12 Steps to Wholeness Print
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12 Step Study Guide
Let’s look at some of the ideas in the Doctor’s Opinion in the Big Book.
Pg. xxvi: Physical must be cleared before these principles can be of maximum benefit.
Pg. xxvii: Read the last sentence on the page and continue through the whole paragraph.
Pg. xxviii: Let’s go slow to see how the disease is described in physical, mental, and spiritual degrees. Here are some fundamental concepts of Dr. Silkworth:
a) ALLERGY – abstinence listed as the answer
b) NEED FOR HIGHER POWER – must be experienced
c) MENTAL – listed in the last paragraph. Go slowly through this . . . one line at a time.
Can you remember the Norman Rockwell picture of a holiday? Now, think about this picture versus the real picture we lived.
IT’S NOT HOW WE ARE DIFFERENT THAT MATTERS, BUT HOW WE ARE ALIKE.
Pg. xxx – We cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving.
12 & 12, pg. 21, pp. 1 Who cares to admit complete defeat?
What is a bottom? Think about the bottom of a pool. What happens if you touch bottom? What happens if you don’t? Hitting the bottom helps you spring up and out of the swimming pool. It’s the same with hitting a bottom in life.
Pg. 21, pp. 3
Have you conceded?
Turn to your Big Book for a moment. Read pg. 30, pps. 2 & 3
Back to the 12 & 12, top of pg. 22 What’s the difference between finding strength and finding ENDURING strength? Which one do you want?
Draw a picture of a tree. Now, under the tree, draw a long, long root that burrows down until it finds water. This is the taproot. The taproot is responsible for providing the tree with the sustenance it needs to grow.
What is the main taproot of the recovery society? If you don’t know, reread those sentences at the top of pg. 22 again.
We’ve heard it, right? Alcoholism is a three-fold disease. Dr. Silkworth mentioned it.
Pg. 22, pp. 5 Have you ever been . . .
Thirsty, but thought you were hungry? Tired, but thought you were angry? Powerless, but thought you were hopeless?
Alcoholics often confuse powerlessness with hopelessness. They are NOT the same, though they sometimes overlap.
THE GIFT OF DESPERATION (oddly enough, abbreviated G. O. D.)
“I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming realization that I had nowhere else to go.” – Abe Lincoln Unmanageability is the result of powerlessness.
If you’re a “functional” alcoholic, and your life is manageable . . . then how come you can’t “manage” to drink just one?
Pg. 24, last paragraph Notice the use of “horse” words:
Lash = whipped; driven – when a beast is forced to run
Active alcoholics are the beasts of burden . . . and alcohol is the raging master.
HOMEWORK: Read More About Alcoholism in the Big Book, and look for powerlessness and unmanageability. Look for how your three natures are affected by the disease – Physical, Mental, Spiritual.
STEP TWO: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
The dilemma of the newcomer . . .
Big Book, pg. 45, pp. 5 – 12
· lay aside prejudice (pre = before; judice = judgment; or, to judge before you have experience);
· relief that it can be YOUR OWN God;
· admission that it is possible that God will give power and direction;
· the ability to ask, “What does this mean TO ME?”;
· it’s not believing . . . it’s being WILLING to believe.
THE BELIEF IN GOD IS A FREE GIFT. ASK TO RECEIVE IT.
12 & 12, pg. 25, pp. 2
There are five different character types cited in the literature that may have trouble with Step Two. They are:
Guy #1: Belligerent One Alcohol has him down, and that ticks him off, but now he must claim belief in a HP to overcome drinking? NO WAY!
Pg. 26, pp. 3 “It’s the beginning of the end of his old life, and the beginning of his emergence into a new one.”
What changes have you seen since you’ve quit fighting the program?
- OLD LIFE > NEW LIFE
- FEAR > FAITH
- CLOSED-MINDED > OPEN-MINDED
- SELF-CENTERED > GOD-CENTERED
pp. 5 contains the Cliff Notes on Step Two listed here in three statements:
1) Suggestions, not orders;
2) Take it piecemeal – don’t have to swallow it all right now;
3) Keep an open mind
When you’re getting sober, when do your feelings come back?
Pg. 7, pp. 7 At the turning point – “The minute I stopped arguing, I could begin to see and feel.”
Still struggling with the idea of a Higher Power? pp. 8: Some people effectively make AA their Higher Power
Guy #2: Had faith, but lost it The plight of the former believer in AA is a bit different. These are some of the obstacles he/she must overcome:
- Self-sufficiency addict
- Prejudice against religion
- Defiant because God hasn’t “delivered”
The book says this is one of the hardest spots to be in seeking sobriety because this guy suffers from profound confusion. “He is the bewildered one.” You can rediscover your faith in AA.
Pg. 29, pp. 13 Guy #3: The Intellectual What if you believe that knowledge is power, but alcohol is still kicking your butt? You read about it, you try mind control, you assess your situation, but you keep getting drunk anyway. Your pride separates you from the group, and the God of our fathers has been replaced by the God of Intellect. How does this guy recover?
1) Recognize that alcoholism is a stronger force in you than intellect. Remember, you are not just dealing with your mental self. The physical and spiritual defeat is dragging your high intellectual prowess down.
2) Become teachable. Let humility lead your other talents – even your intellect.
Pg. 30, pp. 14 Guy #4: The Self-Righteous One He belabors religion, and ego-feeding is the earmark. By pointing out the flaws in the spiritual and religious community, this guy wallows in negativity in his attempt to feel superior.
SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS – PHONY FORM OF RESPECTABILITY
All four of these guys share one trait – DEFIANCE. We ask God for stuff, and we don’t get it . . . so we defy God. In AA, defiance is unraveled. At no time had we said, “Thy will, not mine, be done.”
Pg. 31, pp. 16 Read this paragraph to discover the wonderful promises of reliance, not defiance.
Pg. 31, pp. 17 Guy #5: Full of Faith, but Reeking of Alcohol The problem here is not the quantity of faith, but the QUALITY. During a horrendous storm, which flashlight do you want? The one purchased at the Dollar Store or the Black & Decker you bought at Home Depot?
EMOTIONALISM IS NOT TRUE RELIGIOUS FEELING.
Pg. 18 – When we remain self-deceived, we are incapable of receiving enough grace to restore us to sanity.
JUSTICE – You get what you deserve. MERCY – You don’t get what you deserve. GRACE – You get what you don’t deserve.
Big Book, pg. 37, pp. 23-28 Sanity – Soundness of mind Insanity – “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” – Albert Einstein.
Think ~ Think ~ Think How does this AA slogan remind you of Step Two, and why do we need all three “thinks”?
True Humility – Acceptance of myself where I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going.
Open-Mindedness – Acceptance of others where they are, where they’ve been, and where they’re going.
During this process, beware of HALT. Don’t allow yourself to get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.
The last sentence in Step Two in the 12 & 12 will remind you how to find a quick sanity fix when you need one.
HOMEWORK: Humility Drill – Instead of arguing on inconsequential topics, pause, and say, “You may be right. I’ll have to think about that.”
STEP THREE: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
12 & 12, pg. 34, pp. 1 What is the first word in the step?
What else do people practice? Consider a pianist who practices hours each day. Do you think it’s possible that he never makes a mistake? How about a doctor that practices medicine? Does that mean that no one will never be worse off for his care? Practice does not always make perfect . . . but it does keep one sober.
By taking these steps, you are knocking at the door of a new life. The only problem is – you’re the one who has to open the door, and it’s locked. The key that opens the door is WILLINGNESS.
Last sentence in pp. 1 and first sentence of pp. 2: Reminds us that Step One and Two didn’t require action – only acceptance. Step Three calls for ACTION. You are now beginning to take the action steps.
How important is it for you to practice Step Three so you can do it well?
