Last autumn [several years back— ed.] depression, having no really rational cause at all, almost took me to the cleaners. I began to be scared that I was in for another long chronic spell. Considering the grief I’ve had with depressions, it wasn’t a bright prospect.

I kept asking myself, “Why can’t the Twelve Steps work to release depression?” By the hour, I stared at the St. Francis Prayer…”It’s better to comfort than to be the comforted.” Here was the formula, all right. But why didn’t it work?

Suddenly I realized what the matter was. My basic flaw had always been dependence—almost absolute dependence—on people or circumstances to supply me with prestige, security, and the like. Failing to get these things according to my perfectionist dreams and specifications, I had fought for them. And when defeat came, so did my depression.

There wasn’t a chance of making the outgoing love of St. Francis a workable and joyous way of life until these fatal and almost absolute dependencies were cut away.

Because I had over the years undergone a little spiritual development, the absolute quality of these frightful dependencies had never before been so starkly revealed. Reinforced by what Grace I could secure in prayer, I found I had to exert every ounce of will and action to cut off these faulty emotional dependencies upon people, upon AA, indeed, upon any set of circumstances whatsoever.

Then only could I be free to love as Francis had. Emotional and instinctual satisfactions, I saw, were really the extra dividends of having love, offering love, and expressing a love appropriate to each relation of life.

Plainly, I could not avail myself of God’s love until I was able to offer it back to Him by loving others as He would have me. And I couldn’t possibly do that so long as I was victimized by false dependencies. For my dependency meant demand—a demand for the possession and control of the people and the conditions surrounding me.

While those words “absolute demand” may look like a gimmick, they were the ones that helped to trigger my release into my present degree of stability and quietness of mind, qualities which I am now trying to consolidate by offering love to others regardless of the return to me.

This seems to be the primary healing circuit: an outgoing love of God’s creation and His people, by means of which we avail ourselves of His love for us. It is most clear that the current can’t flow until our paralyzing dependencies are broken, and broken at depth. Only then can we possibly have a glimmer of what adult love really is.

Spiritual calculus, you say? Not a bit of it. Watch any AA of six months working with a new Twelfth Step case. If the case says “To the devil with you,” the Twelfth Stepper only smiles and turns to another case. He doesn’t feel frustrated or rejected. If his next case responds, and in turn starts to give love and attention to other alcoholics, yet gives none back to him, the sponsor is happy about it anyway. He still doesn’t feel rejected; instead he rejoices that his one-time prospect is sober and happy. And if his next following case turns out in later time to be his best friend (or romance) then the sponsor is most joyful. But he well knows that his happiness is a by-product—the extra dividend of giving without any demand for a return.

The really stabilizing thing for him was having and offering love to that strange drunk on his doorstep. That was Francis at work, powerful and practical, minus dependency and minus demand.

In the first six months of my own sobriety, I worked hard with many alcoholics. Not a one responded. Yet this work kept me sober. It wasn’t a question of those alcoholics giving me anything. My stability came out of trying to give, not out of demanding that I receive.

Thus I think it can work out with emotional sobriety. If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God’s help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to Twelfth Step ourselves and others into emotional sobriety.

Of course I haven’t offered you a really new idea—only a gimmick that has started to unhook several of my own “hexes” at depth. Nowadays my brain no longer races compulsively in either elation, grandiosity or depression. I have been given a quiet place in bright sunshine.

Comments Off on Readings

Motivations exercise

On pages 65–67, the Big Book describes how to get rid of resentment. In the process, it sets out the motivations. What are they?

Comments Off on Motivations exercise

Motivations exercise: Answers

On pages 65–67, the Big Book describes how to get rid of resentment. In the process, it sets out the motivations.

QuotationNotes
The usual outcome was that people continued to wrong us …The implication is maybe that, if we change, we will not be wronged. This can be understood two ways: (1) if we change, our lives change around us, as we are co-creators of our lives (2) even when other people do behave badly, if our wiring is different, they are no longer wronging us: we acquire a defensive shield against the perception of wrong. Remember: it is the seven areas of self which are affected, not us (see page 65), and it is only our attachment to those seven areas of self that cause us to be wronged along with our areas of self.
… and we stayed sore.If the resentful attitude and thinking persist, our resentful feelings will persist. The feelings come from the thinking and the attitude.
But the more we fought and tried to have our own way, the worse matters got.If we do not get rid of resentment, things are going to get worse. This means both practically and emotionally.
Our moments of triumph were short-lived.The gratifying moment of being ‘right’ is a short-lived triumph indeed. ‘Rightness’ can concern resentment or fear. Whenever I’m resentful or fearful, I’m actually wrong, not right.
It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility …Note the word only: resentment leads to nothing but futility and unhappiness.Resentment is pointless: my mental attacks do not achieve anything: they do not stop bad things from happening …
… and unhappiness.… but they do make me unhappy.
To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while.We are literally wasting our time. If we’re wasting our time, we’re wasting our lives.
But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die.This presents the direct link between resentment and death. Resentment comes from trying to sit on God’s throne, judging everything in the world as good and evil (rather than sitting in the position of neutrality Step Ten asks us to occupy), and we can’t connect to God if we’re trying to sit in God’s seat.Thus cut off from the only source of direction and power, we seek power from a lower source: alcohol. The protective power of God is not available to hold us back, because we have re-enthroned ourselves. We become our own higher powers.Once we drink (or act out), we might not stop.The death is both figurative and literal: an existence devoid of life or the end of physical existence.
We began to see that the world and its people really dominated us.If I’m upset, whatever I’m upset at is in control of my emotions. If I’m not in control of my emotions, and my emotions drive my behavior, whatever I’m upset at is in control of my life. This is also embarrassing.
Comments Off on Motivations exercise: Answers

How to forgive, page 66 onwards

‘We were prepared to look at it from an entirely different angle.’

