Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Oct 2 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"
October 2, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." Often I hear the words: "tolerance and love," and "desist from pen and tongue!" This does not mean we stop feeling whatever is going on, it means we are holding back until we can consider a response which may be appropriate. We can be outraged and holding back and a pause might be appropriate, at the same time we are still outraged. On the other hand if we are whelmed up with love, I was going to pause?
Love and hate, rage and tranquillity, all states of mind: emotions in the moment of now hopefully. Tolerance and love is appropriate in all situations where there may be conflict, or we have done something to someone which is wrong, and especially if somebody is treating us badly. Pausing long enough to collect our thoughts about our feelings is a good idea. We need to know the source of whatever feeling is going on. And the same applies when it comes to the desisting from pen and tongue. In the heat of the moment a declaration of outrage might do no good at all, and a declaration of love might have the same impact.
With step ten, it is okay to feel wrong footed in any situation. And we can say openly, "I feel wrong footed or uncomfortable or surprised," and expressing what our feelings are can be very helpful if a little thought is given to the current situation. If you want to wind a person up and really hurt them, "I feel let down by you," is a good example of nailing a person where it hurts, their self-esteem, pride and ego. Unless of course they have tendencies found in sociopaths and psychopaths in which case they just don't care. And there are one or two of those about most days. And other people who just don't care about you or me. If you feel let down by a person and tell them so, it hits hard if they have any understanding about affection and friendship. Be wary of taking people apart, they are very difficult to put together again especially if they shoot you.
Tolerance and love, desist from pen and tongue is not about becoming a doormat or a mug, it is about breathing long enough to take on the evidence on more than one occasion sometimes before becoming intolerant and unloving, getting out pen and letting your wrath fly with your tongue. Unless of course it is your landlord who for months on end cannot eradicate the problem with mice, does not resolve plumbing issues and sends round ignorant and unhelpful people who do nothing to improve or repair problems. In which case, write down the evidence, be intolerant and unloving, state a case and express how let down you are. They won't feel any worse for it; you will feel a lot better for it. And as we know we are powerless over people, places and things, expression of the truth can serve you well. They won't make anything better, but at least you can point out their deficiencies without expectation of any improvements at all.
When you are dealing with people, step ten is really good to stop me and you from becoming so agitated we might wish them harm. And I don't wish anybody any harm actually, because harm done cannot be restored. Harm done to others emotionally is probably as wicked as actually punching a person on the nose or worse something horrible physically. The fantasy of a trial and retribution is not harmful if it remains a fantasy. And there have been times where the fantasy in my early recovery would have been preferable to the prolonged step ten work I had to do, moment to moment, minute to minute and hour to hour for quite a number of days when I was defamed. Thankfully, step ten help me let go the brick, or as the book title goes, "drop the rock." After all we all have a right to be here don't we?
In the past I can remember on more than one occasion being told, "I love you." And I heard it, and I didn't know what to say, and I walked away, and then I felt it, or actually wondered how could somebody love me and I didn't really know them very well. Being loved is very difficult and especially when someone says that they love us, recognising our own feelings might be slightly out of sync with reality. Same goes for situations where we might be quite stunned by what people do and it's only when we have walked away that we feel the impact of that event. I was very good at walking away from conflict, and feeling the rage boiling away inside me when people did bad things to me and I just didn't know what to do back then. Nowadays, rude and unhelpful people are allowed to be exactly that way, I need not keep their company beyond a few moments and it is not my job to correct them, being combative and unhelpfully challenging is a waste of time.
I don't need put myself in harm’s way these days, that is physical harm, and emotional harm. And although I find it very difficult to express negative feelings, I keep on learning how as each moment of difficulty happens. Saying out loud: "I don't feel right about what is going on, or just don't feel right about this situation," is an open statement of concern which can lead into a dialogue, rather than some confrontation of an unhelpful kind. Pride and ego can impact greatly when we are practising step ten on a daily basis. The less we fear telling the truth, the less likely we find ourselves prideful and ego driven to get our way or put a point of view.
Step ten, it is not about being right, it is not about winning the argument, it is about opening up to the possibilities that each situation presents in an open, honest and willing way. The success we have with step ten is understanding what our current situation is, whether it be good bad or ugly. It might be that we find ourselves loving another person, and accepting they don't love us. And if they don't love us, and we have expressed interest, and they don't have the same interest, the sooner we know, although it will be hurtful to us, the less harm done.
In the old days of drink, in social situations, with a drink in hand, we might have struck up many a conversation, found ourselves in good company and the rest is history. In those sorts of situation, which were less guarded and more fuelled by light-headedness of romance and intoxication, many things happened of an intimate and loving nature. And whenever romance and intimacy were declined in those immortal words, "I don't see you that way," or the real killer of passion, "I regard you like a brother…" Now that is really good as a reminder that we are not every girl's cup of tea. Step ten is great, if we are getting on well with a person and feel those romantic notions starting to rise up, better to tell the truth, have your passions cooled before you are splattered on the rocks and find yourself in hard places. On the other hand, when somebody says they like you and want to get to know you better, a good idea to really check out your feelings and your readiness for a romantic interlude.
Love is an emotion and state of being without conditions. And then there is the physical attraction which is based on natural instincts. Knowing the difference is very important, the difference between unconditional love and physical attraction and nature. Or maybe we need to know where we fit naturally in the world, our inclinations, our outlook and what activities all fit or don't fit together. Together with our morality, our vices and our virtues, our personal conduct and the conduct of others is something we do automatically a lot of the time and without thought. Our feelings or emotions they are behind our thinking and actions. These are critical areas of learning all our lives and we rely on our emotional and spiritual state to cope with reality.
The song: "silence is golden," and the phrase can be very unhelpful. Silence is not golden, keeps us and everyone in everlasting ignorance. We need expression in a timely way. And the timely way, it may not be timely for everyone.
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