I would be willing to bet that you cannot list 10 assets that you possess. The one question most prospective employers ask is, “what are your best qualities?” Most people will just sit there in silence and try to think of at least one good thing that they can report and not risk sounding like a braggart. In step #6, we read that “as a result of working the 12 steps, our character defects will be transformed into our assets”. In my opinion, defects and assets are just the two facets of the same double edged sword.
If you were to tell me that you were a procrastinator, I would counter that you probably are a very careful, methodical worker. If you were to tell me that you were such a people-pleaser. I would challenge you to think in terms of being someone who is careful with the feelings of others. None of us is all bad or all good. Our job in step #6 is to become willing to apply the better parts of ourselves in each of our relationships. If we are not willing, then we pray to be willing to be willing. A small change is greater than no change at all. Shoot for the middle of the road. Carry on. There are no mistakes in AA; just learning opportunities.
For whatever reason this phrase was on my mind as I awoke today. The Big Book says, we do not necessarily “have to be in lock step agreement”. Anyone who has ever been oppressed, abused, confined, or lived under an authoritarian rule can tell you how our the hair on the back of our necks stands up, we rebel, and we will overreact when someone tells us what we must do in order to work this program. We will consistently be the dissenting votes when our meeting or intergroup takes a vote on something, even if we agree to the basic premise of the proposal. What makes us tick?
I can only speak for myself. I have decided to remember that each time I disagree with someone or something, does not make me wrong, nor does it make the other person(s) wrong. We can agree to disagree. This is a program of freedom and choice. We get to choose how to work the steps, who we work with, what meetings we go to, etc. The paths to recovery are as myriad as the many different people who are sitting at those tables. We need to remember that our primary purpose is what is of essence: to remain sober, and to helps others find sobriety. All differences are respected. Recovery is a great big hoop that anyone can jump through. Let’s focus one why we are here and respect all voices, as ours was respected when we came in.
My daily reader mentioned that “as a result of working the steps, our defects will be transformed into our assets”. Today’s questions were: How are my shortcomings transformed into assets? And, can I list the assets into which HP might transform my character defects? Here is a list from AA literature that some sponsors use. I prefer one that offers a list of corresponding assets on the opposite side of the paper. http://www.barefootsworld.net/aaonsteps4567.html
That way, people can visualize what they are shooting for. Personally, I shoot for the middle, and try my best to stay on that balance beam, or in the right lane of the road. If I stay in my lane and use the boundaries or parameters of social situations, and try to just be enough and not too much of either good or bad; the pressure is off, and the end result is no crisis or mess to cleanup. That seems to work for me. We are all just a work in progress. Easy does it, but do it.
We read from the our AA literature that all that is needed is complete willingness and complete honesty. One old timer told me once that it is much like a sculpture who chisels away from us, that which is not a part of us. Many newbies in the program wonder aloud, what will be left of me if these traits are removed. Others are a bit more stubborn and more confrontative in thinking, “hey, this is me: love it or leave it.” Neither gets too far in keeping those thoughts alive and well.
All, that is needed is a willingness and a honesty at whatever level the person can achieve…..anything is a start. How do we know we are ready? Well, that would have been a subject of step #1. Many times, I have referred back to step #1 when there appears to be no movement beyond step #5. There is no shame in reviewing and recommitting our prior agreements. A refresher course also helps the sponsor to ensure that no stones are left to be turned over. Here is step #6 in it’s totality: http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_step6.pdf
Oh, procrastination, my great fascination.
How I cherish that you are nefarious.
I want to be perfect, so I plan and deflect.
There exists a list to help me persist.
No need to do that which I plan to undo.
Oh, procrastination, your are my distraction.
Some say just do it; I say forget it.
Why do today, what I can do any another day?
We all have character flaws that we coddle and cling to. My favorite is procrastination. I have it down to a science. In fact, I like to think of it as creative energy. The reality is that procrastination is the flip side of perfectionism. I firmly believe that we will let go of old habits and character flaws when the hanging on becomes more painful than the letting go. Step #6 suggests that we become willing to be willing. How does step #6 work in your life?
All of our steps contain a key word and a promise. In step six, the key word is willingness. The idea that we can just switch gears midstream and become model citizens overnight is silly to say the least. It has been my experience, that the more I try to reform and do good, the more I get tripped up. That old swearing off and swearing on business never got me or anyone sober for long.
The promise of step 6 is a wonderful one: the freedom from running the show. I told you I had been in a angry snit for months until lately. It finally dawned on me, that I am not in control of the situation, the outcome, or the final judgement. My anger served no useful purpose and just mad me hard to live with. I often say, and this certainly applies to step 6: “There is a loving and merciful HP, and it isn’t me. The more I try to control and manage people, situations and things, the more I struggle with my sanity and peace. May the promise of not being in charge come to you today. Let me know how you apply step 6 to your daily life.
My home group studies the corresponding step for each month, That would be Step #6 this week. You know, every time I read from AA literature, I see things someone has sneaked in there over night! This time I learned that step one is the one step where we made the decision to admit complete powerlessness and to become completely willing, the other steps (2-12) are ideals….things to shoot for. Who knew!?
So, yes, there are things about my character that are not all that pleasant. I prefer to consider them “self-defeating behaviors”. I have never been all that motivated by the negative meaning that the word “defects” means in my head. Whatever word we use, whatever method of change we take, and however we approach this step, it can only get better than our best day as drunks. I hope your Monday gets off on a good, peaceful start.