Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Oct 9 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"
October 9, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." What does it mean to continue to take personal inventory? In step four, it was made clear that we all have natural instincts and there's nothing wrong with that. When natural instincts are driven to extremes, then the personal inventory can become an imperative rather than history, or we may return to the insanity of olden days, sometimes in the blink of an eye.
Riding around on my bicycle in early days of recovery, very often or so it seemed to me, drivers of buses in particular would cut me up, followed by taxi drivers, followed by lorry drivers, followed by car drivers, followed by other cyclists! My early recovery reaction did not stop me from buying an air horn, which would blast out a high-pitched scream at over 100 db. I used it once, nearly gave a bus driver a heart attack, and realised that aggression is not the answer in my world. These days I just shout loudly when people or cars or anything is about to cross my path in a dangerous manner. The only people who ignore me or so it seems are those who own Lamborghini type cars in the process of being ticketed by a traffic warden. These people just walk into the road whilst they are on the phone and cannot hear anything, and an air horn would make no difference. Step ten: I am not here to inflict pain on other people, by using an air horn, or any other means of controlling others and their behaviour. Personal inventory, not the inventory of others.
So what do I look for in my personal inventory? Defects of character: fear, pride and ego. Anything can make us angry today. If our attitude and behaviour is out of joint, or we feel the world is against us, fear pride and ego offer the blame being put onto others, that it is not our fault, that other people caused failure. If that is the case, we do not see failure for what it is, failure is about learning not to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, that success will happen. We need to make mistakes. Shortcomings of character: lack of courage to change, no faith in the next right thing and no confidence in changing outcomes. Defects will keep me stuck in anger and resentment. Working on my shortcomings: improving my outlook and having courage to change, faith in doing the next right thing and building confidence through endeavour is key in all activities. If it is broke, and it's time to change, repair, renovate, replenish, recharge, and recognise it takes effort today.
Defects of character: defects in the extremes are like the seven deadly sins. 1. Pride (spiritual sin) 2. Envy (spiritual sin) 3. Wrath (spiritual sin affected by body) Corporal Sins 4. Accidia or Sloth (corporal sin) 5. Avaricia/Cupiditas or Greed (corporal sin) 6. Gluttony (corporal sin) 7. Lust (corporal sin). And depending on the current conditions of the day, any of these extremes can be provoked by our environment? Or most likely, the extremes come from within.
Shortcomings of character: shortcomings are like the seven virtues. Three Spiritual (or Theological) Virtues 1. Fides (Faith) 2. Spes (Hope) 3. Caritas (Charity) The Four Cardinal (or Pagan) Virtues 4. Prudence 5. Temperance 6. Fortitude 7. Justice. And depending on the current conditions of the day, we do have the opportunity to improve our outlook, attitudes and behaviour.
Sometimes the day starts out really good, with time to reflect and meditate, to have a quiet few minutes to remind ourselves what is important in our own outlook, how we are coping and how we feel we can cope today. Taking on board the good and that there will be people who can make situations turn out badly and even downright ugly. How we cope with what is going on, is not something we can plan in advance. However, if we can look to the positive and have courage, faith and confidence to keep on learning, even the bad or ugly day can provide great opportunity to live well even when life is particularly difficult. Often we can steer our way out of old repetitive ways of looking at the world, which might be dark and dingy, full of misfortune and doom. We can steer our way toward more open, honest and willing approaches not based on personal advantage, more about cooperation and inclusion where most solutions are found.
Defects and shortcomings are in everyone, and how we apply ourselves to our current situation and the current conditions of the day can be very helpful. Humility cures Pride, Kindness cures Envy, Abstinence cures Gluttony, Chastity cures Lust, Patience cures Wrath Liberality cures Greed, and Diligence cures Sloth. Not sure about whether one cures the other, it does highlight the internal battle each person faces if they are aware of themselves. The problem is made more difficult if we try and extend the personal inventory which is always part of our life and living the steps, it does not mean the rest of the world will cooperate with our outlooks, attitudes and behaviour. It is a personal inventory, not an inventory to be applied to other people in order to change them, because they are more likely to give you a punch on the nose, rather than a thank you for your insights. Indeed life is difficult even when it may be good, or bad or ugly. It is better though, to endeavour with humility and see where we get to today.
Who cares to admit defeat? In some areas of life, family, community, work and leisure activities, we will not always see eye to eye with the rest of the world. And there will be individuals in some situations where they impact greatly and we have nothing much we can do to negotiate or change the terms of engagement. Sometimes we need plan to leave these spheres of influence on a more permanent basis and find better prospects as soon as possible. Just because we are right in our outlook, attitudes and behaviour, we can be in the wrong place, doing the wrong things with the wrong people. Self-awareness is key and the personal inventory, the spot-check inventory provides a useful understanding of what we can do and what we cannot do today.
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