A Life of Principles and Purpose

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April 1, 2022
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April 29, 2022
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Rebuilding Our Morality – By Rick R.

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are placed in numerical order for a reason. Each step is preparatory to the next step and requires a certain amount of attention before we can successfully move on to the next step.

Simply put, Step One is acknowledging that we have a problem. Step Two is about accepting outside help. Step Three is where we surrender to that outside help (a Power greater than ourselves). Step Four is the beginning of the action steps, where we acknowledge and document the immoral behaviors of our past and those we offended.

Step Five may be the most difficult step, where we must admit “the exact nature of our wrongs” to God, to ourselves and to another human being. It was that other human being part that I found to be the most difficult thing. This delayed my progress for a short time.

We cannot change one moment of the past, but we can change our habits and behavior as we begin our journey into the future.

That is where Steps Six and Seven come in. To simplify my understanding of these two steps, it occurred to me that most of my faulty behaviors (shortcomings) are the result of my (defective) thinking. Once I discovered the defects in my motives, it was not too difficult to change my behaviors.

On the last page of Step Seven in 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, it says: “The chief activator of our defects has been self-centered fear.” Most of my fears were of the irrational variety. I discovered that my fears and insecurity stemmed from experiences in my youth, which caused me to do things that were morally wrong. Those actions were the shortcomings that stemmed from my irrational fears.

Once I recognized the defects (fears), my shortcomings (behaviors) were much easier to change. “Selfishness—Self-Centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate.” (Big Book pg. 62)

If, in fact, Selfishness—self-centeredness is the root of my problems, it is plain to see that unselfishness just might be solution to them. I could not have understood this line of thinking when I was still using alcohol to mask these problems.

The proper completion of Step Five was the most humbling experience of my life, but it opened the door to the rest of the program. I do not believe that I would have been strong enough to follow those guidelines had I not completed Step Five and admitted my faults to God, to myself, and to another human being. I could never have taken my ego out of the game, and the rest of the program may have been a shallow façade.

The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking. Those words, which are read as part of the Preamble at meetings, give members the opportunity to choose their own degree of thoroughness when it comes to practicing the AA principles.

I am so thankful that I did not let my ego stand in the way of my spiritual development and all of the progress that I have made in the program. I have experienced all of the promises.

I encourage anyone who is still caught up in the fear of Step Five to take the leap of faith, revisit it, get their ego out of the way, and clear their conscience. We only live once, and it would be a shame to waste this precious gift.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.