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 11, PART 4

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.

In this post I will deal with some personal ESH activities that I incorporate into my daily recovery work. I learned these activities and ideas from others. They do not appear in the AA or OA books but I found them a very effective recovery practice that is essentially a step 7 activity applied to different situations and problems in life. I found those actions to be very effective in expanding my recovery and look upon them as part of my daily practice of steps 10 and 11.

Of course they are personal suggestions only and you can use them or not as you see fit. THEREFORE YOU CAN SKIP THIS POST IF THE PROCESSES SUGGESTED HERE SEEM TOO FAR REMOVED FROM THE RECOVERY PROCESS AS WRITTEN IN THE BIG BOOK.

There is just one important point to make before continuing. All the processes I write about, work only if we do them. Just reading about them or understanding them is of no help. This is true of course for our whole recovery program.


FEARS:

Here is what the Big Book says about fears:

"This short word somehow touches about every aspect of our lives. It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it." page 67.

This is one of the most basic and rooted liability that an addict has. I think the reason is simple. Our disease twists our perception of reality and this causes us to feel insecure and afraid.

The way the Big Book suggests we deal with fears is first by prayer.

"We ask God to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear." page 68.

The fear prayer:

"God please remove my fear of ____________ and direct my attention toward what you would have me do."

When we pray we begin to outgrow fear. By asking God to direct my attention toward what He would have me do, we ask to be given a clear perception of reality that is not clouded by our illness. We also ask for the power to walk through the fear and act according to God's will. The asset that is conjugate to fear is faith and trust in God, which results in courage.

Let me now look at what we usually fear, and then see some ESH suggestions for asset practice.

Fear about some future event, which is a manifestation of fear of the unknown.

Examples: Expecting something that I have (money, family, job, freedom, love, etc.) to be taken from me. Expecting not to get something that I want (money, family, job, freedom, love, etc.). Fear of being found out, which is a fear of possible future results of something I did that I shouldn't have done, or something that I didn't do and should have done.

Why do we fear or worry about these future events?

1. We fear because we lack information.

2. We fear because we assume responsibility for solving future events now. We invent imagined information, project it into the future situations, build a frightening scene in our mind and go over it repeatedly as if it were real, and thus frighten ourselves.

This assuming and projecting is a manifestation of NOT living in the here and now.

3. We fear because our self-trust is very low, which results in fear of taking necessary action.

We deal with this sort of fear by the practice of the "mirror process" as explained in the previous post. So I will not discuss it any further here.

Dealing with fear:

1. Dealing with lack of information is quite simple. We get the information from a suitable person. It can be a professional, in case of an illness for example, or it can be someone who had the problem I have and solved it, or it can be asking God for the answer and doing some prayer and meditation. Let us see some examples.

a). I have a pain in my hip and I think I am going to die of bone cancer. I think a lot of men are like that. This is an assumption I use to scare myself instead of gathering relevant information. So the treatment is to go to an expect doctor, be examined and get the information. And what is more difficult sometimes, to be ready to accept what the expert doctor says.

Even if the information is grave it can be dealt with since it is not a fantasy. Usually the fear is gone or diminished in such cases, since we know what can really be done, and whatever comes, we can leave the consequences to H.P.

b). I have a new job and part of it is making phone calls to people I don't know. It turns out that I have a fear of using the phone, so I procrastinate and may loose the job. Trying to get advice from a coworker who never had such a problem is no help, since all he can say is "what is the matter, why are you dramatizing things? It is very easy. Just make the calls, you don't have to do more than that, and the person on the other end will not bite you."

Great advice, but of no use to me. I know all that and I am still afraid of making the calls.

Asking someone who has the same problem for help is no good either. He can just say that he identifies with me and we can cry on each other's shoulders together. I have to find someone who had this problem and solved it. Then I can try to use his experience in overcoming this kind of fear.

Does this remind you of something? How about our compulsive eating? We cannot be helped by someone who is not a compulsive eater and we cannot be helped by someone who is a compulsive eater deep in the problem. We can be helped by a compulsive eater in recovery who works the solution. We can begin our recovery by using his ESH.

c). I get a letter from the IRS and they invite me to see them in two weeks about my previous year's taxes. I get scared imagining that they are after my hide. They will confiscate all my property and put me in jail since I probably did something wrong. This is an example of assumption and projection.

Usually I used to worry and do nothing, and come unprepared. Then I got some large fines just to make some of my fears come true.

Now, working the program, I begin by praying to H.P. to remove my fears. Then I begin some positive actions. First I ask God for help and I determine not to deal with the whole problem now. Committing to live in the here and now, take responsibility only for my immediate small step, and leave the rest to God.