Last sentence of pp. 2: The effectiveness of the program rests on how well you do this step. It’s mighty important. But you’ll never get it down perfectly . . . so you just keep practicing.
BIG BOOK, pg. 60, pp. 9 – 15: This is a REQUIREMENT to get and stay sober – You must be convinced that self-will cannot manage your life. What are some of the other terms we use for self-will?
- Exerting oneself
- Manipulating situations
- Self-seeking, or wearing “me-colored” glasses to look at situations
- Producing confusion, not harmony
BIG BOOK, pg. 62, pp. 14: “An alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot.” So, it stands to reason that a recovering alcoholic could be an example of God’s will run riot. But, how do we get rid of self-centered thinking? Last sentence in this paragraph says, “We had to have God’s help.”
12 & 12, pg. 35, pp. 3 Try it! You’ll like it!
Did you turn your drinking problem over to AA? In this case, AA is a Higher Power. With this relationship comes a feeling of belonging and safety. These feelings are helpful when trying to develop faith. Always remember how safe you feel in meetings. Close your eyes and think about that when you need to practice Step Three. INSTINCT AND LOGIC FRUSTRATE SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT.
My depending on alcohol = I am dependent and enslaved My depending on HP = I am independent and free This is the difference between the RIGHT form of dependence and the WRONG form of dependence.
12 & 12, pg. 37, pp. 7 But the MOMENT – everything happens in a second in our alcoholic brain. Emotions rocked? In a second, we snatch back our self-will and try to manipulate the situation. Just one moment is all it takes.
SELF-SUFFICIENCY IS NOT AN ASSET IN THE RECOVERY PROCESS.
Pg. 38 Circumstance drives us back to Step Three – not virtue. At first, it’s not because we WANT God’s will, but because we DON’T WANT despair again.
Pg. 39, pp. 13 We learn to “depend” on someone. We know it’s been hard to trust in the past. As alcoholism progressed, we grew more and more isolation. Trust wasn’t even in our vocabulary anymore. Maybe, because of our circumstances, it was NEVER in our vocabulary. If you can’t depend on a HP yet, try depending upon a sponsor. Just open up to that one person, and you will learn to trust. As your trust is reciprocated, you will be able to branch out with it, perhaps trusting others. Remember, at first the pain will be severe without alcohol to numb it. Walk into the pain with the help of one other person. It is the experience of the group that this will pay off.
Keep reading the paragraph. Is attendance at meetings enough?
That’s where the REMAINING STEPS OF THE AA PROGRAM come in. Step Three, from this first attempt can be: Made a decision to take the rest of the steps.
Can we coast through if we do a partial Step Three? NO! The other steps are ONLY successful when Step Three is given a determined and persistent trial. You have to PRACTICE every day, just like the doctor or pianist.
Pg. 40, pp. 14 Did you ever wonder what God’s will for you is? According to the last sentence in this paragraph, God’s will for you is to conform to the principles of the steps.
WILLPOWER is misused . . . NOT lacking. Use it to agree with God’s intention for you. HOW CAN I DO THAT? The book clearly states that we do that by getting into the rest of the steps.
Pg. 41, last paragraph Are you disturbed? Here’s what to do:
- Ask for quiet
- Say the Serenity Prayer
(The hardest part is to pause! Remember why? Because of the MOMENT we talked about earlier. That moment is the turning point. Ask for protection and care with complete abandon.)
BIG BOOK, pg. 63 The Promises of Step Three are listed here. You didn’t think the only promises you had coming to you wouldn’t get here until after Step Nine, did you? The BIG BOOK is full of promises.
Further down on the page, read the Third Step Prayer. Feel the hope of Step Two coupled with this newfound FAITH that our right actions will bring us into alignment with God and others. The next dividend you’ll receive is HAPPINESS.
HAPPINESS IS NOT A GOAL. IT IS THE RESULT OF RIGHT LIVING.
STEP FOUR: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
12 & 12, pg. 42, pp. 1 “Creation gave us instincts for a purpose.” The word “Creation” calls to mind a Source of all that is – for some this is God, for others this is Good Orderly Direction. From this Source, man arrived on the planet, complete with instincts to help him survive.
The instincts listed are: “for the SEX relation, for material and emotional SECURITY, and for companionship” – a place in SOCIETY. Understanding these instincts is the crux of taking a fearless moral inventory. Once you see that everyone has these drives, you become aware that when taken to the extreme, these instincts “powerfully, blindly, many times subtly, they drive us, dominate us, and insist upon ruling our lives.” Page 42, pp. 2 Read the rest of this paragraph and see where your character defects come from.
So what is step four about? Pg. 43, pp. 3 “We want to find exactly how, when, and where our natural desires have warped us.” This is what we mean when we say LOOK AT YOUR RECORD. A record for an athlete tells you how many wins and losses they’ve had. A record for a criminal tells you only about the losses. In Step Four, we want to look at the losses through the understanding heart of our extreme attempts to win.
Remember how we learned that the effectiveness of our whole program rests on how well we practice Step Three? Well, that statement is further explained in Step Four. Pg. 43, pp. 3 reads: “Without a searching and fearless moral inventory, most of us have found that the FAITH WHICH REALLY WORKS IN DAILY LIVING is still out of reach.” Step Four will make your practice of Step Three easier. Weird, eh? Weren’t we told the steps come in order for a reason? In this case, we needed to practice before we got good at it – and a moral inventory will improve our third step efforts.
Let’s pull a few more places where the step book tells us that these three instincts: SEX, SECURITY, SOCIETY, are the ticket to understanding our wrongs.
Underline the places in your books. Remember what it says on pg. 44, pp. 6: “WHENEVER A HUMAN BEING BECOMES A BATTLEGROUND FOR THE INSTINCTS, THERE CAN BE NO PEACE.”
Further down on the page: “Alcoholics especially should be able to see that instinct run wild in them is the underlying cause of their destructive drinking.”
pp. 9 & 10 Are you a depressive or grandiose? It’s important to know because only two people can get you drunk – the POOR ME or the GREAT I AM.
Another excuse to avoid doing Step Four is our need to BLAME others so we deflect our record onto them. This is a form of denial. (bottom of page 45 and on to 46) “PEOPLE WHO ARE DRIVEN BY PRIDE OF SELF UNCONSCIOUSLY BLIND THEMSELVES TO THEIR LIABILITIES.”
SELF-JUSTIFICATION IS THE MAKER OF EXCUSES, OF COURSE, FOR DRINKING, AND FOR ALL KINDS OF CRAZY AND DAMAGING CONDUCT.
THE WRITING: You must write this step down – you cannot do it in your head and get the desired results. It will be the first TANGIBLE evidence that you want to get better.
Big Book pg. 64, paragraph underway at the top of the page: “We had to get down to causes and conditions.”
WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF OUR CHARACTER DEFECTS?
We want to find out more about ourselves. We want to find the truth behind our actions. We want to list these truths in three ways. #1) RESENTMENTS – the number one offender. Break the word down. Re – means to do over. Sent – root from Latin means to feel. Why are resentments the number one offender? Which resentments really tear us apart? (BB, pg. 64)
#2) FEAR – an evil and corroding thread. It sets in motion “TRAINS OF CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH BROUGHT US MISFORTUNE.” What’s driving your train. (BB, pg. 67)
#3) SEX – where had we been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate? Where were we at fault, what should we have done instead? (BB, oddly enough on page 69 – LOL!)
When you make your columns, don’t forget the last one! The last one (BB, pg. 65) indicates the instinct you were trying to get met. THIS IS THE TICKET TO SELF-DISCOVERY. WHAT DRIVES YOUR TRAIN MOST OF THE TIME? FOR ALL OF US, IT IS USUALLY ONE OF THESE THREE INSTINCTS.
The 12 & 12 (pg. 48) lists the seven deadly sins. Where did the word sin come from? It’s an archery term, and it means you missed the mark. Nothing more, nothing less. Get that fire and brimstone preacher out of your head.
