This 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
The previous episodes are
Do you struggle to admit that you are “wrong” in the moment? Have you found an effective way to take a daily inventory? How do you feel about admitting your wrongs? What exactly does this step mean by “promptly”? Do you feel better when you make a 10th step amends? Then stick around, because today, we’re going to talk about Step 10.
Spencer, Maria, and Erika discuss our experience with Step 10, Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. We were guided by these questions:
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Continue reading “Step 10 – Inventory – Episode 48”
Lord, help me to hold myself and others to a standard of grace, rather than perfection.
I frequently need this reminder, and have added it to my daily prayer set, along with the 3rd and 7th step prayers. Much of the trouble in my relating with others comes from an expectation of perfection. Usually it’s an unconscious expectation, but when someone isn’t acting up to it, I can get annoyed or frustrated. If I can hold myself to a standard of grace, if I can approach every interaction with an attitude of shared humanity, then it becomes easier for me to treat them with dignity and respect.
Recently, I was not able to do this, in a meeting at my workplace. A colleague was asking me for something that I felt I could not supply perfectly. Apparently, my response was not satisfactory, because she asked again. I got more annoyed, stating my position more clearly (I thought), and then asked “is that clear enough for you?” (And not in a friendly tone of voice, either.) She responded “No!” In retrospect, I can see that I was holding both of us to a standard of perfection, and when that standard was not met (in my eyes), I lashed out in frustration. I disrupted the meeting. I treated my colleague with disrespect. And I did not move us towards an acceptable answer to her question.
Later in the day, I realized I needed to apply Step 10, “… and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.” I apologized to my colleague for my attitude. She accepted the apology, and I think, in that moment, we both held each other in grace, because she then said, humbly, “We both need to figure out a way to communicate so that this doesn’t happen.” Which I intend to work on with her, so that healing can come from this incident.
A meditation for August 24, 2013.
“When someone sees the same people every day, as had happened with him at the seminary, they wind up becoming a part of that person’s life. And then they want the person to change. If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist
I spend a great deal of time focusing on the external. I judge people and situations as “right” or “wrong”, or even “good” or “bad” depending on how I feel about them. I even used to say things like “they made me feel…” or “he hurt me…” or “she mad me mad…” In none of these situations do I take accountability for my own feelings in the situations. I just hold my external circumstances to up to certain expectations.
How did I develop these expectations? I believed that if everything and everyone were a certain (as I expect them to be) then I would be safe and happy. I wouldn’t be yelled at or teased or judged or criticized. And that’s what I wanted so badly. I wanted peace. I wanted a space to just be myself. Ironically, this is exactly what I was not allowing of the people and environment around me. Though I wanted peace, I kept pushing my expectations on others either passively or aggressively. Though I did not want to be criticized, I was constantly assessing how other people or situations could and should change for the better. In my desire to have space to exist, I tried to control all the space around me. But I do not need to do that.
In the beginning of this meditation, I wrote “I judge people and situations depending on how I feel about them.” In this sentence lies the answer to my need to control via expectations. The key is my feelings. I think, often, I take my feelings out of proportion by minimizing them. I reject or ignore my feelings by telling myself not important enough. But those feelings build up and form resentments and expectations which I then take out of of proportion again and believe them to be the most important thing. This is black-and-white thinking. But it does not need to be.
I can simply accept my feelings for what they are – my ego responding to the world around me. I can accept that I am sometimes in pain, happy, angry, sad, etc. If I can do this without judging my feelings and simply allowing them to be, I am better able to process them and only then am I able to decide how I want to react.
Just for today, I will try not to judge others. Rather, when I feel frustrated or upset about another person’s behavior, I will stop and take a quick inventory on why I feel bothered. I will not judge my reaction as good or bad, but rather simply accept it. In doing so, I can give myself peace and give myself space to exist. When I can offer this compassion to myself, only then am I able to offer it to others.
A meditation for July 31, 2013*
*Thanks to Hillery for requesting a meditation on the topic of expectations! Continue reading “expectations – a meditation”