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  1. Well oficially I am still working step 9 but I am thinking ahead a bit and wondering when I get to step 11 what on earth to do about meditation. What is it? How do you do it without dying of boredom? And most importantly what do you find to meditate about? As you might guess my experiences in the past with this have not been entirely positive. If I am wondering there are a lot of others out there thinking the same so those in the know please share your knowledge. Cara
  2. Step 6/Twelve Steps Each year I like to run through the 12 steps as written in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. These steps were an adaptation of many works before them, and are a universal truth for all people who want to enjoy good mental Hygiene and an abundant life. They have been adopted by some 150 self-help groups, and in the words of my favourite forensic psychologist, are the best basis for mental health around IF worked and lived. I am not a step guru, and like to keep things as simple as possible. Step 6 reads: Were entirely ready to have god remove all these defects of character. On first blush, this appeared to be a no brainer. Upon reflection, there is more to this than at first appeared. By this stage of the journey, I had found a higher power that I could feel and even trust some. I had not had a drink or used in a while, and I had no cravings to do so. This had started to happen when I decided to turn things over. In having god remove all my defects of character, would this not make me perfect? And I always tongue in cheek remember what happened to the only perfect person I had read about. Upon reflection, I realized that there were none of the defects that had been identified that I would mind having removed. I could well live without them. If it were my higher powers will for me, or if I could abdicate from self will, then that would be great. My trust level and faith were at a point I was ready. Nothing in the Step says that my higher power would wave a wand and poof, all defects would be gone. Having things entirely ready is a perfect ideal. From what I had witnessed, it likely would not come to be 100%, but if it did, I was ready. I was one of the fortunate ones. I had no defects I would not be prepared to give up. Some I know have had things they swore they would NEVER give up. Funny, in hanging on to their will so desperately, they never seemed to get the life they truly wanted. Readiness, in practical terms, has come in stages. As the journey progresses and my conscious contact with my higher power continues to deepen and evolve, I become ready for things to change in different ways. It truly is work in progress. In step 6 I was asked to have faith, and be ready for change. A talk with myself in the old tool, the mirror, told me I was ready to have my higher power remove my character defects. My best efforts had at best, limited success. I was ready to change. You cannot do this step without some rudimentary faith in a higher power. -- keithb
  3. NOW IS THE TIME TO EMBRACE CO-CREATIVE RECOVERY After we have worked the 12 steps to the best of our ability, we have started a journey that offers unlimited potential. What we do from here is critical. We have made tremendous change in our life. We have begun the practice of good mental hygiene and are humbly confidant in who we are. We once again care for ourselves, and in doing so, have a far better ability to positively interact with others. We have begun a spiritual life with a higher power we understand, and feel the presence of this higher power on a regular basis. We have started to live a more "balanced" life. We feel daily the benefits of the work that we have done. What now?? It is time to keep working the steps, but, GET A LIFE! Unfortunately, I have seen people get addicted to their 12 Step program. You can have worse addictions, but my higher power gave me a chance to have a full and balanced life through living the 12 Steps, practicing good mental hygiene, and getting the help in needed to have a complete and happy life where I had the ability to live many of my dreams. Balance is the key. Unfortunately, the failure rate of those who attend a 12 Step meeting and/or go through rehab is very (95 %+) high. While I don't have stats, I would bet the success rate is very much better to those who have honestly worked the 12 Steps and live them. They are a real foundation for living. Our improved way of living, when used as a base for holistic living, can give us new opportunities in our financial lives and careers, in all relationships, in bettering our education, in new hobbies, in our spiritual life, you dream it, it can be done! The horizons are without limit if we keep our new foundation solid! It is based on this knowledge that Patrick Meninga started putting together the Creative Theory of Life Recovery (www.spiritualriver.com). Through who knows how, Patrick and I connected, have a common desire to see more people find what we have found, and have evolved a coaching process for clients, the "Co-Creative Process of Life Recovery". It works for those who truly want more out of life, and can be honest. Co-Creative, yes, because it involves more than the client in the process. So there we are, 12 Steps, hopefully kept simple for those who have been following; reviewed for me and my own journey. If we can help you with the STEPS we're here. If we can coach you to new success in YOUR life, please contact through www.creativeliferecovery.com or www.hopeserenity.ca to set up a complimentary getting to know each other session. We guarantee results! -- keithb
  4. Question: what are everyone's experiences here on making amends for things done in childhood. I'm such a perfectionist and in thinking about "all people I have harmed", I remember things from childhood where I just wasn't a particularly nice kid on a particular day. Part of me says - you were a kid - this program is not about going back and somehow making right every little stupid thing you did just because you were a kid, but then another part of me says that "all persons" means "all persons" and if I did something as a kid, as a teenager, whenever, there are no exceptions. Any words of advice??? Thanks!
  5. I wanted to share my first step here as I begin working in earnest on my second step. To summarize my powerlessness over my addiction, I can say that there have been numerous times that I have tried to stop my addictive behaviors and was unable to do so over the last 25 years and more. This has included making vows to God or to my soul which I then found difficult to follow, as well as fasting, praying for long periods, shedding tears in asking God to help me repent, going to numerous 12 Step and therapy groups, marriage counselors, therapists and online recovery groups and websites. And I have had numerous times of embarrassment, conviction that what I was doing was wrong, physical destruction of expensive things like my car and have had numerous headaches so severe following my addictive behavior that I was nauseous. I have still been unable to stop the behavior following any of these things, even though I desperately have tried. I have written notes to myself and have made verbal recordings of myself so that I could read them or play them back during times I was tempted and I pleaded in these journals and recordings to not do this and to try to remember how truly painful the consequences were in hopes that I would read these things or listen to them before I gave in to temptation. These sometimes work for a while, but I have continually found myself going back to old addictive behaviors. I have been powerless in this. Also, this has created numerous problems in my marriage and other relationships. While wanting to have a good marriage, my marriage has been less than satisfying for many, many years. Even though in my sickened mind, there has sometimes been difficulty in correlating my addictive behaviors to problems in my marriage relationship (part of my denial process, no doubt), when I look at the big picture over many years I can more easily see that the times that I was staying away from porn were the times that I had a better relationship with my wife and others. The times that I was falling to porn were the times that I was experiencing difficulties with my wife and others. Yes, there is a very strong correlation there even though it is often difficult for me to see. As for the unmanageability in my life, my belief is that there is some relativity in this definition, based on how I choose to define 'manageability'. In fact, I am still struggling with what a good definition for manageability is in my life. At one time, to me manageability meant an ability to do well in college so that I got good grades. At another point it meant that I did not get a divorce from my wife. Now by manageability I mean to have a good ongoing balance in my life and keep from my addictive behaviors over time. By that definition, my life is still unmanageable, although some things have become more manageable over time. So in summary I can say that over the last 25+ years at numerous times and in numerous ways it has been proven that I am powerless over my addiction to pornography and sexual impurity. It has left my life unmanageable, often times void of the will, desire or ability to manage my life with any sense of true fulfillment or satisfaction and often times bringing despair, frustration, losses of money, time, and relationships and physical and emotional pain and the inability to fulfill my true, God-given potential. I could say that it could have been worse and no doubt it could have been worse. I could be dying or dead from AIDS or something similar. And I am thankful to God that I was protected from that. However, it is still very true in my life that I have lost much due to my involvement with porn and sexual impurity and that, even knowing that what I was doing was destructive to my health, finances, relationships and sense of well-being, that I continued in the behavior in spite of that. I have become powerless over this and I need help.
  6. I am sharing these steps in a public way for the sake of my own recovery and also for the possibility that this sharing might help others in their working of their 12 step program. Step 3 as I understand it in my readings of the 12 step program is a step of conversion or at least major repentance (in the case of the Christian religion). In the original 12 steps of A.A., it seems to be the step where one turns over their life to the Higher Power that they have found that they believe could lead them out of the insanity of their addictive behaviors. So how do I apply this step in my life? My addictive behaviors have been in terms of pornography. I have gone through the first 2 steps, realizing how destructive these behaviors have been and that I have been powerless over them so many times in my life. I have realized in step 2 that through applying the principles that I called HEHA (realizing the wickedness in my Heart, the need for a safe and locked down Environment, the need for good Habits and for Accountability) my Higher Power can work in my life to allow me to manage these behaviors in a sane manner. So now I come to step 3 and ask myself what should I do? I have had a belief in a given Higher Power for many, many years. His name is Christ Jesus. Although I have been hypocritical in my walk with Him (because pornography is not consistent with a true Christian walk), it is also true that I have always returned to Him after any addictive behavior. Therefore, for me there is not a need of conversion, but only a need for further and further refinement of my walk with Christ and how to be faithful on a day to day basis. The second step was such a refinement for me - a major refinement I might add. These principles of HEHA are proving to be effective in my life, but my final commitment is not to these principles but to my God. These principles are only useful as long as they allow me to walk faithfully with my God through Christ Jesus. So as far as I can tell, there is really not much more for me to do as I work my third step. I have in one sense worked this step over and over in my life each time that I got on my knees and repented of involvement with pornography and lust towards women. So for me I believe that just to re-affirm that commitment and that repentance is enough to satisfy the 3rd step of my 12 step program for porn and lust. I wanted to share this insight in case others may be in a similar situation and wonder how they might work the 3rd step. This is how it seems to work for me so far. I am hoping that as I work through step 4 and subsequent steps that the convictions and directions will be even stronger, deeper and more satisfying. -- byGrace
  7. This is just a note on those posts in the steps part of the forum that have the myrecoveryspace tag, like the tag on this post. The posts with the myrecoveryspace tag in the forums for steps 1...12 have been copied into this forum from a previous forum that we ran on the myRECOVERYspace.com site a few years ago. That was a social networking site for those in recovery, but has since been closed. These posts are where people shared about how they worked the steps and so we transferred them here because they are still relevant (the timelessness of the program, in one sense) and hopefully helpful. However, these posters are no longer active on this forum (unless they want to re-register - let us know and we will accommodate you!), but if you are a member of this forum you are of course free to add your own thoughts and reflections on these posts since they could be of use to others as well. You should not expect any replies from the original posters, though, in most if not all cases.
  8. Hello All... I am sober/clean for 2 years and 4 months. What i struggle with MOST is the 10th and 11th steps. Mostly laziness is my problem. If anyone else feels this way...I thought perhaps we could "Band Together" in order to MOTIVATE one another. Thanks everyone--- And I hope you all have a good day. -Melissa, alcoholic
  9. I seem to have spent a long time making lists on step 8. But the hardest thing has been in making the transition between thinking about it and actually doing something. A lot of the time it was diffficult to even figure out how I might have hurt anyone but having to go back to the scene of the crime is very scary for me. If I make a mistake I usually close the door and walk away for ever. The idea of trying to mend the tear is so foreign I find it hard to comprehend. As Yoda might say 'Much fear there is in me' and that makes me much more susceptable to the 'dark side'. I know there is a lot of knowledge and experience on this site and I would like to tap into that, this is my hardest step to date. So please help!
  10. Hey everyone. Betsy here, alcoholic. Right now I'm working up to making amends with my husband. This is so hard for me. I've been completely blocked on this -- I'm really, really reluctant to take responsibility for the problems in our relationship. Our marriage isn't super-strong right now, although I continue to grow as an individual. I'm trying to decide whether to go or stay, but can do neither before making amends to him. Until I do, I'm just in orbit. Anyway, I just needed to spill this. It's weighing on me. I think I'll have to do this amends in pieces -- the first piece in the next few days. But I owe it to him and myself to get it done. thanks for reading B
  11. Well, by the grace of God I believe that I have finally gotten through steps 6 and 7. It has been a long road. My addiction of choice is pornography. I have previously gone through the first three steps and chronicled them here in these forums and I wanted to continue in case anyone else might be able to benefit from them. Also, it makes it more real to me. From what I can tell, the 6th and 7th steps go hand in hand. Step 6 is saying that I am ready to give up my character defects and step 7 is finally giving them up. So one of the difficult parts was to determine what my character defects were that allowed me to fall into my addictive behaviors. I think (and have read others say as well) that this is pretty individual. A character defect for me might be a character strength for someone else. It all seems to be in getting the balance right. Someone may not be assertive enough, or they may be too assertive to the point of being aggressive. They would need to find the right balance I think. In my case, I pared my character defects down to 6 important ones that I need to work on in a very conscious way. So that I can remember them, I put them into an acronym that I hopefully can remember. The acronym is L A V R N F. I will go over each one of them. L - Love of God. I have found that God is different from me (DUH). OK, but it is so easy to make God in my image, thinking that my Higher Power will bless me for staying just as I am. But God seems to be subtle and interested in my growing in goodness and patience and things like that rather than things that may just feel good to me. So I need to learn to love the things of God, and love God rather than always enjoying things that may seem just pleasant and easy to me. There is not always a conflict in this - but when there is I need to be careful to defer to God's ways before my own ways. Otherwise, going my own way above that tiny whisper that I hear from God may be the first step down the path of destruction. A - Arrogance. That is a character defect that comes up from time to time when I think that I am better than others because of anything I did or have. I may be smarter than some other people at times, may have more success in some areas than others at times, may have a "better life" than others in some way. In the past, those things easily led to a (sometimes subtle) feeling of superiority. I need to understand deeply that those things, as long as they are true, are just blessings from God and something that I need to be thankful for. And indeed, they are responsibilities that tell me that I need to use them to bless others in a way of humility - not arrogance. V - Vigilant - For me in this American society that I live in this is especially crucial. Sex sells, and it is used all the time to sell one thing or another. Marketers use it, people use it, web sites use it, movies use it, it is everywhere. And since I am very susceptible to be drawn down the wrong path when I have some sexual stimulation, then I need to be especially vigilant with myself to not start down that path. I need to be careful about where I go, where I look, what I look at, what I think about, how I think. I need to maintain vigilance with my thoughts and perceptions so that my mind can stay free to wander among the things that are truly satisfying in my relationships, my work, my play and my worship. R - keep it REAL - for me, again, it is easy to want to live in a fantasy. It is easy to think things are easier or harder than they really are, that life is way better or way worse than it is, that people are way worse or better than they are. I need to do my best to keep things real in my life, to make sure that I am realistic about expectations for myself and others and life. Then I can enjoy life "on life's terms", as the recovery saying goes. N - Nurture - I need to learn how and to give myself space to nurture myself when I need to. I need to understand that my recovery is more important than what people think of me at work or even in my marriage or family or friends. If I am especially weak or vulnerable, I need to take time out to nurture myself and see what is going on inside. I need to trust that my Higher Power, my God, will take care of what needs to be taken care of in my other situations and by my taking time out for what really matters, then in the long run things will turn out better. F - Forgiveness - This is important. I need to forgive others in how they have hurt me and wronged me in the past. And I need to forgive people on a day to day basis. Just because I have made progress in recovery doesn't mean that now everyone will treat me fairly or will give up their own addictive or dysfunctional behaviors. I need to be real about relationships (R above) and in the same vein I need to realize their weaknesses, manage them as much as possible for their good and my good and also forgive others in my life when they lie, cheat or in some way wrong me. So those are the character traits that I think that are critical for me to work on going forward. After going through the 4th and 5th steps with my counselor/therapist, these are the ones that seemed to stand out as needing the most work. I shared this with my counselor and he concurred about this. So I have prayed the 7th step prayer, asking God to help me to continually work on these traits, taking away what should be taken away and adding what should be added. I go forward trusting that my Higher Power will bring this growth about in my life more and more over time. And for that I am thankful. I hope this might help someone else in working their program. Please leave a comment below if you have any feedback.