The promises of Step Four begin on pg. 49 of the 12 & 12. Read the last sentence on the page to the end of the paragraph on pg. 50.
STEP FOUR IS THE BEGINNING OF A LIFETIME PRACTICE.
The questions in the 12 & 12 on pages 50 – 52 can jumpstart a fourth step. Use them to your advantage.
12 & 12, pg. 53 Twisted relations with family, friends, and society at large have caused us the most suffering. Why? When our instincts are whacked, we cannot form a true partnership with another because of self-centered behavior blocks it. The steps can heal this rift.
pg. 54 “Whatever the defects, they have finally ambushed us into alcoholism and misery.” Ambush – sneak attack designed to overtake you.
THEREFORE, THOROUGHNESS IS THE WATCHWORD.
The way you actually write your fourth step is a personal decision. If you have never followed the layout in the Big Book, I highly recommend it. It is simple and easy, and it is the way the first 100 did the step. All you need is a notebook, pen, and ruler to make the lines.
Other AAs may tell you about alternate routes for Step Four. These are fine, as long as you get to the heart of the matter – which is to find out what instincts are driving and dominating you. By all means, ask your sponsor how he/she did the step. Lean on the experience of those that went before you.
Some AAs will tell you that you “have to” answer all the questions in the 12 & 12, “have to” follow only the diagram in the Big Book, “have to” do the step the way they say. After this day of prodding to find out what dominates us, what instinct does this type of control SCREAM OUT? LOL! Remember, when someone is telling you that you “have to” do something in program, they are trying to share their experience, strength, and hope with you. They are trying to save you from pain they know personally. They are offering you LOVE in the truest sense. Don’t take their controlling words to heart and separate from them. Choose to connect. It’s always a great way to placate them with this TRUE statement:
“You may be right, I’ll have to think about that. I’ll get with my sponsor about it.”
In the end, this is YOUR attempt to know yourself better, and to know what drives YOUR train. Once you know that about yourself, you will begin to see others in a new light. You will be able to forgive their power drives more easily, because you will see that they, too, are being driven by their needs. Instinct is powerful. Why would so many birds migrate south otherwise? It’s a long trip, and many die along the way. Yet, each year, they take flight south.
Look at the animal kingdom. Instinct abounds. Sometimes, we forget that we, too, are animals. (Some of you may be vegetables or minerals . . . but mostly, animals.) Understand your own instincts, and how out of whack they’ve become. They are no longer tools of survival – but weapons of separation from God and from your fellows.
STEP FIVE: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
12 & 12, pg. 55, first paragraph Step Five = EGO deflation; but, also Step Five = longtime sobriety & peace of mind
EGO – EASING GOD OUT (therefore, acting in EGO is turning from Step Three where we ask, “Thy will, not mine, be done.)
12 & 12, pg. 56, pp. 5 What if you skip Step Five? 1) Some are unable to stay sober at all; 2) Others relapse periodically until they really clean house; 3) Some try to carry the load alone, suffering irritability, anxiety, remorse, depression, and blaming those they love (often called “dry drunk).
WE NEED TO STOP THE BLAME GAME IF WE ARE TO HAVE CONTENTED SOBRIETY.
BIG BOOK, pg. 75, pp. 10 Up above, we listed three consequences of skipping Step Five. How do those consequences compare with the Promises of Step Five listed on this page? 1) The feeling that the drink problem has disappeared will often come strongly; 2) We can look the world in the eye; 3) We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator.
12 & 12, pg. 56, pp. 6 The practice of admitting faults to another is a very ancient exercise.
ANCIENT WISDOM IS HANDED DOWN THROUGH THE CENTURIES BECAUSE THE COLLECTIVE EXPERIENCE SHOWS GREAT POWER IN THE WORDS OR ACTIONS. SELF-EXAMINATION AND ADMISSION OF CHARACTER FLAWS IS ANCIENT WISDOM. IT HAS BEEN HANDED DOWN THROUGHOUT TIME IN MANY CULTURES BECAUSE IT WORKS.
12 & 12, pg. 56, pp.6 Read from “Most of us – willing to try this.
Look at your record. What did drinking give you at first? What did alcohol “do” for you?
1) It made me prettier, funnier, and more interesting;
2) It lessened my fear of other people – especially noted in early sexual situations;
3) It gave me the sense of belonging, making me feel like I fit in for the first time.
Again, alcohol promised us something it couldn’t deliver long-term. Compare the three statements above to the next three. Let’s look at the REAL picture. Where did alcohol “leave” you? 1) Unattractive and alone; 2) in terrified loneliness; 3) isolated and cut-off from others.
12 & 12, pg. 57, pp. 7 & 8 Find the way out of the feelings produced by how alcohol dumped us. “Step Five rids us of the terrible sense of isolation.” Then last sentence in pp. 8: “It was the beginning of TRUE KINSHIP with man and God.
Merriam-Webster describes kinship as the quality of being in relationship. Synonyms include: affinity, connection, liason, linkage, relationship.
But what about the wreckage of past and the people who used us up?
12 & 12. pg. 58, pp. 9 Last sentence reminds us that after Step Five we realize that forgiveness seems possible – not just to give it, but to receive it, too. Don’t minimize this statement. Hope is found here.
12 & 12, pg. 58, pp. 10 Another great reward of doing Step Five is the gift of humility, defined right here for us: “a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.”
12 & 12, pg. 58, pp. 11 We get more realism and more honesty about ourselves. Last sentence promises three awesome gifts: 1) straight thinking; 2) solid honesty; 3) genuine humility
12 & 12, pg. 60, pp. 14 Why can’t we make the admissions alone with only God as our witness? Why do we have to tell another human being?
1) Choosing the way that relieves us from embarrassment makes our desire to clean house mainly theoretical;
STEP FIVE CAN BREAK THE CHAINS OF DYSFUNCTION WE CARRY FROM OUR HOMES INTO THE WORLD AROUND US – “DON’T TELL, DON’T FEEL, DON’T TRUST”
2) Our thinking isn’t clear yet when we do this step. Rationalization and wishful thinking can masquerade as “the guidance of the Higher Power.”
“Let one person know everythink about you. No, that was not a typo. Every Think.” -g. o. d. (group of drunks) speaks series
BIG BOOK, pg. 72 – 73 Read the paragraphs from: “Time after time – their life story.
Who do I tell? Do I have to take this step with my sponsor? 12 & 12, pg. 60, pp. 16 – 18 NO! As you can see, sometimes we need to take this important Step with someone else. The benefit of taking Step Five with a sponsor is that it builds intimacy. But, if that repels you . . . make an appointment with someone else! No matter what, take the Step!
“Step Five is about intimacy. When I was drinking, I thought intimacy was being able to get naked with the lights on.” -g. o. d. (group of drunks) speaks series
STEP FIVE ALLOWS YOU TO ACTUALLY FEEL THE PRESENCE OF GOD . . . BECAUSE YOU ARE EMERGING FROM ISOLATION.
“A head nods, a smile forms, the listener is intent on my words alone. Suddenly, I realize I am not alone with my feelings. Suddenly, I realize this person gets it. Suddenly, I am understood.” -g. o. d. (group of drunks) speaks series
12 & 12, pg. 62 Read the last paragraph:
Remember: The act can be forgiven. The nature must be healed.
Last thoughts on Step Five to promote discussion and deeper self-examination:
When you hear people in the rooms speak about horrible past actions, sometimes you run up to them after the meeting to give them a hug. How can this happen? This is the premise of Step Five. To recover, one must make peace with his past. Together in a group, it is easier to remember that the bad actions resulted from alcoholic thinking. The person wasn’t bad, he was sick. Therefore, he deserves unconditional Love.