When I’m resentful, I’m in victim mode. ‘They’re harming me. They’re causing the resentment.’

The ‘entirely different angle’ involves reversing this. They’re not causing the resentment: I’m causing the resentment.

Resentment has two elements: 

(1) I identify that something is wrong. This is neutral. This is the recognition of an error.

(2) I judge the person. This is morally charged. This is classifying the error as sin (= badness).

That things are not as they could or should be is a fact. It’s raining. I fell over. The puppy peed on the floor. The student wrote the wrong answer. The client didn’t pay.

That’s identification. Identification is OK. We need to identify facts and accept them as facts.

Judgement is a layer we add on top: He is bad! She is bad! She needs to be punished!

Error calls for acceptance and maybe response and/or correction. Put up an umbrella. Go to the hospital. Clean the floor and train the puppy. Help the student learn. Send a payment reminder to the client.

The ego reclassifies error as sin (= badness), and this calls for attack, either mentally or in reality: punishment, retaliation, humiliation, defence, retribution, ‘teaching him a lesson’, ‘giving her what for’, ‘giving him a taste of his own medicine’.

No one is saying ignore the facts. What we’re saying, is: withdraw the judgement.

With each person or situation I’ve judged, I can learn to say: this is not bad; it’s either a fact or an error. It needs accepting and maybe responding to and/or correcting, but it does not call for attack.

How do we do this? We’re doing it the whole time but don’t know it. Resentment is highly selective. We all accept (and where necessary respond to and/or correct) a thousand things without judging them as bad and attacking them. So we’re already getting it right most of the time. We just need to universalize the practice.

How?

Find some situations in life where you are in the habit of saying things like, ‘So be it!’, ‘Well, there it is!’, ‘Well, there you have it!’ or the equivalent. Think of situations where you’re fine but others get upset: whatever you’re doing in those situations to remain calm and happy and not let things affect you, take that, and apply it universally.

This new attitude needs to be consciously adopted and practiced:

Exercise 1: Withdrawing the judgement

With each situation in column 2, say: ‘This is not a good thing; this is not a bad thing; this is just a thing. It’s not good or bad: it’s only my interpretation that makes it so. I will withdraw my interpretation. I made a mistake. There is nothing to judge here.’

We’ve previously learned from examining the third column of the resentment inventory that we’re unhappy not because of other people’s behavior per se but because that behavior did not match our demands. We’ve identified that some demands are unreasonable and need to be dropped (‘I demand to be rich!’ ‘I demand that everyone obey me at all times’). We’ve identified that some demands reflect reasonable preferences so need to be downgraded to being just that, preferences (‘I prefer it not to rain when I’m going for a walk.’ ‘I prefer my husband/wife to be in a good mood.’), without getting upset when we don’t get our own way, because, hey, it’s just a preference. Some demands reflect reasonable goals, for which we can devise action plans, letting go of the results: You want some money? Get a job. You want people to be nice to you? Be nice to them. You want to speak French? Go to French classes.

Exercise 2: Withdrawing the demand

With each resentment, I look at the demand, and say: ‘To be happy, I don’t need this demand to be met.’

In fact, the only thing that is making us unhappy is the very belief that the demand needs to be met to make us happy. The world is not the problem: the demands are the problem. Drop or transform the demands into preferences and action plans: no problem.

Lastly, people behave badly (as do I) for some combination of the following characteristics: ignorance, stupidity, irrationality, emotionalism (letting emotions steer the car), carelessness, and selfishness (which includes malice: enjoying others’ suffering). They have these seven. I have these seven. They’re no different than me. If I want to be let off the hook, I need to let them off the hook. So they, like me, are ‘spiritually sick’: this means that they’re stuck in those patterns, just as I was stuck in those patterns until the universe gave me the willingness and the resources to escape. They’re not bad, just mistaken and stuck.

Exercise 3: Empathy

Take each person on my resentment list, and view the world from their perspective. What might have motivated them? If they did something genuinely wrong, what was the combination of ignorance, stupidity, irrationality, emotionalism, carelessness, selfishness, and malice? When have I shown those seven? When I have shown those seven with those very people?

Exercise 4: Love

Take each person on my resentment list, and pray the following prayers:

(1) ‘God, please help me show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend.’

(2) ‘This is a sick person. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.’

(3) ‘God, please help me avoid retaliation or argument.’

(4) ‘God, please show me how to take a kindly and tolerant view of this person.’

Footnote: not everyone on my list of people I resent is sick. If they’re not sick, omit the phrase ‘This is a sick person’.

Comments Off on How to forgive, page 66 onwards

Page 67: Resentment list questions – Version 1

Read page 67.

There is more written work to do on our resentment list. There are eight questions to answer, covering the following areas:

(1) Mistakes

(2) Selfishness

(3) Dishonesty

(4) Self-seeking

(5) Fear

(6) Blame

(7) Faults

(8) Wrongs

‘Mistakes’ are where my beliefs, thinking, and behavior were wrong. What were my mistakes? What should I have believed, thought, and done instead? (the following may help – https://www.1st164steps.com/page-67-mistakes/)

‘Selfishness’ is where I put my interests above yours. Where was I selfish?

‘Dishonesty’ is lying, withholding the truth, distortion, or self-delusion. Where was I dishonest?

‘Self-seeking’ is what I am after. What was I after? (Refer to the third column: this contains the full answer; summarize it briefly here.)

‘Fear’ is where I am troubled because I think I am going to lose something I have got or not get something I want. What was I frightened of?

‘Blame’ is where my behavior contributed to a bad situation. Where was I to blame?

‘Faults’ are defects of character—this forms the basis for Step 7. Pick the top three. Using one of the following two lists may help – https://www.1st164steps.com/defects-7-deadly-sins/ or https://www.1st164steps.com/defects-simple-version/

Here is a simple list to pick from. Use a dictionary or ask an AA friend if you do not understand one or more of these.

