Do you like yourself? – Episode 279

Do you like yourself?
Can you love yourself?
Can you trust yourself?

In a recent meeting, the topic was Step 5, “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” One member shared that she often had a hard time even liking herself, and that this was a barrier to working Step 5. If she hated herself for some of the things she had done, how could she ever admit them out loud?

I definitely identified with that feeling. There are some events in my life that I felt a lot of shame about. That I did not admit in my first 5th step. One, in particular, that I didn’t admit in my second 5th step, had haunted me for over 30 years. Every time I remembered that incident, a flush of shame and self-loathing washed over me. Finally, probably after a meeting in which the reading included the saying that “we are only as sick as our secrets,” I realized I had to talk about it. I met with the person I had done that 5th step with and said “I’ve got some more.”

It wasn’t easy. I had admitted it to my Higher Power and to myself, but never to another person. But it was something I felt I had to do. The amazing thing is that since that time, the memory of this event has lost its power over me! I’m still not pleased that it happened, but I don’t feel the shame that it used to impose on me. That hard admission brought me some peace and some more love and compassion for myself. Even for the 40-years-younger me that made a really poor decision (doing the best with what he had.)

And then, a day later, the sermon topic was “Trust Thyself”. Oh, boy, there’s a message: loving myself and trusting myself, all in the same weekend. You know, the feelings I have that lead me to not like myself and to not trust myself are very similar. You’ve probably heard those messages from the judgey part of yourself, too: “You’re not good enough.” “You can’t do it right.” “You can’t do it at all.” “You’re always wrong.” “You’re so stupid.” “What were you thinking? I can’t believe you’d do that!” And so on, and so on.

In her sermon, our minister presented the “4 Cs” of trusting yourself. Well, I’m a sucker for alliterations, so I perked right up! What are these 4 Cs?

Clarity: Seeing ourselves and the world for what we (and it) really are. In the program, this is Step 4 (probably 5, 6, and 7 too.) Also, Steps 8 and 9 bring more clarity.

Connection: Get out of my isolation. I know that I can’t always see myself clearly, and I need someone else to help me. In other words, go to a meeting, call a friend, get a sponsor (and use them!) And, of course, there’s the connection to a Higher Power we find in Steps 2 and 3!

Compassion: This is also about getting out of myself. When I can have compassion for other people, and when I can identify with their fears and pain, but also their joys and successes, then I can start to see the same in myself. And I can start to have compassion for myself. I would never talk to someone else the way that I sometimes talk to myself.

Commitment: Make a commitment to keep away from the negative self-talk, to continue to work on the first 3 Cs. Step 10 is my commitment to continuing to seek clarity. Steps 11 and 12 are commitments to connection and compassion.

Yup, there’s the recovery part of the program (steps 2-12) captured in 4 Cs. How did this work in my Step 5 experience?

I gained clarity by taking an inventory of the incident. What was motivating me? Which of my needs were involved? I began to understand the “exact nature of my wrongs” in this incident. In talking with my friend, I got a little more clarity as I explained what happened, but I also made connection with another person — I was not alone. That person’s loving acceptance of my sharing deepened that connection, and assured me that I was not a broken person. This helped me to have compassion for my previous self. And you know what? I liked myself a little better. And I trusted myself to be able to do the right thing a little more.

Readings and links

I read from Courage to Change, May 22 and January 24.

After the service, I was talking to the  minister and she mentioned Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I was pretty sure I had mentioned that here, and indeed: episode 122, Imperfection.

Upcoming

Thinking about acronyms and alliterations as a topic. You know, acronyms like QTIP, FEAR, etc. Alliterations like “3 As”, “4 Ms”, etc. What is your favorite Al-Anon acronym or alliteration? Why? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Why do a Moral Inventory? – Episode 246

Why do we take inventory in Al-Anon? And what is a “moral inventory” anyway?

Spencer shares his answers to some questions about Step 4 from our book Paths to Recovery about the purpose of taking our own moral inventory. His answers were written in 2002, 2011, and 2018. How have they changed (or not)?

The questions are:

  • Am I willing to look honestly at myself? What stands in my way?
  • Have I sought help from my Higher Power, my sponsor, or other Al-Anon members?
  • What suggestions have I tried to see if they might work?
  • Do I understand the spiritual principle of an inventory?
  • What do “searching” and “fearless” mean to me?
  • What does “moral inventory” mean?

How would you answer these questions? Please share your thoughts. Call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Courage – Episode 220

How have you experienced courage in your recovery? Which steps required courage of you? How has recovery given you courage to change the things you can?

  • We use the word “courage” a lot in this program. Most of our meetings start with the serenity prayer:
    God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can,
    And the wisdom to know the difference
  • What does the word “courage” mean to you?
    • In the past?
    • Now?
  • When were some moments in which you found “the courage to change the things you can”?
    • Coming into your first Al-Anon meeting?
    • Sharing in a meeting?
    • Calling another Al-Anon member?
    • Asking someone to be your sponsor?
    • Setting (and holding to) a boundary?
    • Not enabling your loved one.
    • Taking your 4th step inventory?
    • Sharing your “wrongs” with someone in the 5th step?
    • Making amends?
  • How have you found courage in recovery?
    • Faith and trust in the program, sponsor, higher power.
    • Little steps lead to confidence in bigger steps.
  • Finding the courage live your own life with your authentic truth. (24 hours at a time.)
  • Step 11 “power to carry that out” == courage

Upcoming topics include parenting. As an adult child of an alcoholic, how can you not pass that on to your own children? What have you learned in recovery about being a better parent? Or, alternatively, what is your experience as the parent of an alcoholic or addict? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

A listener called, looking for an e-book version of the Blueprint for Recovery 4th step workbook. To my knowledge, this is not (yet) available in electronic format. Some Al-Anon literature is available as E-Books. A variety of small publications are also available for free download from the Al-Anon website.

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Confession, Redemption, and Forgiveness – Episode 166

love“I've got a confession to make.”

How do you feel when you say that? How do you feel when you hear it?!

What is the power that confession has for us in Step 5? (Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.) How does the inventory and self-examination of Step 4 make it possible to honestly make that confession? (Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.) How do these combine to give us ownership of our own faults, so that we are ready to change? (Step 6, Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.) And to ask for help in changing ourselves? (Step 7, Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.) Is it possible to truly “make it right” with those we hurt without having first made confession from the depth of our being? (Steps 8 and 9, Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.) Confession, in Steps 5 and 9, is a cornerstone of recovery, and makes it possible to find redemption and forgiveness.

Our topic for next week is either serenity or shame. Both start with the letter “s” but are otherwise pretty much unrelated. (How) have you found serenity? What does it mean to you? Or… Does shame still dominate your life? How has recovery helped you to move into and through your shame? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Stepping Stones to Serenity Part 4 – Episode 165


perfectThis is part 4 of a 4-part seminar titled “Stepping Stones to Serenity”, presented by Ellen C in 2008. This part covers steps 10 through 12.

The previous episodes are

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