In the same way, Step Five isn’t a laundry list of bad behaviors. The job of the list is to show each person just how low he will limbo to get his instinctive needs met. Remember, everyone has these needs, and everyone is working to get them met. The active addict/alcoholic may limbo lower with his actions because the spiritual disease has robbed him of the ability to act on his personal morals and ethics. When the disease is arrested and treated, these ethics and morals will return. Then, his ensuing actions will change. But that takes time.
Still, he must consider the NATURE of the wrongs. To do this, he must consider the base disposition of his character.
“Know the NATURE of your wrongs. It’s not that I stole candy from a baby. The point I need to learn is that I’m the sort of fellow who steals candy from a baby if it serves my purpose.” -g. o. d. (group of drunks) speaks series
Even in active sobriety he may stoop to these lows to get needs met. As he matures spiritually, he will move away from selfish objectives and rejoin the human race. Nonetheless, if he adds alcohol, eventually he will be doing the limbo again. It’s just the nature of the alcoholic. “It’s natural for an alcoholic to drink. It’s supernatural that he doesn’t.” -g. o. d. (group of drunks) speaks series
STEP SIX: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
A man named Boston Eddy once said, “The reason you’re struggling with this Step is because you think it’s about you. Go home and read the Step over again. Your name isn’t in it.”
So, for the reader that struggles with Step Six, read it again. It would appear that the heavy-lifting in the Step would be removing the horrible defects of character he just dug up in Step Four and admitted to in Step Five.
Therein lies his problem with Step Six. Clearly, removing defects is God’s work. His job is to get ready to let them go. Sounds like it should be easy, doesn’t it? Sadly, most humans use defects of character to help them get instinctive needs met. Remember? So, when the defects are gone . . . how will the needs be met?
BIG BOOK, pg. 75, pp. 11 After finishing Step Five, one should return home (or to a safe spot for contemplation) and consider the first five steps. Before even beginning Step Six, it’s imperative to make sure the first five Steps are completed thoroughly.
12 & 12, pg. 63, pp. 1 “This is the Step that separates the men from the boys.” It will take honesty and willingness to try this Step on ALL faults found, and only a person who is maturing spiritually will attempt it.
12 & 12, pg. 63, pp. 2 Can God remove these defects? Experience from those that went before screams “YES!” The defect “clean-up” started when he/she put down the drink. It continued in the first five Steps. Miraculously, God lifted the merciless obsession for drink. The alcoholic wanted the mania for alcohol removed, and God did exactly that.
12 & 12, pg. 64, pp. 6 HEAVY STUFF! It is unnatural to drink alcoholically. It defies the deepest instinct, which is for self-preservation. Beaten by alcohol, the sufferer turns to the grace of God. Then, the instinct to live cooperates fully with Creation’s desire to give life.
12 & 12, pg. 64, pp. 7 The instincts . . . AGAIN! They are always at the bottom of human behavior because man was designed that way.
12 & 12, pg. 65, pps. 9 & 10 What happens when the natural desires exceed their proper function? They drive the person away from alignment with the God of his understanding. Do not fear! Forgiveness from HP comes easily. One just asks for it. But if the defect remains, falling out of alignment becomes a way of life. That is why removal is imperative. To get free from the actual defect of character requires cooperation with the Higher Power.
12 & 12, pg. 65, pp. 11 Is this a one-time process? NO! It is a lifetime job. Note the patient improvement, though.
12 & 12, pgs. 65 & 66, pp. 12 TRY to be ready. If a sticking point comes, continue to TRY to become ready. The only dangerous spot is if one decides NEVER to give up a defect he is still using.
NO MATTER HOW FAR WE HAVE PROGRESSED, DESIRES WILL ALWAYS BE FOUND WHICH OPPOSE THE GRACE OF GOD.
12 & 12, pgs. 66 & 67, pps. 15 – 17 What defects do you still love?
lust, self-righteous anger, gossip, gluttony, envy, sloth, procrastination, superiority complex, victim role, silent scorn, bossiness, know-it-all-ism, tardiness . . .
12 & 12, pgs. 67 & 68, pp. 18 If the defects listed were “milder”, would you want to hang on to some of them?
The mature spiritual walk (the difference between the boys and the men) is the difference between striving only to get your needs met and striving to fulfill the purpose for your life given by God.
What is God’s will for us? See 12 & 12, pg. 40, pp. 15
12 & 12, pg. 68, pp. 19 Can anyone practice the ideals behind the Twelve Steps perfectly? No. One must admit 100% powerlessness over alcohol, but the rest of the steps call for progress, not perfection.
12 & 12, pg. 68, pp. 20 Can the steps be used on problems other than alcoholism? Only with an open mind.
ONE CAVEAT: DON’T TRY TO BLUFF YOURSELF BY POSTPONING DEALING WITH SOME PROBLEMS INDEFINITELY. “TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE.”
12 & 12, pg. 69, pp. 23 What happens if we say, “No, never!” when asked to give up a defect of character?
The mind will close against the grace of God. This may be a fatal decision, because it is only by the grace of God that an alcoholic stays away from a drink one day at a time.
BIG BOOK, pg. 76, pp.12 Willingness is indispensable. Can you now see that the defects of character stand in the way of becoming all that Creation had in mind for you to be? Are you willing to let God remove the speed bumps that slow your progress spiritually?
If you don’t feel willing, ask God to help you become willing.
Back to Boston Eddy’s comment . . . is YOUR name is this Step? Do YOU have to turn from your defects on your own? If not . . . then who? And if not by self-will . . . then how?
Step Six Thought to encourage discussion:
When you were a child, you developed ways to get your needs met. In your youth, these defects were the “tools” you used to build your world. Through the years and with the progression of disease, these tools morphed into weapons. Now, what were once little defects have become instruments of destruction . . . hurting others, your own moral character, or your self-esteem. These defects are taking a toll in your life. How have they hurt you and those you love?
STEP SEVEN: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
“If your God is BIG enough, you can stay right-sized.” – g. o. d. (group of drunks) speaks series
12 & 12, pg. 70, pp. 1 & 2 This step, and ALL the other 12 steps, is about attaining greater humility. Why do we need humility?
1) Without it, no alcoholic can stay sober at all;
2) Unless we develop more than we need just to stay sober, we haven’t much chance at becoming happy;
3) Without it, we can’t live to useful purpose;
4) Without it, we can’t summon enough faith in adversity to meet an emergency.
Humility has to become a way of life, yet most people dislike the word or, at best, misunderstand it.
12 & 12, pg. 71, pp. 5 Can you believe it? We’re back to the instincts again. If the satisfaction of our basic natural desires is the main object of life, then we have screwed it up. Just take a look at your fourth step if you think you are blameless. Yikes! How low did you limbo to get those needs met? And drinking was the way we celebrated success or failure, and because we could never get our fill, the drinking became obsessive.
IN ALL OUR STRIVINGS (EVEN THE WELL-INTENTIONED ONES), OUR CRIPPLING HANDICAP WAS LACK OF HUMILITY .
12 & 12, pp. 6 Which comes first? Character-building and spiritual values or material satisfactions? Are material satisfactions the goal in life? Or, are they a means by which we can live and function to our full potential? What part does selfishness play in this question?
Remember: Big Book, page 62, pp.13. Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.
12 & 12, pg. 72, pp.7 But whenever we had to choose between character-building and comfort, the character-building was lost in the dust of our chase after what we thought was happiness.
Do you: go to meeting or relax at home; forgive wrongs or hold on to self-righteous anger; take the newcomer’s call or let voicemail get it; cook a healthy meal or grab crappy fast food; recycle your plastic bottles or trash them?
These are just some ways we choose SELF even when we don’t think about it. Step Seven asks us to look at these actions, because as we grow in humility, these details of living will most likely change. The first change will happen in the way we think. We will tie all life issues to the principles behind the steps . . . and we will exercise permanent values for once in our lives. This happens when we move away from selfishness and toward humility.