Arrogance; avarice; contempt; cowardice; cruelty; disobedience; distrust; domination; envy; gluttony; impenitence; indifference; jealousy; lack of discipline; lust; malice; over-ambition; over-sensitiveness; presumption; pride; prudery; pugnacity; retaliation; sentimentality; shame (hurt pride); sloth; snobbery; timidity; vanity; violation of confidence; wastefulness.

Further, fuller lists of character defects are available in the program folder in documents starting with ‘STEP 06’.

‘Wrongs’ are harms I have done others—this forms the basis for Step 8. What were my wrongs?

On the back of each sheet of paper from the resentment inventory, write about each of these eight areas, covering the whole relationship in question, not just the situation that triggered the resentment.

Avoid repetition. Not every question will have an answer. The eight questions overlap in terms of the answers they elicit.

Check it’s complete by asking yourself: do my answers cover everything I’m getting wrong in belief, thought, and action (including speech)? If you’ve missed anything, add it. Then you’re done.

Comments Off on Page 67: Resentment list questions – Version 1

Page 67: Resentment list questions – Version 2

Read page 67.

Instructions

On the back of each sheet of paper from the resentment inventory, answer the following questions on the whole relationship in question, not just the situation that triggered the resentment. Avoid repetition. Not every question will have an answer. Stick to the FACTS (factual, accurate, concise, truthful, specific).

‘Mistakes’: How am I seeing this wrong? How should I see this instead? What did I do I shouldn’t have done? What did I fail to do I should have done?

‘Selfishness’: Where did I (unreasonably) put myself ahead of others (in action)? (You might additionally consider selfish attitudes, highlighting how you have prioritised your interests and what interests of others you have disregarded, in your thoughts and motivations, but keep this distinct from the description of the selfish action. Keep the main focus on action.)

‘Dishonesty’: What lies did I tell? What did I fail to disclose that I should have? How did I misrepresent? How was I underhanded? How did I deceive myself?

‘Self-seeking’: What was I after? Use the seven areas of self as a prompt, e.g., ‘What was I after in terms of security?’, ‘What was I after in terms of pride?’

Specifically:

Pride: How do I want others to see me in this situation or relationship? Self-esteem: How do I want to see myself in this situation or relationship?

Personal relations: How did I want the other person to behave? What would the relationship then have ‘looked like’?

Sex relations: [as with Personal Relations but for sexual relationships] Pocketbooks: What result was I after, financially, in terms of income, costs, assets, and liabilities? Security: What needs did I want met [make sure these are genuine needs]?

Ambitions: What else did I want to happen?

‘Fear’: What was I scared of losing or not getting? To ferret out all of the fears, ask what the fears were in these seven areas of self.

‘Blame’: Where did I cause trouble or make things worse?

‘Faults’: Pick the top three at play in this relationship:

Arrogance; avarice; contempt; cowardice; cruelty; disobedience; distrust; domination; envy; gluttony; impenitence; indifference; jealousy; lack of discipline; lust; malice; over-ambition; over-sensitiveness; presumption; pride; prudery; pugnacity; retaliation; sentimentality; shame (hurt pride); sloth; snobbery; timidity; vanity; violation of confidence; wastefulness.

‘Wrongs’: What did I do that harmed others? Add: ‘Corrective measures’: What should I have done instead / What should I do in future?

Example (imagine a work relationship):

Mistakes:

Saw work as a way to make quick money. Should have seen it as an opportunity for service.

Selfishness:

I did not seek to produce optimal results. I did not give the work the due attention. I sought to get tasks out of the way with minimal effort. I engaged in other activities in the workplace. I did not work extra hours where necessary. I should have prioritised my boss’s objectives (excellent work, performed promptly).

Dishonesty:

Lied about why I hadn’t done the work. Blamed Susan.

Self-seeking:

Pride: I want people to see me as rich and successful. Self-esteem: I want to see myself as a clever wheeler-dealer.

Personal relations: I wanted my boss to give me as little work as possible. I wanted to be praised for what I did. I wanted my errors to be overlooked.

Pocketbooks: I was after an extra £10,000 per year.

Ambitions: I wanted extra money for holidays and a fancy watch. I wanted free time to play on my Playstation at home.

Fear:

Hard work. Being criticised. Being sacked.

Blame:

Didn’t follow instructions. Cut corners.

Faults:

Sloth. Shame (hurt pride). Disobedience.

Wrongs:

Delivered bad work, and my boss had to work late to fix it. Susan got blamed for my bad work.

Corrective measures:

Make amends. Show up early. Listen carefully. Take notes. Tell the truth. Work super hard. Ask for help if needed.

A checklist to help with identifying behaviours:

1. Arguing, bickering, needling (deliberate provocation)

2. Bitching, gossiping, indiscretion, oversharing

3. Boasting, showing off, attention-seeking

4. Brusqueness, impatience, impoliteness, bad-temperedness 5. Coldness, hostility, ignoring, cold-shouldering

6. Complaining, whining, grumbling

7. Criticism, verbal attack and abuse

8. Defensiveness, self-justification, explanations, excuse-making

9. Directing, making demands, and pleading

10. Dominating conversations, flooding, bulldozing

11. Fishing for compliments or validation, eliciting pity

12. Flattery, ingratiation, expressing good intentions

13. Inconsistency, failure to follow through on commitments

14. Indifference towards others’ welfare, inconsiderateness, dismissiveness

15. Indiscretion with third-party information, playing people off against one another

16. Inflexibility, stubbornness, intransigence

17. Laziness, not pulling one’s weight in the home, neglect

18. Lying or withholding or distorting the truth

19. Offering unsolicited advice, fixing, meddling

20. Physical violence, damage to property

21. Punishment, retaliation, and bullying

22. Sarcasm, mockery, cruelty, and malice

23. Stealing, presumptuous ‘borrowing’, or interference with others’ property

24. Taking charge, pulling rank, bossing around

25. Using guilt or incentives to control others’ behaviour

Comments Off on Page 67: Resentment list questions – Version 2

Page 67: Other areas

When I write Step Four, I write about my resentments. I then answer the page 67 questions in relation to the relationships with the people, institutions, or principles I resent.

