Step Eleven

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact
with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of
His will for us and the power to carry that out.




STEP ELEVEN, PART 2

Hi friends.

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

In the previous post we discussed prayer and meditation in the framework of step 11. But that is not all there is to step 11. The Big Book gives specific detailed suggestions on working step 11 at night, in the morning and during the day.

Let us see the "at night" suggestions:

"When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken." page 86.

We see here that at night we make a constructive review of our day. We don't do this review in order to criticize ourselves, but in order to learn from our mistakes and correct them, and in order to further develop and grow on the spiritual path. The suggestions are quite similar to the spot check suggestions of step ten. But here we do an in-depth job on our whole day. Since it is not a quick spot check, we have the time to do it in writing which for me is always preferred to doing it in my head.

Let me list the suggestions here, as a list of questions I answer every evening, preferably in writing:

1. Was I resentful today?

If the answer is YES, then I ask: Am I still resentful now? If the answer is YES, I do step 4, preferably in writing (resentment table), continue with step 5 by sharing with someone, who does not necessarily have to be the sponsor, and continue with steps 6 and 7.

2. Was I selfish today?

3. Was I dishonest today?

If the answer to questions 2 and/or 3, is YES, than I share with someone and work steps 6 and 7 on these defects.

4. Was I afraid today?

If the answer is YES, I ask: am I still afraid? If the answer is still YES, I work step 4 on the fear (fill a fear table), share with someone and continue with steps 6 and 7 on the fear.

5. Do I owe an apology today?

If the answer is YES I do step 4 on harm done to others, share with someone and continue with steps 6-9. I set a near time for making amends, usually tomorrow.

6. Have I kept something to myself that should be discussed with another person at once today? If the answer is YES, I share with someone now, or if that is not possible, than I commit to sharing tomorrow.

7. Was I thinking of myself most of the time today?

If the answer is YES, then I think on what I can do to be of more use to H.P. and others, and commit to doing something about it this evening or tomorrow.

8. Was I kind towards all today?

If the answer is NO, then I commit to being kind this evening to my family and commit to being more kind to others tomorrow.

9. Was I loving towards all today?

If the answer is NO, I pray to God to make me more loving. I don't think I can be loving towards all yet, so according to the situation I commit to use more restraint in the worst case. In other cases I commit to be more accepting and less critical, and in the easier cases I commit to be more loving. Some of these things I can begin practicing with my family this evening and some I commit to practice at work tomorrow, or wherever I may be, and I try to be specific.

10. What could I have done better today?

Here I check what I did during my day and ask myself what improvements I could make in my words and actions. Then I commit to making them tomorrow to the best of my ability.

11. Was I thinking of what I could do for others today?

If NOT than I think about it now and commit to do some specific things for others this evening and tomorrow.

12. Was I thinking of what I could pack into the stream of life today?

If NOT, than I do it now. It can be some spiritual endeavor, or being more efficient (not loafing at my work, etc.) and commit to do something about it this evening or tomorrow.

I take care to make all my commitments as triple commitments, to myself, to H.P. and to someone else.

It is interesting to note that there are 12 questions.

The first 7 deal with checking for actions based on self will.

The last 5 questions deal with checking for actions based on God's will. Therefore this is a balanced review. Doing it every night works miracles.

Now a remark:

There is a difference between asking "was I resentful today" and "was I angry today?"

Anger is a feeling that arises and is dissipated after a short time. A resentment is a feeling that I carry with me for a long time. It can even be many years. If I became angry during the day and the anger didn't disappear and is still with me in the evening then it means that it turned into a resentment.

A possible definition of resentment is: A feeling of continuous anger for a real or imaginary provocation or insult. It can also manifest by blaming others or hating others.

After answering all those questions and committing to do some actions, I remind myself that I must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish my usefulness to others. Then I pray and ask God's forgiveness for my mistakes, and ask what more corrective measures I can take.

An ESH suggestion that I add here is the following:

Before getting into bed to sleep I ask H.P. to guide me during my sleep. This is a real bonus. I sometimes get guidance during dreams and sometimes when I wake up in the morning I just know the answer to a problem that bothered me. Try it and see how it works for you.

Is this all there is to this daily review at night you may ask. The answer is NO. The AA 12 and 12 has some additional suggestions. The suggestions appear in the chapter on step ten. That's probably the reason why this daily review at night is also called "step ten" by a lot of people. I still prefer to call it "step 11 at night" since this is the way it is arranged in the Big Book, and it reminds me that there is a step ten that is a spot check during the day, and that it should not be ignored. But the names are not that important. What is important is the actions we take. So let us now turn to the A.A. 12 & 12:

"There's the one we take at day's end, when we review the happenings of the hours just past. Here we cast up a balance sheet, crediting ourselves with things well done, and chalking up debits where due." page 89.

"When evening comes, perhaps just before going to sleep, many of us draw up a balance sheet for the day. This is a good place to remember that inventory-taking is not always done in red ink. It's a poor day indeed when we haven't done something right. As a matter of fact, the waking hours are usually well filled with things that are constructive. Good intentions, good thoughts, and good acts are there for us to see. Even when we have tried hard and failed, we may chalk that up as one of the greatest credits of all. Under these conditions, the pains of failure are converted into assets. Out of them we receive the stimulation we need to go forward...

"As we glance down the debit side of the day's ledger, we should carefully examine our motives in each thought or act that appears to be wrong. In most cases our motives won't be hard to see and understand. When prideful, angry, jealous, anxious, or fearful, we acted accordingly, and that was that. Here we need only recognize that we did act or think badly, try to visualize how we might have done better, and resolve with God's help to carry these lessons over into tomorrow, making, of course, any amends still neglected.

