Honesty is not a principle we practice for someone elseHonesty is it's own reward. Honesty is the best policy, for us. It is the foundation that change is built on. It is the tool for discovering our nature. The twelve step philosophy operates on the tenet that our actions are the result of our nature. We will want to have a good picture of where this inventory resides. If we can picture our heads as an enormous warehouse it will help. We want to look at what is stored on the shelves of our brains and if its not serving us get rid of it. The shelves are stacked with ideas. The brains warehouse is so vast that to think we'll clean it up in a few days is just not realistic. What we're after are those items that threaten our immediate future. Those ideas that got us to the place we're at now should go, don't you think? These are life threatening and need to be dealt with now. If this wasn't true there would be no pressing need to dive headlong in to this type of rigorous self examination. I have long said in meetings and in talking with individuals that for every addict there is a window of opportunity. It may be that the brain is experiencing a form of shock. Maybe it's exhaustion. Whatever it is no one can say how long it will last. It is within this window we have the opportunity to look at ourselves. The inventory format makes it very simple to locate those things that otherwise would never come into view.
We make lists on paper so we can look at them from a better point of view. This point of view concept will become all important to us as we go along, it will become one of our greatest assets. We write down our resentments. An example of a resentment is:
(1) I hate him because he stole my girlfriendThis looks a little different than the way a fourth step looks in the book. I've always felt that something was missing from the example in the book. This is how I wrote my inventory. It's what worked for me. Pay close attention to item five. Here is the key to discovering the nature of a person who carries this type of resentment. Its not "he" stealing the "girlfriend" that caused the anger. Loosing a girlfriend could result in pain from loss of intimacy, could result in loneliness, maybe an examination of motives and people. Probably result in taking a closer look at oneself. Maybe one would realize that sexual attraction clouds our judgments. A healthy result to this ordeal would be (1) you go through it (2) make adjustments in the romance department (3) do something different next time. This would be the behavior of a person with a realistic image of himself. So we see that the difference in nature is the key. We also start to see how the nature and self image may be synonymous.
(2) it makes me feel rage, shame, sadness and fear
(3) I want to hurt them, some how harm them
(4) I get withdrawn, loud, spiteful, more distrusting of people and life
(5) My self image is at stake. My happiness is threatened. My security is threatened.
Looking at a resentment broken down this way we notice that something is always being threatened. In this case, if not all, its an image. Images are created by people. They are not universally alike. We create them from ideas and we do this, for the most part, unconsciously. This particular image is dependent on other people for its emotional state. This person has an unrealistic self image. Why not say dysfunctional? The description or definition we commonly use for dysfunctional simply looks at functionality from a societal system perspective. In that system, not all unrealistic images are dysfunctional. In fact some of the most unrealistic self images are the best functioning with respect to societal success. But lets stick to how this is unrealistic. Our subject has identified himself as a victim: they make me this way. The problem with this victim idea, which always manifests as self pity, is that it is constructed on the unreal. First it's assumed that it's possible for others to make us feel a certain way, which is a fantasy. Feelings are not caused by "them", they're caused by thoughts. Feelings come from thoughts, thoughts stem from those ideas that run in our brains like automatic guidance systems. In order to change our nature we must understand its cause. This is where the vast amount of people drop out. Another group will mouth acceptance but never deal with the dependency issue. These ones will live in one degree of emotional turmoil or another for the rest of their lives. Riding this emotional roller coaster is very painful. It's also completely unnecessary. This failure to deal with the nature causes "all" relapse. If you have never made an inventory of this type, this is a good place to stop and get a pencil and paper. Doesn't matter what your particular case is. It's beneficial for anyone who breathes air.
Honesty provides the means to see the symptoms of our nature. We start to gain understanding of our nature by looking at the symptoms. Honesty allows us to see them. Honesty allows us to admit to them. More honesty lets us accept responsibility for them. This can be seen as a great unburdening. Unburdening because from now on we don't have to deal with the idea that emotions are coming at us from outside; people, situations, the weather and so on. The principle of honesty is making it possible to get what is most likely our first clear unprejudiced look at ourselves. We only need deal with our brain because that's where all things of this nature come from. Being convinced of this is what's needed to make the rest of the program work. Once accepted the only decision we have to make is, do I like this or not. No longer must we try and adjust the world. "We cease fighting anyone or anything".
The practice for changing is this: whenever I feel an emotion (symptom) arise that is triggered by an outside condition I say, "my brain is thinking". With that small shift in awareness you have identified the source of all your problems: period. You could say, I am experiencing an old idea or my identity is being threatened or any number of things, it all might have a similar effect. I personally like to focus right on the source of the problem. When we do this we are rewiring the brain by replacing one automatic response with another. We are intentionally forming a habit for our own benefit. If this seems like it will never work its a good time to start because that's the kind of thinking that needs to be changed: your brain is thinking.
The next bit of the puzzle is spelled fear and we write this down too. All the things I'm afraid of go down on paper. I look them over in the same way. What is being threatened, my financial state, my relationships or my self esteem? Is it realistic? Is it fun: do I enjoy living with fear? Where does fear come from? Does everybody feel afraid? The answer is that most people do. Read more about honesty & comments
The 12 Steps
* Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable
* Step 2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
* Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
* Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
* Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
* Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
* Step 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
* Step 8 - Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
* Step 9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
* Step 10 - Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
* Step 11 - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out
* Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result
of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs