Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 84)
This passage appears as part of Step Ten and contains many of the everyday keys to remaining sober and gaining and maintaining happiness.
Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear.
Pg 62 of the Alcoholics Anonymous book states that Selfishness and Self-centeredness are the roots of our troubles. If this is the case then watching for them and preventing them are the roots of our recovery. If at any point something makes you uncomfortable and you think that means you have to rearrange everyone around you (either by force or manipulation) until you are comfortable you are being selfish.
Dishonesty is a selfish act and is an attempt to hide reality. We have lied to others and to ourselves to a point where some of the lies seem true to us. Lying must go! It is a habit from a lifestyle that we no linger wish to lead and a poison that will slowly kill our joy and our recoveries.
Pg 64 calls resentment; “…the ‘number one’ offender.” Pg 66 states plainly that: “It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness.” If resentment is this much of a problem, it is another area that you want to see in your life while it is still small enough to deal with easily. To many people want to wait until it overtakes them to even recognize it is a problem. Being watchful for even a slight touch of resentment is a must if one wishes to have recovery or to find any happiness in life.
Pg 67 describes fear as: “…an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it.” This includes the fear of looking bad, fear I’m too nice, fear I’m not nice enough, fear of being alone, and on and on. We have to watch for it and deal with it immediately.
WHAT DO WE DO WHEN THESE THINGS COME UP IN OUR LIVES?
1. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them.
If we are powerless and the problems that we are powerless over show up it is only reasonable to seek out One who does have power to help in the fight. In the words of the authors of the Alcoholics Anonymous book from pg 59: “Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power-that One is God.” A person who does not recognize this yet is not a failure, that person is just stuck at steps 1 and 2. It does not matter what step that person or their sponsor says that person is on, that person is only working the first 2 steps (“Two-Stepping”). We must start by enlisting the power of the One who is not powerless.
2. We discuss them with someone immediately
Each of us must have a few people of good sense who are not afraid to confront us directly that we can discuss our struggles or confusions with. Some, most or all of them should be people who have gone through a thorough recovery and are reaching back to get you up to where they are. When you see yourself stumbling, these people should be contacted to talk you through it. Trying to go it alone is foolish. How much can you trust a mind that has lied to you in the past without outside guidance?
3. make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone
Step 10 is “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. Notice the word “promptly.” This is half of what is stated here. If you are in the wrong it must be fixed immediately. It does not matter if the person is more at fault, if you are still mad, if you don’t like that person, if it’s too embarrassing, etc.
All of what we have just discussed is a spot check inventory. Once the inventory is done and you realize that you were wrong you cannot be overly concerned about what the other person needs to fix in his or her life. Pg 67 states: “Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and frightened? Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? The inventory was ours, not the other man’s.”
THE STEPS ARE ABOUT FIXING YOU NOT ABOUT FIXING OTHER PEOPLE. The only fixing you do involving other people is fixing the wrongs you have done also known as making amends.
4. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help.
Pg 89 states plainly that: “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.” Working with others is one of the strongest tools we each have to fight against the things which will lead us backwards in our recoveries.
Notice however that the passage from pg 89 is not just talking about service (as so many say) it is far more specific: “intensive work.” In other words, leading another human being through the process of recovery is absolutely key to keeping your own recovery on track.
Serving coffee and chairing meetings are good services and help, but are not what is described here.
If you look carefully, you can actually see Steps 10, 11 and 12 all here in what has been just described. This is a big part of what the new you is supposed to look like. This may not be the way you are used to living life, but the way you had been living life has been a part (or the root) of your trouble. If you are not different, you are the same and can expect the same results.
If there is not a new you, you are still the old you. Step 10 is explained on pg. 84 as “…we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past.”
As you clean up the past starting at Step 8 and by making amends quickly whenever you have harmed anyone you are building the foundations of the new “way of living” mentioned here.