  12. wELL I MUST SAY I AM FULL OF LIFE TODAY. LAST NIGHT MY SPONSOR CAME OVER AND WE DID A 5TH STEP AND THEN WENT TO A MEETING AT A REHAB, WHERE I WAS ABLE TO SHARE SOME HOPE WITH A FEW OF THE GIRLS THERE. THEN WE ALL WENT TO GET COFFEE AND FELLOWSHIP AND HOW GREAT IS THIS, WHILE WE WERE THERE A YOUNG GIRL CAME IN DUNKIN DONUTS AND AFTER TALKIN TO HER FOR A FEW MINUTES SHE WAS READY TO GO AWAY AND DECIDED TO GO TO DETOX, AND A FRIEND OF MINE DROVE HERE THERE. IT WAS SUCH AN AWESOME NIGHT I MUST OF PRAYED LAST NIGHT FOR LITTERALLY 2 HOURS. I LOVE FEELING HAPPY , JOYIOUS AND FREE NOW I KNOW WHY I CAME BACK TO AA GOD BLESS
  13. Cool 2 unapproved 4th steps for historical Unpublished NA Fourth Step Guides This is NOT NA Conference-approved literatrue This edition distributed by www.stepstudy.org Unpublished NA Fourth Step Guides In this document, we offer two unpublished NA Fourth Step guides. These guides come from early drafts of the Basic Text and It Works: How and Why. Because much of the material in these drafts did not make the final cut, these are not NA conference-approved Fourth Step guides. However, these guides are still valuable for the insight they provide into an early method of writing Fourth Step inventory that has been largely lost in modern NA. With the publication of the official Narcotics Anonymous Step Working Guides, most NA members who do work Steps, work them based on the official guides, and the earlier ways have been forgotten. The Fouth Step guides presented here allow us to take a step back to the spiritual roots of our program. By taking guidance from an early tradition within the fellowship and adopting its style of fearless self-examination, we may find a new way of relating to the Spirit of recovery and to our program as a whole. Blessings on those who apply these principles in all of their affairs. From the Santa Monica version of the Basic Text STEP FOUR WE MADE A SEARCHING AND FEARLESS MORAL INVENTORY OF OURSELVES. Step Four helps us see exactly what our problems are and shows us our strengths. Let's face it. When we were using, we weren't very honest with ourselves. We are finally beginning to become honest when we admit our addiction has whipped us and that we need help. For some of us it took a long time to admit we were beaten. We found that we do not recover- physically, mentally, or emotionally--overnight. Step Four is going to help us toward recovery more than we can imagine. Some people make the mistake of approaching the Fourth Step as if it were a confession of how horrible they are-what a bad person they had been. This is not the purpose of this step. We are trying to free ourselves of living in old, useless patterns. We take the Fourth Step to gain the necessary strength and insight to enable us to grow in this new way of life. A binge of emotional sorrow over real or imagined wrongs will not help us. In fact, it can be quite harmful. Our purpose is to be rid of guilt-not wallow in it! We must be done with the past, not cling to it. We want to look our past in the face and see it for what it really was and then to release it so that we can live today. The past, for most of us, has been a ghost in the closet. We have been afraid to open that closet for fear of what that ghost may do to us. We don't have to do this alone. Our will and our life is now in the hands of the source of all strength-we tap into the Source! Writing a thorough and honest inventory looked impossible to most of us. It was-as long as we were operating under our own power. We take a few quiet moments before writing and pray for the power to carry it out. We may approach the Fourth Step in a number of ways. It is advisable that before we start, we go over the first three Steps with our sponsor. We get comfortable with our understanding of these steps. We allow ourselves the privilege of feeling good about what we are doing. We have been thrashing about for a long time and have gotten nowhere. Now, we are going to take it easy and not let things frighten us. We don't write the inventory with any particular person in mind. If we do that, we may wind up slanting what we write in order to please them. Only time will tell, and the Fifth Step will take care of itself. We stay here in the Now-- we are on step Four. We cannot work Step Five until we have completed step Four. With pen and paper, we begin our moral inventory. If the word "moral" bothers us, we call it a positive/negative inventory, or a good/bad inventory. The way to write an inventory is to write it! Thinking about it, theorizing about it, talking about it will not get it written. We sit down with a notebook, pray, pick our pen and start writing. All we seek to do is find out which things about us need changing. If we were grocers we would not hesitate to separate the rotten fruit from the good and throw out the rotten. It is important to remember where we came from so that we don't return. We had to go through what we did to get to where we are now. A basic rule of thumb is that we can write too little, but we can never write too much. The inventory will fit the individual, so we simply write until the brain is emptied. Anything we think about is possibly inventory material. We realize how little we have to lose and how much we have to gain. We plunge into this step with no reservations. We sit down with paper and pen and pray for God's help in revealing the defects that are causing pain and suffering. We pray for courage to be fearless and thorough so that this inventory may help us put our lives in order. When we pray and take action it always goes better for us. INVENTORY TOPICS: 1. Resentments write about all people, places, things, institutions, ideas, or principles that we resent, or feel threatened by-past and present. Make a list of all these things first, then write about each, telling: A) What Happened? (Be specific!) B) How did it make us feel? (Examples: Was my pride or self respect hurt? Were our ambitions or security threatened in any way? Was our livelihood endangered? Was a personal or sexual relationship hurt or threatened? ) Do this for each item, leaving some space after each After you've done this with everything on your list, then go back and answer: C) Where was I at fault? Where was I selfish, dishonest, self-seeking or frightened? Though I might not have been all wrong, in what way was I to blame for the situation? Answer these questions for each item-be honest and thorough! 2. Fear: Write about your fears, even though they might not have any relation to your resentments. Answer these questions about each: Why do I have this fear? Am I afraid because I cannot depend on myself? 3. Sex: Write about your experience or problems with sex, whether deep relationships, short affairs, or individual problems that seemed to have nothing to do with others. (Be specific!) Then answer these questions about each item: Where have I been selfish ? Where have I been dishonest? Where have I been inconsiderate? Whom did I hurt? Did I create jealousy or suspicion or cause bitterness? Was the relationship a selfish one? Where was I at fault? What might I have done instead? 4. Miscellaneous: Basically, any negative thoughts or feelings you may have should appear somewhere in your inventory. If you have anything left over after writing about resentments fears, and sex, here is the place to put it. Any guilt, shame, regret, embarrassment, etc. that you've not already written about. When we were active in our addiction we lived under a regime of fear. In attaining our new life, we want to be free of unreasonable fear. A lot of times we try to look good in front of other people, but deep down inside we are often afraid of who we are and where we came from. We write down our fears, our resentments and our guilts. We examine in depth our relationships with people, places and situations asking ourselves what we have demanded of these relationships. Often the answers will show that we are placing unreasonable demands on reality. We often find we are demanding that other people stop being who they are. Most of us find we were neither so terrible nor so wonderful as we supposed. We are surprised to find that we have many good points in our inventory. Anyone who has some time in the program and who has worked these steps will tell us that the Fourth Step was a turning point in our lives. Ultimately we find out that we are just human, with the same fears, longings and troubles as everyone else. One of the greatest benefits of the NA program is discovering that we need never be alone again. Others have felt as we feel. Others have failed where we failed. They are here now in the strength of the fellowship, ready and eager to help us. This Fourth Step can be a wonderful adventure, reviewing our past performance and our present behavior to see what we want to keep and what we want to be rid of. This Step has the reputation of being difficult. In reality, it's quite simple. As recovering addicts, we now have the right to reach for levels of greater comfort and we can reach them by getting a handle on what we've been doing wrong. If we want to feel good, we have to stop doing the things that make us feel bad. We are not going to be perfect. If we were perfect, we would not be human. The important thing is that we do our best. We use the tools available to us, and because we do not want to lose any of what we have gained, we want to continue in the program. It is our experience that no matter how searching and thorough, no inventory is of any lasting effect unless it is promptly followed by an equally thorough Fifth Step. From the Chicagoland Draft of It Works STEP FOUR "We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." The Fourth Step is an action step; it is a cleansing of the mind and spirit. The decision we made in Step Three is an important one, but it will have no lasting effect unless it is accompanied by an honest appraisal of our innermost faults and defects. Making our moral inventory, we learn about the true nature of our addiction. Using drugs was only a symptom of our disease. In Step Four, we look at the things which prevented us from being happy. We do this by taking an inventory of ourselves. This personal inventory is similar to the one businesses take. It is to see which items are useful and which are obsolete, what works and what doesn't, and what can be done to improve the quality of our lives. Step Four was a step to freedom. It was here that we began to take a look at ourselves. We did this in order to identify our liabilities, defects of character, and assets. All the reasons we thought we had to use needed to be put behind us. We had hesitated looking at the things we had been trying to run away from all our lives. We got to the point where we wanted to see ourselves and get comfortable. We wanted to know who we were. What kind of person were we? Arrogance and fear have caused us to rationalize every possible form of destructive behavior and thought. Our problem is not only the behavior, but also the rationalization. Without taking personal inventory, we go on doing what we have always done. We need to bring our patterns of behavior out into the open so that we can examine them. We need to look at ourselves and our behavior to see what is unproductive and blocks our recovery. Before actually writing Step Four, we need first to keep in mind that by having done the three steps, that we have come to believe in a God of our understanding who can give us the strength to do a fearless moral inventory. We work closely with a sponsor while writing our inventory. Once we are ready to begin, we ask that the God of our understanding will give us the, honesty, strength and willingness to complete Step Four. We need not