Step Four

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.



STEP FOUR, PART 4

Hi friends.

My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater. Do you realize that the 12 step program has a very big flaw in it?

IT WORKS ONLY IF YOU WORK IT AND IT DOESN'T IF YOU DON'T!!!!

Reading, understanding, philosophizing, thinking about it, feeling about it, and talking about it, does not make us recover. We have to do the footwork in order to recover, and the footwork is taking the steps. By taking the steps we begin to develop new relations with God, with ourselves and with others. So those of us who are in this loop and are just reading the posts and not taking the actions suggested by them are not going to get the results promised by this program. If you still don't have a sponsor or have not done any step work, get into action and do it. It is the way to recover. Lurkers arise. If you are doing the work privately with your sponsor that's fine, but if not then get into the action and do it.

Now after all this pep talk let us get back to our step 4.

Have you noticed that by filling the three columns of our resentment table we were really doing the inventory of the people around us? The Big Book wants us to get that off our chests before we delve into our inner inventory. We will find it a lot easier to deal with the inside after dealing with the outside. But we learned something in the process. We learned that our life was full of resentments and that they really controlled us (first column). We learned that it was not the persons themselves but their actions towards us that made us resent them (second column), and we learned that the source (root) of our resentments lay in our basic instincts that we felt were threatened or hurt (third column). We cannot always stop others from threatening or hurting our basic instincts, but we can do something about how we react to threats. We cannot change people or what they do, but we can learn how to change our attitude and response.

In my previous post I asked you to share on how you felt after filling those three columns. I can tell you how I felt. I felt the world sucks, and everyone out there has wronged me. Let us see what the Big Book tells us to do with our three columns.

"We went back through our lives [the three columns of our resentment table]. Nothing counted but thoroughness and honesty. When we were finished we considered it carefully." BB page 65.

We are told to read our inventory to see if we were thorough and honest with ourselves and then consider carefully what we have written. The Big Book then continues to describe what are the usual conclusions we draw from reading.

"The first thing apparent was that this world and its people were often quite wrong. To conclude that others were wrong was as far as most of us ever got. The usual outcome was that people continued to wrong us and we stayed sore. Sometimes it was remorse and then we were sore at ourselves. But the more we fought and tried to have our own way, the worse matters got. As in war, the victor only SEEMED to win. Our moments of triumph were short-lived." page 66.

In plain language my conclusion was that life sucks.

Then begins the turnaround. In the past when I thought about the people and things that angered me, I thought about all the harmful things they did to me. Now I am going to look at what my RESENTMENTS have done to me.

The Big Book reminds us how dangerous are our resentments to us. How our resentments are killing us slowly but surely, and are blocking us from H.P. and recovery.

"It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. But with the compulsive eater, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feeling we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of food returns and we binge again. And with us, to eat compulsively is to die.

"If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for compulsive eaters these things are poison." page 66.

The turnaround continues.

"We turned back to the list, for it held the key to the future. We were prepared to look at it from an entirely different angle. We began to see that the world and its people really dominated us. In that state, the wrong-doing of others, fancied or real, had power to actually kill. How could we escape? We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how? We could not wish them away any more than food." page 66.

Again we are told to read our list. Frankly I am beginning to get sick and tired of my list. But reading it again I realize how my resentments make me the victim of those people. They dominate me since they dwell in my head and occupy my thoughts and feelings. So I am now convinced. It does not matter whether my resentments are justified or not. I HAVE TO GET RID OF MY RESENTMENTS! They are killing me. But I cannot deal with any of my liabilities by myself, therefore I HAVE TO GET HELP FROM H.P.

The Big book tells me what I have to do.

"This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too." pages 66-67.

I have to change my attitude, but can I do it? I sure could not. That is why I have to turn to God for help.

"We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend." page 67

This was the first step 4 prayer.

"When a person offended we said to ourselves, 'This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.'" page 67.

This was the second step 4 prayer.

In the Big Book, prayers are always accompanied by footwork. God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, but we have to do what can be done by us. Here is our footwork.

"We avoid retaliation or argument. We wouldn't treat sick people that way. If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful. We cannot be helpful to all people, but at least God will show us how to take a kindly and tolerant view of each and every one." page 67.

Do you now see how we make a turnaround? By changing our attitude and response towards other people. We have to realize that people who offend others or hurt others are doing it as a symptom of a spiritual sickness. A person who is spiritually whole does not behave that way. The same is true for us. I cannot change my attitude by myself, so I pray to H.P. to do it for me. Our recovery program does not stop with prayer. Every prayer is accompanied by action. In this case our action is to avoid retaliation and argument.

Do we do all that only to take care of ourselves? Not by a long shot, since we have to get out of the root of our spiritual malady, which is selfishness and self-centeredness. We do it to contribute to life, and be helpful where we can. Or at least view others with kindness and tolerance. Reading the first three columns made us relive our resentments to some extent. Praying and asking God to change our attitude helps us to calm down and continue with our turnaround, which means disregarding what others did to us and looking only at our part.


INTO ACTION AND SHARING SUGGESTIONS:

1. Read your three resentment columns. Are your conclusions similar to the following?

"The first thing apparent was that this world and its people were often quite wrong. To conclude that others were wrong was as far as most of us ever got. The usual outcome was that people continued to wrong us and we stayed sore. Sometimes it was remorse and then we were sore at ourselves. But the more we fought and tried to have our own way, the worse matters got. As in war, the victor only SEEMED to win. Our moments of triumph were short-lived." page 66.

2. Now disregard the hurtful things others did to you, and concentrate on considering your resentments only. Are your conclusions the same as those described by the Big Book?

"It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. But with the compulsive eater, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feeling we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of food returns and we binge again. And with us, to eat compulsively is to die. If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for compulsive eaters these things are poison." page 66.

DO YOU REALIZE WHAT HARM YOUR RESENTMENTS DO TO YOU?

If you do, than you began your turnaround. You began your journey inwards and you begin to realize that it is your attitude and response that is destroying you, and not just what others do.

3. Read your resentment table AGAIN, following the turnaround suggestions of the Big Book.

"We turned back to the list, for it held the key to the future. We were prepared to look at it from an entirely different angle. We began to see that the world and its people really dominated us. In that state, the wrong-doing of others, fancied or real, had power to actually kill. How could we escape? We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how? We could not wish them away any more than food." page 66.

Do you realize that you have to be free of the resentments?
Do you realize that you are powerless over the resentments?
Do you realize that you have to turn to H.P. to free you of them?


4. The Big Book suggests the following idea to help us begin our turnaround.

"This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too." pages 66-67.

We cannot do it alone so we turn to H.P. to help us. Say the following prayer aloud.

"God help me show those people the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend."

When you feel offended by someone, say to yourself. "This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him?" Then turn to God and say the second 4th step prayer.

"God save me from being angry. Thy will be done."

Remember to complement your prayers with footwork. The footwork is "avoid retaliation or argument."

Share about seeing wrong doings as an act of spiritual sickness. Share about using these prayers and trying to apply the suggested footwork in your relations with others.

We will return to the 4th step prayers and continue with the fourth column in the next post.

Have a nice day.
Shlomo



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