I Offer myself to Thee-to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always
Those of you who have missed my previous shares and assignments can read them on the website: http://www.therecoverygroup.org/wts/2006
The Big Book tells us to take an hour to check if we did steps 1-5 properly. If we can answer the questions on page 75 to our satisfaction, we then look at step six. So let us take a look. STEP SIX: "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."
The defects are those I found in step four shared in step five.
Can I remove those defects even if I really want to very much? NO!!!! I am powerless over my defects which are a manifestation of my unmanageable life. Only God can remove those defects.
Why does this step say that I am entirely ready? I am entirely ready since I did steps 1-5 Working those steps made me ready to have God remove my defects.
Am I also willing? Not always.
So what is the difference between being ready and being willing? An example will make this clearer. I wake up in the morning and want to go to the beach, but I am still in bed. Am I ready to go to the beach? Not yet. I have to get up, wash myself, put some clothes on, eat breakfast and then I will be ready. Those series of actions make me ready. Am I willing, well, a friend called while I was eating and suggested we meet some girls and have a good time. I liked his suggestion and am no longer willing to go to the beach. I did all I had to do in order to be ready to go to the beach but now the willingness is gone. And guess what? Without willingness I will not go.
Do you know what the most fragile aspect of our recovery is? It is our willingness.
Let us see what the Big Book has to say about it on page 76. "We have emphasized willingness as being indispensable. Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable? Can He now take them all-every one? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing"
The last sentence is the sixth step prayer. Here is an example of such a prayer:
God, I now see what has blocked me from the sunlight of the Spirit, God; please help me to be willing to let go of the things in myself ______________, that block me from you.
Why would we cling to something that we admitted was objectionable? Seems crazy doesn’t it? It is said that an addict is a person who will not give up a life of failure and misery without a fight. Later on we will see that this clinging is not always so crazy. But to get there you have to read on.
Let us look at this step again. What does it mean to be ready to let God remove our defects? Well, first we have to be aware of our character defects and the role they play in our lives. We became aware when we did steps 4 and 5.
The main defects were: Resentments, root fears, selfishness, dishonesty, self-seeking, being inconsiderate. To those were added related defects that we saw when we considered our part.
Let us organize this a bit more. To do that we collect our character defects from our step four and write them in a list. Beside each character defect we write the appropriate character asset. Those who find it difficult to identify the right assets may use a thesaurus and look for antonyms There is a thesaurus online at: http://thesaurus.reference.com
The defects are manifestation of our self will run riot, and the assets are manifestations of the alignment of our will with God's will. Here is an example of such a table. Everyone should of course write his own personal table.
There is not much written on page 76 about steps six and seven. I think the reason is that the essence of these steps is discussed in all the previous chapters without mentioning them by name. Our unmanageable life, our agnosticism, our need for God in our life, the way we deal with resentments and fears in step four, they are all parts of step six and seven. What I am doing in this share is just collecting everything together. I am not inventing anything. Just sharing some of my experience in working and sponsoring the steps according to the Big Book.
After writing our personal defect-asset table we can examine it bit more If we examine all our character defects carefully we will realize that the origin of every defect is fear. As we already know fear is the result of lack of faith .It is a manifestation of our agnosticism. And so are our defects.
Some of our character defects are a manifestation of assets twisted to extremes. So returning to balance will turn our defects into assets. Examples: Stubbornness, when balanced turns to perseverance Stinginess when balanced turns to wise spending. People pleasing when balanced turns to being helpful Overeating when balanced turns into moderate eating. Self criticism when balanced turns into evaluation of our deeds. Procrastination when balanced turns into doing things on time. Etc…
There are character defects that are just that and not assets driven to extremes by our self will run riot. Examples are stealing, lying, etc…
There is another type of defects that should be considered differently for different people. In order to identify them I have to go over my defects and consider every defect carefully. I find it best to do this by writing a three column table.
The heading of the first column will be "DEFECTS". The first column will be a list of our defects, the same as the first column in our defects assets table.
The heading of the second column will be "BENEFITS AND USEFULLNESS". In the second column we will write what are the benefits we get from those defect and what is their usefulness to us.
The heading of the third column will be "HARM AND DAMAGE". In this column we write how the defects cause us harm and damage.