This will not produce a thorough inventory, as I do not have resentments in all relationships and areas of my life.

I therefore take the page 67 questions and apply them to:

  • Other relationships
  • Other categories of people (e.g. waiters in restaurants, people in shops, people at meetings, students, colleagues)
  • Other areas of my life, e.g.
    • Money
    • Retirement planning
    • Looking after my home
    • Education
    • Work
    • Diet
    • Exercise
    • Sleep
    • Hobbies
    • Service
    • Religion
  • Anything else not already covered.

Take the page 67 questions and answer them in relation to all of the above.

Comments Off on Page 67: Other areas

Page 67: Mistakes

I have faulty thinking. I write about this when answering the question about ‘mistakes’. The following may help

Belief in fortune-telling

Believing one can read the future.

Belief in mind-reading

Believing one can intuit or work out what someone else is thinking.

Belief in signs

Belief that the universe provides signs to enable decision-making, e.g. seeing a poster for holidays in Thailand and believing this is a sign that God wants you to move to Thailand.

Catastrophising (overreaction)

Exaggerating risk or other negative circumstances.

Emotional reasoning

Assuming that emotions are a faithful guide to objective reality.

False interpretation

Interpreting situations in a distorted way or based on insufficient data

Fallacy of fairness

Believing that everything should be fair at all times, namely that one’s own ideas and preferences should prevail at all times.

False generalisation

Generalising based on insufficient evidence.

Filtering out counter-evidence

Filtering out any evidence opposing one’s view to leave only evidence in support of one’s view.

Filtering out the positive

Filtering out any positive events to leave only a negative evaluation.

Inappropriate blame

Holding others entirely responsible when one has had a part to play in a situation, either practically or in terms of one’s emotional reaction.

Mislabelling

Inferring the presence of a steady trait in someone’s character based on an individual action instead of evaluating the person as a whole.

Moralisation

Establishing and attempting to enforce a set of arbitrary rules of a moral nature regardless of situational factors. (A form of rule-based thinking.)

One-track thinking

Obsessive focus on a single idea, train of thought, or area of subject matter to the exclusion of others.

Personalization

Believing one has a greater impact on others or is more of a causal factor in others’ behavior or external events than is the case.

Presumption of rightness

Starting from the premise that one is right then looking for evidence to justify it rather than examining the evidence to see if one is right.

Rule-based thinking

Establishing and attempting to enforce a set of arbitrary rules regardless of situational factors.

Splitting

All-or-nothing, black-or-white, always-or-never thinking.

Comments Off on Page 67: Mistakes

Page 67: Wrongs: Clean-up exercise

The page 67 questions on each person you resent and on each area of your life will probably have captured almost every wrong (= harm) towards another person.

Sit down for an hour (max.) and ask your Higher Power to reveal anyone you have wronged (= harmed) you have not already written about.

Write the name and (very briefly) the wrong (= harm).

Comments Off on Page 67: Wrongs: Clean-up exercise

Page 67 Summary

Take a sheet of paper Divide it into eight rows

In each row, summarize the findings of the page 67 questions from throughout your Step Four.

(1) Mistakes

(2) Selfishness

(3) Dishonesty

(4) Self-seeking

(5) Fear

(6) Blame

(7) Faults

(8) Wrongs

Output: 1 sheet of paper

Comments Off on Page 67 Summary

Fear Inventory

Step 04: Fear inventory

Read the passage on fear (pages 67-68).

Read the blog articles on fear. https://first164.blogspot.com/search/label/Fear.

Make a list of fears (page 68).

(start by extracting the fears from the page 67 questions, then brainstorm to complete the list).

With each one, find out what is behind the fear to get to the core fear.

E.g. 

If you’re scared of losing a job, why? Fear of: poverty, loss of status, failure.

If you’re scared of old age, why? Fear of death, loss of identity, physical pain.

If you’re scared of losing a relationship, why? Fear of failure, ridicule, loneliness, emotional pain.

Sometimes you can take it one stage further, e.g.

If you’re scared of failure, why? Fear of loss of identity, emotional pain.

Try to summarize this with a short list of core fears that explain the rest.

Comments Off on Fear Inventory

Fear: The Solution

Page 68 of the Big Book: ‘Perhaps there is a better way—we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity. We never apologise to anyone for depending upon our Creator. We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness. Paradoxically, it is the way of strength. The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologise for God. Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear.’

The highlighted passages are the solution to fear. This is how to apply the solution:

FearWhat is my role?What would God have me do?What would God have me be?
Example: Handling my elderly mother’s financesExample: Custodian of my mother’s finances on behalf of God.Example: Stay on top of the information
Respond promptly to opportunities and threats
Act strategically
Pause before reacting
Ask for help where necessary
Consult where necessary
Remain detached
Don’t panic
Trust God
Trust the others involved
Remember that every problem has a solution
Remember that God is in charge
Example:Balanced,Patient,Cheerful,Relaxed
Comments Off on Fear: The Solution

Fear: A Commentary

Page 67

‘Cause me to have all the honesty, open-mindedness, willingness I may need here and now. I ask for the guidance, love, and wisdom that I need to work through this process and gain the most I can at this time. I am as willing as I can be to set aside everything I even think I know about this area, this way of life, so that my chances for an open mind and to be teachable are better, so that I may realise Your Three Spiritual Gifts: awakening to You, to be the love I am, and to be the individual You created me as. Thank You.’

Notice that the word “fear” is bracketed alongside the difficulties with Mr. Brown, Mrs. Jones, the employer, and the wife. This short word somehow touches about every aspect of our lives. It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune we felt we didn’t deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling? Sometimes we think fear ought to be classed with stealing. It seems to cause more trouble.