Remembering that my next step is evolved by my present step, and the present step is the only thing I can deal with, I ask myself what small step can I do now towards solving the problem.

Maybe it is just finding and organizing some of the papers I will need, receipts, reports and such. Maybe it will take a few days, so I determine what I can comfortably do today and turn the rest over to God. This way I can do a small step every day. Maybe I can get advice from an accountant, too. But I don't worry, since worrying is a paralyzing defect that gets me nowhere. I just pray to H.P. and do my footwork and you now what, on the day I have to visit the IRS, I come prepared. It even turns out that they owe me some money and I get a nice check for my troubles.

d). Sometimes the answer is to ask myself how I should approach the fear problem. I ask H.P. for help, usually by prayer and I listen to H.P.'s answer by meditation.

This is a good practice for any problem since the answers I get may also tell me if I need to seek advice from another person and which kind of person to approach.

4. Another type of fear is addiction to fear. This is really an adrenaline addiction similar to gambling addiction. Fear makes the body secrete adrenaline and gets me kind of excited. It is a feeling in the gut like there are butterflies flying around there. Usually this kind of excitement ends up by my feeling bad about myself, like the feeling after eating too much.

There is a simple way to eventually get rid of such obsession. Find some other obsession to replace it. Well, I will not go as far as that, but here is a simple method that helps a lot, since it is positive and is an act of self love.

Write a list of all the pleasant/exciting activities that you like. It can be as simple as going to a movie or spending an hour with yourself, or reading a nice book or dancing, or listening to music, or watching the sunset, etc. Choose activities that are not dependent on the participation of others, though they can be activities in which others participate.

Choose a different activity from your list each week and decide to do it. Determine a date place and time and just do it. Don't find last minute excuses to postpone it. After a while you may choose two different activities a week, we don't want to indulge ourselves too much. What happens is that you get excited planning the activity, you are exited doing it and you get excited remembering it. Quite a nice bundle of excitements that replaces the fear excitement, with one big difference: it leaves you feeling good about yourself, since it was an act of self-care and self-love.

Now let us deal with some more recovery practices.

POSTPONED FULFILLMENTS PROCESS:

This process makes me realize how I neglected my needs and helps me to give them the right priority in my life

1. Write down two or three things you have wanted to do but have not taken the time for.

REMARK: We have a tendency to look for very big things that I missed doing in my life, like being a multimillionaire or a famous movie star. What we are looking for here are simple things like time for myself, hiking, having my own little garden, writing, studying makeup or interior decorating, or taking night courses, or some career courses, etc.

Choose some things you keep running up against.

2. How often do you think of them?

EXAMPLE: Let us say that I plan to turn one of my weekends into a special vacation, and it never gets done. I think of it quite often but still it never gets done.

3. Attempt to identify which emotions are triggered by your thinking of these activities.

REMARK: It may be enthusiasm, excitement, relaxation, a sense of adventure, etc.

4. Make a list of the projects that currently require your time and energy. Include situations which you spend time on by thinking or worrying about them.

REMARK: This is a good opportunity to see what happens in my life now. I list projects that take up my time and energy including family, job, etc. There are decisions that may take a few minutes to decide but take hours of worrying about them till I decide. So include those too, since when I worry I can't do anything else.

It is interesting to note that worrying draws into my life problems that justify my worry. This is a spiritual principle. When I focus on the negative I draw negative into my life, and when I focus on the positive I draw positive. The story "Doctor Alcoholic Addict" in the Big Book talks about it. See for example pages 450-451, in the third edition. In the fourth edition see pages 418-419.

5. Ask yourself if any of the items that currently require your time and energy are more important than your well being.

REMARK: My answer may be no! But the evidence of my life shows otherwise, since I dealt with these things first and neglected the things I wanted to do.

6. Which of the activities in No. 4 can you comfortably release immediately or phase yourself out of over the next few months?

REMARK: Some things I cannot get out of doing, but maybe there are some things I can reduce, like cleaning the house for the fifth time this week, maybe twice is enough. Or pay someone to do some of the things for me; then I can use the freed time more productively for myself.

7. What can you COMFORTABLY do this week in terms of exploring or pursuing that activity/activities you've always wanted to do?

REMARK: The key word is "comfortably." We don't want to get stressed over it, but to enjoy ourselves. Choose one or more of the things you mentioned in 1.

8. Reassure yourself that you are worth it; that you deserve to spend your time enjoyably for you.

REMARK: I actively reassure myself that it is ok.


