Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Al-Anon Step Four (4)

As a little bay - I remember that I avoided looking at instructions of toys. I put things together as I thought they should be. As I write this sentence, it looks strange and feels even stranger.

Recently I thought about this and asked myself, "Why did I try to build airplane models without referring to instructions?" It never worked out. I always had an extra piece or two. Even as I got older I put together other things without referring to instructions. Even electronics I hardly looked at the instructions - I just assumed I could work it just by trial and error.

Duh. Pretty dumb . . .

Did I think I could figure things out without referring to any instructions? Was it because I did not want help?

Wow! I did not want help. Is that what I am writing? I still don't want help . . . I don't want to be a bother to people. This can be part of the issue of being affected by alcoholics; doing it on my own. I don't want to bother anyone. I even said that to people who know of my situation and are there for me.

BACK TO STEP 4 - And Tying In the Point Above
I have digressed. Back to the point, but this is related to instructions. I have until this very second resisted working the 12 Steps. And here I want to relate Step 4 and how it could help us and our self-esteem.

When I first heard Step 4 - "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves" I immediately went negative. I assumed that I would have to list ALL MY DEFECTS. I did not want to list my defects. I don't need to visualize this and harp on my faults. But then I read the Courage to Change book. One of the things the books says is to make a list of your positives.

It is about listing is was working in your life! Wow! This is a firm psychological principle. Work on the positive. Build upon the successful things. It is also something I have learned in consulting and coaching people in business. Build on the positives, mitigate the negatives. Or eliminate the things you don't do well. You may know it if you are in business or work as "Focus on your core competencies." Or as the song says, "Accentuate the positive."

This is not exactly what Step 4 is, but it's pretty darn close!!

In the book, Courage to Change, page 181 - it refers to Step 4 and self-esteem.The passage states that resistance to this Step (or any other) may be something you should look at. See if this resistance is trying to teach you something or tell you something about yourself - that you may need right now.

OK - so let's do this to build our self-esteem;
Make a list of everything you do well! And build from there.

So often we work on what on what we don't do well. And then we get frustrated, quit and stop. And say, "what's the use?"

What if we worked on what we did well? And branched out from these things by seeing how we could enlarge what it is that we do well, that we like to do, and make that circle a little wider? Enlarging the circle over time.

Let's today focus ALL our energies on what we do well and discard past labels of ourselves that we received from parents, friends, bosses, co-workers, relatives, - all the people who thought they were helping us (and some who were probably trying to hurt us because they knew no better).

Let's make a list of all the negative labels we received. Labels like you are lazy, incompetent, slow, not good at sports, don't look good in that bathing suit, and so on . . . Make the list and put it over on the side of the desk.

Now make a list of all the things we do well. Things we like to do. And look at that list. These are your assets! These are the things you like to do and you continue to do well. Keep adding to the list.

Look back at the negative list. You may find one or two items you ought to work on. But not the whole list! There are some things - one, two or three items, that maybe you could and ought to improve on. They just need to be rephrased in the positive. Instead of you are lazy - maybe it is I can do better in managing my time by not volunteering so much; or by making a list; or scheduling better.

Next, take the negative list. Save it for this weekend. And when you wake up Saturday morning - go out in your backyard with a pack of matches and burn it. Hold it in air and let it go! Or build a big fire in your fireplace. Make a ritual of this. Burn it and say good-bye to it. And let's all forget about our labels that someone gave us.

Now look at the positive list and let's review it several times a day. Rewrite the list and use this to go forward - today - tomorrow and forever!!!! Every day rewrite your list in the first person affirmative, like; I am a good reader. I am excellent at work. I am one of the best at . . .

Let's focus on what we do well. That's positive and esteem building!!

Good Luck TODAY!!


blissville said...

This blog is wonderful. I have just begun to blog about my experiences as a spouse of an addict in recovery. Finding your blog, and the array of links you are providing is a wonderful tool for me. It's not the same as being at an Al-Anon meeting but it's pretty wonderful. Thanks for your insight. It's always comforting to see that we're not alone.

Lorraine said...

Good Morning...I actually made this list yesterday. I probably labeled it wrong...I wrote, "Who am I?" The two lists were, "Good" and "Not Good". I filled both lists pretty quickly, and then had no idea what to do with them! Your posting helped me! I find it amazing that I have found a network of people who feel as I do, but have this incredible outlook be it difficult sometimes, but a perspective of hope and change for themselves...which I believe, effects those around you in a positive way. I have not emerged from my hiding place just yet...I am still detached from my spouse emotionally. I know that we are meeting tomorrow to "talk". What can I say that I haven't said a thousand times before?? My plan is to listen. I am tired of using the same words. Please keep me in your prayers. This isn't going to be easy for me. I want to change for me. I found a Al-anon meeting that I will get my brave face on for next week. I am so courageous in so many areas of my life, but entering a room of people I don't know is so hard for me. This makes me laugh, as I can pour out my grief in cyberspace with no trouble at all. I have a fear of being caught or found out...but this is where I throw caution to the wind! LOL. God bless you all. Thank you doesnt' seem enough...

Joe said...

Welcome and please KEEP on coming back. It's good to hear from so many friends.


skip said...

If I listed the things I need to work on, I wouldn't know where to start. I am great at my job, I know this. I appear confident and knowledgable, and hold a fairly senior managerial position. Socially however, I am completely inept. I have hidden myself away for so long trying to hide my life from the world, that the thought of being in a room with other people I might have to communicate with is quite frightening. Will al anon meetings help this feeling?

Joe said...

Actually, I had typed up a great (or what I thought was great! ha) response to what Lorraine said last night as I was boarding an airplane, unfortunately it got wiped out.

To answer Lorraine - I was "leery" very leery of sitting in a room with a bunch of people I did not know. My thought was: How could they know what I have been through, what I am going through? And how could they - you're going to love this one! - how could they be as "smart as I am smart."

To you Skip and Lorraine: They - the people in my meeting - as blessed. They DO know what you and I are going through. THEY are brilliant. And they are patient in that they listen without judging. The room - you can feel it - and I am a senior manager of senior people in the consulting profession - so get ready when I sa this - the room is filled with love. As strange as it seems, there is a feeling, a sense of "you are going to be ok." and you are loved.

I am running out the door for a meeting right this second. I will respond in greater detail. But before I leave, let me say this; it did take me 3 different meetings with 3 different groups to find the one I liked. I will not say it is PERFECT. It did take about 8 meetings for me to share comfortably, but I also I am a point in my life, that I want people to like me, but I am not afraid to reveal my faults and who I really am. I was not like this until recently (before I knew my spouse was drinking).

I think it all depends on the meeting/group and how you feel about opening up.

Your friend and partner - JOE

Joe said...

I wanted to followup, I am more comfortable in the group environment more so than talking to my sponsor (one -on-one).

So you may find that this is actually more comfortable for you.

There are people who attend the meetings who do not say very much. I am sure they have a lot to say, but prefer to listen.


Jane said...

are you still there? just found your blog and am interested in more about starting step 4 - anyone?

Debbie said...

I was so excited to find this blog, seems like just what I need, then I noticed the dates were 2008 mostly! Jane are you still there?! I am at Step 4 too with no sponsor yet and ordering "books" to help me through because that's what I do... do everything myself. Although I am proud to say I have actually joined Al-anon meetings which was and still sort of is weird for me but would like to check in here with others in same boat so if anyone is there... I'm 47, wife of recovering alcoholic and child of alcoholic and I have 2 (nearly) adult kids so finally time to figure out "me."