It is a fact that different persons may have different answers in the second and third column for the same defect. Some find that a particular defect has no benefit or usefulness and others find that it does. Some find it hard to recognize the damage caused by certain defects especially if those defects are useful to them and benefit them. And some find no benefit or usefulness in any of their defects. No matter what you find, you write it down. If you don't find anything write that down too.
If you find some defects that have benefits or usefulness you will have to examine them further separately. Let us give them a different name Let us call those defects DEFENSIVE BEHAVIOURS.
Just to make it clearer let us take some specific examples. An abused child who lies all the time in order to avoid being beaten. For this child lying is a survival tool. It is usful and has it benefits. After the child grows he may still feel vulnerable inside and use lying as a defensive behavior. The benefit now may be imaginary but because of his feeling of vulnerability it is real to him, and he still uses it as a defensive behavior.
I will not let go of a defensive behavior as long as it defends an inside feeling of vulnerability and as long as I feel that it is useful and has its benefits. So even If I say that I am willing to let God remove it, I imagine God answering, yes you are full of shit, but I love you anyway.
What I have to be willing is to have God remove my feeling of vulnerability, and then there will be no need for the defense mechanism and it will cease to exist. Neat isn't it?
You see how I can complicate just a few simple sentences about step six in the Big Book? It is a specialty of mine. But I think it is important. This is similar to what we did with fears. By doing some extra work and identifying the root fears we made our dealing with fears much simpler and more effective.
I am sure the same simplification will happen here. Trying to get rid of defensive behaviors can make things worse, since the vulnerability remains. It is like a hydra with many heads. You cut one off and two others grow to replace it. If the feeling of vulnerability is not removed, we will develop another stronger defensive behavior and remain with the problem.
There is a true story of a woman who went to one of those weekend forums where they promise to smash all kinds of negative behaviors and give you tools to deal with life more successfully. She wanted to be freed of inhibitions that prevented her from going out with men. The weekend forum was very successful and she got rid of her inhibiting defenses and started dating. After a short time she got some kind of strange disease. Her body became covered with ugly messy sores. She went to doctors and they didn't know how to treat her. One of them thought it was psychosomatic and turned her to a special psychic. The psychic immediately recognized the problem and asked her if she participated in any kind of workshop lately. She told him about her inhibitions and how the workshop freed her of them. He explained to her that she got rid of one defensive mechanism and therefore her body developed another stronger one. Now no one will go out with her when she looks like that. He gave her some simple suggestions and exercises she stopped trying to date, and after a very short time her sores disappeared.
Does this mean that those workshops are no good? Not necessarily. But it means that everything should be approached with caution.
For us addicts, any solution that does not include God is not really helpful, since we are powerless and usually cannot use all those self help methods effectively. What we use effectively are God help methods.
So let us continue. After identifying our defensive behaviors we will have a closer look at our vulnerabilities. We do this by writing another two column table. As you can see I am nuts about tables or just nuts, whatever you choose.
The heading of the first column will be "DEFENSIVE BEHAVIORS". In this column we list all the defects that benefit us or are useful to us even if this benefit or usefulness may look imaginary to others.
The heading of the second column will be "VULNARABILITIES". In this column we write what are the vulnerabilities or vulnerable parts in us that those behaviors defend. Those may be some of the seven parts of self that we dealt with in our step four. Or maybe some of the basic emotions like self trust, self love (self acceptance), self commitment, motivation, Integrity. We may feel that those are vulnerable, weak, or lacking to some degree. And this may cause some inner fears that make us feel we need protection by those defensive behaviors.
Step six is all about awareness and willingness to have God remove the things that block us from him. First we had to identify the blocks in steps four and five. And now we have to be willing to let God remove them. We have to stop clinging to them to be really ready to turn to God in step seven.
After discussing our defects and dividing them into different groups we can ask the willingness questions more specifically. Am I willing to let God balance my twisted assets? Am I willing to let God remove my vulnerabilities? So that I will not need my defensive behaviors? Am I willing to let God remove my other defects? I think that dividing the defects in such a manner helps us remove the need to just cling to some of them, and gives our saying that we are willing a real meaning.
ASSIGNMENTS: Read this share carefully. The assignments are explained in it in detail.
1. Go over your entire written step four inventory. Copy all your character defects that appear in it Write a two column personal defects-assets table.