AS LONG AS WE WERE CONVINCED THAT WE COULD LIVE EXCLUSIVELY BY OUR OWN INDIVIDUAL STRENGTH AND INTELLIGENCE, A WORKING FAITH IN THE HIGHER POWER WAS IMPOSSIBLE. THIS IS TRUE EVEN IF WE BELIEVE THAT GOD EXISTS. AS LONG AS WE PLAY GOD, OUR LIVES WILL REMAIN BARREN.
12 & 12, pg. 72, pp. 8 What is the basic ingredient of all humility? A desire to seek and do God’s will.
The gift of desperation is the gift that allows us to walk away from the paralyzing grip of active alcoholism. By the time we arrive at Step Seven, we see that this sort of humility is a GIFT, a necessity. But why do we still hate the idea of being humble?
12 & 12, pg. 73, pp. 10 A whole lifetime geared to self-centeredness cannot be set in reverse all at once. Rebellion dogs our every step at first.
12 & 12, pgs. 73 & 74, pp. 11 & 12 The writers are asking you to look at your NEW record in these paragraphs – wanting you to draw upon the memory of Step One desperation, Step Four recognition of character flaws, and the “inescapable conclusion that we draw from AA experience” that we have to let even our favorite defects go in Step Six. Still, we could care less about humility. We move forward only because it is necessary to survive.
12 & 12, pg. 74, pp. 13 Do you see Step Four, Five, and Six in the first sentence? Do you remember your first taste of “peace of mind” that is described? What does peace of mind have to do with serenity? Why do you need serenity to live sober?
Ready for a revolutionary change in your outlook? Step Seven provides it for you with an experiential understanding of the word humility. Before:
FAILURE AND MISERY = PAIN AND ESCAPE
Then, 12 & 12, pg. 75, pp. 15:
FAILURE AND MISERY + HUMILITY = STRENGTH AND HEALING
12 & 12, pg. 75, pp. 16 A side effect of learning about humility is the change in our attitude toward God. We come to a more mature relationship, no longer muttering fox-hole prayers, but having actual conversations with HP.
12 & 12, pg. 75, pp. 17 What’s this? You don’t have to be beaten into humility? We can voluntarily reach for it? This is true only if you have come to WANT humility. This is what the term “growing up in AA” means.
12 & 12, pg. 76, pp. 18 What are the objectives of taking Step 7?
1) We want to live in peace with ourselves and others;
2) We want to know the grace of God is operational in our lives;
3) We want to see that our character defects block our path toward the first two objectives;
4) We want to stop making unreasonable demands upon ourselves, others, and upon God.
12 & 12, pg. 76, pp. 19
THE CHIEF ACTIVATOR OF OUR CHARACTER DEFECTS IS SELF-CENTERED FEAR – THAT WE WILL LOSE SOMETHING WE ALREADY HAVE OR FAIL TO GET SOMETHING WE THINK WE NEED.
Remember: You know this. When you feel anxiety or fear, watch out! Get your butt to a meeting where you can be restored to sanity. If you can’t get to a meeting, PAUSE, and ask for QUIET. Connect with HP.
“Humility – an accurate assessment of self, and acceptance of the same. It includes acceptance of myself where I am right now, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. Humility calls me to listen for God’s will instead of my own, and to do that will instead of what gives me instant gratification.” -Bill’s Reader (As Bill Sees It), page 106
BIG BOOK, pg. 76, pp 13 Get on your knees together and say this prayer:
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.
Homework: Find a copy of Bill’s Reader ( As Bill Sees It), and read ALL the entries on humility.
STEP EIGHT: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Relationships are assignments from God.
Circle the words in the step: WE – you are not alone. BECAME – if we lack the willingness to do this, we ask until it comes.
An AMEND is not an apology – it is the opportunity to make things right.
12 & 12, pg. 77, first paragraph tells us the goals of steps eight and nine.
1) To take a look backward and try to discover where we’ve been at fault;
2) To make a vigorous attempt to repair the damage we have done;
3) Tp develop the best possible relations with every human being we know utilizing the newfound knowledge of ourselves.
THIS IS A TASK WE MAY PERFORM WITH INCREASING SKILL, BUT NEVER REALLY FINISH.
12 & 12, pg. 77, pp. 2 To move forward, we have to look back and make an accurate and unsparing survey of the human wreckage we have left in our wake.
THIS IS GOING TO HURT. WE WILL REOPEN OLD WOUNDS, SOME THAT ARE STILL OOZING. THE ADVANTAGES OF DOING THIS INCLUDE OBSTACLES MELTING AWAY AND LESS PAIN.
Big Book, pg. 76, pp. 14 You said you’d go to any length to get over drinking. Did you mean it?
Back to 12 & 12: Bottom of page 78, pp.3-6: The obstacles are real. They include:
1) We’d rather defend ourselves than forgive another;
2) We’d rather not make face-to-face or written admissions to people who already had it in for us . . . or didn’t even know we’d hurt them;
3) We claimed that when drinking we never hurt anybody but ourselves.
pg. 79, pp. 7 & 8 Even if these obstacles are rearing their ugly heads, make a COMPLETE list. You can worry about doing the ninth step when you’re on that step. YOU ARE ONLY WRITING A LIST.
Sometimes, we will find that the emotional harm we’ve done to ourselves goes deep. Some conflicts may be below the level of our consciousness, and may have changed our personalities and altered our lives for the worse. WRITE THESE THOUGHTS DOWN IF THEY COME TO YOU. DON’T SKIP YOURSELF.
The first sentence in paragraph nine really explains what we will learn about ourselves in this part of step eight. Read it and notice the words:
pg. 80, pp. 9 “IT IS EQUALLY NECESSARY,” which means it is just as important as writing the list. What could be that important? Let’s read the whole paragraph together. SLOWLY.
Main points to consider:
1) Extricate (to dig out; to disentangle) from the examination of our personal relations every bit of information about ourselves and OUR FUNDAMENTAL DIFFICULTIES that we can.
2) Defective relations with others have nearly always been the immediate cause of our woes, INCLUDING OUR ALCOHOLISM.
3) The rewards from doing this digging will by satisfying and valuable.
4) We will uncover not just superficial flaws, but deeper flaws that were responsible for the WHOLE PATTERN OF OUR LIVES.
5) Be thorough here. It pays off BIG TIME.
Let’s spend some time in calm, thoughtful reflection. What are some of the patterns that many alcoholics exhibit that we might identify with? Here is a list to get you started. This is by no means a complete list:
Competing, quitting, blaming, dominating, depending upon, running, fixing, controlling, avoiding intimacy, isolating, drama, know-it-all-ism, rebellion, buying love, saving/rescuing, seeking recognition, withholding information, entitlement, judgmentalism, nagging, intimidating, avoiding responsibility, dismissing, criticizing, lacking tolerance, seeking approval, confrontational, non-confrontational, accepting abuse, raging, people-pleasing, self-sabotaging, projecting, defensiveness, minimizing . . .
Pg. 80, pp. 10 What do we mean when we say we have harmed someone? What is harm, anyway?
The answer: INSTINCTS IN COLLISION which cause physical, mental, emotional or spiritual damage to others
Read the whole paragraph and see if you recognize any of the “harms” done.
STEP EIGHT IS ABOUT FREEDOM. AN AWARENESS THIS DEEP WILL CHANGE YOUR APPROACH TO YOUR RELATIONSHIPS.
12 & 12, pg. 81, pp. 12 Walk through your life backwards and construct a long list of people who have been affected by your disease. YOU MUST WRITE IT DOWN.
This is the BEGINNING OF THE END OF YOUR ISOLATION FROM GOD AND FROM YOUR FELLOWS.
“We teach other people how to treat us.” Once you have worked your eighth step, you know this is true.
STEP NINE: Made direct amends wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.
