Step Ten

Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong,
promptly admitted it.




STEP TEN, PART 2

Hi friends.

My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater.

Just a reminder:

All the things I write are my personal ESH and interpretation. I don't invent anything new here, since all the needed material about taking the steps is written in the Big Book, and the 12&12. I also don't represent anyone except myself. I write and share about myself, the way I understand the steps and the way I work the steps. Whatever you find here that is not written in the books are just things that I learned from others on my spiritual quest, These are expressed as my personal opinions backed by my personal experience of trying those things out.

"Love and tolerance of others is our code." BB page 84. The above is part of step 10. If we could have always responded with love and tolerance to others and to ourselves, we would have been saints. The Big Book assures us that we are not, and are not expected to be saints.

"We are not saints. The point is that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection." page 60.

So acting all the time according to the code of love and tolerance is something to aspire to as an ideal, but it is not something we achieve, since we are still human and we still have character defects, even if some of them are lessened or even disappear.

Still, spiritual progress means spiritual practice, and step 10 talks about constant daily practice for the rest of our lives. Part of this practice is the practice of step seven in the framework of step 10. I would like to suggest some ideas that I learned from others and integrated into my step work. These ideas are not mentioned explicitly in the Big Book or the A.A. 12 & 12 I am sure that practicing the following ideas in addition to the Big Book's suggestions will advance us in our progress towards fulfilling the code of love and tolerance.


DEFECT: SELF-CRITICISM -- ASSET: SELF-ACCEPTANCE, SELF LOVE

Self-criticism is a very destructive defect. Some of us indulge in it all day long without even being aware of the damage they cause themselves. When I criticize myself all the time I cannot accept myself and I cannot love myself. My self-worth is very low, and I cannot progress on the spiritual path. In order to practice step seven on self-criticism I have to be aware of it first. I have to notice when and how many times I criticize myself during the day. This is very important since I cannot deal with things I am not aware of.

Here is how I deal with self-criticism. I carry with me a small notebook (one that I can carry in my pocket) and a pen during the day. Whenever I notice that I belittle myself, or criticize myself, I take out my small notebook which I carry all the time, and write down immediately that I criticize myself, and why I do it. It is very important to stop any activity I am engaged in at the moment, and write without delay, no matter what the circumstances are. "What if I am a brain surgeon in the middle of an operation?" you may ask. Well, I don't criticize myself when I am doing something that requires all my attention. I don't have the time for it, though I may criticize myself later.

But what if I am driving on the highway? Well, in that case I just try to remember that I criticized myself and write it down the minute I can. We are not asked to endanger our life and the life of others by this practice. But in other circumstances it is very important to do the writing in real time, even if I am in the middle of a meeting or I talk with someone. If I am asked about it I can always say that I just remembered a very important personal thing that I have to jot down. Doing the writing in real time is essential since the writing stops the flow of criticism. Also if I delay I tend to forget. The writing has therefore two important roles. It makes me aware of my self-criticism and it stops the flow of criticizing thoughts. After writing it down I ask God to remove my self-criticism, and I continue with my activities. This is the way the Big Book suggests we deal with our defects. When aware of them we ask God to remove them. I check the notebook in the evening, to see how much I indulge in self-criticism.

At first I found out to my amazement that a very large part of my day was dedicated to self-criticism. I noticed that after two months of practicing this method, I seldom criticized myself. I continued to make all kinds of mistakes but I usually dealt in correcting them and not in criticizing or belittling myself for making them.

We know that as a defect lessens there is more place for the conjugate asset to shine through, which in this case means more self-acceptance and self-love.

DEFECT: GUILT -- ASSET: 1. RIGHT ACTION (amends). 2. SELF-WORTH

The main causes of guilt feelings are the following:

1. Hurting someone. We deal with that by steps 8 and 9.

2. Doing something right, usually for myself, and feeling guilty about it. Usually I impose the values of others on myself because of lack of self worth, and this causes me to think that my actions were wrong and to feel guilty. This kind of guilt is much more common than the guilt which results from really hurting others by my actions. The conjugate asset to this kind of "false" guilt is self-worth.

