This is my experience with step 8. On page 76 of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous’, it states: “Now we need more action, without which we find that faith without works is dead. Let’s look at steps 8 & 9. We have a list of all persons we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make amends, we made it when we took inventory.
In my experience, the BB is telling me to make my amends according to the people I listed in my 4th step inventory. It’s my understanding that I make amends for the “my part” column, or the 4th column in my 4th step inventory. That’s the part where I listed my mistakes as selfish, self-seeking, dishonest, and afraid. Nothing more, nothing less.
At this point in the AA program as laid out in the Big Book, I am really starting to see how each step affects another. If I had never taken the 1st step and admitted I am an alcoholic, I would never have found the strength and willingness to take step 2 and so on up to step 8.
Laying aside all the talk of willingness, open-mindedness, and strength, if I had not taken step 4 as outlined in the BB I would be in a pickle right now. How could I use the list of names from my inventory, if I have not taken it? More importantly, I would not know that I was making amends for selfish, self-seeking, dishonest, and fear based acts.
I know it sounds too simply to be true, but it is. I also have to remember that this is the way it was outlined in the BB for a reason. It is a simple guide to work through the steps.
I have to keep in mind that If I am doing these steps my own way, that I am doing these steps my own way! That’s how I wound up in AA to begin with. I had a living problem and used alcohol to solve my living problem.
This is only my experience with step 8, take it or leave it. That’s the great part of only sharing my own experience. It’s my experience, you choose anyway you like to work the steps.
Thanks for reading.
I think I will leave it. I believe "more has been revealed" since the Big Book was written in 1939 when Bill W. was only four years sober. (At four years sober I could
barely tie my own shoe laces). The 12&12 was written in
the late 1940's and was printed in 1953. I trust that in
another decade a lot more was revealed by additional
experience. I will go with the 12&12. ANONYMOUS
I think Bill & the early timers learned a lot in that decade & outlined a practical program for living in the "12&12".
That's for sure. The way of life offered by the 12&12 is clear,concise & has kept me sober & happy for more then 20 years. My first 10-12 years were spent doing just enough service to stay free from the desire to drink.
Step 8 doesn't even get a line in the BB,but in the 12&12 it says,this is a Step we can get better & better at,but never completely finish.
When u get time, crack open ur BB and take a look at step 8. it says something along the lines of we have a list. We made it when we took inventory.
It doesn't get a line....
I found that when I tried to do things my own way I made a mess of my life. Once I committed my will to God and let him take over I found change was possible. I am not able to live life through his power. This is the only way it is possible to live the twelve steps. This is the way to positive change in my life. I need to change my fundamental thinking and way of doing things to stay sober.
“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings”
I found my shortcomings during my personal inventory in step 4. The 4th column (my part). My shortcomings are selfish, self-seeking, dishonesty, and fear.
(Big Book page 76) When ready, I said something like this: “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad…………………………………………We have then completed step 7.
Meister Eckhart said it this way,” nature abhors a vacuum. So empty yourself of self and you automatically fill with God. This is called “spirituality by subtraction”. Out with the old, in with the new.
Very simple. This is my experience with step 7. I knew I had completed it, because I was willing to take the action required in step 8.
Thanks for reading, and again, this is only my experience with step 7, take it or leave it.
Bet you missed some.
When dealing with other members of my homegroup, I tend to be angry and misunderstand what they are trying to tell me. Sometimes, what I think are my beliefs are just a form of delusion that I can get my own way. Fighting other people in the program isn't the answer.
When conflicts arise in my homegroup right before a meeting lately, I run away and say to my husband, who is the GSR, to immediately fulfill my wishes and take me home. Then when my sponsor gets wind of it I feel like she is attacking me. I put the problems on msyelf no one else.
I am finding it much easier right now to just suit up and keep my mouth shut and hear from others what they have to say. This shows maturity and respect in a loving caring way that i feel is demostrating to others through my actions that I am no better or worse than them.
I am then saying through my actions when I can zip my lip when in times of doubt hey, I am letting go and letting god and practicing these steps to the best of my ability.
Is is through hard knocks and gratitude tonight that I can sit here and say that i am slowly learning the little things that my higher power teaches me through my homegroup. I wished that I wouldn't have been so closed minded six years ago. But hey, at least I can say that my higher power does love me through my homegroup and at any other meeting i might attend.