  • ‘The chief activator of our defects has been self-centered fear—primarily fear that we would lose something we already possessed or would fail to get something we demanded. Living upon a basis of unsatisfied demands, we were in a state of continual disturbance and frustration. Therefore, no peace was to be had unless we could find a means of reducing these demands. The difference between a demand and a simple request is plain to anyone.’ (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions)
  • Fear, therefore, comes from demands.
  • Demands come from playing God.
  • Playing God is wanting something other than God’s will.
  • Playing God is wanting the universe to suit us rather than fitting ourselves to be of maximum service to God and others (page 77, Alcoholics Anonymous).

We reviewed our fears thoroughly. We put them on paper, even though we had no resentment in connection with them.

  • Make a list of fears.
  • Start by extracting the fears from the page 67 questions.
  • Then brainstorm to complete the list.
  • With each one, find out what is behind the fear to get to the core fear.
    • E.g.
  • If you’re scared of losing a job, why? Fear of: poverty, loss of status, failure, loss of identity.
  • If you’re scared of old age, why? Fear of death, loss of identity, physical pain.
  • If you’re scared of losing a relationship, why? Fear of failure, ridicule, loneliness, emotional pain.
  • Once you’ve got down to your experience of what you’re frightened of, you’ve found or are pretty close to finding the core fear.
  • A list of typical core fears:
  • Loneliness / disconnection / separation
  • Loss of identity
  • Worthlessness
  • Powerlessness
  • Physical pain
  • Emotional pain
  • The state of fear itself
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Freedom
  • Choice.

Try to summarize this with a short list of core fears that explain the rest.

We asked ourselves why we had them. Wasn’t it because self-reliance failed us? Self-reliance was good as far as it went, but it didn’t go far enough. Some of us once had great self-confidence, but it didn’t fully solve the fear problem, or any other. When it made us cocky, it was worse.

  • Self is the identity in the world we build for ourselves plus the life that reflects it.
  • This is in contrast to who and what God wants us to be in order to achieve God’s purpose.
  • This identity forms the basis for the ego’s blueprint for our lives.
  • The problem is that the laws of physics (including chaos), other people, our own inadequacy, and numerous other factors confound our plans.
  • What we build almost never looks like the blueprint.
  • And even if our plans come true, everything material eventually crumbles: the human body, companies, houses, empires …
  • So we’re unhappy about what was and what is. And we’re frightened about what will be.
  • Fear is a sign I’m seeking
    • Identity in what is changeable
    • Purpose in what is uncertain
    • Safety in what is unsafe.
  • So relying on self, the identity and the life that reflects it, fails. How does it fail?
  • It produces misery internally and often chaos externally.

Perhaps there is a better way—we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.

  • We’re in the world, not of the world.
  • We’ve been sent here, disguised as human beings made of flesh. We’re here to play roles:
    • Father, mother, son, daughter
    • Teacher, student
    • Worker, employee, employer, colleague, client
    • Customer, member of the public
    • Member of a community, member of society
    • And a thousand thousand other roles
  • But we’ve mistaken ourselves for the roles.
  • So the fate of the role becomes our fate.
  • If the job goes well, if the kid does well, if the train is on time, we’re fine.
  • If the job goes badly, if the kid does badly, if the train is late, we’re not.
  • The solution is not to lose the roles.
  • The solution is to remember we’re actors whilst playing the roles.
  • Actors are fine whatever happens to the role.
  • Ask anyone who has played Macbeth or Hamlet how he’s doing after the play is done. He’s fine. He’s having a great time!
  • Ask Macbeth or Hamlet how they’re doing: not so good.
  • So all we have to do is play the part …
  • … = doing ‘the next right thing’ / ‘ the next indicated action’.
  • And rely on God for:
    • Identity = we are spirit, not the characters we are playing
    • Purpose = to do God’s will, not to achieve the characters’ aims
    • Safety = as spirit we cannot be harmed and will exist for eternity.
  • Although we feel what the characters feel (that’s part of the deal) …
  • … we’re fundamentally OK in the same way that theatre-goers are OK watching even a harrowing play.
  • God’s purpose cannot be discerned by the characters … … the characters in Macbeth don’t know they’re in a play. It can be discerned a little by the actors.
  • But only God, the playwright, is 100% sure.
  • So if you can’t work out the purpose, it’s fine!
  • Trusting God means it’s OK just to do the next right thing and not understand why.
  • ‘The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.’ (George Eliot)

We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our Creator. We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness. Paradoxically, it is the way of strength. The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear.

  • Anything we achieve flows from God working through us. The instructions for when fear arises:
    • We ask God to remove our fear …
    • … and direct our attention to what He would have us be.
  • Promise: at once we commence to outgrow fear.
Comments Off on Fear: A Commentary

Sex inventory

We reviewed our own conduct over the years past. (P. 69:1)

Make a list of the people you have had sex with, thought about having sex with, or wanted or tried to have sex with, and people who have made romantic or sexual advances to you, i.e. anyone with whom there is sexual tension of some sort.

If there are a lot (and there might be!), have categories (e.g. “work colleagues I flirt with”, “people I make passes at”, “one-night stands”) and write about your typical behavior rather than going through each person.

Where had we been

  • (1) selfish,
  • (2) dishonest, or
  • (3) inconsiderate?
  • Whom had we (4) hurt?
  • Did we unjustifiably arouse (5) jealousy,
  • (6) suspicion or
  • (7) bitterness?
  • (8) Where were we at fault,
  • (9) what should we have done instead? We got this down on paper and looked at it. (P. 69:1)

Take an A4 booklet and divide each double page into 9 columns. Answer these nine questions for each person on the list.

