M(3), 6/15/15: Semantics Can Make a Difference

Last full day of school, for one kid anyway.  So last day of calm before the craziness of summer!

It is the third Monday of the month, so the reading comes from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, where we focus on Step Six:

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character

I have admitted this before, so must admit this again:  this is my least favorite step.  It seems impossible to me…  how can a human being be entirely ready to have all character defects removed?  Wouldn’t that make one no longer human?  And if something cannot be done perfectly, then why is the wording as such?  I think, even being a committed 12-step fellowship member for 4 years now, I don’t truly grasp the importance of this step.  The good news, and I have admitted all this at the meeting this morning:  there was a time when I did not grasp and/or had a philosophical objection to each of the 12 steps; now it’s down to just this one.  So there’s hope for Step Six and me yet!

Fortunately for me, the rest of the group of 11 had wisdom to spare, and I have a much better feeling about Step Six than I did going into the meeting.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • One attendee shared that she has been grappling a bit herself when it come to the application of Step Six in her life.  Like me, her initial interpretation is one of such an impossibly high standard, it’s a bit de-motivating…if I know I can never achieve this, why bother?  The way she uses it, in terms of discovering her character defects, is to check the motives behind her actions.  Turns out, presenting a facade of perfection to the world is a common theme.  So she ponders the other side of the coin:  what would being vulnerable, instead of presenting the facade, look like?  What would it feel like?  Are there small steps that can be taken to start moving in a direction?  With this train of thought, she feels she is thinking in the spirit of Step Six.
  • Another attendee shared something really fascinating to me, something counterintuitive to my thought process regarding this step.  In his opinion, self-acceptance is a big part of the process when tackling Step Six.  As humans, we all have character defects.  Like the disease of alcoholism itself, acceptance is the first step towards change. Given my recent work on self-acceptance, this is a theory I will be exploring a bit on my own.
  • A few attendees talked about the usual suspects in terms of character defects.  One struggles with being judgmental, another with chronic tardiness, another still with procrastination.  All three agree that it is a work in progress in terms of removing these character defects.  Progress, not perfection may be the mindset for all three!
  • One friend said she does not like the term “character defect” at all, it is just too negative!  She prefers using “characteristics that no longer serve us.”  In hearing it put this away, it gave voice to something that bothers me the most about this chapter:  it’s very negative, and has us look at ourselves negatively.  I really enjoyed this simple phrase switch!
  • The same friend said she looks at the whole process from a more positive perspective.  Instead of focusing on giving up something, she regards what she will gain.  In giving up impatience, for example, she will gain so much more peace and serenity.  Again, this speaks volumes to the criticism I found in reading this chapter.
  • Another gentleman sees the foundation of Step Six as developing the motivation to change.  For most of us, choosing sobriety and recovery came as a direct result of misery.  Either we were miserable because of the consequences of our addiction (legal woes, marital stress, family disarray, career jeopardy), or we were miserable within ourselves because we could not control our compulsion to drink.  Now, Step Six is asking us to look at the not-as-severe character traits that cause harm, and see if we can work to improve them.  Not because we are miserable, but because it is the right thing to do.  A daunting task, when shown in this light, but far from impossible.
  • The same gentleman had his own positive spin on this step.  Instead of just looking at the character defect, look at the larger picture, because there is usually an asset on the other side of scale, and things are just out of whack.  For example, if you are chronically late, typically you are being very productive doing something else.  Instead of berating yourself for all you are not doing, widen the lens, appreciate the good, and attempt to balance out a bit.  Again, this gave the step a better framework for me to grasp.

As usual, so much great stuff, what a blessing to start a week off with this much wisdom.  Hope everyone is having as wonderful a day!

Today’s Miracle:

Remembering to enjoy the last day of calm, before enjoying the craziness of summer!

Posted on June 15, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I like the positive spins.
    I think of this as recognizing past ways of acting that hurt myself and others and forgiving myself. Because I am worth and deserving of a light and peaceful soul.
    And moving forward with the attitude of now that I know better, I will do better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne, I thought of you at the meeting. Your words about the negative spin with the Fellowship’s literature has really taken root with me, and I’m very aware now. I am so glad that I have people with significant time in my meeting, to give me another perspective!


  2. Untipsyteacher

    I wish I could be in your group!
    I really like the positive spins, too!
    When I look at the things I don’t like about myself, I must be kind.
    They aren’t awful things, just human things.
    I want to be different yet, I must understand changing does not come easily for me.
    I will need to write these ideas down!
    Many thanks to you and your group!

    Liked by 2 people

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