Don’t like Big Book study? Try the Norman Y. way:
‘I never read a word in A.A.’ he said. ‘You don’t have to read. You don’t have to have all these pamphlets they put out. You can learn to live this program by learning to think. A.A. is a wonderful thing to know and apply’ he said, ‘- but in your life. You’ve got to live it out in the street. You see somebody having a little problem, help them, no matter who they are. That’s A.A.” (Norman Y.) (Extract from Dr. Bob and The Good Old Timers p 250)
Not all sponsors are teacher/preacher sponsors. So you don’t have to have one of those if you don’t want to. If you like, you can just have some good AA friends instead. (AA sponsors). You don’t have to carry the message of the Big Book by spouting quotes. You can communicate the AA message of sobriety instead. In your own language of the heart, like “Good Old Timer” Norman. Norman joined AA in 1939.
Questions and answers on sponsorship: http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-15_Q&AonSpon.pdf
You seem to like reading and quoting the old oldtimers to back up your arguments. Are you willing to read "How It Worked" the story of Clarence S.? (free download, just 'Google' the title) Especially read Appendix E on page 244.
Clarence got sober in February, 1938.
Thank you for taking the time to reply. No, I don’t particularly like quoting old timers, but with all this myth and misrepresentation about AA history in outside published literature and on the internet, I feel that quoting Conference approved AA literature has now become a necessary aspect to writing in the Grapevine magazine and forum; in order to provide some balance to such misrepresentation. Otherwise AA is in danger of loosing sight of its program and therefore in turn, its good public relations and members. Quoting from Conference approved AA literature shows up the many individual opinions that were around in A.A. in the 1940s, and none is more special than any other. I think it is important to distinguish what were individual opinions or local group practices and what was and is now overall AA policy. Quoting Conference approved AA literature might inspire people to read it. It also sparks a healthy, lively debate and keeps AA Tradition alive.
Here’s another old timer quote; his remembering of 1942:
“…Most of us in Akron didn’t like all this praying” said Oscar, “We had enough of it in the Oxford Group. I still don’t like praying in A.A. I don’t like the Serenity Prayer. New York brought it in, and we resented it. We thought they were bringing back the Oxford Group…” Oscar W. (Extract from Dr. Bob and the Good Old timers, p 271)
I read what you asked, including appendix E, an interpretation of the steps written by Clarence S, January 1972. Afterward, I thought of what Dr. Bob said of such interpretations:
“As finally expressed and offered, they [The Twelve Steps] are simple in language, plain in meaning. They are also workable by any person having a sincere desire to obtain and keep sobriety. The results are proof. Their simplicity and workability are such that no special interpretations, and certainly no reservations, have ever been necessary.” (Extract from Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers p 227)
The “How it worked” book is for me, a classic example of deviation from Tradition Six, where problems of money property and prestige are diverting us from our primary purpose. Too many alcoholics are seeking personal distinction or are making money out of A.A. and in so doing turning it into a cult-like religion. The adulation of personalities before principles is a process corroding the fellowship’s spiritual foundation of humility in Tradition Twelve. Tradition Four (long form) tells me that if ever I wanted to write a book which might affect AA as a whole, then I would consult with the General Service Board before publication. Tradition One would tell me to swallow my pride and throw my book in the trash if the trustees weren’t too keen on my glorious idea. Our common welfare should come first. Me second. (The Twelve Traditions (Long form) are in the Big Book appendix 1)
After digesting the appendix of this outside enterprise, I only got to chapter 9, the chapter where Clarence S is described as a prophet in his home town, followed by the biblical quote explaining a prophet is not without honor except in his own country. I had to stop. I couldn’t take it seriously after that. I laughed so much that I couldn’t even compose myself to write you this reply until now. The “Prophet” Clarence S!!! How high his pedestal, his disciples doeth build? For a moment, I had this wonderful vision of what AA could become in a couple of thousand years time, a bunch of alcoholics hanging around a shrine in Ohio, singing the psalms of Clarence, bright eyes skyward, eagerly waiting for their beloved prophet’s return.