SITUATION ANALYSIS:

The purpose of this process is to bring me more in touch with what I do about the important situations in my life.

1. Select a situation (job, relationship, etc.).

2. List the things you want from that situation.

(Examples: Fulfillment, companionship, sensitivity, etc.)

REMARK: Since a lot of times we don't know what exactly we want from a particular situation, we waste a lot of time in the attempt of holding on to it, instead of benefiting from it. Therefore this is an opportunity to find out what I really want from this situation.

3. What problems currently stand in the way of your having the things you want from the situation?

4. Ask yourself what qualities you need in order for this situation to come into your life.

REMARK: Maybe I will need more ability to talk about myself or to promote myself, or more patience or study, etc.

5. What is the first step or steps towards creating the situation you want?

REMARK: Instead of being a victim of the situation, what can I do to direct things towards my benefit?

6. What can you comfortably begin with today?


PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION:

A lot of times we know we have a problem, but get stuck there. In this process we unfold the problem so that we can do something about it.

1. Identify a problem or issue.

How long has it been in your life?

2. What prevents you from solving this problem?

3. Of the following choices, identify your fears and resistances regarding the solution:

a) The fear of acknowledging the problem.
b) The fear of losing something you have.
c) The fear of not getting what you want.
d) The fear of becoming something you don't want to be.
e) The fear of becoming like someone you don't like or respect.

EXAMPLE: A lot of times we live in fear that we will be like our parents, for example, and therefore we run away from every characteristic we have that is similar to theirs. We run away without understanding that we can possibly use this characteristic in a much better and useful way then they did.

4. What effect is the problem having on your life? What things do you have to cope with because of the problem? What resentments do you have because of it? How does it affect your behaviors in ways you do not like?

REMARK: Consider seriously not only the immediate effects but also secondary effects. This gives a wide view into areas this problem creates that generally are not considered.

5. What external factors contribute to the problem? And what did these factors contribute?

REMARK: External factors like other people's opinions, involvement of family members, parents, children, places, health factors, or other subjects that are connected to the problem and have to be considered.

6. Identify the YOU factor in the problem:

On a daily basis:

On a longer term basis:

REMARK: What do I bring into the problem in terms of rationalization, self-justification, outbreaks of anger, resentments, people-pleasing.

People-pleasing is a very devastating affair of not being who we really are. Never being right, but always being right for someone else. When we get into it, to some extent our resentments turn into "justified" anger points by which we "get" some of our self-esteem back. We do this by "working and reworking" our resentments in our heads, to balance our people-pleasing.

This is a good place to identify these things if they exist in us.

7. What resistances, rationalizations/excuses, arise when the solution to the problem surfaces?

REMARKS: The problem may prey on my mind, and sometimes quite normally insights arise that this or that will solve the problem. And then the resistance begins by saying to myself, it is not that, or it is not possible that this is the right answer. So we write down the excuses, and resistances we use in order to push an arising solution back inside and ignore it.

8. How would you feel if the problem were solved now? Elaborate on this feeling.

REMARK: Your answer may surprise you.

9. What first steps can you COMFORTABLY do today to start resolving the issues listed in this process?

REMARK: The key word is COMFORTABLY, since we always look towards a giant crushing step that we should take and we never take it. We only want to know what we can do this moment, comfortably and harmoniously, from where we are standing now, in order to solve some of the issues.

10. Indicate whether or not you can commit to that first step NOW!!!!

REMARK: Here I begin to move towards the solution. But suppose something came up and I have to wait a few days till I can do it? Then I can begin to do something NOW that will enable me to take the necessary step in a few days.

Example: If I have to go and talk with someone like my boss in a few days, I can today begin to arrange to have free time then, and not arrive that day to work and see that I cannot meet him because of other commitments.


INTO ACTION AND SHARING SUBJECTS:

1. Deal with your existing fears by the processes explained in this post.

a) Getting needed information from suitable persons (professionals, people who had my problem and solved it, etc.). Include inner contemplation, prayer and meditation.

b) Committing to living in the here and now and acting accordingly in the now with simple immediate steps, surrendering the rest to H.P.

c) Doing some fun "I" activities for me on a weekly basis.

2. Begin dealing with your neglected needs by the "Postponed Fulfillment" process.

3. Begin to bring yourself more in touch with what to do about the important situations in your life, by doing the "Situation Analysis" process.

4. Unfold problems you have in your life, so that you can do something about them. Use the "Problem Analysis" process.

5. Share about using these processes and how it influences your feelings and your life.

Well, friends, this post gives us some things to chew on if we choose taking these actions.

See you in step 12.

Have a nice day.
Shlomo





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