When making amends, you must be on the AA beam! That means making regular meetings, calling your sponsor, daily prayer, and working with others. The AA beam gives one good judgment, good timing, courage and prudence.
An AMEND is not an apology – it is the opportunity to make things right.
DIRECT (adj.): 1. natural, straightforward; 2. stemming immediately from the source (Merriam Webster Online)
12 & 12, pg. 83, pp. 2 The four classes of people to whom we need to make amends include:
1) Those we should deal with as soon as possible without losing our sobriety;
2) Those to whom we can only make partial restitution so we don’t do more harm;
3) Those to whom action ought to be put off;
4) Those to whom we can never make direct personal contact with at all.
THE MOMENT WE TELL OUR FAMILIES THAT WE ARE REALLY GOING TO TRY THE PROGRAM, THE PROCESS HAS BEGUN.
12 & 12, pg. 84, pp. 3 We cannot buy our own peace of mind at the expense of others.
“THE GENEROUS RESPONSE OF MOST PEOPLE TO SUCH QUIET SINCERITY WILL OFTEN ASTONISH US. EVEN OUR SEVEREST AND MOST JUSTIFIED CRITICS WILL FREQUENTLY MEET US MORE THAN HALFWAY ON THE FIRST TRIAL.” last sentences, 12 & 12, pg. 84, pp. 4
12 & 12, pg. 85, pp. 5 The atmosphere of approval and praise will tempt us to hurry on to other cases, or skeptical and cool receptions may discourage us or make us want to argue. BE PREPARED for either, and you will be able to stay in balance.
Back to 12 & 12, pg. 85, pp. 6 This is when we want to:
1) Rest on our laurels, and skip the more painful meetings still on our list;
2) Dodge the issues by creating excuses as to why we can’t make the amend;
3) Procrastinate, and make the amend at some later date.
Don’t kid yourself. This is your alcoholism rearing its ugly head. Evasion is one of the patterns we learned about ourselves in Step Eight, and it’s luring you back into stinking thinking. Don’t give in! ASK HP FOR THE COURAGE TO CONTINUE.
12 & 12, pg. 85, pp. 7 As soon as we are confident, we talk with frankness to those most affected, unless it would cause them harm. It can be casual and natural if it works out that way . . . but if it doesn’t, head straight for the person you need to speak to and take care of business.
BIG BOOK, pgs. 79 – 81
Main points to consider:
1) First sentence: REPARATIONS – NOT apologies
2) We will go to any length to make these amends. We have to, or we may drink again . . . and for us, to drink is to die. Spiritually, and eventually, physically.
3) Check your intentions and motives with your sponsor or another experienced AA. Don’t sacrifice others needlessly to save yourself.
4) If you will implicate others, you must first secure their consent.
5) In domestic affairs, remember that you have no right to involve another person. We are only cleaning up our side of the street – not pointing out the folks with whom we made it dirty.
WE FEEL A MAN IS UNTHINKING WHEN HE SAYS THAT SOBRIETY IS ENOUGH. BIG BOOK, pg 82, bottom paragraph
BIG BOOK, pg. 83, main points to consider:
1) We must take the lead in the reconstruction – and a mumbling “I’m sorry” won’t do it;
2) Each morning in meditation, ask HP to grant us patience, tolerance, kindliness, and love;
3) The spiritual life is NOT a theory – we have to live it;
4) Our behavior will convince people more than our words;
5) If you would right a wrong if you could, but can’t see the person involved, you can let it go, knowing if the “where” comes up, you’ll make the amend;
6) As God’s people, we don’t crawl or scrape. We stand on our two feet and face the music, acting with integrity and tact.
Big Book, pgs. 83 – 84: What happens at this point in the journey through the steps?
READ THE PROMISES THAT YOU HEAR IN MEETINGS. AT THIS PHASE OF YOUR DEVELOPMENT, THEY WILL BE COMING TRUE.
Back to the 12 & 12, pg, 86, pp.9 Do we lay the matter before our sponsor or spiritual adviser, earnestly asking God’s help and guidance – meanwhile resolving to do the right thing when it becomes clear, cost what it may?
Sometimes, our perception of the amend is the problem. By speaking to a trusted AA, we can open up the picture to find a way to rid ourselves of the wreckage of the past without fear. With God, there is a way. Let Him speak to you through the fellowship.
12 & 12, pg. 87, pp. 10 Do not delay because of FEAR. Once we take responsibility for our past acts AND responsibility for the well-being of others, we understand the spirit of this step.
GET READY FOR SOME REALLY GOOD THINGS TO START HAPPENING IN YOUR LIFE. YOU ARE FINISHING UP THE CLEAN UP STEPS, AND THE FEELING THAT YOUR “INSIDES” ARE SHINY AND NEW WILL COME STRONGLY.
Is sobriety an amend in itself? It is to me, and that’s a BIG statement. It is the beginning of self-forgiveness, which is sometimes that hardest forgiveness for us to find.
Thoughts on Step Nine to encourage discussion:
Do you know WHEN you got sober? Do you know WHERE you got sober? What’s the difference? Oftentimes, people read Step Nine quickly and substitute the word “whenever” for “wherever”. What’s the difference? How will it affect the amend?
STEP TEN: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
The word “when” in the middle of this step reminds us that as we go forward, we will make mistakes. This is the normal human condition. That is why we claim spiritual PROGRESS and not spiritual PERFECTION.
Our next function in program is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. To accomplish this, we use our steps as a way of life. Step Ten teaches us how to do this.
All of us have heard: “You take the steps in order!” That is true the first time we go through them, or even as an annual clean-up. But are we ever instructed to take them “out of order”? BIG BOOK, pg. 84, pp. 39 Begin with “This thought brings us to Step Ten”. Let’s read the order of step work listed in the Big Book here:
1) Continue to watch for defects (Step 10);
2) When they crop up, ask God to remove them (Step 7);
3) Discuss them with somebody (Step 5);
4) Make amends quickly if we’ve harmed someone (Step 9);
5) Turn our thoughts to someone we can help (Step 12).
LIVING THE TWELVE STEPS CAN MEAN TAKING THEM AS NEEDED, NOT NECESSARILY IN ORDER.
Continue in the BIG BOOK because the next paragraph is FULL of promises. The very type of insanity that brought us to the rooms has been relieved, and we are safe!
WHAT WE REALLY HAVE IS A DAILY REPRIEVE CONTINGENT ON THE MAINTENANCE OF OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION. Next paragraph, page 85. Did you know this statement is part of Step Ten? Can you see why a daily tenth step is vital to a sober lifestyle?
BIG BOOK, pg. 85, pp. 42 More promises. These promises remind us that we can now FEEL the hook up with HP. We have a working sixth sense that connects us to strength, inspiration, and direction from HP.
12 & 12, pg. 88, pp. 2 The Serenity Prayer
1) Wisdom to know the difference comes from making self-searching a regular habit;
2) Serenity to accept reality comes from this self-searching lifestyle;
3) Courage to change comes with patience and persistence – two traits known to those who search to know themselves better regularly.
Emotional Hangover: the direct result of yesterday’s and sometimes today’s excesses of negative emotions – anger, fear, jealousy, and the like. The “cure” is living in the NOW by practicing Step Ten.
12 & 12, pg. 89, pp. 4 Three types of tenth steps are listed:
1) Spot-check – taken any time of day when tangled up;
2) Day’s end – review of the day with pluses and minuses of our thoughts and actions;
3) Annual or Semi-annual housecleaning – can be a retreat or a regular fourth step. We already know how to do this . . . just pull out our notes from Step Four!
THE REWARDS WILL BE CONNECTED TO THE EFFORTS APPLIED. YOU WANT A BALANCED LIFE? DO A REGULAR INVENTORY AND YOU’LL GET ONE. SKIP IT TO SAVE TIME, AND YOU’LL PAY IN SERENITY.