2. Go over your defects. Do you identify fears behind every defect? Do you identify the unmanageability? Do you identify the agnosticism? Do you realize that those defects can lead you straight back to part one of step one, to active obsession and bingeing? Share with us.
3. Write down a two column table. The first column will be headed defects which are twisted assets In the first column write down those defects that you recognize as assets twisted to extremes by self will run riot. The second column heading will be balanced assets, you write the appropriate balanced assets in that column.
4. Write down a three column table: The heading of the first column will be DEFFECTS. Write all your defects in this column
The second column heading will be BENEFITS AND USEFULNESS. In this column write down the benefits and usefulness whenever you feel that a defect has them. Not all defects have benefits or usefulness. There may be some of you who will not see any benefits or usefulness in any of their defects. THAT IS OK.
Third column: HARM and DAMAGE, write down the harm and damage that you feel each defect is causing you. Here you may feel that some defects especially if they are useful or benefiting don't cause you any harm or damage, and THAT IS OK TOO.
5. Write down a two column table The first column will be headed DEFENSIVE BEHAVIOURS. Here you write down all the defects that give you some benefit and are useful. You copy them from the table in assignment 4. Don't worry if you don't find any defensive behaviors. Not everyone has them.
The second column will be headed VULNARABILITIES. Here you list the vulnerabilities that you try to protect with your defensive behaviors. The vulnerabilities may be some of the seven parts of self or some of the five basic emotions (self trust, self love (self acceptance), self commitment, motivation, Integrity), or some other vulnerabilities. When writing expand on how those vulnerabilities affect your life.
6. Quoting from page 76: "We emphasized willingness as being indispensable. Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable? Can He now take them all - every one? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing." After discussing or character defects and dividing them into different groups, we can ask the questions as follows: Am I willing to let God balance ALL my twisted assets? Am I willing to let God remove ALL my vulnerabilities, so that I will not need my defensive behaviors? Am I willing to let God remove ALL my other defects?
If we answer YES to those three questions we are ready for step seven. If even now there are some reservation we have to pray for willingness every day till it comes. Here is a step six prayer: 6th step prayer God, I now see what has blocked me from the sunlight of the Spirit, God; please help me to be willing to let go of the things in myself ______________, that block me from you.
Pray everyday and many times a day till you have no reservations and are ready for step seven.
This reminds me of a person who almost died and was recovering slowly from a serious illness. When the doctor asked him how he felt he answered that considering the alternative he felt fine. So if you still have some reservations consider the alternative which is returning to active obsession and then bingeing. Remember to share your answers to the assignments with us.
I invite you to ask me questions. Anything that is not clear to you about my explanations, about the assignments, maybe you would like me to enlarge on some point, or to mention points that I have not dealt with. Anything at all that is connected to our 12 step workshop. There are no stupid or trivial questions. Every question is important to our understanding of what we do, in order to do it properly. I am aware that not everything I write is clear or sufficient, and the questions will enhance our understanding and therefore are very important. When you ask questions write them in a separate e-mail to the loop. In the subject space write QUESTIONS TO THE LEADER.
Wishing us all a life full of recovery Shlomo Food addict and compulsive overeater
Questions to the Leader
Would you please give me examplesof unmanagability and vulnerabilities .
Unmanageability is the second part of step one.
It is the spiritual illness that I discussed in the third share on step one.
Just read that share again. It is on the website.
Vulnerability is the feeling that I can be hurt by something or someone
I can feel vulnerable in the presence of a hurricane or a poisonous snake or a violent person. Those are vulnerabilities based on current reality.
I can also feel vulnerable in different situations because of lack of self confidence or lack of self acceptance etc...
Feelings of vulnerability may have their basis in childhood
An adult who was an abused child may feel vulnerable because of lack of self confidence and self acceptance.
In order to deal with a vulnerability I build a defense.
If the vulnerability is something that was created in my childhood and remained with me, I usually try to defend myself by the same means I used as a child which may be lying, stealing, manipulating, those defenses stay with me as an adult and cause me harm since they are now not really needed. But I still use them unconsciously because I still feel vulnerable.
I will stop using these defenses when I will stop feeling vulnerable.
This will happen when my self confidence and my self acceptance increase. When we will deal with step 11 I will give some practices that will help in those areas.
The Twelve Steps
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