Posts tagged Step 3

Step 3 Continued

Okay, so after the Higher Power started showing itself in my life, the miracles continued and so did my learning.  It was suggested to me that there were no victims, only volunteers.  I was responsible for me, for taking care of me only.  I needed to learn to say “No thank you,” and set healthy boundaries.  Also, I learned that I an accountable for both my successes and my failures.  But, any failures are simply mistakes that I can learn from by following the principles of the 12 Steps and working through them with my sponsor.  This helped me start to be gentle with me.

What I started to learn about I now call safe vulnerablility.  Even though I had some fear about trusting, gradually it became clear that things could actually work out without my meddling, controlling, demanding, stipulating and expecting certain results.  I could hope for the best, then it was necessary to let go of the outcomes and just take care of what was in front of me to do.  An inner compass started to direct my days…gratitude list, prayer, make my bed, go to work, do my work, feed me, go to meetings, call my sponsor, read the Big Book.  And as I did these actions, things got better in my life.  How they got better and worked out was often a mystery.  And I learned to stop trying to figure it out and just accept that the 12 Step Program works – if I work it.

Life has much gray area.  Prior to 12 Step Programs I lived in a safe world of black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, moral and immoral.  Now it’s clear that most of life is shades of gray – and there are no books about the gray because there are no set rules for it.  We just do the best we can with the help of others and the principles we learn in the Programs.  Safe vulnerability helps me navigate through all of the gray.  We know we are never alone and we start to trust that our Higher Power will provide for us – even if we don’t understand how.  It doesn’t matter how.  We learn to accept –  the answer to all our problems as the Big Book tells us.  And before we know it, “…before we are halfway through.  We are going to know a new freedom, a new happiness.  We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.  We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.  No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we see how our experience can benefit others. – The AA Big Book.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am willing to change.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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Step 3

Step 3 requires a leap of faith, a blind trust in a Higher Power that we may not even be certain exists.  Just the idea of Step 3 can make most of us very, very uncomfortable.

When we take a closer look at what we’re being asked to do, while it might not be easy, it is very simple.  We are asked to let go of our pride, our clinging to control (for some of us that means controlling everyone and everything), and our will.  What I’ve learned is that the reason I was sooooooo clinging to these in the first place was to feel safety.  Growing up in homes with dysfunctional systems operating creates uncertainty and instability for most of us as children.  We each choose different coping mechanisms to sooth the fear that uncertainty creates.  Usually, these coping choices are what we see our parents or siblings doing – and let’s face it, they aren’t the best examples of solutions available.  But in retroflect, I can see that my parents were just doing the best they could with what they’d been given, which wasn’t so great either.

So, if relinquishing control, will, and pride is about being courageous and trusting that something outside of us will provide for our well being it still feels terrifying.  I felt helpless and confused.  If I don’t manage things, how will anything work out – the way I want it to?  Well, thanks to all of you in 12 Step programs I experienced something new.  You taught me that I was not alone – you were there with me – at every meeting, on the other end of the phone when I started making calls with the phone list, through my sponsor when I asked for help, and in the miracles that started happening daily.  I had to let go of the outcomes.  My sponsor had me do a Gratitude list daily of what I was grateful for.  The first display of a Higher Power was that within two weeks I was moved in with new roomates – who totally without help from anyone else in the Program were in 12 Step programs.  We’d never seen each other at meetings.  Higher Power orchestrated the whole thing.  I love how it works.  And that was just the beginning.  To be continued…

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am willing to change.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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Safe Vulnerability

mountain rescue

Until a few years ago, I had never heard the two words, “safe” and “vulnerability” used in the same sentence with each other.

Now, the concept of “safe vulnerability” is a state that I calmly hope to experience, especially with situations never before encountered.  Step 3 calls upon us to take a risk, step out of our comfort zone and allow ourselves the gift of learning about safe vulnerability.  About surrendering to a new, initially uncomfortable way of being in our lives.  Becoming willing to turn our will and our lives over to something greater than us – another acknowledgement that we are not Gods.  Our rigidity, inflexibility, seriousness and driven need to control from the past has been about fear and insecurity and an extreme need for safety. 

When we turn our will and our lives over to a Higher Power and start learning to trust, we take another step toward freedom from the bondage of self that the Big Book talks about.  We have been trapped, stuck, limited by the mistaken belief – a story we’ve been telling ourselves – that we can fix it, take care of it, control it.  That we have all the answers.  If that were true we wouldn’t have ended up in the extreme circumstances and desperation that often drive us, finally, to seek help.  What a blessing that we are willing, that we’re seeking.  Ask and you shall receive – and so it is.  We learn about the safety that comes from surrender and letting go, and giving it all to our Higher Power.  All we need to do then is keep our eyes on ourselves and do whatever is in front of us to do.  Do the next helpful thing.   And if we don’t know what that is, we can ask our sponsor or someone else with experience for some guidance and direction.  Suggestions based on experience, strength and hope are gladly offered when requested by those who’ve gone before us.  We can count on it.  And we find that little by little, we feel safety and vulnerability simultaneously.  We learn to trust on a daily basis that our Higher Power is our provider and we will survive.

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am safe in all situations.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson –  I give my life to God to run today.