In this way we tried to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future sex life. We subjected each relation to this test—was it selfish or not? We asked God to mould our ideals and help us to live up to them. We remembered always that our sex powers were God-given and therefore good, neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and loathed. (P. 69:2)

Using question (9) above, formulate a sane and sound ideal for your future sex life, from the point of view of what you can give, rather than what you can get. Note the word ‘sane’: it must be something within reach.

Whatever our ideal turns out to be, we must be willing to grow toward it. We must be willing to make amends where we have done harm, provided that we do not bring about still more harm in so doing. In other words, we treat sex as we would any other problem. In meditation, we ask God what we should do about each specific matter. The right answer will come, if we want it.

God alone can judge our sex situation. Counsel with persons is often desirable, but we let God be the final arbiter. We realize that some people are as fanatical about sex as others are loose. We avoid hysterical thinking or advice.

We earnestly pray for the right ideal, for guidance in each questionable situation, for sanity, and for the strength to do the right thing. If sex is very troublesome, we throw ourselves the harder into helping others. We think of their needs and work for them. (P. 69:3–70:2)

This provides you with a template for dealings with problems:

(1) Ask God to mould sane and sound ideals.

(2) Ask, “am I being selfish?”

(3) Ask God to help you live up to them.

(4) Remember your abilities, attributes, and faculties are God-given and therefore good, neither to be used lightly or selfishly not to be despised and loathed.

(5) Be willing to grow towards the ideal (recognizing this will not be an overnight matter).

(6) Be willing to make amends except where to do so would injure them or others.

(7) Ask God what to do about each specific matter.

(8) Counsel with others.

(9) Let God be the judge, not others.

(10) Avoid hysterical thinking or advice.

(11) We earnestly pray for the right ideal, for guidance in each questionable situation, for sanity, and for the strength to do the right thing.

(12) If the problem is very troublesome, we throw ourselves the harder into helping others. We think of their needs and work for them.

Suppose we fall short of the chosen ideal and stumble? Does this mean we are going to get drunk? … If we are sorry for what we have done, and have the honest desire to let God take us to better things, we believe we will be forgiven and will have learned our lesson (p. 70:1)

There is an important lesson here: it is not the degree of attainment that determines whether we will get drunk but our willingness and action to take us towards the ideal, wherever we are on the path.

Write our your own sane and sound ideal – Called the sex ideal in the Big Book. The following may help:

Comments Off on Sex inventory

Sex inventory: Some qualities that are useful in relationships

If these help, great. If not, don’t worry about them. They’re just ideas.

You get on with what you need to get on with.

They get on with what they need to get on with.

If you want to hang out and do something together, do it.

If you want to be quiet together, just reading or something, do it.

If the other person wants to be quiet, alone, or elsewhere, fine. No complaining, carping, or expressions of disappointment.

Your job is to serve them. Ask regularly if you can do anything to help.

If they say ‘nothing’, drop it and go and do something else.

Forgive them for everything by simply overlooking ‘faults’. They’re not faults, anyway, they’re traits. No criticism, ever.

Allow yourself the occasional polite request. What’s ‘occasional’? Maybe once a month. Not much more.

If you want help, ask for it, and present it as such. No orders.

If you do something wrong, admit it, and don’t make excuses.

Apologise and ask what you can do to make it right. Then do it.

Express appreciation, affection, and loyalty every day.

Be pleased to see them. Be pleased to be with them. Show it.

No one has the following qualities absolutely and at all times: they are ideals to work towards.

Emotional maturity

  • Emotions are largely appropriate, timely, and proportionate,
  • Emotionally continent: knowing when to share and when not to share emotions
  • Having a system for handling and processing negative emotions safely, effectively, and with the right person
  • Calm and cheerful in the face of challenge, reversal of fortune, frustration, or adversity
  • Stable, consistent, and reliable
  • Capable of adjustment, adaptation, and change
  • Largely free of resentment, fear, guilt, shame, jealousy, envy, bitterness, suspicion, and hostility
  • Forms alliances not dependencies

Competence

  • Handles practical matters promptly and appropriately
  • Takes active responsibility
  • Far-sighted and strategically adept
  • Can plan and follow through
  • Knows when to ask for help and from whom
  • Has some special skills
  • Rational
  • Knowledgeable
  • Can plug knowledge gaps with research

Unselfishness

  • Places common welfare first
  • Seeks to give rather than to get
  • Has one or more constructive missions in life
  • Moral
  • Considers others first or on an equal footing with self

Boundaried

  • Takes responsibility for self
    • Puts own oxygen mask on first: makes sure own needs are met
    • Fully self-supporting through own contributions
  • Does not take inappropriate responsibility for others
    • Does not control, manipulate, or bulldoze
  • Lets other be responsible for themselves
    • Does not accept unacceptable behavior
    • Does not make excuses for others
    • Does not clean up others’ messes
    • Does not caretake
    • Does not fix
  • Does not see others as responsible for self
    • Does not seek a rescuer
    • Does not put others on a pedestal
    • Does not blame others

Loving

  • Safe: does not attack or undermine the other person
  • Loyal: sticks by and defends the other person
  • Supportive: provides practical help and encouragement
  • Accepting: does not seek to change the other person’s nature
  • Engaging: invites togetherness and closeness
  • Valuing: treats the other person as important
Comments Off on Sex inventory: Some qualities that are useful in relationships

Final Reading

Read until the end of the chapter on Page 71.

Suppose we fall short of the chosen ideal and stumble? Does this mean we are going to get drunk? Some people tell us so. But this is only a half-truth. It depends on us and on our motives. If we are sorry for what we have done, and have the honest desire to let God take us to better things, we believe we will be forgiven and will have learned our lesson. If we are not sorry, and our conduct continues to harm others, we are quite sure to drink. We are not theorizing. These are facts out of our experience.

What does this paragraph tell us about going forwards from here. 