I wouldn’t pay too much attention to what “the prophet” Clarence says or any other old timer for that matter, they were all just ex drunks with huge egos like me. Together though, I say they did make a fine group conscience with AA policy and Traditions; with a little help from something else, of course. Not to mention those oft’ forgotten non-alcoholic humans who manned the backup higher power generators in the Depts. of Psychiatry; Dr. Silkworth M.D., his accomplice “power-house” nurse Teddy, Dr. Harry Tiebut M.D. and others; standing by whenever the patients thought they were well enough to switch off the higher power and light up the fellowship with the emotional dynamite instead. Dangerous thing emotional dynamite, you need to put your charge in its right place, otherwise it can blow the whole thing. That’s why we’ve each been given a fire proof metal box called AA Traditions in which to keep our very own stick. You can read about “the prophet” Clarence S. in “Pass it On” and “Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers” if you like, (Though note his title “prophet” is not used in these books). Apparently, “the prophet” was on a bit of a short fuse at times, clashed a lot with Bill W. I gather. No surprise there for me.
“..By 1942, Bill was not in such favour with Clarence and his faction in Cleveland as in earlier days. In the years to come, there were further clashes, over finances, policy, the start of the A.A. General Service Conference, and other matters. The criticism was directed more at Bill than Dr. Bob...” (Extract Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers p 270)
“..I don’t know why we had that built-in animosity. Clarence didn’t like Bill and would cuss him out, so you can see my animosity came secondhand,..” (Oscar W.) (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers p 271)
In his book Mitchell K states that Clancy S was his sponsor. Neither Bill W. nor Dr. Bob were fans of sponsor worship and I was wondering where all this religious sponsor worship stuff and Bill W. denigration was coming from. Bill passed away in 1971, His old adversary Clancy writes his own interpretation in 1972. You might like to read appendix E:b, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age pp 309-319. Knowing about my typical alcoholic “narcissistic ego-centric core” helps me understand the nature of ego deflation in depth in Step One, I know my ego comes back soon enough, once I stop applying the steps. Were all nuts aren’t we? We believe our own egos and just keep on denying it to ourselves, then delude ourselves that we’re being honest when we’re not.
All this diversion from principles to personalities reminds me of “Mad Mitch” a now deceased Lieutenant-colonel in the British army. (Don’t ask why, my head constantly pops full of random thoughts, sometimes sane, often quite bizarre). If you like, you can find out more about “Mad Mitch” by using the search terms “Mad Mitch Mitchell.” (Not to be confused with the author Mitchell K) You can also find out more about AA prophets in a minority report to conference, using the search terms: “AA minority report (GB) 2012” (AA prophets p 32) I suggest you read it, the AAs who compiled it did a good job, a well researched and compelling document. That’s just my opinion, though I wouldn’t take my self seriously.
Now I’m stuck with this crazy vision of “The Prophet” Clarence and Lt. Col. “Mad Mitch” Mitchell racing round and around the desert in a heavily armed 4x4, bagpipers-a-blowing and loudspeakers-a-preaching the book, as they go amidst their hot air with lots of explosions and incoming fire. (Not unlike the scene in my intergroup at the mo.) It’s going to cause me much mirth for the rest of life. And today, well, I haven’t laughed so much since yesterday, so thanks for giving me these thoughts!
For “power-house” nurse Teddy, see The Language of the Heart pp 156,176
Keep it Simple- Keep it Conference Approved
I always thought that mirth meant sadness. But I looked it
up and it means just the opposite. Again with the 24hr
book. This book was rejected by Bill W. and his friends
in 1953. I think the conference refused to accept it.
There were enough members interested in 1972 to again
bring it to the conference for approval or disapproval.
This was after Bill died in 1971. It was rejected again.
I am not a gambling person and never heard of
"I'll Have Another" since I left the barroom, but I would
wager that if this decision were brought to the conference
today, it would be accepted as conference approved literature, and by a significant majority. Alcoholics
Anonymous has changed at the core. We have changed from
a fellowship to a Fellowship. Today's AA is a TWELVE
STEP PROGRAM, only one among hundreds of such programs.
The suggested steps have become instructions.
