Step Ten All the way to bedtime, and a mental gratitude list!
October 31, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." Every single moment we are impacted by our mood if we are living in the moment. How often are we living in the past? We can be reviewing what happened yesterday, last week, and all the way back to our early memories. How we felt when life was good, how we felt when life is bad and how we felt when life took an ugly turn. Knowing the past and then knowing where we are today can give great perspective if we are open, honest and willing to learn.
The fourth step in the twelve step way of life is a real eye-opener about the past and the more fearless we are when we review our history; the easier it becomes to feel life in the moment of now. No one is immune to their feelings if they choose to acknowledge them and don't live in denial. This may seem like a sweeping statement, at the same time I feel many of us were very good at sweeping difficult moments under the metaphorical carpet, preferring to move on without review and without perspective. A huge desire driven by romance and finance can impact greatly. To overcome fear, putting on a brave face, pride and ego often cover up guilt and shame about not being good enough. Feelings which are unfamiliar; rage, anger and resentment, extreme desires are fostered without our knowing. Step ten: always available to see our part in matters, to deal with reality rather than history and grow with humility today.
I don't find all my feelings easy to cope with: I will forever be a learner in love with people, places and things. Learning what I like and don't like has been a real trial. I was always taught to be a polite person, manners were important, and wanting to be a likeable individual was all part of romance and finance. When I was in the right job, the right girl would be there too? I realised early on that life is not predictable, and we do not always recognise love in others in a romantic way, and in the way of compensation finance and career can often substitute and become the focus of life, rather than a life lived with loving relationships forged on the anvils of experience. Learning how to love, how to be loved back and feel useful really started a new chapter for me in recovery.
Being assertive in the moment of now, three questions: "how am I feeling right now?" Then the second question "why do I feel this way right now?" And the third question "what can I do about it?" Trying to answer the questions about feelings is an awkward exercise in being assertive with ourselves and our outlook. And then it becomes even more difficult when we try to have empathy and when we asked the same sort of questions it becomes quite awkward: "how do we feel or how are we feeling right now?" And then "why do we feel this way together?" And the real grip on reality: "what can we do together?" Being assertive is knowing our own feelings, empathy is about the feelings that everyone has around us and what we can do together. Step ten is not an isolated endeavour, we need to develop not only our own understanding of our feelings, with humility we become inclusive and try understand the feelings of others.
What to do today being the last day of step ten and tradition eleven on my agenda and then moving along to prayer and meditation and what it means to me. Step ten is often seen as the maintenance step of three, always useful at any time of day. I did start practising step ten as a novice to recovery and write a gratitude list to accompany my feelings about my situation. Gratitude for sober never occurred to me before I was completely addicted to alcohol. Alcohol was the social lubricant, filling the cracks and disappointments of life. These days, even though life has its complications, there is fear and there is courage, there is always pride and there is always humility, there is ego and there is self-confidence based on the truth of who I am today. I am powerless over feelings as they emerge from the past and happen in the present, at the same time I am able to cope in the moment of now and can ask for help when life is difficult. And we are able to judge what next far better than we ever did by our actions and not our intentions. Rock on step ten…
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