Examples:

a) Buying something nice for myself and feeling guilty about it. The origin of the guilt is of course lack of self-worth (feeling that I am not worthy, I don't deserve it, etc.). The values of others that I imposed on myself in this case are: only special occasions like birthdays justify buying something for myself, and even then it is best that I wait for others to buy something for me. It is selfish to spend money on myself; it should be spent on others like my spouse or my children, etc.

b) Going to a movie or some other fun activity and leaving my child with a babysitter. The source of the guilty feeling is lack of self-worth. The values of others I imposed on myself in this case are: a good parent spends all his free time with his children and does not leave them with others. Leaving my children with others is neglecting my duty to bring them up, etc.

c) My mother-in-law calls on the phone and does not stop criticizing and judging me. After a few minutes I tell her that I have to end this conversation now, I say goodbye and hang up the phone. This is an act of self-preservation and self-love. But I feel guilty because of lack of self-worth: I think I shouldn't have hung up but let her go on, and that I hurt her. The values of others I imposed on myself this time are: I should listen to my elders (or other people) even when they belittle me and criticize me unceasingly, since I have to show them respect at all times.

In order to decide what should be done about the guilt feeling I first have to identify its source.

Does the guilt stem from doing something wrong and hurting someone, (then I have to make amends), or from doing something right but feeling guilty because of lack of self-worth?

In order to distinguish between the two I use a "Best Friend Criterion."

When I feel guilty I ask myself the following:

"If my best friend had a similar problem, would I advise him to do what I did?" If the answer is yes, then my guilt is a manifestation of my lack of self-worth.

I use my Best Friend criterion in real time without delay whenever I feel guilty. If my answer is guilt because of lack of self-worth I take out my small notebook and write what I did and why it is the right thing for me to do. (It is right for me for the same reasons it is right for my friend.) Then I write what values, opinions and beliefs of others I am imposing on myself that make me feel guilty. Then I ask God to remove my guilt.

I check the notebook in the evening to see how much I indulge in guilt feelings, which are the result of lack of self-worth. Of course if by applying my best friend criterion the answer is that I acted wrongly then I have to make amends.

It was amazing to realize how I confused between the two kinds of guilt feelings and thought I harmed others by doing something for myself. My self-worth was very low and I was not even aware of how I was hurting myself by all these guilt feelings.

In my step four, I had whole pages listing harms I mistakenly thought I did to others, just because of this defect and my low self-worth. When I did step 5 with my sponsor, he just tore those pages up and told me to forget about making amends to those people since I didn't harm any of them. It was quite a relief.

I also thought that if I resented someone or feared someone it meant that I harmed them, which of course was not always true. Then I learned that this is a typical reaction of people who are called survivors of abuse, violence, incest, etc., who feel guilty, resentful and afraid, and think that because of those feelings they have to make amends to the people who harmed them. This is of course another twisted and wrong perception caused by the disease and lack of self-worth.

DEFECT: GOSSIP -- ASSET: HUMILITY, ACCEPTANCE

Gossip is a manifestation of criticism, judgment and vanity, and may cause harm to others. Even if I don't gossip actively and just listen to it, I am acting out my defect by quiet participation, which is a sign of agreement and encourages others to continue. This defect is very common since it is usually used to bolster my ego by belittling others.

The moment I am aware of my participating in gossip or even listening passively to gossip, I should ask H.P. to remove this defect. In order to practice the assets, I should avoid even quiet participation in gossip and adopt the following rule of practicing the assets.

When I want to say something about someone I should first think if it complies with ALL the three following criteria:

1. Is it the truth, as I understand it?

2. Is it compassionate?

3. Is it absolutely necessary to divulge?

If not, then better remain quiet.

Following those criterions can sure save me from a lot of troubles.


DWELLING ON THE NICE THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO ME DURING THE DAY

I pause several times during the day and ask myself if something nice happened to me during the last hour, if it did, then I take time to dwell on it. If it didn't, then I resolve to make something nice happen in the following hour. It can be something as simple as a 10-minute coffee break.

Our disease makes us dwell on the bad things in our life. Dwelling on the good things is a very effective act of recovery.

CULTIVATING AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

This is part of practicing our code of love and tolerance. An attitude of gratitude is a way to become attuned to the power of H.P.

It is quite common in OA to write a daily gratitude list. It is a nice way of cultivating this attitude. But there is an additional very effective and powerful method that can be practiced every moment of the day, and can become an integral part of our way of life. It is called:

BLESS THE PRESENT BY BLESSING EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING THAT REPRESENTS WHAT YOU WANT.

