July 30, 2013 step seven in mind: "courage to change, faith in finding the next right thing to do, and the confidence to develop a new way of life." We start to learn about our feelings as we experience them in the moment of now, rather than next week when we thought about them, the feelings that is. As we start to feel how the world really is, we begin to understand how other people have felt about us, and how we relate to them. What would it be like to spend an hour in their shoes looking at us?
When we are on our own, working things out for ourselves, we can find and understand the feelings we have. It can be a bit of a surprise to realise that we have the full repertoire of feelings available, whatever they are, good bad or ugly. Three basic questions: how am I feeling, why and what can I do about it, these basic questions work assertively on ourselves. Usually starting with: hungry, angry, lonely and tired. And we spend time with other people and they have all their feelings available to them whatever they are, good bad or ugly. To have empathy with other people and truly understand the current conditions of the day we need empathy: how are we feeling, why and what can we do together? We need both assertiveness and empathy to understand if we are indeed in the right place with the right people doing the right things.
Saying no to what is bad for you and I can be a difficult starting point. Unless of course you are used to saying no to anything you don't like. The serenity prayer can do and cannot do and learning the wisdom to know the difference is really helpful when learning to say no, if in the past you have said yes just for a quiet life. Life is often difficult enough and without the ability to say no, saying yes can make life very very difficult and feel impossible. In early sobriety, with a lot of fear still causing anguish, we can be led off course without realising the danger. An emphatic no, it is always better than a half-hearted yes which leads to resentments and more difficult living.
Step six defects, all about doing or living in a way which is unhelpful and leads to extremes of fear, pride and ego and lots of unhelpful thinking. And step seven and shortcomings, short on courage, short on faith and short on confidence. Combined, defects can play on our thinking, and step seven, when we are short of courage faith and confidence will leach and corrode recovery. There will be days where defects and shortcomings make a perfect storm for emotional imbalance. And then as time opens the door to healing and a greater understanding of how to live, the psychic change, psychological change, practical change, changing encouraged by positive experience, opens the door to a life of mistakes and wonderment as we make progress in the imperfectly perfect moment of now.
And sometimes there is good news and bad news and ugly news happening all at once. We can find ourselves in a whirlwind of decision-making and problem-solving. Sometimes our first reaction is to try and sort it out as if we have all the answers. We do have answers which are usually limited to our own experience, our own understanding and our own desired outcomes. Better to strive for empathy and understanding the point of view of other people, knowing the situation through experience and knowing the can-do cannot do to improve the outcomes. Just because we know the answer, it does not mean it is the answer for everyone else. With hope and a steady understanding of the status quo, we can find common ground by including everyone involved in decision-making if it is possible. But if you are the dictator, you are in control, and you want it all your own way, you might run into one or two problems from time to time.
People places and things! I do embrace the notion and understanding that I am powerless over people, places and things. Or rather life is a lot better if I don't try controlling anything in particular, simply understanding the current situation and what my part is in it. If I choose to take control because the situation is that I need to be in control and there is agreement, all well and good. If I'm competing for control the some reason or other, I need to be very sure of what I am up to, because you are watching me my attitudes and my behaviour today. Same applies to anyone anywhere on the planet, and hopefully we will get along nicely just for a day…
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