Main points to consider for Spot-Check Inventory (from pg. 90 in the 12 & 12):
1) It’s a spiritual axiom that when I’m disturbed, there’s something wrong with me;
2) Justified anger ought to be left to those who can handle it . . . alcoholics are not in that group:
3) Emotional dry benders – spurred by anger, jealousy, envy, self-pity, or hurt pride – can lead us straight to the bottle after a indefinite emotional jag;
4) When off-the-beam, this quick inventory reminds us to use self-restraint, honest self-analysis, and willingness to take responsibility for our part and to forgive when the fault is elsewhere.
WE MUST LOOK FOR PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION, BECAUSE THESE DISCIPLINES ARE NOT EASY. 12 & 12, pg.91, pp.10
Live and Let Live is an attitude of the Tenth Step. Let’s read pp. 11 – 17 on page 91- 93 together.
Key thoughts on page Day’s End Inventory:
1) Draw up a balance sheet – GOOD as well as bad. Be quick to notice where you’re thinking and attitudes have adjusted for the better;
2) Check your motives. As you look at the debit side of the ledger, ask yourself, “What need was I trying to get met?” “What fear was I trying not to feel?”
3) Don’t let rationalization and self-justification cover up your true motives. Dig deep, really deep. (Review the questions on page 94 together)
4) Look for bad motives hidden beneath good ones – a NORMAL HUMAN TRAIT STEMMING FROM SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS.
LEARNING DAILY TO SPOT, ADMIT, AND CORRECT THESE FLAWS IS THE ESSENCE OF CHARACTER-BUILDING AND GOOD LIVING.
Let’s go back to 12 & 12, pg. 94, pp. 19 to find another one of our slogans hidden in the text:
1) Recognize the we acted or thought badly; THINK
2) Try to visualize how we might have done better; THINK
3) Resolve with God’s help to learn from the painful lesson and to make any amends needed. THINK
Once you get more practiced at Step Ten, you can occasionally use these “Express Lane” questions at Day’s End:
1) What did I do for my recovery today?
2) What did I do to help others today?
3) What did I do to connect with HP today?
1) How did I treat my body today, good and bad?
2) How did I care for my emotional state, good and bad?
3) How did I approach spiritual growth today, good and bad?
PRAY FOR DISCERNMENT. WHAT IS MY PART? HAVE I REALLY INJURED OTHERS? OR DO I FIND OTHERS INSIGNIFICANT AND THEREFORE NOT EVEN IN THE EQUATION? AM I ABLE TO PRACTICE MERCY? AM I DEMANDING, AND IF MY DEMANDS AREN’T MET, DO I PUNISH OTHERS BY TAKING MY FAVORITE ALCOHOLIC STANCE – ISOLATION?
Make this next one a regular question at night and you’ll be amazed at how your program will automatically change.
DID I LIVE MY PRIMARY PURPOSE TODAY? DID I CARRY THE MESSAGE TO SOMEONE IN NEED?
STEP ELEVEN: 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.
12 & 12, pg.96, first sentence: “Prayer and meditation are our principal means of conscious contact with God.”
Then next page and a half talks to people who are not convinced in a Higher Power outside the AA group. To these, the suggestion is to TRY prayer and meditation anyway. The experience in the rooms is that the only scoffers are those who haven’t experimented with it. pg. 97, pp. 5: Depriving ourselves of prayer and meditation is like refusing air, light and food:
1) Light – is God’s reality;
2) Food – is nourishment of God’s strength;
3) Air – is the atmosphere of God’s grace.
THERE IS A DIRECT LINKAGE AMONG SELF-EXAMINATION, MEDITATION, AND PRAYER. WHEN LOGICALLY RELATED AND INTERWOVEN, THE RESULT IS AN UNSHAKEABLE FOUNDATION FOR LIFE.
Spiritual HEAT Journal – give it a try. It is a way to link these together in a daily habit that will change your life. Write for 15 minutes each day (or more if you desire) according to this format: H – Honor; honor God with your words. E – Examine; do a written tenth step. A – Ask; don’t hold back from asking for what you need to grow spiritually. This growth will reap dividends in God’s Kingdom, and it is His will that you get what you need. This is where you pray for others, too. T – Thank; write a gratitude list. Each day, write down five things for which you are grateful, and never repeat one of them.
HOW, THEN, SHALL WE MEDITATE? Pg.98, pp. 8 Consider the Eleventh Step Prayer – known as the prayer of St. Francis, on page 99.
Pg. 99, pp. 13: As beginners in meditation, let’s reread this prayer slowly and try to understand what our friend says. Drop resistance, for in meditation, debate has NO place.
Remember the plans you made when drunk or high? Writing on the cocktail napkin, or planning a road trip with a buddy? That was a form of meditation called constructive imagination. You can do this. “Meditation is something that can always be further developed.” Pg. 101, pp. 21
Why keep trying to clear your mind and meditate? Pg. 102, right at the beginning of the page tells us that one of the first fruits of meditation is emotional balance. With it, we can broaden the channel between ourselves and God.
Try this: Breathe in faith. Breathe out fear.
pg. 102, pp. 22: Now, what about prayer? Prayer is the raising of the heart and mind to God – and in this sense it includes meditation. More often it is considered a petition to God.
ASK GOD FOR SPECIFICS, AND LIMIT HIS HAND. THIS SORT OF PRAYER IS ASKING GOD TO DO THINGS OUR WAY. SINCE WE’RE SITTING IN AN AA MEETING, CHANCES ARE THAT DOING THINGS OUR WAY MAY NOT BE THE BEST IDEA.
Always add, if it be Thy will. Pg.102, pp. 23
Pg. 103, pp. 24: We continue through our day, PAUSING when making decisions or situations are demanding. We renew the request, “Thy will, not mine, be done.” But what else can we do to keep ourselves balanced?
To clear a channel (we are the channel) choked up with anger, fear, frustration, or misunderstanding, we repeat a particular prayer or phrase (mantra) that has appealed to us in our reading or meditation.
Pg. 103, pp. 25 & 26: Can’t we just go to God and secure an answer to a troubling dilemma? Sometimes, the thoughts that seem to come from God are really well-intentioned rationalizations, one of the most basic human tendencies.
WHEN WE ASK FOR SPECIFICS, WE LIMIT GOD BY GIVING HIM THE BOUNDARIES OF OUR UNDERSTANDING.
Pg. 104, pp. 27: What about other people? Can’t we pray for what they need? For example, if we hear a friend has been diagnosed with cancer, can’t we pray for the cure? These prayers are based on the supposition that we know God’s will for the person for whom we pray. So, along with an earnest prayer is presumption and conceit. Because we are trying to rid ourselves of self-centeredness, we simply ask for God’s will for them, whatever it is.
pp. 28: the Perks of Prayer
1) We find strength, not ordinarily our own;
2) We find wisdom beyond our usual capability;
3) We find peace of mind which stands firm in the face of difficulties.
WE RECEIVE GUIDANCE FOR OUR LIVES TO THE EXTENT THAT WE STOP MAKING DEMANDS UPON GID TO GIVE IT TO US ON ORDER AND ON OUR TERMS.
Pg. 105, pp. 30: We will all pass through times when we are defiant, not reliant. Sometimes, we have to make ourselves pray. Other times, we just won’t pray. What should we do?
WHEN THIS HAPPENS DON’T THINK ILL OF YOURSELF. RESUME PRAYER WHEN YOU CAN. TALK TO OTHER AAs TO STAY AFLOAT WHEN YOU CAN’T CONNECT BY YOURSELF. KEEP GOING TO MEETINGS, READING YOUR BOOKS, ETC.
Pg. 105, pp. 31: Another promise coming true. One of the greatest rewards of meditation and prayer is the sense of belonging that comes to us. We know that all will be well with us. What we seek becomes a reality – Truth, contented sobriety, serenity, and happiness.