be apprehensive when we begin this step, as it clearly offers relief from the years of unresolved guilt experienced by many addicts. Too often we approach this step with such low self esteem that we thought ourselves incapable of doing an inventory. The job may look too big for us, which in fact it is. We realize that this is not a step we can complete on our own. Now that we have become willing to practice the first three steps of Narcotics Anonymous, we exercise all our new faith in a Power Greater than ourselves. This indeed will give us more than enough strength to take inventory of our lives. Our new-found faith will remove the fear we lived with for so long and give us the courage to explore thoroughly the nature of our defects and the behavior that resulted from them which were established during our active addiction and carried into our early recovery. When we are ready to begin, we asked for guidance and start writing. It is extremely important that we work closely with a sponsor. A sponsor, or friend whom we trust in the Fellowship, can share their experience with us as we reach this step. We often feel comforted by our sponsor's identifying our defects in the items we put on paper which caused so much grief in our lives. If we face our fears to begin a thorough inventory, we can begin by listing our fears and the reasons for them. It is important to remember that a God of our understanding is with us as we write our inventory. If the God of our understanding protected us through our insanity during active addiction which we are now writing about; there is nothing to fear in putting it on paper. We do Step Four as if there were no Step Five. We begin to see the greater freedom that lies ahead. Many of us found our first Fourth Step was the hardest one to do. We made countless false starts, or we filled up countless pages with writing that had nothing to do with this step. We read all we could find on doing the Fourth Step and talked to everyone who said anything about their Fourth Step at meetings. We were just putting off getting started. We really had to tell our whole story. We found it was very important to get all that down. We had to be searching and fearless, looking carefully at ourselves. Our sponsors told us that we needed to write (in some way record) our Fourth Step. Just thinking about it was not enough. We found that we needed to write a lot. Some addicts try to cut corners by making a simple self-examination. Some may try to talk out problems with another person, rather than writing a complete inventory. These avoidance methods may bring temporary relief from pressing problems, but these solutions are inadequate. Our experience has shown that a written inventory is the best assurance of self-honesty. Writing about our fears, resentments, character defects and assets gives us a perspective we can gain in no other way. It is difficult to deny justify or rationalize our behavior when it is written on the page. If we lie on paper, we recognize it and work towards deeper honesty. These are some of the immediate advantages of a written inventory. In taking our inventory we take a good long look at what has occurred in our lives. We feel that fear, in its numerous forms, is what crippled us. Since it is difficult to understand the cause of our fear when we are experiencing this fear, we concentrate on the various forms it takes. It makes no difference at this point in our recovery how small our problems seem to be or how often we have thought or talked about them. At this point, it is important to emphasize that being thorough is not the same as being perfect. The best way most of us found to start our Fourth Step was to pray and ask God to help us. As we wrote our inventory, our Higher Power was usually the only one in the room with us. We wrote in confidence and privacy. Since God helped us through the madness we were now writing about, we didn't have to be afraid of putting it down on paper. Nothing that we wrote on that paper hurt us. It was all a benefit to us. There was something revealed we needed to see, something that avowed us to grow and be free. We soon realized that greater freedom lay ahead for us as we got more honest in our Fourth Step inventory. We really had to tell our whole story. We found it was very important to get all that down. We had to be searching and fearless, looking carefully at ourselves. Our sponsors told us that we needed to write in some way record our Fourth Step. Just thinking about it was not enough. We found that we needed to write a lot. Some addicts try to cut corners by making a simple self-examination. Some may try to talk out problems with another person, rather than writing a complete inventory. These avoidance methods may bring temporary relief from pressing problems, but these solutions are inadequate. Our experience has shown that a written inventory is the best assurance of self-honesty. Writing about our fears, resentments, character defects and assets gives us a perspective we can gain in no other way. It is difficult to deny justify or rationalize our behavior when it is written on the page. If we lie on paper, we recognize it and work towards deeper honesty. These are some of the immediate advantages of a written inventory In taking our inventory we take a good long look at what has occurred in our lives. We feel that fear, in its numerous forms, is what crippled us. Since it is difficult to understand the cause of our fear when we are experiencing this fear, we concentrate on the various forms it takes. It makes no difference at this point in our recovery how small our problems seem to be or how often we have thought or talked about them. At this point, it is important to emphasize that being thorough is not the same as being perfect. The best way most of us found to start our Fourth Step was to pray and ask God to help us. As we wrote our inventory, our Higher Power was usually the only one in the room with us. We wrote in confidence and privacy. Since God helped us through the madness we were now writing about, we didn't have to be afraid of putting it down on paper. Nothing that we wrote on that paper hurt us. It was all a benefit to us. There was something revealed we needed to see, something that allowed us to grow and be free. We soon realized that greater freedom lay ahead for us as we got more honest in our Fourth Step inventory. Once we had gone through all our turmoil about what a moral inventory was, we were faced with the problem of starting to write. We did lots of procrastinating here, too. We would sit down to write and we would forget a pencil. We would get a pencil and find we had the wrong paper. We would get the pencil and paper together and then we would have to get our coffee. There was so much pain and guilt that would be coming out and we knew it. So there was almost no end to our procrastination. The more we revealed, the better it was. It was important to put everything down that gave an accurate picture of us. This was the first time we had to really face ourselves and what we had done to others. A lot of us got concerned with the format. We found that that didn't matter. What mattered was that we needed to be as honest as we could be. We found we had to stop and search to get down to how we really felt. How did we know when we were through writing? They told us we would know when we were done. That seemed pretty strange to us at the time. Then we found through our own experience it was true. We just had to get our story down so we could see a true picture of ourselves. We finally saw we had played a part in the things that had happened to us. People were abusive to us but we often gave them good cause or permission to act that way. We manipulated people and then were surprised when they didn't do everything the way we wanted them to. We needed to have a turning point in our lives. We needed to be able to look at the past, accept it for what it was, and let it go. What happened, happened. If we didn't do that, our past kept hurting us. A lot of old feelings influenced how we lived in our today's. So getting our past out in the open and accepting it clearly could set us free. It would let us start on new, clean ground. One of the mast painful things about that first inventory was confronting all the lies that we had been telling our whole lives. It was so hard to sit down and finally tell the truth. We finally got away from all the terrible things we thought had happened to us. We saw we had manufactured a lot of that. Those were our reactions. It was our disappointments at being let down because we didn't get what we wanted. Seeing that clearly was the whole point of the Fourth Step for many of us. What is a moral inventory? In a moral inventory, our goal is to get an accurate picture of ourselves. What happened with us? What are we like today? Our sponsors shared with us that in order to get a true picture of ourselves, we had to take a look at every area of our lives. We had to look at sex. We had to write about relationships. We had to look at crime and things we hurt people with. We had to write about our inadequacies, our insecurities. What kind of moral person were we? Were we giving persons? Or, were we takers? Were we loving persons? Or, did we have a lot of hate in us? As we began to write down the answers to these questions, we began to get a good picture of the kind of person we were morally. We saw there were a lot of things wrong with us. Many of us couldn't give. We couldn't share. We didn't know much about how to love. Any method we use will be effective if we are searching and fearless. The outline below suggests a structure for examining ourselves. It contains the basic elements which comprise our self-appraisal. This is where we identify and examine our feelings. We refer to the Basic Text and jot down words which trigger an awareness of our feelings. Writing serves as a means for drawing a picture of our feelings. I. REVIEW YOUR FIRST THREE STEPS: Review your first Three Steps with a sponsor. II. WRITE ABOUT YOUR RESENTMENTS. Our resentments caused us discomfort, putting us in a negative flame of mind which tended to breed further resentments. We were angry about what happened and kept a mental grudge list. We regretted the clever things we had not said. We planned retaliations for things that may or may not have happened. We were obsessed with the past and future, and therefore cheated ourselves of the present, We need to write about these resentments now to see the part we played in forming them. A. LIST THE PEOPLE, PRINCIPLES, AND INSTITUTIONS YOU RESENT. Most of us started with our childhood, but any order will work as long as it is complete. We included all the people (parents, mates, friends, enemies, etc.), the organizations (jails, police, hospitals, schools, etc.), and the concepts (religions, politics, prejudice, social groups, etc.) at whom we were angry. B. LIST THE CAUSES OF EACH RESENTMENT. We explained the reasons for our anger. Was our self-respect or pride hurt? Was our safety threatened in any way? Was our livelihood attacked? Was a personal or sexual relationship hurt or threatened? We listed whomever or whatever we resented, the cause of the resentment, and -how it affected us. C. WITH EACH RESENTMENT, TRY TO SEE WHERE YOU WERE MISTAKEN AND WHAT YOU COULD HAVE DONE INSTEAD. Try to forget about the other people's mistakes, and concentrate on your own. For each situation, we answered these questions: Where have I been selfish? Where have I not been completely honest? Was I thanking only of myself, manipulating toward my own ends? Was I afraid? What part did I play in the situation, in what way was I to blame for the situation? We write our personal inventory, not