The true method of attraction has been lost. We fail
most suffering alcoholics approaching us today. We must
return to the method of sharing what we do, and what
has happened to us, without implying that anyone
else do the same. And I keep beating that dead horse
hoping against hope that it will come alive again. We
could restore the effectiveness of the fellowship of
the 1970's. My saddest fear is that we will stumble
along spinning our wheels for several more decades
failing millions of suffering alcoholics and their
families, picking up a few, which will make it
appear that A.A. is alive and well. We ARE responsible
for the future of Alcoholics Anonymous. Let it begin
with us. ANONYMOUS
Thanks for your reply. If you are the “Caterwaller”, I gave you a belated reply to your Moment of Clarity Thank you post 2012- 04-15. (My reply: re: Thank you Submitted by anonymous on Tue, 2012-05-01 11:50.) I hope you read it, I agree with all you say. Underneath my mirth there is a great deal of sadness as to what has been happening in my intergroup. I agree we shall have to return to the simplicity of the program and this will need leadership of the type to withstand power-drivers otherwise there can be no authority in Tradition Two. Without this, the fellowship will go the same way as the Washingtonian movement. An apathetic or uniformed majority can be mistaken especially if a decision is based on popular demand, rather than on Traditions and Concepts. It ought to be remembered that without Traditions upon which to guide their decisions the popular demand of the Washingtonian movement’s group conscience led to its collapse. Relating to Tradition Two and Concepts V and IX, if AA is to continue without descending into anarchy, then more people need to speak up, because the power behind the expression of the group conscience needs always to be greater than an individual alcoholic’s power driven ego; and greater than power driven egos combining to form a tyranny of very small minorities invested with absolute power. People need to take their responsibility in knowing how to apply the Traditions and Concepts as part of their growth in recovery.
“…the greatest danger to democracy would always be the “tyranny of apathetic, self seeking, uniformed, or angry majorities….” (Concept V)
“ ..The well-heard minority, therefore, is our chief protection against an uninformed, misinformed, hasty or angry majority…” (Concept V)
Therefore a well heard minority, such as your self, is our chief protection against:
“…the even worse tyranny of very small minorities invested with absolute power.” (Concept V)
Concept V and IX pages 20 and 34: http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/en_bm-31.pdf
The reason I keep harping on the 24 hour a day book,
is that my opinions changed dramatically when I finally
understood why this book is not considered appropriate
for Alcoholics Anonymous. For 35 years I insisted that
this book was appropriate and Bill had refused it
because it was not his own work. I felt that it was
just Bill's EGO wanting things his own way. I often
criticized Bill for not accepting that book when it
was offered to A.A. As of yet I don't know whether Richmond
Walker wanted money for the book or if he was going to give it to A.A. From what I have read about Richmond Walker, I
suspect that it was offered free of charge. It is a
wonderful book and has benefited many of us. But today I understand fully that the book is just too religious for
A.A. as a whole.
It beings me again to the advice given to Bill W.
in the spring of 1935 by Dr Silkworth. Dr. Silkworth had
worked for some forty years with very little success. But
the little doctor always held hope that someday, somehow
a solution to the alcoholics dilemma would be found. That
solution came through Bill W. A method was discovered through which most suffering alcoholics can be reached.
Due to the strange nature of the alcoholic, normal usual
methods just did not work. The alcoholic cannot be pushed
or prodded into sobriety, but he can be led. I believe
that God gave us that IDEA through his mercy. (but that is
really just my own opinion). The idea is to share with
other alcoholics exactly what I was like, and what happened
to me, my own story. If my own house is in order, hopefully
it will be attractive enough so that others will want what
I have. I must lose that patronizing attitude. No alcoholic
is going to listen to someone with a pious approach: Well,
if you want what I have you will have to do what I did, or
even worse, do as I say.
Alcoholics Anonymous needs to do a thorough inventory
of itself. We must admit our mistakes and correct them. It
will not be easy, but there are generations of alcoholics
who will need what A.A. can offer. It was effective for
over fifty years and can still be restored. If we don't
do it now It may become too late. I fear that it may
already be too late. Religion has really taken hold of
A.A. in the past thirty years. Bill warned us against
turning A.A. into a religion, but we have ignored that
warning. I keep thinking of the saying "you can't have
your cake and eat it, too". But in A.A. it seems that the
more we sacrifice, the more we will have. Everybody wins and
nobody has to lose. We can be all inclusive without
excluding a single alcoholic who is still suffering.