What else do we get?
Big Book, pg. 86, pp. 46: We’ve read that we will be rocketed to the fourth dimension in this program. What does that mean? We will have ways of understanding that surpass what is commonly understood. In this paragraph, the writers share their experience about how regular prayer and meditation has changed the way their mind works. This is beyond the original psychic change. This is MORE.
“What used to be the hunch or occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind.” And further down: “We find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely on it.”
The promises continue in the Big Book on page 88:
“We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.”
TO CONSCIOUSLY CONNECT WITH GOD, YOU MUST GET QUIET FROM TIME TO TIME. REMEMBER THE WISDOM OF THE PHRASE, “BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.”
STEP TWELVE: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principals in all our affairs.
12 & 12, pg.106, first sentence “The joy of living is the theme of A.A.‟s Twelfth Step, and action is its key word.”
First things first. What does Bill mean when he says „spiritual awakening‟? Flip in the BIG BOOK to Appendix II on pg. 567. Read it and consider your awakening. Was it sudden? Or, did you have more of the educational variety? 12 & 12, pg. 106-107, pp. 3 The most important meaning of awakening is that you have now become able to:
1) Do – take the next right action;
2) Feel – emote without fear;
3) Believe – you have returned to trust, confidence, reliance, and security in your own convictions.
YOU HAVE BEEN GRANTED A GIFT WHICH AMOUNTS TO A NEW STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND BEING.
12 & 12, pg. 109, pp. 7 What is the magnificent reality of AA?
IS THIS THE ONLY KIND OF 12TH STEP WORK? 12 & 12, pg.110, pp. 10 Can you find yourself in this list of 12 Step opportunities?**
12 & 12, pg. 111, pp. 11 Being off the beam may seem to be a setback at the time, but it is really the path to better things. We need to remember ALL of the 12 steps to get the answers we need . . . not just one and twelve. Watch out for the AA two-step.
12 & 12, pg. 114, pps. 21 & 22 The tough stuff continues, and we feel off the beam. What is the answer? More spiritual development. (Can you believe he‟s still talking about the instincts from Step Four?)
In the 12 & 12, read together. Start with the last line on pg. 115, and read through the first paragraph on pg. 117.
The last pages on Step Twelve in the 12 & 12 go in depth with instinctive drives that can get out of whack. CHECK THEM OUT. Read these more carefully when you have a chance, and see if you can find yourself. You may have a problem in your sober life right now, and the answer could be in black and white on these pages. Don‟t skimp. In this portion of the book, Bill is talking to RECOVERED people. He is reminding us how to maintain the JOY OF LIVING. Yes, he is suggesting you won‟t get that without ACTION as a way of life.
The BIG BOOK has an entire chapter devoted to this step. Why is that?
PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE SHOWS THAT NOTHING WILL SO MUCH INSURE IMMUNITY FROM DRINKING AS INTENSIVE WORK WITH OTHER ALCOHOLICS. BIG BOOK, pg. 89, first sentence.
BIG BOOK, pg. 89, pp. 2: More promises of the program. Read them together.
Take the time to read Working with Others. We‟ve listed the how-to straight out of its pages below. You‟ll be surprised that you don‟t just hand someone a BIG BOOK if they‟re struggling with alcoholism. There is a time for that, but it comes after some other crucial work.
Important points on 12-Stepping:
1. If he does not want to stop drinking, don‟t waste time trying to persuade him;
2. If he wants to stop, have a good talk with the person closest to him to get an idea on his behavior, background, current problems, seriousness of the condition, and his religious leanings;
3. Don‟t deal with him when he is drunk;
4. Wait for the end of his next drinking bout, and ask if he would like to talk to you as you have recovered. Never plead with him, and remind the family not to be over-anxious as this can make him run;
5. Place a Big Book where he can see it, BUT DO NOT GIVE IT TO HIM DIRECTLY;
6. When you get your first chance to talk to him, show up while he‟s still hurting from the last spree, and don‟t talk about his family. Keep it personal;
7. See him alone, if possible;
8. Talk about your own drinking career, and let him talk about his if he is able. DO NOT say anything about how you quit drinking at this point;
9. If he is serious, dwell on the troubles drinking caused you; if his mood is light, tell your funny drunk stories;
10. Once he sees you know all about drinking through this give and take, begin to describe yourself as an alcoholic. Tell him how you struggled until you found out you were sick, not bad;
11. Describe the mental twist that leads to the first drink when you didn‟t want one or had sworn off;
12. Begin to dwell on the hopeless feature of the disease, how you can never predict what will happen when you drink;
13. DO NOT BRAND HIM AS AN ALCOHOLIC. HE MUST COME TO THAT CONCLUSION ON HIS OWN;
14. Continue to talk about alcoholism as an illness, focusing on YOUR experience. Tell him that before you got well, you were doomed;
15. LET HIM ASK YOU HOW YOU GOT WELL. Do not give that information up unless he asks you;
16. Tell him exactly what happened to you. Stress the spiritual feature freely now, because up until this point you have not even mentioned it;
17. Be clear he does not have to agree with your conception of God – but he must be willing to believe in a Power greater than himself and live by spiritual principles;
18. Use regular language to describe principles. Don‟t put him off with terms you learned in church or through coming to your own convictions;
19. If he is religious, let him see you are not there to teach him what he already knows, but that you want to help him to a place where his faith will work, admitting that he may know more than you do about the whole God business. Call his attention to the fact that he couldn‟t have applied this knowledge or he wouldn‟t still be drinking;
20. Outline the program of action and let him know that your attempt to pass this on is vital to your own recovery;
21. Make it clear that he doesn‟t have to see you again if he doesn‟t want to;
22. If he balks at some of the work, don‟t contradict his views. Tell him you once felt that way, but made progress when you did the work;
23. Tell him about the fellowship. If he shows interest, lend him your copy of the BIG BOOK;
24. Don‟t overstay your welcome. Tell him if he wants what you have you‟ll do anything to help him;
25. If he‟s serious, follow up. If not, don‟t push. We have no monopoly of God. If you permit him to “use” you, you will only harm him. Help where you can, but be sure you are doing the right thing by checking with your sponsor or network;
26. If he is not interested in your solution, drop him until he changes his mind. Be friendly, and let it go at that.
BURN THE IDEA INTO THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF EVERY MAN THAT HE CAN GET WELL REGARDLESS OF ANYONE. THE ONLY CONDITION IS THAT HE TRUST IN GOD AND CLEAN HOUSE.
AFTER ALL, OUR PROBLEMS WERE OF OUR OWN MAKING. BOTTLES WERE ONLY A SYMBOL. BESIDES, WE HAVE STOPPED FIGHTING ANYBODY OR ANYTHING. WE HAVE TO!
Thoughts on Step Twelve to encourage discussion:
1) “Carry the message, not the mess.” – g. o. d. (group of drunks) speaks series
What does this mean to you?
2) Did you ever hear the joke about the body? The brain said it was the most important, because thinking controls everything. The kidneys laughed, and claimed they were most important because they eliminate fluids. The heart jumped up and said it was most important because if allows blood to flow. The lungs said they were most important, because without breath the body wouldn‟t live to function. The asshole piped up and claimed to be most important, but before it could get a word out, all the other body parts started laughing and making rude comments. The asshole got angry and decided to shut down. Within two days, the brain was foggy, the kidneys were creating stones, the heart was beating out of sequence, and the lungs were struggling to take in oxygen. They all cried uncle. The moral of the story is you don‟t have to be a brain to be in charge if you‟re an asshole.
Okay, the Program is similar. Every person who comes, comes to, and commits to this way of life has different talents to bring to the mix. Some are great at working with newcomers. Others are genious at understanding spiritual concepts. Still others command an audience when they speak. ALL are important, and all are performing 12 Step work.
What is the talent that you bring to the Program?