the other people's. We make a list of our faults, not theirs. We realized ourselves are not perfect. Where others have wronged us, we must realize that we need to stop expecting perfection from them. This allows us an opportunity to look at ourselves which is critical to our recovery. III. WRITE ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIPS. We list the many ways in which each of us has been intolerant. At times, we probably refused to allow others the privilege of voicing or even having an opinion, and this attitude caused indifference or hostility. We had a need, generated by pride and fear, to "always be right". We were unnecessarily critical of others; yet when constructive criticism was directed towards us, we were less than receptive. Every suggestion was met with either irritation or despair. Did we listen only to ourselves? When were we intolerant of others? When did we feel superior to others and correct them? A. LOOK AT EACH PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP. Examine the positive and negative aspects of each one, being honest about your assets and liabilities. Avoid spending time on the wrongs others have done. We focus on our mistakes, and concern ourselves with areas where self-centeredness seemed to prevail. We must look within and honestly appraise our motives. This is our inventory and if it is to succeed, we need to list our faults, not those of others. Self-pity is one of the ways we manipulated others for our benefit. Indulging in self-pity is asking others to change or to bow to our demands; it is looking for a way to avoid responsibility. We ask ourselves these questions: When did we use self-pity to get attention? Did we lie or "stretch the truth" to make ourselves loot more pathetic? Did we make others feel guilty by feeling sorry for ourselves? Did we bill ourselves as victims of life and everyone around us? This list may include but does not have to be limited to: family, friends, lovers, workmates, God, self and other members of the N. A. Fellowship. Everyone feels down at times, but addicts can not afford to feel sorry for themselves. When we didn't get what we wanted, did we choose to pout or complain? Were we so consumed with self-pity and our own suffering that we had very little perspective or understanding of others? Did we exaggerate our problems? Could we feel any concern for others when so consumed with self? Were others frustrated by our negativity? As addicts, our emotions often run to extremes-past the point of what is appropriate. We must now find a way to change our actions or be driven back to active addiction. B. WRITE ABOUT YOUR SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS. This may include deep relationships or short affairs, spouses, lovers or others. We all have sexual needs and desires. Our sexual needs are natural. We answered these questions about each relationship: Did I manipulate and lie to others to meet my own needs? Did I care about the other person? How did I demonstrate that? Did I feel better or less than my partner? Did I sell myself short? Did I end up feeling worthless, used and abused? Did I think that only sex would make me happy and fulfilled? Did my relationships end in pain and unhappiness both for myself and others? As with everything else, we need to ask direction from a Power greater than ourselves. With this in mind, sexual relationships can be a fulfilling and joyful experience. IV. WRITE ABOUT YOUR FEARS. We answered these questions about our fears: Why do I have this fear? Am I afraid because I trust upon myself? Am I afraid of fear itself? Self-sufficiency may seem to be a good lifestyle, until we meet barriers greater than ourselves. Some of us were very confident and self-assured, especially when we were using. But it never conquered our fears, or any other problem. At best it hid them, sometimes so deeply that we did insane things without really knowing why. We begin to see that our fear originates within us, and we are responsible for its numerous forms. There is a better way. We are now on a completely different foundation: Instead of being self-reliant, we are God-reliant. Instead of depending on self, which is limited, we trust in a Power greater than ourselves, which is limitless. We need to examine ourselves in close detail in order to modify those attitudes which have not worked for us, for our peace of mind. We are trying to build a happy life in recovery, and Step Four is our first clear-cut attempt at that. A part of Step Four is looking at our fears. We test them and find them to be unreasonable. Some of our fears include: Fear of rejection, abandonment, responsibility, commitment, growing up, success, failure, life without drugs. If we have looked closely, we have found that we are afraid of almost everything. Our fears have kept us from doing the things we want to do and becoming the people we want to be. If we are as honest as we can be, many of our previous fears will be cast aside once and for all. Our liabilities may destroy us if we have a lack of faith in the God of our understanding. With a loving God's help, we are guided through our confusion. What are-the results that come from making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves? Our Basic Text says: Anyone who has some time in the program and has worked this step will tell you that the Fourth Step was a turning point in their life. The results of living the Fourth Step are freedom from the past, freedom to be ourselves, and knowledge of who and what we really are. If we have written a thorough inventory, we end up with a large amount of information about ourselves. We have carefully examined our resentments and begin to understand how worthless and deadly they really are. We realize their power to destroy us, and now seek a better way to live. We grow toward freedom, peace of mind and balance. Throughout these pages we have learned that God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. By taking the remaining steps, we will begin to realize that through God and our own efforts, we can remove the various forms of self-centeredness that have kept us from a greater spiritual awareness. If we have sincerely taken the first three steps and followed through with a searching and fearless moral inventory, we become aware of some strong realities about ourselves and are ready to move on. We do a Fifth Step right away while the inventory is still fresh. Those of us who took this approach to the Fourth Step saw that it wasn't our needs that got us into trouble. It was the ways we were going about meeting those needs. If we needed approval and the way we tried to meet that need was by bullying people and monopolizing conversations trying to be the life of the party, that defeated the purpose. If we wanted financial security and we were running up a bunch of bills we couldn't pay, then that need wasn't going to be met. A few of us worked this step from a somewhat different perspective than most. Some of us looked at our lives and what it was we wanted from them. We saw we all had needs that, for the most part, we deserved to have met. All of us had needs for love and affection and approval and productive work. All of us had certain basic financial necessities. As we watched other people do their Fourth Steps, we came to see that there were different approaches to this step that worked. Each of us had to find a way to work the step that gave us a true picture of ourselves. Our sponsors were usually able to provide the guidance we needed. If we wanted to feel comfortable with ourselves yet we were jumping into bed with anyone who asked.
  14. Not everyone here is recovering from a chemical dependency of some type. Some of us have slightly different needs when approaching Step 4, so I figured why not post the more general questionnaires that gear more toward codependency and emotional healing found in this amazing workbook I've been using: The Twelve Steps - A Spiritual Journey A Working Guide for Healing Note: the following is from the "Step Four" chapter, p. 81-95 If you're one of those having trouble finding resources for Step Four questionaires that isn't dedicated to alcoholism or drugs of some type, then this is especially for you. However, this can be used by everybody seeking to heal some emotional wounds. Have a happy recovery! -- disgruntledgurl
  15. I'm not sure how to do this 4th step, I haven't really ever hidden things from people or God, I've never stolen to support my habit, I've just never really been the type of person to keep secrets. I didn't have a bad childhood. I need someone to tell me just exactly what I'm supposed to include in this step so that I can get this done. I'm at a loss here! Any help would be appreciated. -- stacy_tillet
  16. I need help working Step 4.. How do I accomplish this step... Help... I need help working the steps in general... victoria
  17. AN APPROACH TO THE FOURTH STEP INVENTORY The purpose of a searching and fearless moral inventory is to sort through the confusion and the contradiction of our lives so that we can find out who we really are. We are starting a new way of life and need to be rid of the burdens and traps which have controlled us and prevented growth. As we approach this step, most of us are afraid that there's a monster inside of us that, if released, will destroy us. This fear can cause us to put off our inventory or may even prevent us from taking this crucial step at all. We need to remember that fear is lack of faith; and now that we have found a loving, personal god to turn to we no longer need to be afraid. We have been experts at self-deception and rationalization; by writing our inventory we can overcome these obstacles. A thorough written inventory will unlock parts of our subconscious which remain hidden when we simply think about or talk about who we are. Once it's all down on paper it's much easier to see, and much harder to deny our true nature. Self-honesty is one of the keys to our new way of life. The only way to get clean is to stop using and the only way to take an inventory is to sit down and do it. Many specific inventory methods have been used successfully by our members. This inventory method has worked for some of us and can work for you if you'll follow through. Remember, you cannot write a bad inventory - only a better one, and you can write too little - but never too much. INSTRUCTIONS 1. You will need a pad of lined paper or a theme book, a pen, and a good dictionary. 2. Sit at a table or desk to write, make sure you have plenty of room and that you will not be unnecessarily interrupted. 3. In going through this guide look up the definition of any words that you do not know the meaning of. 4. When you are actually writing, leave a wide margin so that you can add or comment later. 5. Try to write down what comes to you first and don't edit your inventory. 6. Don't worry about spelling or neatness; your inventory should be readable but it doesn't have to be a work of art. 7. Do not erase or obliterate anything you write. Strike out "wrong" words or errors with a single line that can be read through. 8. If something "pops" into your head when you are working on something else write it down or make a note on a separate sheet so that you can return to it later. Then get back to what you were doing before. 9. You are writing your inventory for you. At this point the fifth step does not exist. Write down everything, even the things that you are unwilling to share. You can always take out something later, but by writing it down at least you will have a chance to see it more clearly. 