To bless something means to give recognition or emphasis to a positive quality, characteristic or condition, with the intent that what is recognized or emphasized will increase, endure or come into being. The focus on the blessing acts to increase the same good in my life.

The simplest and easiest way to bless is by words that express things like:

Admiration - giving a compliment or praise to something good that I notice. E.g., that's a nice car, you are beautiful, such a nice full moon, you are fun to be with, etc.

Affirmation - a specific statement of blessing for increase or endurance. E.g., I am getting slimmer every day, blessed be my health, bless the beauty of this tree, etc.

Appreciation - an expression of gratitude that something good exists or has happened. E.g., thank you, H.P., for an abstinent day. I give thanks to the sun for shining today, etc.

Anticipation - a blessing for the future. E.g., we are going to have a great time together, bless your increased income, I wish you a happy journey, may you recover quickly, etc.

The opposite of blessing is CURSING. By this I don't mean swearing. It refers to the opposite of blessing. Namely, criticizing instead of admiring; doubting instead of affirming; blaming instead of appreciating; and worrying instead of anticipating with trust. Whenever any of those are done they tend to cancel out some of the effects of blessing. It is some kind of spiritual axiom that like draws like. So the more I curse the harder it will be and the longer it will take to get to the good from a blessing. On the other hand the more I bless the less harm any cursing will do. It is interesting to note that in the physical world it is opposites that attract (in contrast to the spiritual world), like positive electric charges attract negative electric charges, electrons attract protons, the south pole of a magnet attracts the north pole, etc.

Since the one thing that negates blessing is cursing, whenever I am aware of indulging in cursing, I ask H.P. to remove this defect, and immediately practice blessing instead.

What should I bless you may ask?

The answer is, whatever you need and desire. Here are some suggestions that may be used as guidelines. Of course anyone is free to extend or expand to other areas in any way they want.

Health - Blessing healthy people, animals, and even plants. Everything which is well made or well constructed, and everything that expresses abundant energy.

Happiness - Blessing all that is good, or the good that is in all people and all things. All the signs of happiness that you see, hear or feel in people or animals. All the potentials for happiness that you notice around you.

Prosperity - Blessing all signs of prosperity in your environment, including everything that money helped to make or do. All the money that you have in any form, and all the money that circulates in the world.

Success - Blessing all signs of achievement and completion (such as buildings, bridges and sports events); all arrivals at destinations (of ships, planes, trains, cars and people); all signs of forward movement or persistence; and all signs of enjoyment or fun.

Confidence - Blessing all signs of confidence in people and animals; all signs of strength in people, animals and objects (including steel and concrete); all signs of stability (like mountains and tall trees); and all signs of purposeful power including big machines, power lines, etc.

Love and friendship - Blessing all signs of caring and nurturing, compassion and support; all harmonious relationships in nature and architecture; everything that is connected to or gently touching something else; all signs of cooperation, as in games or work; all sign of laughter and fun.

Inner peace - Blessing all signs of quietness, calmness, tranquility, and serenity (such as quiet water or still air); all distant views (horizons, stars, the Moon); all signs of beauty of sight, sound or touch; clear colors and shapes; the details of natural or made objects.

Spiritual growth - Blessing all signs of growth development and change in Nature; the transitions of dawn and twilight; the movement of sun, moon, planets and stars; the flight of birds in the sky; and the movement of wind and sea.

The above ideas are suggestions only. Don't feel limited by them. Remember that ANY quality, characteristic or condition can be blessed, whether it has existed, presently exists, or exists so far in your imagination alone.

E.g., you can bless slender poles, women models and slim animals to encourage weight loss,

You can use blessing to help heal your body and mind, create loving relationships with others, develop skills, and increase your income. It helps your dreams come true since it brings you into closer contact with H.P.

This post includes quite a lot of things to adopt as a way of life. Well, we are not perfect. Just remember that easy does it, and practice whatever you can with love and a smile.

There is a lot more to be said and done, but let me leave it to step 11.


INTO ACTION AND SHARING SUBJECTS:

1. Apply the methods given in this post on a daily basis, and share on how it affects you and those around you.

2. Those of you who have ESH on working step 10 and especially step 7 in the framework of step 10, and are applying ways and methods that were not mentioned in my previous posts, please share with us.

I am sure we are always interested in learning additional effective methods of integrating the steps in our lives.

So see you in step 11.

Have a nice day.
Shlomo




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