Mastering Resentments

We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how?  We could not wish them away any more than alcohol.  (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 66)

This is a key to the process of recovery.  In looking at the 4th step part of how you know that you have reached a point where you are ready to start on a 5th Step is that you:  

“…have begun to learn tolerance, patience and good will toward all men, even our enemies, for we look on them as sick people.”  (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 70)

My experience has been that many who are supposedly working 12 Step programs are not even aware that this is part of the process and definitely not aware that this is part of the 4th Step.  Many also have no idea what to do to achieve this end.

On page 66, upon completion of the 3 Column inventory which is where you list the person you are resentful at, the cause, and how it affects you, you are instructed to turn back to the list.  This is where the text literally says “We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick.”  But how does one come to that realization.  That question is answered on pg 67 with the words:  “We asked God…”  Then the passage goes on to give examples of what to pray:

“We asked God to Help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend…This is a sick man.  How can I be helpful to him?  God save me from being angry.  Thy will be done.”

To work through this process, a person must actually turn a corner so as to see the people and the situations that bring up feelings of anger, pain, resentment and so on completely differently.  An area which for some can be misleading is the idea that if you say the words listed above or something similar the fact you said the words will magically fix the feelings and you will be healed.

The more clear idea of the process one should be undertaking for every resentment listed on the 3 column part of the 4th Step can be found near the end of the Personal Stories (Testimony) section of the Alcoholics Anonymous book. 

“If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for that person or the thing that you resent you will be free.  If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free.  Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free.  Even when you don’t really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway.  Do it every day for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and want it for them, and you will realize that where you feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.”  (Alcoholics Anonymous pg 552 – 4th Edition)

It’s not just saying the words, it is continuous seeking of that change until the change actually occurs.  Not only are you supposed to be learning to release that person, but learning to desire good things to be happening to that person, even to the point (as mention in the prayer from pg 67) of looking for ways to be helpful to them getting these good things.

The question is:  “We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how?”   The answer is an acrostic:  “P.U.S.H.”

                                          P = Pray

                                          U = Until

                                          S = Something

                                          H = Happens

Self-Knowledge and Recovery

…But, the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self knowledge.  Alcoholics Anonymous pg 39

There is something everyone I have ever worked with in recovery has heard me say several times:

“Information will not keep you sober!”   Write it 100 times.

The truth is there are addicts and alcoholics with deep knowledge of addictions and alcoholism and deep knowledge of recovery who are getting high at the same time you are reading this.  Some are highly educated, some have been to several recovery programs and actually have retained the information, some even have photographic memories, but for some reason are still getting high. 

Education is a huge part of the recovery process but of itself, it is not enough to get you to the finish line.  If the information does not lead to a change in the person’s life, the person still thinks and acts the same but simply knows more.  If a person thinks and acts the same you can only expect the results to be the same. 

When a person eats food the food goes into the mouth, is chewed, then passes through the digestive system where the nutrients are processed out of the food and taken into the system and used (assimilation) or stored for later use, and the waste is passed out of the body.

When a person consumes mental or spiritual food the same should happen

  1. It should first be chewed on in the mind and heart (given thought)
  2. It should go into the digestive system to be processes (deep though on what this means to you and what this means needs to change in your life)
  3. What is needed right now needs to be assimilated or used to bring change in your life
  4. Information that you do not yet need or that you do not yet understand should be held onto until it is needed or better understood (seek understanding don’t just wait for it)
  5. If it does not apply to you, then it is waste. (We eat the fish and spit out the bones.)

There is an old cliché that goes:  “Use it or lose it.”  I think it is better said in this instance as “Use it or lose your fight for recovery.”

The truth is, no matter what you know or don’t know, if you are not changed, you are the same and can expect the same or at least similar results.