Archive for the ‘Resentments’ Category

On Taking Others’ Inventories

27 Apr

Heard in meetings: “My sponsor told me, ‘We are not allowed to take inventory of other people.’ ” 

Big Book coverReally?  This is another one of those slogans/rhetoric/opinions that is passed along through sponsorship lines and Group Think.  —For specifics on how we take inventory of others in our fourth step, get out your A.A. basic text. 
Turn to the chapter “How it Works.” On page 64, we are instructed to write about our many resentments:  “In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper.”  Page 65 instructs us how to go about doing an in-depth columns inventory.  We begin by writing down all the people, institutions, or principles that got us pissed off.  “On our grudge list we set opposite each name our injuries.” 

CONSIDER:  throughout the basic text, the writers took serious inventory of themselves AND each other covering a wide history of alcoholics, to get thorough and detailed descriptions of the type of alcoholic who needs this program. 

What are “our injuries?” 

These are what go in THE CAUSES column (column two) of our grudge list.  HERE is where we must take inventory of other people… all those jerks, a-holes, sons-of-bitches, and other names I don’t need to list, but you know them.  We write down all the mean, rotten, low-down, dirty crap they did… all the stuff that hurt us, injured us, which screwed us over.  We get it all out. Some people write pages for each person—that’s okay because this is a serious look at ALL our ‘harbored resentments.’  If we don’t get in there and dig this stuff out, bits and pieces will stay in there, keep festering—and if left alone, WILL cause us to drink again.  

In addition, this part of taking step four is vital for taking the fifth step.  Page 72:  “We have been trying to  get a new attitude, a new relationship with our Creator, and to discover the obstacles in our path.”  Discussing these things (this means a conversation, not just ‘dumping your crap’) with another human being gets us out of that “double life.”  Page 72: “. . .if we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking.”  Starting at the bottom of page 73 to the top of page 74:  “We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world.” 

When we have the all that crap and muck laid out in front of us—THEN we will be able to move on and “resolutely look for our own mistakes.”  THEN we can take inventory of ourselves—our mistakes, where we have been to blame, our selfishness, and our faults.  This part of the inventory goes in COLUMN FOUR:  on page 67, the paragraph that begins with, “Referring to our list again. . .”

We must make “a strenuous effort to face, and be rid of, the things in our selves which had been blocking us” from the sunlight of the spirit.  This process helps us overcome the spiritual malady.

  If issues of abuse, such as new memories of childhood trauma come up, you do not need to share these with your A.A. guide/sponsor.  In fact, nowhere in the instructions for step five is there a mention of sharing your grudge list with anyone in A.A.  Just share in a general way and then make an appointment to discuss these with a qualified therapist.   If your sponsor wants to hear the nitty-gritty details to ‘help you be honest and thorough,’ point out page 74 which gives us various options for who to discuss our grudge list with.  If he/she still insist, you may want to find another sponsor—find an A.A. Guide who actually studies the basic text. Too many sponsors try to practice therapy without a license.

ETC:  A recovered alcoholic in Oregon—relieved of the obsessions but not cured of the allergy.


“To the Best of My/Their Ability”

08 Aug

ABILITY Definitions

(from n. pl. a·bil·i·ties
The quality of being able to do something, especially the physical, mental, financial, or legal power to accomplish something.
A natural or acquired skill or talent.
The quality of being suitable for or receptive to a specified treatment; capacity.
SYNONYMS: ability, capacity, faculty, talent, skill, competence, aptitude.

These nouns denote qualities that enable a person to achieve or accomplish something.  Ability is the mental or physical power to do something.  Capacity refers to the potential for acquiring that power.
Faculty denotes an inherent ability.  Talent emphasizes inborn ability.  Skill stresses ability acquired or developed through experience.  Competence suggests the ability to do something satisfactorily but not necessarily outstandingly.  Aptitude implies inherent capacity for learning, understanding, or performing. denotes an inherent ability.


That phrase, to the best of my/their abilitycan signal that someone is rationalizing their behavior or someone else’s behavior …or just will not accept that they’ve done anything wrong or damaging.

  • It’s not my job to do that.” “I’ve done enough; someone else should take over.”  “I’ll do only enough to get by.”  “I don’t care if it’s important to YOU.”  “I want what I want when I want it.”  “Nobody appreciates what I do anyway, so why bother?”  “Do it my way or take the highway.”  “Oh well, I guess I’m just a hopeless screw-up.”  “If you don’t like the way I’m doing it, go screw yourself.”  “Kids are resilient—they’ll get over it.”
  • Newcomers—who still believe they can ‘think their way out’ of their current mess.
  • Midtimers and ‘sober-onlies’—who got tired of doing a daily inventory to check if they’re actually practicing the spiritual principles in all their affairs 24/7 … or to check for HP’s guidance… to see what behaviors need attentions and work.