"But in other instances only the closest scrutiny will reveal what our true motives were. There are cases where our ancient enemy, rationalization, has stepped in and has justified conduct which was really wrong. The temptation here is to imagine that we had good motives and reasons when we really didn't.

"We 'constructively criticized' someone who needed it, when our real motive was to win a useless argument. Or, the persons concerned not being present, we thought we were helping others to understand them, when in actuality our true motive was to feel superior by pulling someone else down. We sometimes hurt those we love because they need to be 'taught a lesson,' when we really wanted to punish. We were depressed and complained we felt bad, when in fact we were mainly asking for sympathy and attention. This odd trait of mind and emotion, this perverse wish to hide a bad motive underneath a good one, permeates human affairs from top to bottom. This subtle and elusive kind of self-righteousness can underlie the smallest act or thought. Learning daily to spot, admit, and correct these flaws is the essence of character-building and good living. An honest regret for harms done, a genuine gratitude for blessings received, and a willingness to try for better things tomorrow will be the permanent assets we shall seek.

"Having so considered our day, not omitting to take due note of things well done, and having searched our hearts with neither fear nor favor, we can truly thank God for the blessings we have received and sleep in good conscience." pages 93-95.

The A.A. 12 & 12 expands the Big Book's explanations and tells us to be aware of defects that masquerade as assets. It also tells us that our daily review should include not only what we did wrong, but also what we did right, thus balancing this review.

In order to balance this review let me add some ideas that I find very effective and I use as part of my daily evening review. I learned these ideas from others and integrated them into my step work. They are not mentioned explicitly in the Big Book or the A.A. 12 & 12.

DEVELOPING AN ASSET LIST AND A DAILY ASSET REVIEW:

1. Sit down and relax.

2. Write down on a sheet of paper what you feel are your Talents, Strengths, Abilities, and Positive Qualities.

There are two major groups of assets.

a) Hard Talents, Strengths & Abilities:

E.g. vocational talents, mechanical abilities, mathematical capabilities, psychic ability, manual dexterity, artistic abilities, etc.

b) Soft Abilities (Qualities):

E.g. sense of humor, warmth, sensitivity, caring, openness, willingness to share, etc.

Be as specific as possible (i.e., expand "artistic ability" to specifics such as sculpting, design, sketching, etc.) Make as complete a list as possible.

This list will be called your GENERAL ASSET LIST.

3. Now take another sheet of paper and make a two-column table on it (columns again).

In the left column make a list (one under the other) of all the things that pleased you during that day. In the second column beside each item on the list, write down what Talents, Strengths, Abilities or Qualities in you enabled that positive experience to occur.

EXAMPLE: One of the items on your list for today may be this step workshop. So write that down as something that pleased you, then list what in you enabled you to participate in this workshop, such as commitment to self, open mindedness, willingness to explore, your talent at learning, willingness to confront difficult issues, etc.

This table will be called DAILY REVIEW OF RIGHT THINGS IN MY LIFE.

4. Look over the assets listed in the second column of your daily review. Compare them to the assets on your GENERAL ASSET LIST. Add to the GENERAL ASSET LIST, any additional assets that appear on your DAILY REVIEW.

As you can see you fill a new "daily review of right things" every evening. The "general asset list" is not written anew every evening, but it grows as you add to it assets from your daily review.

This way of dealing with my assets is very effective in strengthening my self-trust, self-worth, self-love, motivation and self-commitment.

There is a second part to this procedure to be dealt with in the morning, but more on this in one of my next posts.

CHARACTER DEFECTS AS DEFENSIVE BEHAVIOR.

Let us take another look at our character defects. A lot of times it turns out that what we call a character defect is a defensive behavior adopted to protect some vulnerable part of self,

E.g. an abused child may adopt lying as a defensive behavior to a void being beaten. A defensive behavior will not change unless we deal with our sense of vulnerability, which it comes to defend.

So here is a step 6 and 7 suggestion of dealing with often recurring character defects that may be defensive behaviors.

Take a sheet of paper and make a three-column table. (You can see that I like tables.)

In the first column write a list of the recurring defects.

In the second column write how they are useful to you and what benefits they bring you.

In the third column try to list the harm they cause you.

Examining the second column you will be able to identify the vulnerable parts in you that you are trying to defend.

You deal with those vulnerable parts through applying the steps of the program, and when you become less vulnerable the need for the defenses will be diminished and they will weaken till they vanish.

This is really the way we deal for example with our compulsive eating, by dealing with the spiritual hole this eating is trying to fulfill, and filling it with conscious contact with H.P., thus the urge to eat compulsively diminishes till it vanishes on a daily basis.

The process for developing a daily asset list and asset review, together with it's morning part, essentially deals with strengthening our vulnerability in the areas of self-trust, self-worth, self-love, etc. When they strengthen, a lot of our defensive behaviors are not needed anymore and they diminish and vanish. Therefore I consider this procedure a blanket treatment that covers a lot of cases. I think it is very important and I highly recommend practicing it on a daily basis.


INTO ACTION AND SHARING SUBJECTS:

1. Begin taking the evening daily review (step 11 at night) by answering the 12 questions and applying the steps as explained in this post. Suggest you do the review in writing. If you don't have the time to do it at night, than do it in the morning. Do this review on a daily basis.

2. Write your "general asset list" as explained in this post

3. Write a daily review of "right things in my life." Do it on a daily basis, as explained in this post.

4. Treat some of your recurring defects as defensive behaviors, as explained in this post. Check what vulnerable parts of self these behaviors defend. Deal with these vulnerable parts by applying the steps on a daily basis.

5. Before going to sleep ask God for guidance during sleep.

6. Share with us on the effect of all the above actions and how it makes you feel.

Have a nice day.
Shlomo



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