One of my newer sponsees is just starting to do her 4th Step. She tells me that she’s had two other sponsors who didn’t give her direction and guidance on doing the 4th Step, nor did they give her any deadline by which to finish the Step.
While these aren’t an excuse, what I’ve learned from experience is that it’s helpful to actively move through the action or process of doing the Steps with the people I sponsor. My first sponsor did that with me and it helped me process through the Steps and make progress. This particular woman felt lost, confused and had been overthinking the 4th Step for many months, over 2 years, with two different sponsors. When I told her she had a week to do the inventory for Step 4 she thought she’d heard me incorrectly. I assured her that she heard correctly. The reason for this instruction is that it’s important to get through this particular exercise as briskly and thoroughly as possible. Once we start the process, information comes to us quickly. Then, we take the next week to see what else floats to the surface that we didn’t recall during our intentional action of doing the inventory. The act of seeking the information starts a process in the brain that can continue involuntarily over the next several days bringing more memories to our awareness that we’d long forgotten. After this following week of letting memories percolate to the surface of her awareness, we’ll proceed to the 5th Step.
I suggest also, that sponsees inform family members and spouses that they will be doing some work that may lead them to seem a bit anxious or out of sorts at times over the next few weeks. If the sponsee doesn’t catch themselves in a , their family members can also gently alert them, with a predetermined phrase, and the sponsee can call their sponsor or another member of 12 Step programs for support and help to process any upset so that it isn’t impacting loved ones at home. We are responsible for our actions through the process of doing the Steps too. The process isn’t meant to happen at other people’s expense during this or any other phase. It’s a journey, and we are not alone. Many have gone before us.
The brevity of the two week time span also offers us a target date, a light at the end of the tunnel. It limits the amount of time that one spends in the recall of actions and feelings that we’re not proud of or enjoying thinking about again. Remember, Step 4 inventory is who we aren’t. We call these memories forth as a tool to honestly face our past – where we became lost – and to help us later right our wrongs, our mistakes, so that we can move forward unencumbered by the guilt, shame, embarassment, anxiety and discomfort we feel at the thought of them. The end result is we have a spiritual awakening and we become happy, joyous and free as the Big Book promises – as a result of doing these Steps.
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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am willing to grow.”
Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.
Course In Miracles Lesson – Let all things be exactly as they are.
Practice – In Let me not be Your critic, Lord, today, and judge against You. Let me not attempt to interfere with Your creation and distort it into sickly forms. Let me be willing to withdraw my wishes from its unity and thus to let it be as You created it. For thus will I be able too, to recognize my Self as You created me. In love was I created, and in love will I remain forever. What can frighten me when I let all things be exactly as they are?