Pray in your own house of worship. Don't turn an A.A.
meeting into a prayer group. Stop the cult ritual of
chanting. Most of us seem to agree that chanting is, for
lack of a better word, stupid. It needs to be understood
that all alcoholics come into an AA meeting as absolute
equals. Oldtimers are not any better than newcomers. We
just got here sooner. We need the newcomer as much as he
may need us. No, he/she is not the most important person
in the room and it is harmful for us to tell her/him
they are most important. If you have read this far, thank
you. I just came from a disturbing meeting and couldn't
On page 249 of DR Bob and the Good Oldtimers, it says that norman was blind! of course he never read the book. It also says that in 1940, Norman had the book done in braille and sent out from Cleveland to other blind members.
For Norman, a man who never read the book himself, He sure did a lot of work to get it translated to Braille.
This is why I enjoy the BB so much. It's right there in black and white. If I am willing to do what it suggest, i will be happy, joyous, and free. Not restless, irritable, and discontent.
Thank you for your reply and for pointing out that Norman was Blind. I was wondering if anyone would notice. On page 250, "Dr. Bob and The Good Old Timers" it reads: “The odd thing is, Norman never read the Book himself.” I take this “odd thing” to mean that he never read the Big Book in Braille, despite him having arranged this to be done. It wouldn’t be the “odd thing” for a blind man not to read the standard Big Book, because he was in fact blind. But it would be the “odd thing” if he had it converted into Braille and then never read it himself; because then he could have read the Big Book in Braille if he wanted to. (That’s assuming he could read in Braille, but there again this would only be the “odd thing” if he could).
When reading a book, if I also try reading the meaning between the lines of black and white, and the meaning of the text as a whole, then I have a better chance to catch the deeper meaning of things in the text that I might otherwise make hasty assumptions and conclusions about, or miss altogether, such as paradox. I gradually came to understand that though I read, sometimes I do not apprehend nor understand. I only think I understand. I also came to understand that the apparently opposing opinions which disagree when expressed in words can sometimes both be right because they are describing the same thing from different perspectives. This helps me to keep a sense of humor and not to get into so many heated arguments as I used to. What’s important to me in Norman’s story was his perception and attitude.
Anyway you put it as long as we can remember our Primary purpose which is to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers, we are showing through our own actions every day how to work the steps. I have seen people put demand on others that they need to get the steps in a certain amount of time, I have seen people leave groups because through not being open-minded they have driven not only themselves but newcomers away as well.
Lately, I have been trying to practice the Steps and the Tradtions in every aspect of my life. It isn't easy but I think that we shouldn't judge others on how to work the steps unless we are willing to accept criticsm back. This is not a dictatorship, this is the Fellowship of AA and it stops beating when we show ignorance or intolerance towards anyone no matter who they are. It is everyone's responsiblity to carry the message through their own personal interpretations of the program. But at meetings we are united under one loving higher power who, shows us the way. Let's continue to remember that.
Patty B Literature Rep Beeville Texas
Perhaps there is a reason Norman Y. never read a word in AA. He was blind. and though he never read the Big Book, "Norman Y., the blind A.A., had the Big Book done in Braille in 1940 and sent out from the Cleveland Library to other blind members. "There were 19 of us corresponding back then," he said."
It seems some AAs, like some religious folks and politicians, like to take a sentence or two out of context to get a point across.
Thank you for your reply. Selecting a quote to support a point of view is common practice and can be constructive when careful thought is given to the meaning of the surrounding text from which it is taken. This is not the same thing as quoting out of context, whereby a quote is removed from its surrounding text in such a way as to distort its intended meaning. I don’t think my quote was out of context with its intended meaning; but this seems to be implied in your post. The fact Norman was blind does not devalue what he said, nor does it make what he said an exception to other AA members who are not blind. There are other alcoholics who have great disadvantages; educational or emotional, which limits their ability to read or study. In my early days of sobriety I was one of these. I was so emotionally mixed up at the time that I could barely read anything at all in the first few years. I was unable to hear much either, because I was so busy thought-talking to myself inside my head. I couldn’t listen to much of what the people outside were saying. My mind needed time to unravel its confusion.