Comments Off on Final Reading

Step Two Exercise

Step Two is about recognizing that it’s possible to stay sober and thrive, but we have to access power (and direction) from beyond our own, ordinary, limited resources. People conceive of the source of this power differently: sometimes it’s a traditional God, sometimes it’s the forces of nature, sometimes it’s an untapped inner resource. If you’ve concluded you’re not able to stay sober because your chattering mind keeps telling you to drink, and you keep obeying it, yet other people (who used to be like you) are now sober and thriving, they’ve accessed power (and direction) that you can’t currently access.

Step Two can be as simple as this: if the program works for others, it will work for me, if I follow the rest of the Steps.

Read these articles:  https://1st164steps.com/tag/step-2/

Go through the chapter We Agnostics, slowly, line by line, two or three times or as many times as necessary.

Ask yourself the following questions, in relation to all of the addictions/problems addressed in Step One.

(1) Can I see that lack of power is my problem (as well as maybe lack of information)?

(2) What is ‘power’ in this context?

(3) Can I see that others have accessed power?

(4) Do I believe that the process that unlocked the power for them will unlock the power for me?

(5) Am I willing to go to any lengths to unlock that power?

Summarize simply and briefly. Reach out to me.

Comments Off on Step Two Exercise

Summary of Problems and Motivations.

Make a list of the current problems in your life and whether God can solve them:

Need to know what we’re still dealing with

Need to look at why we want to go through this process

Need clarity

List of problems you want to fix (can be broad)

List of Motivations you have to get better

Comments Off on Summary of Problems and Motivations.

Jesse L Step Two Exercise

First write out the worst god you can possibly imagine – judgement, punishment, only wants the worst for you. At the bottom write “most of this is how I see God”

Then set the sheet aside –  And take a second piece of paper – Write out the most ideal God you can conceive of – love, justice, kindness, forgiveness, 100 times more loving than the most loving father you can imagine. At the bottom of that sheet write – “This conception of God is only a tiny fraction of the kindness and magnificence of the real God but I’m limited in my vision to imagine it, and yet this is the God I am willing to have, all I have to do is put down the other idea of God.”

Comments Off on Jesse L Step Two Exercise

Deeper Questions

1) Who is my higher power, that is, how do i experience and interact with God emotionally in a concrete way? list 5 to 10 qualities.

2) Are there any conditions in my relationship with God? If so what are they?

3) When i am in pain. Difficulty or struggle where is God at that time? Close, distant?

4) Does God have any expectations of me? If so what are they?

5) When i mess up, do the wrong the thing, fail what is God thinking about me or saying to me at that moment?

6) Does this sound like anyone in my life. If i could attach a powerful person in my life to that voice who would come up?

7) Does God love me unconditionally. What would that look like or feel like?

8) If i could today choose to make any changes in a theoretical way in my relationship of God toward me what would they be?

9) Does this new relationship seem fit for me to turn my will and life over to such a god? Is there enough love and trust to foster recovery?

Comments Off on Deeper Questions

Pages 58-60

Read the blog on step 3 – https://1st164steps.com/tag/step-3/

Read the first part of Step 03: Pages 58-60 down to the ABC’s

Summarize the main points on paper.

Try to not use any figurative language – Be concise.

Send

Comments Off on Pages 58-60

Key Points 58-60

Key points:

  • The program will work for pretty much anyone
  • All that is required is honesty and thoroughness
  • The honesty starts here: I have a problem, I don’t have a solution, but AA does
  • I have to let go of all of my old ideas
  • The Higher Power will look after me if I surrender
  • To surrender, I take the Steps
  • I do so with maximum effort
  • This won’t produce perfection, but it will produce progress
Comments Off on Key Points 58-60

Pages 60-62

By the time you sign up to the ABCs (page 60), you’ve already basically decided to turn your will and life over to God.

The next two pages reinforce why this is a good idea, even setting aside the alcoholism question.

Read from ‘Being convinced’ on page 60 down to ‘We had to have God’s help’ on page 62.

Reword the entire passage in the first person, e.g. ‘The first requirement is that I be convinced … I try to live by self-propulsion …’ etc.

Make detailed notes.

Send.

Comments Off on Pages 60-62

Key Points 60-62

Key points:

  • Living life based on getting what I think I want does not work
  • It puts me into conflict with others
  • I might be mean or I might be nice, but the result is the same:
    • Fear, frustration, exhaustion, despair
  • Even if I got my own way I would not be happy
  • My problem is selfishness (‘me first!’) / self-centeredness (‘it’s all about me!’)
  • I am driven by self
  • To stay sober, I need to be free of selfishness / self-centeredness
  • To be happy, I need to be free of selfishness  / self-centeredness
  • I can’t bring this about myself
  • But if I take the Steps, I will be released
Comments Off on Key Points 60-62

de Mello: Discipleship

Consider and meditate on the following reading for the next twenty four hours.

Discipleship (Anthony De Mello)

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

—Luke 14:26

           Take a look at the world and see the unhappiness around you and in you. Do you know what causes this unhappiness? You will probably say loneliness or oppression or war or hatred or atheism. And you will be wrong. There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them. Because of these false beliefs, you see the world and yourself in a distorted way. Your programming is so strong and the pressure of society so intense that you are literally trapped into perceiving the world in this distorted kind of way. There is no way out, because you do not even have a suspicion that your perception is distorted, your thinking is wrong, and your beliefs are false.

           Look around and see if you can find a single genuinely happy person—fearless, free from insecurities, anxieties, tensions, worries. You would be lucky if you found one in a hundred thousand. This should lead you to be suspicious of the programming and the beliefs that you and they hold in common. But you have also been programmed not to suspect, not to doubt, just to trust the assumptions that have been put into you by your tradition, your culture, your society, your religion. And if you are not happy, you have been trained to blame yourself, not your programming, not your cultural and inherited ideas and beliefs. What makes it even worse is the fact that most people are so brainwashed that they do not even realize how unhappy they are—like the man in a dream who has no idea he is dreaming.