10. Write until you have nothing left to write. Your inventory will probably take more than one sitting to write. Try to stop at the end of a section and start again as soon as possible. I. Begin your inventory by taking the first three steps in writing: what do they mean to you and how do you work them. a. Admit your powerlessness in writing and discuss how your life is unmanageable. b. Write about the "Power greater than yourself" that you have come to believe in, and what you hope this power can do for you. c. Write about your decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of God, and make this commitment in writing. II. RESENTMENT is the way most of us have reacted to the past. It is the reliving of past experiences again and again in our lives. The more often you have relived an event or gotten into "should have" and "if only" then the more significant that event probably is. a. Write about each incident in your life which you have had to relive in your mind at some later date. This includes both "good" and "bad" experiences. b. Write about past actions that you would change if you had the opportunity. c. Write about any events in your life which you feel caused a change in you. d. Write a dictionary definition and at least three sentences on each of the following feelings as they applied to people, places, things and ideas. self-pity greed pride lust contempt intolerance hatred apathy jealousy inertia envy selfishness dishonesty III. ANGER is the way most of us have reacted to the present. It is our reaction to and denial of reality. Write about the things that make you angry, irritate you, or make you feel uncomfortable. What are your "buttons" and how do they get "pushed"? Are there any key words, phrases, actions, or situations which are sure to "set you off"? The following is a list of some of the things that we often react to with anger. Some of these will apply to you and some will not. Use this list as a starting point and to get you thinking in terms of anger. being criticized being contradicted being ignored being kidded practical jokes being laughed at being gossiped about or talked about being called names (stupid, fat, skinny, asshole, *****, *****, bas***d. etc.) being touched being stood too close to being praised IV. FEAR is the way we have reacted to the future. It is our response to the unknown, a fantasy in reverse. Write at least three sentences on each of your fears - past and present (especially those you think are irrational or those which you think no longer bother you). The following is a list of fears. Some of these will apply to you and some will not. Use this list as a starting point and to get you thinking in terms of fear. people principles God insanity death police punishment institutions jails authority rejection asylums acceptance failure success self-assessment honesty religion insecurity accidents animals snakes spiders insects the dark heights disease cancer heart attack obesity starvation hospitals drugs impotence misconduct sex marriage discipline rape being disliked moral codes gambling responsibility hurting others stealing past crimes justice pain ego deflation inferiority obsessions public speaking claustrophobia attack suffocating sarcasm other races water mistakes desire pride V. SEX is an area in which most of us have had problems. One of our old timers sometimes refers to us as "lovers in distress" and this is certainly true. Most of us carry a burden of false shame and false guilt because we have tried to live up to an unrealistic or false moral code. a. Write about your "perfect" relationship (casual affair, lover, or spouse) and how your actual relationships have lived up to and fallen short of this ideal. b. Write about your sexual fantasies whether or not you have acted them out. c. Write at least three sentences about each of the following sex related acts or desires that apply to you or that you have strong feelings about. Use this list as a starting point and add any others you can think of. adultery rape sadism incest masochism pornography prostitution molestation voyeurism homosexuality animal sex teasing inter-racial sex masturbation indecent exposure sexual jealousy oral sex group sex abortion sex "aids" fetishes drug abuse as a sex act sex relations or acts which you feel are abnormal or unnatural VI. ASSETS must also be considered if we are to get an accurate and complete picture of ourselves. This is very difficult for most of us because it is hard for us to accept that we have good qualities. We each have a combination of assets and liabilities and through this program we try to eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive. a. Write about each event in your life when you did something good without expecting anything in return. b. Write at least three sentences on each of the following assets of character. Use this list as a starting point and add any other assets that come to mind. being clean sense of humor love open mindedness willingness humility God awareness friendship modesty self-acceptance self-honesty patience honesty w/others forgiveness simplicity serenity courage trust faith acceptance generosity positive action caring promptness self-supporting sharing gratitude VII. Answer the following QUESTIONS in writing. 1. How do you see yourself? What is your self-image? 2. What do you want to be when you grow up? 3. What do you want out of life? 4. What things have you done for acceptance that you really didn't want to do? 5. What things did you do while you were using that you find yourself unable to do today? 6. What can you do today that you couldn't do before? 7. What are your fantasies and dreams (other than sex)? 8. What is your definition of freedom? 9. Have you intentionally left anything out of your inventory? 10. Are there any events written in your inventory which never actually happened? 11. Is there anything else you can think of that specifically helps to make you, you? 12. What fears and problems have occurred in the process of writing this inventory? 13. What is your definition of surrender? 14. How do boredom, isolation, and loneliness affect you and how do you deal with them? 15. When is your N.A. birthday? Anyone who has some time in the program and who has worked these steps will tell us that the Fourth Step was a turning point in their lives. Ultimately we find out that we are just human, with the same fears, longings and troubles as everyone else. One of the greatest benefits of the N.A. program is discovering that we need never be alone again. Others have felt as we feel. Others have failed where we failed. They are here now in strength of the Fellowship, ready and eager to help us. This Fourth Step can be a wonderful adventure, reviewing our past performance and our present behavior to see what we want to keep and what we want to be rid of. No one is forcing us to give up our misery. This step has the reputation of being difficult. In reality, it's quite simple. As recovering addicts, we now have the right to reach for levels of greater comfort and we can reach them by getting a handle on what we've been doing wrong. If we want to feel good, we have to stop doing the things that make us feel bad. We are not going to be perfect. If we were perfect, we would not be human. The important thing is that we do our best. We use the tools available to us and we develop the ability to survive our emotions. we do not want to lose any of what we have gained; we want to continue in the program. It is our experience that no matter how searching and thorough, no inventory is of any lasting effect unless it is promptly followed by an equally thorough Fifth Step. -- monk
  18. Step 11/Twelve Steps Each year I like to run through the 12 steps as written in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. These steps were an adaptation of many works before them, and are a universal truth for all people who want to enjoy good mental Hygiene and an abundant life. They have been adopted by some 150 self-help groups, and in the words of my favourite forensic psychologist, are the best basis for mental health around IF worked and lived. I am not a step guru, and like to keep things as simple as possible. In Step 11, we continue with our maintenance of a balanced and spiritually anchored way of life. Step 11 says: 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. At first, this seemed very simple. I had to reflect deeply on what this step tells me to do, and I know many others who did not get the full meaning for a while! Think on the words. Praying had become, and still is, a part of my regular routine. At least once a day I say the Serenity Prayer, the 3rd Step Prayer and the 7th Step Prayer. Each of these prayers is very important to me, and in doing them, I ask simply for my higher power's will to be done. I also ask for the power within to carry it out. I don't ask for stuff, I don't ask for things for other people. Ultimately, my higher power's will is what happens, for the way life plays out is ultimately the will of my higher power. My higher power trusts me enough to give me freedom of choice; there I certainly times I make bad choices, and there is a reason beyond my understanding for that. Conscious Contact. What an interesting concept. A thought provoker. Do I have it and how can I increase? Long ago I saw an old movie which starred, I am told, Fred McMurray and was called "Harvey". To make a long story short, the lead player had an invisible pet rabbit named Harvey who he could converse with at will. Similarly, a meditation book, to paraphrase, one day told me to focus for a day on seeing my higher power beside me and talk freely to my higher power. People in the movie thought the lead actor was nuts, and I'm sure some days people think I'm nuts when I talk to my higher power in public places. These are examples of how I get conscious contact; my higher power is always there when I make a point to be conscious. That wonderful and really misunderstood word and action, MEDITATION. For years I had this vision of some funny character up in the Himalayas chanting and levitating. Then I learned a bit about meditation. Today, I meditate in one of two ways, and some days use both. There are dozens of ways to meditate effectively. In quiet meditation, I am now able to quiet my mind to a point where all I am conscious of is my breathing, life in, life out. I can take a "time out" from the endless mind chatter and the squirrels running lose in my head. In these moments there is a conscious contact with god. A quiet voice inside is heard, and I listen to my higher power and gain shockingly good new insights into things. Other times I will reflect on a single thought, word or phrase, and do this in solitude. Again, insights received are amazing. Through meditation and being tuned in to what is around me and listening, I gain insight into god’s will for me. In prayer, I ask my higher power for THE POWER within to do his will. Often, his will goes against my grain and is difficult to execute it. I need all the help I can get! Ultimately, it is god's will that occurs , even when things occur because in the moment, I've taken back my will and control and acted not in accordance with that small quiet voice. Ever felt that twinge when you've done something you knew wasn't right? That's being human. Step 11 is once again a step that needs to be practiced daily. It is never done. In working Step 11 in my life, I increase my practice of good mental hygiene, something I did not do in active addiction. Not a simple step, and not easily understood, but a step of balance in life! -- keithb