You quoted two sentences in your post, which you then used to support a possible reason why Norman never read the Big Book, implying this was because he was blind. It appears to me that your use of these quotes is doing the very same thing as you think some AAs, religious folks and politicians do. Not included in your quotes is the sentence which reads “The odd thing is, Norman never read the Book himself.” (“Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers” p 250) I take this “odd thing” to mean that Norman never read the Big Book after he had it converted into Braille; otherwise this wouldn’t be the “odd thing.” “You can learn to live this program by learning to think.” Norman said. From my experience I know this to be true. I had to learn to think before I could read. Remembering back to when I eventually did start reading, although I could see, hear and read, I often could only perceive what I wanted to perceive according my own personal beliefs and prejudices. I was blind to the rest, so I missed huge chunks of information. I then acted accordingly in ignorance without thinking. This faulty perception was one of the things I became aware of and needed to change in order for me to develop an open mind and learn.
I like to keep Appendix II of the Big Book to the forefront of my mind as this helps to remind me that there are many ways to interpret the concepts of a "spiritual experience", "spiritual awakening" and a "Power greater than ourselves" and for alcoholics to interpret the steps accordingly, to their own understanding. It also reminds me that I can also subconsciously close my mind and slip back into the arrogance of denial at any time without realizing it, no matter how long I have been sober.
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” - Herbert Spencer
(Extract from Appendix II, Big Book)
Ha, ha, ha! Good one! I am gratefull for the belly laugh! You didn't mention that on page 249 of Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers, That Norman was handicaped.
Norman was Blind!!! Of course Norman didn't read the big book. He couldn't! He did however get the ball rolling in having the BB made into brail so blind members could read it. I guess Norman heard enough about the BB that he thought it was important enough to have it translated to brail.
Thanks again for the good laugh!
Thanks for saving me from having to look him up.
Step 6:Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
After reading the first 5 steps and feeling confident that I haven’t missed anything, I move on to step 6
Am I now ready to have God remove all the things I have found objectionable? To me, the things I found objectionable were listed in the 4th column of my 4th step. Selfish, self-seeking, dishonest, and frightened.
If I am not willing to give up selfishness, I have to remember in step 3 that the first requirement for this program is I had to be convinced that any life run on selfwill can hardly be a success. If I can’t give it up I have to pray for the willingness.
If I am not willing to give up self-seeking(taking actions for my selfish gain), I have to pray for the willingness.
If I am not willing to give up dishonesty(lying to others or myself), I have to pray for the willingness.
If I am not willing to give up fear(worrying I will not get something or lose something I have). I need to pray for the willingness.
I now remember when I first wanted what you in AA had. I stated that I would go to any length to get what I saw you had. I also remember the requirement in step 3. How I was convinced that any life run on self-will could hardly be a success.
I am now willing to give my selfishness, self-seeking, dishonest, and fear to GOD. I complete this step when I take the action in step 7.
This is just my experience with step 6. Thanks for reading.
In the bb pg 72 it says,” We have put our finger on the weak items in our personal inventory. Now these are about to be cast out. This requires action on our part, which when completed, will mean that we have admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. This brings us to the fifth step.
I’ll list a few lines from page 72 &73: “in actual practice, we usually find a solitary self-appraisal insufficient.
The best reason first: If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking.
Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning.
They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone else all their life story.
Then on the end of 73 and beginning of 74,”We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long in this world.
The bb goes on to talk about finding the right person to hear our 5th step. Then on page 75 it says,” When we have decided who is to hear our story, we waste no time. We have a written inventory and we are prepared for a long talk…….
Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted…………
Returning home we find a place where we can be quiet for an hour, carefully reviewing what have done. We thank God from the bottom of our hart that we know him better. Taking this book we turn to the page which contains the 12 steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything,……..If we can answer to our satisfaction, we then look at step 6.
To me this is step 5 in a nutshell. The directions are listed in full on pages 72-75, this is meant to be just a snippet.
I think if we practice what it says in chapter 7 about asking the new person to read this volume, they have a beginning of understanding what the AA program is about. Then when they get to this point, there are no surprises.
I personally had to be reminded that I told my sponsor when we began the steps that I was willing to go to any length for sobriety. That got me over the hump. I chose to do my 5th step with my sponsor. It was great, I finally felt I was part of the human race!