           What are these false beliefs that block you from happiness? Here are some examples. First: you cannot be happy without the things that you are attached to and that you consider so precious. False. There is not a single moment in your life when you do not have everything that you need to be happy. Think of that for a minute. The reason why you are unhappy is because you are focusing on what you do not have rather than on what you have right now.

           Another belief: happiness is in the future. Not true. Right here and now you are happy and do not know it because your false beliefs and your distorted perceptions have got you caught up in fears, anxieties, attachments, conflicts, guilt, and a host of games you are programmed to play. If you would see through this you would realize that you are happy and do not know it.

           Yet another belief: happiness will come if you manage to change the situation you are in and the people around you. Not true. You stupidly squander so much energy trying to rearrange the world. If changing the world is your vocation in life, go right ahead and change it, but do not harbor the illusion that this is going to make you happy. What makes you happy or unhappy is not the world and the people around you, but the thinking in your head. As well search for an eagle’s nest on the bed of an ocean, as search for happiness in the world outside of you. So if it is happiness that you seek you can stop wasting your energy trying to cure your baldness or build up an attractive body or change your residence or job or community or lifestyle or even your personality. Do you realize that you could change every one of these things, you could have the finest looks and the most charming personality and the most pleasant of surroundings and still be unhappy? And deep down you know this is true but still you waste your effort and energy trying to get what you know cannot make you happy.

           Another false belief: if all your desires are fulfilled you will be happy. Not true. In fact it is these very desires and attachments that make you tense, frustrated, nervous, insecure, and fearful. Make a list of all of your attachments and desires and to each of them say these words: “Deep down in my heart I know that even after I have got you I will not get happiness.” And ponder on the truth of those words. The fulfillment of desire can, at the most, bring flashes of pleasure and excitement. Don’t mistake that for happiness.

           What then is happiness? Very few people know and no one can tell you, because happiness cannot be described. Can you describe light to people who have been sitting in darkness all their lives? Can you describe reality to someone in a dream? Understand your darkness and it will vanish; then you will know what light is. Understand your nightmare for what it is and it will stop; then you will wake up to reality. Understand your false beliefs and they will drop; then you will know the taste of happiness.

           If people want happiness so badly, why don’t they attempt to understand their false beliefs? First, because it never occurs to them to see them as false or even as beliefs. They see them as facts and reality, so deeply have they been programmed. Second, because they are scared to lose the only world they know: the world of desires, attachments, fears, social pressures, tensions, ambitions, worries, guilt, with flashes of the pleasure and relief and excitement which these things bring. Think of someone who is afraid to let go of a nightmare because, after all, that is the only world he knows. There you have a picture of yourself and of other people.

           If you wish to attain to lasting happiness you must be ready to hate father, mother, even your own life, and to take leave of all of your possessions. How? Not by renouncing them or giving them up because what you give up violently you are forever bound to. But rather by seeing them for the nightmare they are; and then, whether you keep them or not, they will have lost their grip over you, their power to hurt you, and you will be out of your dream at last, out of your darkness, your fear, your unhappiness.

           So spend some time seeing each of the things you cling to for what it really is, a nightmare that causes you excitement and pleasure on the one hand but also worry, insecurity, tension, anxiety, fear, unhappiness on the other.

           Father and mother: nightmare. Wife and children, brothers and sisters: nightmare. All your possessions: nightmare. Your life as it is now: nightmare. Every single thing you cling to and have convinced yourself you cannot be happy without: nightmare. Then you will hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even your own life. And you will so easily take leave of all of your possessions, that is, you will stop clinging and thus have destroyed their capacity to hurt you. Then at least you will experience that mysterious state that cannot be described or uttered—the state of abiding happiness and peace. And you will understand how true it is that everyone who stops clinging to brothers or sisters, father, mother or children, land or houses … is repaid a hundred times over and gains eternal life.

Comments Off on de Mello: Discipleship

Step Three in a Nutshell

To take Step Three changes my relationship with my life. I’m no longer the owner but just the manager. Imagine a shop: the Owner cannot be physically present, so needs me to manage the shop for him. He gives me directions for how to manage the shop plus everything I need. Note that being given everything I need means everything I need to run the shop, not necessarily what I think I need for my own purposes. I have no needs. I’m running the shop not for me but for Him. The management of the shop is a full-time job during business hours, requiring all of my attention. This means that I must not be trying to run other businesses out of the premises. The motto is two-fold: single-mindedness and responsibility.

Key points:

  • I recognize the Higher Power as Director, Principal, Father, or Employer (any or all will do)
  • I recognize myself as actor, agent, child, or employee
  • I never need to make a decision alone again after Step Three
  • I go to the Higher Power for decisions
    • (But check out answers with other good and sane people in AA)
  • I don’t need to worry about my life
  • The Higher Power does the worrying
  • I take the action, as directed by the Higher Power
  • Practically, this means
    • Taking Steps Four through Nine to clear out the past and clear up my life
    • Taking Steps Ten through Twelve to structure my day and fill it with good things
    • Taking up my place in the middle of the AA bed
    • Being useful, cheerful, and kind in all other areas.

Read from the last paragraph on page 62 to the bottom of page 63.

Consider whether you’re ready to take Step Three, namely:

  • To adopt the position described at the bottom of page 62 and the top of page 63
  • To take Steps 4–9 to clear out the past
  • To take Steps 10–12 on a daily basis
Comments Off on Step Three in a Nutshell

Taking Step 3

Is there anything internally or externally standing in the way of me going full on with 4-9.

Adopt the position described at the bottom of page 62.

Say the prayer to seal the deal.

Follow the instructions on page 63 on wording.

Say the prayer alone or with someone else, as you see fit.

Maybe say the prayer somewhere nice.

Then get on with:

Steps 4-9 to clear out the past.

Steps 10-12 on a daily basis.

Start Here:

Comments Off on Taking Step 3

End of content

Thats All Folks