  19. Step 10/Twelve Steps Each year I like to run through the 12 steps as written in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. These steps were an adaptation of many works before them, and are a universal truth for all people who want to enjoy good mental Hygiene and an abundant life. They have been adopted by some 150 self-help groups, and in the words of my favourite forensic psychologist, are the best basis for mental health around IF worked and lived. I am not a step guru, and like to keep things as simple as possible. In Step 10 we start lifetime maintenance. Step 10 says: Continued to take personal inventory and when WE were wrong, promptly admitted it. A new way of life had begun; practicing good mental hygiene had to become a life habit. By this stage of my journey, I had begun to review my days both in my head and through journaling and sharing. I'd worked very hard to clean up the garbage of my past, and had no desire to accumulate more. The daily practice of Step 10 prevents accumulation. An amazing discovery I had made; in MOST issues were conflict arose in my daily living, my hand was in there! In arguments that involved high emotion, I found quite often that I was not wrong in what I was saying, but often how I said it could have been much better. When things were said that negatively affected me, I had to learn to say "When you say". This is how I feel. There are oft times that I am wrong. Amazing!! When I was WRONG, I learned how to take responsibility for MY role, and square it up through admission and/or amend as quickly as possible. I have become far more aware of the impact that my words or actions can have on others, and how those lovely "defects of character" can rear their ugly head. The little voice I stay tuned to inside lets me know when I'm wrong, and I'm far better at listening to it than I was. This truly is a daily step. It is one that gets easier to do with vigilant practice. The garbage bin is fairly empty as I write this; I have serenity that allows me to be better at all aspects of my life and make better choices. Daily, and with gratitude, I do recognize the many things I have done right. There is payoff in changing and I recognize that in myself with thanks. -- keithb
  20. Step 9/Twelve Steps Each year I like to run through the 12 steps as written in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. These steps were an adaptation of many works before them, and are a universal truth for all people who want to enjoy good mental Hygiene and an abundant life. They have been adopted by some 150 self-help groups, and in the words of my favourite forensic psychologist, are the best basis for mental health around IF worked and lived. I am not a step guru, and like to keep things as simple as possible. Step 9 says we are to: Make DIRECT amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Who didn't come into a recovery journey or 12 step programs and try to make amends in the early going. Particularly to family and those we were closest to? We, in the early going, wanted to save things that were important to us. We had much work to do on ourselves and our spiritual condition before we were truly ready to make sincere amends. I made the list in 7. The one piece of advice I got that really helped me get benefit from this step was to consult about my list, and consult about specific amends just before doing them. Like many addicted people, I was inclined to have moments of grandiosity. My list was in fact a lot longer than it should have been because didn't you know, I was the baddest. Some will relate. After review of the list, it was prioritized by the weight of what I was carrying. I had to remember I was taking this action strictly for me, not trying to please the other person, and had to remember that I had to be totally honest, no matter what the cost. My 9th step coach helped me to do this, he was fully experienced. To my wife, I kept my admissions to a general nature. I said enough to her to dispel thoughts she may have had about falsely accusing me of intolerable behavior, but did not get specific enough to hurt 3rd parties. As my program tells me, for many of us, our sexual conduct was not exemplary! To my former wife and a family member of hers, it was decided to wait until a private face to face opportunity came around. In time, it did, and the amend was made properly. To a couple of people who had passed, I wrote a letter of amends to them. For the majority, it was face to face or voice to voice. I was humble and honest, non-argumentative and as open as I could be. I made no excuses for my behavior and took full responsibility for my actions. I asked honestly if there were a specific amend that could be made. There were a few suggested amends, and up until today, I have lived up to what was agreed. To those I am closest to, particularly family, my amends continue daily. I have changed significantly, and am far more responsible in my behavior in the roles I play in their lives. With my wife (because many expect instant forgiveness) I can honestly say it was about 4 years before I earned back MOST of her trust. Actions, not words, are the acid test. I am a better person today than I was those years ago, but work in progress. The reaction. Most were pleased to hear that I realized I had problems and had taken action. They were quite prepared to let bygones be bygones. A few were skeptical, and to put it mildly, we will never be personally close. I thought about, but tried to avoid "the except when to do so" part of this step. I probably could have rationalized many people to fit that category. There was only one person, and I did write a letter and burn it. If I had not taken full responsibility, particularly with the people I thought of often, I would not have got the improvement in peace of mind, self-esteem and better human relationships that this step gave me. I got rid of a lot of guilt and shame I had been holding on to. The step was done to the best of my ability when I had dealt with the goals that had been set forth. Every name was addressed in an appropriate fashion. Periodically something will surface, and is my regular practice, I deal with it promptly! I took consequences and responsibility for my actions, and at the same time, I know a few people saw their personal well being improved! Step 9 is a truly significant healing process when done at the proper time and in the right frame of mind and spiritual fitness. Please note; I did not talk about amends to me. The program I learned does not talk to the need. As I have healed, I have regained me. -- keithb
  21. Step 8/Twelve Steps Each year I like to run through the 12 steps as written in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. These steps were an adaptation of many works before them, and are a universal truth for all people who want to enjoy good mental Hygiene and an abundant life. They have been adopted by some 150 self-help groups, and in the words of my favourite forensic psychologist, are the best basis for mental health around IF worked and lived. I am not a step guru, and like to keep things as simple as possible. Step 8 reads, and please read carefully: Made a list of all persons WE had harmed, and BECAME WILLING to make amends to them all. We are about ready to do some things that will help us end our isolation from parts of the world. Calm, thoughtful reflection is needed to make this list. The step says ALL people WE had harmed; it does not say "but not if they harmed us more". This step is not about others and their actions, we are listing the people WE had harmed; we make an unsparing survey of the human wreckage WE had caused. We must be thorough; the more thorough we are, the better the results. It is well worth the time. In making the list, I went back over my step 4 for names, some from a distant past. There were people who did me wrong, and I had got even. My getting even put that name on the list. There were people who the very thought of made my emotions flip negatively, and these persons also made the list. There were some poor souls who I had sabotaged, and they never knew it. For all who have been in addiction, don't kid yourself. You have harmed every person, including family members that you are close to in your life. If you believe you only hurt yourself, you're being totally dishonest with you! I then took time to think of people that had drifted in and out of my life. I came up with a few more names. I did the best list I could. I then made a decision that I would forgive all those who had harmed me as best I could. This process, to do completely, took years. Bad human relations had helped fire my active addiction, I wanted a clean up as big as possible, wanted the garbage faced and gone. There was a therapeutic value in just making the list. Over time and through much soul searching and prayer, I became WILLING to make amends. At this point, I did not rush out and do the amends! The step was done to the best of my ability when I, with thought and calm reflection, using the resources at my disposal, made the list and became willing. I have found, over the years that the odd thing has come up that I had forgotten about. When another name surfaces, I write down the name and become willing. The names are far fewer, but every now and again, one pops up. I needed far better personal relationships if I was to live the life I truly wanted, and doing this step was a big move forward in the process, worth the time and thought invested!! -- keithb
  22. Step 7/Twelve Steps Each year I like to run through the 12 steps as written in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. These steps were an adaptation of many works before them, and are a universal truth for all people who want to enjoy good mental Hygiene and an abundant life. They have been adopted by some 150 self-help groups, and in the words of my favourite forensic psychologist, are the best basis for mental health around IF worked and lived. I am not a step guru, and like to keep things as simple as possible. Step 7 says: HUMBLY asked him to remove our shortcomings. This, for me, is a step that I must take daily. Today, I have done this step for 5,235 days, give or take a day. Humility to me is simply seeking to do the will of my higher power, living with character and placing the material things at best, second. It is living a life that is not "ME" centered. For years, I had known defeat and humiliation because I placed my will first. Humility came, in part, as a result of humiliation. "My will" got me to my bottom. Today I know that by being conscious of my higher power and listening to it, knowing that will give me what I really want in life. Gradually, I have become less self-centered. Humility allows me serenity and joy. Humiliation and self-centeredness gave excitement, depression, fear and anxiety, not what anyone really wants. Periodically I may still humiliate myself, every day I need reminding of what humility is and to live with it. "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 that stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go from here, to do your bidding." It was not my good qualities that took me emotionally down so deeply. It was acting on the defects of character that took me down. It was these defects that caused pain, and I found my own medications to temporarily take pain away. Humility grows within as on a daily basis, I realize I'm not the center of the universe, and I am much better when I ask for and take help. My defects of character are part of who I am. They are just below the surface. Without help, they will once again take over my life; I must remain spiritually fit every day. On many days, my defects are very much in the background. Some days, when I try to run the show, the defects surface very abruptly; "out of the blue". I need external strength daily! Through prayer, I ask. How did I know I had achieved some measure of humility? For years, when given a compliment, I couldn't accept it with grace. Today, when the compliment is genuine, I can simply say thank-you and feel gratitude. Step 7 requires humility to sincerely ask for help. -- keithb