Remember, the Big Book doesn’t tell YOU what to do. It tells ME exactly what to do.
This is my experinece with step 5. Thanks for reading.
Something I seldom hear about step 5, are these quotes from the “Big Book,” p74:
“…Rightly and naturally, we think well before we choose the person or persons with whom to take this intimate and confidential step. Those of us belonging to a religious denomination which requires confession must, and of course will want to go to the properly appointed authority, whose duty it is to receive it….”
“…If we cannot or would rather not do this, we search for our acquaintance with a closed – mouthed, understanding friend. Perhaps our doctor or psychologist will be the friend. It may be one of our own family, but we cannot disclose anything to our wives or parents which will hurt them or make them unhappy…”
“The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” also says:
“..This person may be one’s sponsor, but not necessarily so…”
“…It may turn out, however, that you’ll choose someone else for the more difficult and deeper revelations. This individual may be entirely outside of A.A. – for example, your clergyman or your doctor. For some of us, a complete stranger may prove the best bet…”
A lot of people seem to take step five with their sponsor. This may not necessarily be a good thing. Perhaps they don’t realize that AA sponsorship does not imply this, nor should a sponsor insinuate this or coerce a newcomer to do this. A newcomer is not required to reveal any intimate details about themselves to their amateur sponsor, unless of course, they wish to do so. The fellowship might be healthier if more alcoholics took step five as suggested in the “Big Book”; not with their sponsor, but with a properly trained professional outside the fellowship (someone who is not an alcoholic) such as a psychologist, or a cleric in a religion of their choice.
The book clearly gives an individual a choice in selecting the person to hear their 5th step. I did mine with my sponsor for two main reasons, 1. I wanted someone who knew something about the 12 steps, knew what I was doing and why, 2. If an issue came up in the future that related to my 5th step I wanted the person I did the 5th step with to be easily accessible to me.
What would you do if your sponsor got drunk? Would you
follow him off the cliff? Many professionals have knowledge
of the value of confession. This is not the responsibility of a "sponsor". I certainly would not want the person
sitting next to me at an AA meeting to know all about my
sins. I prefer to follow the Big Book and the 12 & 12. Joe
I personally prefer my sponsor to know all my mistakes. I believe if the person sitting next to me knows all about me, I am more likely not to repeat those mistakes.
I certainly would not want to reveal the mistakes of my
past to someone in the meeting who has a hand up to be my
sponsor. Or with someone assigned to me at my first meeting.
These are what makes today's A.A. a cult, combined with
the chanting. This is one reason for our lack of growth in
the past two decades. A strange religious cult, as described
in the video made for public television A&E "Inside Alcoholics Anonymous" 1999. Thanks for finding these quotes
and posting them. ANONYMOUS
Step 4: made a searching a fearless moral inventory
On page 64 of the bb it says, “Though our decision was a vital and crucial step”(step 3) “ It could have little or permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions”.
FIRST, we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure. Being convinced that self ( from step 3), manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations. ( I consider the 7 deadly sins at this point. Anger, greed, sloth, pride, lust, gluttony, and envy)
When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally (how I think) and physically ( how I act). In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions, or principals with whom we are angry. (This is the first column. Just like the example on page 65, I list the names. Sometimes only one per page if I now there will be several causes.)
We asked ourselves why we were angry. ( this is the cause column or column 2 on page 65. I then make the list of causes from top to bottom).
On our grudge list we set opposite each name our injuries. Was it our self-esteem, our security, our ambitions, our personal, or sex relations, which had been interfered with? ( This is column 3. The 5 instincts just listed are what make me tick. If someone interferes with them or I am afraid they will I get resentful.)
On page 66 there are some great words of wisdom. I will list a few sentences: To conclude that others were wrong was a fear a most of us ever got. It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. This business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. If we were to live, we had to be free of anger.
This was our course: we realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick.
On the top of pg 67 we have the 4th step prayer. Then We avoid retaliation or argument. If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful.
Referring to our list again. Putting out of our minds the wrongs other had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? ( this is column 4). When we saw our faults we listed them. We placed them before us in black and white. We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight.