That way there’s someone else, including God, to blame for a life of misery and frustration. “Hey, I’m really trying, but life still sucks! I guess I just can’t do it right.” This helps them avoid the serious work of facing the truth and taking more action.

ON ABUSE:  Are you really FORGIVING the person(s)? …or Making EXCUSES for them?

Avoiding the issue of abuse is ‘sweeping it under the rug,’ and is NOT facing and accepting it.  Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Holding this inside can endanger our own life…  Some parents seem to be incapable of treating a child (or anyone else) with any measure of respect; they hate themselves to the point they can’t love anyone else; they lie to you for no apparent reason or for ANY reason.

The 12-Step Program reminds us that we must be honest, holding nothing back. The goal of true intimacy (connecting) with another person cannot be realized if this is not dealt with.

  • Many who experienced childhood abuse from a parent or other ‘trusted’ adult, use this phrase—assuming that this constitutes ‘acceptance and forgiveness.’
  • Accepting the abuser’s excuses for their behavior is not healthy acceptance—it is just rationalizing their behavior and avoiding the pain of seeing it for what it is.
    • Newcomers are encouraged to seek professional guidance through this maze. A simple 4th and 5th step with an inexperienced ‘sponsor’ is NOT adequate and may cause additional damage.
    • Anyone who has regularly inflicted abuse on others should also seek professional help. This goes beyond the scope of simple ‘behavioral shortcomings.’

ABILITY IS A QUALITY AND A SHOWING OF COMPETENCE; it is the mental or physical power to do something.

For facing the facts of abusive people in our lives, maybe a more apt phrase to use would be, “…to the best of their INABILITY.” If someone didn’t or doesn’t care enough to get help and learn newer, healthier skills, they DID NOT DO THE TASK TO THE BEST OF THEIR ABILITY.


HOW DOES ANYONE EVEN KNOW if they, or anyone else, has been doing ANYTHING to the BEST OF THEIR ABILITY? We don’t. So to stay on the path, we need to…

  • check with trusted people who are also working a spiritual program of action. We need regular “reality checks” to not stay stuck in our own separate made-up personal world where we’re so important.
  • seek outside help if you’re stuck in ugly, selfish, or self-damaging behaviors.
  • try something new and different. …watch and learn from others ….ask for guidance …learn new skills.
  • take a few steps back and look at the bigger picture. Regularly focusing too much on taking care of tiny details isn’t always “doing a good job.”
  • don’t give up just because it hurts a little! It’s supposed to hurt.  A bit of shame means something is out of whack and needs some work. It means the EGO got a poke with a sharp stick.
  • try saying, “I DON’T KNOW if I did, or am doing it, to the best of my ability, but I’m working on it.”

ETC, a recovered (but not cured) alcoholic in Oregon

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Posted in Resentments, Step 9


This Business of Resentments

22 Jun

Compiled by Barefoot Bob Hardison

If we want to recover from alcoholism, the BigBook says, “We saw that these resentments must be mastered,” and heres why:

  1. Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease. (pg 64)
  2. It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility. (pg 66)
  3. It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to unhappiness (pg 66)
  4. To the precise extent that we permit these [deep resentment], do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. (pg 66)
  5. But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. (pg 66)
  6. We found that it [this business of resentment] is fatal. (pg 66)
  7. For when harboring such feelings [resentment] we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. (pg 66)
  8. [When we harbor resentment] the insanity of alcohol returns. (pg 66)
  9. [When we harbor resentment] we drink again. (pg 66)
  10. For alcoholics these things [including resentment] are poison. (pg 66)
  11. We began to see that the world and its people really dominated us. In that state, the wrong-doing of others [resentment], fancied or real, had power to actually kill. (pg 66)
  12. We have listed and analyzed our resentments. We have begun to comprehend their futility and their fatality. (pg 70)
  13. We have commenced to see their [resentment’s] terrible destructiveness. (pg 70)
  14. Never forget that resentment is a deadly hazard to an alcoholic. (pg 117)
  15. The greatest enemies of us alcoholics are resentment, jealousy, frustration, and fear. (pg 145)

After all this, it can
t be denied that the Big Book paints a really definite picture of the result of holding resentments. Is it possible that the more we have them, the more we are moving toward our next drink, since we have used alcohol before to help us deal with them? We must honestly ask ourself if we are earnestly seeking to get rid of resentments in our life, or do we hold on to some, considering them unavoidable. Its something to think about.

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Posted in Resentments, Surrender