STEP THREE, PART 3
My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater.
We had a few days of breathing space in order to give newcomers and
stragglers a chance to catch up, but we have to move on. Remember we
are in a race against time here. As long as we have not taken all
the steps we are still obsessed by food and will eventually relapse.
Although we should get up and continue if we relapse, it is still
better to minimize that possibility of relapse by taking ALL the
steps quickly, and thus have a spiritual awakening and be
free of our obsession. So let us continue with step 3.
The Big Book explains, what is meant by step 3 and what we have to do.
"Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do?
The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on
self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always
in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are
good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each person is like
an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to
arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the
players in his own way." page 60.
Our spiritual illness manifests in our trying to make life, (people
and things) run according to our way. We think we know best what
is good for others. My sponsor put it that way when I told him that I told my children,
my wife, and others what is best for them to do.
"Did they ask for your opinion or your advice or your help?
If they didn't, then you are just sticking your nose into things that
are none of your business, even if you have the best intentions.
Who the heck do you think you are, God? or God's deputy?
Didn't you say in step one that your life had become unmanageable?
So where did you get this erroneous idea that you of all people can
know what is good for others? Don't you think that they are equipped
to deal with their problems? And if they make mistakes are not they
entitled to make them? How will they learn and experience anything? How will they learn to
think for themselves if you decide for them."
He was right you know. Even if it pained me to see my children suffer because of what I thought were erroneous actions, did I have the right to butt in if I was not asked to do so?
This reminded me of something that happened when I was a small boy.
I used to keep some silkworms in a box and gave them leaves of berries to
eat. In due time they spun a silken a cocoon around themselves and turned into a motionless chrysalis inside it. The chrysalis was motionless on the outside, but inside all kinds of marvelous phenomena took place as it was transformed into a silkworm moth. Then it made a small hole in the cocoon and struggled quite hard to get out. What emerged was a
beautiful moth who shortly afterwards began to lay eggs, from
which hatched out new silkworms and the cycle began again.
Once I took a pity on such a moth and cut the cocoon in order to
help him emerge without struggling so much.
The moth came out all wrinkled and died soon afterwards.
Do you mean that I cannot help my children you may ask?
Yes, you can. Here is the way the program taught me to do it.
Children learn best by imitation and not by listening to what I tell
them. So if I work the 12 step program and as a result have a manageable
life and am in harmony with God, myself, and others. They will learn
from me by imitation. I have to be an example by the way I live.
Telling my child to stop stealing when I am a thief is not very
effective. Neither is it effective to tell him to behave when I don't.
It will only make him do the opposite.
I have to remember that the only effective way to carry any message is
to be that message, which means to live that message. And if my child still decides to do things that cause him trouble or are not what I think is right, it is his prerogative. All I can and
should do is reassure him that I love him, and am there for him. The rest is up to him and his H.P.
Here is what the Big Book has to say about our being "do-gooders."
"What usually happens? The show doesn't come off very well. He begins
to think life doesn't treat him right. He decides to exert himself
more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or
gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him.
Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people
are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is
his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to
be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest
satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well?
Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the
things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to
retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?" page 61.
Believing that I know what is good for others is a delusion (which
means believing in a lie), and it causes confusion rather than
The Big Book gives us an extended definition of selfishness.
"Our actor is self-centered, ego-centric, as people like to call it
nowadays... Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned
with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity? Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-
seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they
retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but
we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made
decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be
hurt." pages 61-62.
So trying to impose our will on others even with the best intentions
is selfishness and self-centeredness. Telling others what is good for
them without being asked is selfishness and self-centeredness.
It may manifest in various forms some of which are,
blaming others, anger, indignation, self-pity, self-seeking, self-
delusion, fear, resentments, and hurting others.
The Big Book continues:
"So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They
arise out of ourselves, and the compulsive eater is an extreme
example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so.
Above everything, we compulsive eaters must be rid of this
selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. And
there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His
aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but
we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to.
Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or
trying on our own power. We had to have God's help." page 62.
Having no limits and going to extremes also causes us a lot of
troubles. That is what is meant by "self will run riot."
It is not only food that we use and abuse in excess. It can be a
lot of other things like sex, power, and money, like trying to
boost our self-esteem by people-pleasing and resenting them because
they can never please us enough, or like not taking
responsibility for my actions and always seeing myself as a victim etc.
Is our self will bad? Do we have to get rid of it? Not at all. We
cannot do anything without having a will. What is wrong is our misuse
of our self-will by trying to impose it on others, and by going to
Bill W., the A.A. cofounder, says it very nicely in the A.A.12&12 page 40.
"It is when we try to make our will conform with God's that we begin
to use it rightly. To all of us, this was a most wonderful
revelation. OUR WHOLE TROUBLE HAD BEEN THE MISUSE OF WILLPOWER. WE
HAD TRIED TO BOMBARD OUR PROBLEMS WITH IT INSTEAD OF ATTEMPTING TO
BRING IT INTO AGREEMENT WITH GOD'S INTENTION FOR US. To make it
increasingly possible is the purpose of the A.A.'s [O.A.'s] Twelve
Steps, and Step Three opens the door."
The Big Book tells us explicitly that we cannot get rid of our
selfishness by ourselves, like we cannot get rid of our obsession
with food by ourselves. We will see as we take the steps that we
cannot get rid of any of our liabilities by ourselves. We have to have
So what are the requirements?
The Big Book sums it up as follows:
"This is the how and the why of it. First of all, we had to quit
playing God [the how]. It didn't work [the why]. Next, we decided that
hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He
is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His
children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the
keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to
freedom. " page 62.
Simple isn't it? Just quit playing God and DECIDE to turn to God for
His care, guidance, and directions.
Here is how Bill W. took step 3. BB page 13.
"There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to
do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care
Just to entice us to make the third step decision, the Big Book tells
us again what is the pot of gold that is waiting for us at the end of the
rainbow, and describes our spiritual awakening as the result of
taking all 12 steps.
"When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable
things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He
provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His
work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less
interested in ourselves, our own little plans and designs. More and
more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life.
As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we
discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of
His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the
hereafter. We were reborn." page 63.
SUBJECTS FOR DISCUSSION AND SHARING:
1. Give some examples on how selfishness and self-centeredness
manifested in your life:
a. Trying to tell others what to do for their own good, without
being asked for help or advice.
b. One or more of the following: blaming others, anger, indignation, self-pity, self-seeking, self-
delusion, fear, resentments, and hurting others.
2. Give some examples of the way your "self will run riot" manifested
in your life, in some of the following areas: sex, power, and money, people-pleasing, and other areas.
Have a nice day.