Practice – Father, I give You all my thoughts today.  I would have none of mine in place of them, give me Your own.  I give You all my acts as well, that I may do Your Will instead of seeking goals which cannot be obtained and wasting time in vain imaginings.  Today I come to You.  I will step back and merely follow You.  Be you the Guide and I the follower who questions not the wisdom of the Infinite nor Love Whose tenderness I cannot comprehend but which is yet Your perfect gift to me.

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Self Direction Danger

tornado

I recently saw a loved one who went through treatment earlier this year, went on to a sober house and is now living in a suburb of his hometown. 

He’s spent the past several months attempting to do sobriety his way.  While he’s revisited his follow up treatment meeting irregularly, he’s not attending any 12 Step meetings, is avoiding contact with family and isolating.  When he said he’s been depressed the past 2 months after spiraling down the month before and not attending meetings of any kind, it was alarming to hear.  What he’s doing doesn’t seem to be working – no job, no money, no contact with loved ones except me twice and fear about the future.  It doesn’t look like he’s surrendered.  It seems he’s still trying to run the show.

It’s cost him a one day slip so far.  “White knuckling it,” is what many call these self directed attempts at sobriety.  Without a support system and the guidance of those who’ve gone before us successfully, sobriety can be precarious.  It seems there’s only a semblance of the person I know my loved one to be present right now.  He’s seems to be running.  I felt very sad listening to him use phrases gleaned in treatment in a distorted way to justify his actions.  I didn’t challenge, just listened.  He seems to be whirling around in the same place getting nowhere and creating more destruction in our lives.  A newer sponsee in the program recently commented to me that after years of going to meetings without doing the Steps, now that we’re working through the 12 Steps she’s feeling great freedom and although she’s experiencing uncomfortable feelings she would never want to go back to where she was these past years hiding and running from feelings and challenges.  My affirmation for my loved one is that he will reach out for the help that’s available through 12 Step programs and therapy.  Meanwhile, he’s in the hands of his Higher Power.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am willing to change.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson –  I am not a body, I am free.  For I am still as God created me.  There is no peace except the peace of God.

Practice – I am not a body, I am free.  For I am still as God created me.  I choose the joy of God instead of pain.  There is no peace except the peace of God.   Let me not wander from the way of peace, for I am lost on other roads than this.  But let me follow Him Who leads me home, and peace is certain as the love of God.

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First Things First

healing%20hands%20bigger

Sometimes I get pretty focused on and excited doing certain tasks or activities in the morning before doing my daily disciplines.  Not always such a good idea, as it can set me back later in the day if I shift my priorities out of proper order.  Step 3 is all about this conscious decision – “Made a decision to turn our will and our life over to the care of God as we understand him.”

And the reason there is a proper order is that experience has taught me what works.  So, today is a great example.  Instead of following my meditation and prayer with my gratitude list and daily reader, and this posting, I was on email and making work calls.  Oops, and now I’m writing this posting, instead of doing the gratitude list and reader.  So excuse me for a moment to complete my morning ritual. – Thanks for waiting.  See, that’s what happens if my spiritual routine is interrupted.  Okay done with my morning ritual – what keeps me in touch with my Higher Power.  And again, it’s a conscious decision most days.

It may not seem like it but the decision to do those rituals is important because, as mentioned above, it’s what works to keep me connected and in the flow of what my Higher Power wants for me and for others.  I can be of greater service when this connection is in place and maintained regularly.  And my days really are easier with some structure.  That doesn’t mean there’s no spontaneity in my life.  In fact, I take time out for unexpected pleasures and surprises often.  Those forks in the road also fill me up so to speak, and keep me in the flow of life especially when I follow my instincts.  When in the flow, my listening for direction and guidance seems to be heightened and I have perfect days.  There’s no major thinking to do.   In fact, it’s best if I don’t get into thinking hard and over analyzing.  Then my days just flow and I feel happy, peaceful and spiritful.  Good results come from choosing Step 3.

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am divinely guided and directed.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson –  I am not a body, I am free.  For I am still as God created me.  The peace of God is shining in me now.

Practice – I am not a body, I am free.  For I am still as God created me.  The peace of God is shining in me now.  I will be still and let the earth be still along with me.  And in that stillness, we will find the peace of God.  It is within my heart, which witnesses to God Himself.

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The Next Right Thing

make-a-donation

Working the 3rd Step came up with a new person recently.  They wondered how they’d know if they were accomplishing what the step asks us to do.  Good question.

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.”  I see that as a conscious decision, because so much of our lives prior to the program were unconscious or on automatic pilot – usually unhelpful, which often got me in trouble.  My goal is to make new, conscious choices that are helpful which includes turning things over to a Higher Power.

What next?  We just do whatever is the next right thing in front of us to do to take care of us.  Making the bed, eating breakfast, going to work, minding our own business, being of service, asking for help, opening the mail, paying the bills, going to a meeting.  We do what is in front of us to do and our Higher Power takes care of the rest – all we need to do is get out of the way, begin to trust – let Go and let God.

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am capable in all that I do.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson – Forgiveness is the key to happiness.

Practice – Forgiveness is the key to happiness.  I will awaken from the dream that I am mortal, fallible, and full of sin, and know I am the perfect Son of God.

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