  23. Step 5/Twelve Steps Each year I like to run through the 12 steps as written in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. These steps were an adaptation of many works before them, and are a universal truth for all people who want to enjoy good mental Hygiene and an abundant life. They have been adopted by some 150 self-help groups, and in the words of my favourite forensic psychologist, are the best basis for mental health around IF worked and lived. I am not a step guru, and like to keep things as simple as possible. Step 5 says: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. The thought of admitting to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs gave me some trepidation. Did I really have to tell someone else exactly what I had done; share a few things I thought no one ever needed to know; share a lot of things that I wasn't proud of? The simple answer was yes, and the trepidation I had was part of the ego and false pride that had been the reason that I had bottomed. I also noted that the step didn't ask me to share the exact nature of my rights! You have several options as to who you can do your 5th with. Some prefer to do it with a person from the clergy. That was not in the cards for me. I had an AA sponsor I trusted and respected and it was with him that I did my 5th step. We started with a small prayer and invited formally God to join us. In 4, I had made note of people I had harmed and the defects of character that had been active. These items formed the basis of my 5th. I did not just read what I had written. We talked of the specific incidents that I wanted to talk about the least. We talked of things like dishonesty, fear, resentment, false pride, lust; the things that had been driving me crazy and that had stolen my self-esteem. I shared the destructive feelings I had inside. In god's presence, and the presence of another human being, I admitted the exact nature of my wrongs. Funny, my sharing did not blow my sponsor away. In fact, a few times he shared with me similar incidents that had happened to him. In sharing and admitting, I felt a new sense of humbleness and not the total humiliation that I feared. What had happened in my life had happened, it was now history. It was time to move forward and get the recovery journey in gear. How did I know I had done the 5th step? Before I left my sponsor, I reviewed my written 4th. I made sure that there was nothing that was written that was not discussed in specific, or in the context of feelings or injury to others. There were several "defects" that had reared their ugly head frequently, but every single incident was not discussed in detail. I left my 5th knowing I had shared everything. I had started to become transparent. I had taken responsibility for what had happened to all parties concern, and importantly, had taken personal responsibility. -- keithb
  24. We don't want to live in the past, but we do need to learn to live comfortably with it. When I started my personal journey to recovery, I certainly had a past! It was the spiralling negatives that got me to a place that I was sick and tired of being both sick and tired of how I was living! Sure there were positives, but they were not dragging me down! My journey began with a recovery coach, in this case an MD who worked with egotistical people like me. It was this man, who over time, introduced me to 12 step programs, the concept of humility, the benefits of the “right” rehab program and directed me to set new life goals and seek the help I needed to formulate a plan and achieve my reasonable goals. Dealing with the past was a very big part of the process for me. "We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it." This is a promise of the Twelve Step program. One of the most useful tools we have for learning to live with our past is the Fourth Step inventory. Once we have examined our dark corners and shared with someone else the times when we did not live up to our expectations, we no longer fear reminders of those times, nor do we try to block them out. It takes energy to try to hold shut the door to the past. Coming to terms with mistakes we have made, making amends, forgiving ourselves, and forgiving others releases this energy so we can use it for living more fully now, in the present. Allowing the door to the past to swing open in its own time gives us access to the good memories that we were also repressing.” Is there something I need to do today so that I can live more comfortably with the past? Today I realise my past is like all pasts; it is known as history. I studied history extensively in school and realised its study allowed me to understand what happened before today and to learn from it. In doing a 4th step (I coach a 4th Footprint) I wrote my own biography, and at an appropriate time looked at it like any other biography. I gained huge insight and learning. It is my history and never to be forgotten. Today, I try as best I can to utilize this understanding and Learning to make today a far better day than the ones that came before. It doesn’t work everyday, but I am pleased to have been blessed with constant progress. I will never make perfection (character flaws are still a part of me) and will never be in need of a cross. Despite normal adversities, quality of life keeps on getting better. I live today but as the quoted writing says, do not shut the door on my past. My past makes for a better today; I want to expend my energies on trudging forward! Yes, I am a coach, but will chat with anyone “off the clock” if I can assist them to move forward. I can be reached through khbray@rogers.com and welcome hearing from others who are struggling or searching! -- keithb
  25. A Moment of Clarity Ever have occurrences and thoughts in your life that seem to come out of nowhere, then reoccur over a period of time? I have been going through just that over the past few weeks. In my line of work, I see many people struggling to get a new life and grow in a new direction. To stay on top of things and to keep my mind open, I read a lot and go on a number of web sites on which people are struggling and/or have successfully turned their lives around. In volunteer work, and professionally, I am in constant contact with people who are walking the road or state that they want to move to a new place in their lives. I was graced with a recovered life. It was a gift, a gift I was able to humbly receive and accept for no reason known to me. I was a person, like millions of others who was depressed, had low self-esteem, was functional but a misfit in many functions and got to a point where I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired, tired of saying I’m sorry and tiered of feeling like a life underachiever. Recent things that have been reoccurring have made me really think; what was the one thing that turned it around, that made the difference. If sharing this offers others some insight great; but it is important that I remember. Accepting completely where I was at in my life was important, as was reconnecting to a power greater than myself, having some illogical faith that this power could help and seeking help just based on faith; all of these things were important. I was told to do a fearless and searching inventory of myself. I was given the Big Book of AA and other AA material to assist, and the suggestions of some good people. I can reflect back and say I did the best I could with what I had, but, quite frankly, did not find clarity on why I was the way I was. I did get a better understanding of my flaws and things I had done to hurt others. I did not need to do an inventory to know I was carrying a lot of garbage, guilt and shame. I had lived with these feelings for years. One day a professional who was a part of my life offered me a very lengthy questionnaire which guided me and gave me the structure to take a look at my life from earliest memories to current times. I was told not to over think (a bad habit of mine) but to just answer the questions very thoughtfully and in order. I truly wanted to know why I had got to what I now call my bottom. I knew that things had started a long way back. I worked diligently on this project; like the life or death it was. I wrote and I wrote, not looking back, but focusing on the question at hand. At times, I had to stop, because I had to look at areas of my life that evoke very deep emotions. I noted these emotions. Finally, I got to the end and put my “biography” away for a few days and allowed the emotions to settle. I took the completed document back out and read it as objectively as I could, as if were the story of someone I knew about but not in detail. It was not a literary masterpiece, yet I wasn’t reading it to grade it or give style points. I wanted to find an answer-WHY AM I? It happened. A true moment of clarity, a real Ah Ha moment. There was a day when I was between three and four years old, a day my life changed forever. I was ripped from a very secure world to what to me was a far less secure world. I started to act out to get attention. Some of this acting out was cutesy, a lot was destructive. I went from a world where I belonged and fit to a world where I was second best, not quite good enough. A pattern began that was to evolve downward for over forty years. A life of great highs and great lows. The life that made me who I am. I, for the first time, understood the “WHY” and it was a huge relief and a point that allowed me to truly accept and begin the process of recovering a life with real meaning. I was set free. So many I have seen struggle lately, in my opinion, play around the edges. There is no one way to recovering a life you really want. There are ways to insure failure, and those of us in active recovery who are witnesses watch it happen. No real acceptance, no real action. A charade to fool self and others. The percentage of those who don’t get turned around is staggering, and the focus of my life today is to use my experience and training to make a small difference. Those who have recovered all have some things generally in common. They have sought help. They have fully accepted what has happened. They’ve committed to a taken action. They, in there own way, give a bit of what they have got back to society to get more of what they were “gifted”. They have set some life goals, and not lost focus on the basic goals. They have recovered a life. Some hit a point that they are fully content with, others make life recovery a life time search, but they all enjoy a large amount of hope and serenity. A few months back, I faced the toughest question I think I have ever had to deal with. A young boy phoned me and asked, “Can you get my Daddy sober?”It floored me, and I had to answer no, but told him he could help his Dad get sober by telling Dad that it meant a lot to him, and I told that lad I would also be there to help Dad as Dad did what Dad had to do. I have recently watched, witnessed and read about a lot of slipping and sliding and read pros and cons on the best way to turn things around. The answer for me was straight forward. A moment of clarity that came as a result of the hard work that I was asked to do. Understanding the why and accepting the who and a lifetime of continuous recovery work. It is a gift I was humble enough to receive, and a gift that is available to those who truly accept and take action. If this sparks some thoughts, I love to read your response, or contact me directly at khbray@hopeserenity.ca. I wish that you find YOUR DREAM and your WHY! -- keithb