Next, we inventory fear and sex. There are several prayers listed up to page 71 dealing with fear and sex. I inventory with the same format as resentments.
I would like to write more, but I have written too much already. I would like to say this inventory out of the bb taught me how to get over resentments, fear, and sex problems. When they crop up again, I use this method of inventory in my daily 10th step.
This is my experience. This is the way I was taught to work the 4th step out of the bb. Over the years I will do an annual or semi-annual 4th step if I haven’t kept up with my daily 10th. It is very simple. If I am not willing to do this, I have not done step 3. If I have not done step 3, I did not do step 2. If I didn’t do step to, It boils down to I haven’t admitted complete defeat in step 1.
Again, this is my experience with step 4.
This is the step that i am approaching now. Thanks for the hints at how to do it.
Bill W. gives us a specific means of doing step 4. These
are found beginning on page 50 in the 12&12. There are
about thirty questions to be answered. ANONYMOUS
Before I get into step 3, I have to look at pg 60 in the bb. It starts with – “our description of the alcoholic (chapter 2&3), the chapter to the agnostic (chapter 4), and our personal adventures before and after (chapter 1 & from Dr. Bobs Nightmare on) make clear 3 pertinent ideas:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives. ( step 1)
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism (step 1&2)
(c) That God could and would if he were sought. (step 2)”
Then continuing on page 60 it says “Being convinced we were at step 3……Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do?
The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self will can hardly be a success.
Page 62 it says “Selfishness-self-centeredness! That we think is the root of our troubles……..
So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making……..Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must or it kills us! God makes that possible……Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power…….This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God…..Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director…….We were now at step 3…(prayer)
This was only a beginning, though if honestly and humbly made, an effect, sometimes a very great one was felt at once.
You can read the full step in the bb. This is where the language in the bb changes dramatically. I have to remember, that this was only a decision. Before I can take action, I have to make a decision to do so. I believe my will and life is how I think and act.
Now that I have asked God to direct how I think and act, I have to take the action necessary to carry out that decision. To me that action is to continue on with the remaining 9 steps. But first things first, I start with step 4.
If I am working with a newcomer that is not willing, it says in chapter 7 to reread the chapter on alcoholism. If they still are not willing, let them try it there own way. before long alcohol will either make them willing or kill them. the choice is theirs.
Thanks for reading.
Could you tell me where it says in chapter 7 to reread
the chapter on alcoholism. Do we reread it for ourselves?
Do we read it to the newcomer or for the benefit of the newcomer? Or do we "suggest" to the newcomer that she/he
reread chapter 7 or the chapter on alcoholism.
If an alcoholic has agreed to listen to me for a few
minutes, and says that he/she is not interested, I think
I am supposed to thank that person for listening to me.
That person has helped me to maintain my own sobriety.
We are not to try to pressure A.A. or any of our
beliefs on anyone. Attraction, not promotion is the key.
I believe that here on I-SAY we ought to be as
accurate as possible. This may be the only A.A.
material that some alcoholics read. ANONYMOUS
Sorry, misquote. I was thinking of the original manuscript of the big book. On page 60, just before it says being convinced we were at step 3, it says something along the lines of “if you are not convinced of a,b, and c, reread it up to this point or throw it away!
I had that mixed up with chapter 7, at the bottom of page 91, It says, “Show him the mental twists which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.
I apologize. I should have said what I do is ask them to reread the chapter on alcoholism again, or if they want, I will read it to them. If I have ask him before we start, if he wants to quit for good and will go to any extreme to do so (pg 90) I also refer to that. Also on page 95 it says to ask them to read this book in the interval. After that he must decide if he wants to go on. If he has read this book, there should be no surprises.
I also like to refer to Page 94,” Outline the program of action…….” At the bottom of page 94,”If he shows interest lend him your copy of this book”. Also on page 96,” Suppose now you are making your second visit to a man. He has read this volume and says he is prepared to go through with the 12 steps of the program of recovery.
Again, sorry for the misleading information.
Too many of today's members have returned to the
origional manuscript. We have a local group who read the
manuscript version of How It Works. They read "on your knees" and "throw the book away". The worst mistake is
following our directions instead of following our path.
I am curious if you teach the steps and the big
book as an elder. I think it is the responsibility of
the group to teach, not one on one as a tutor or
Personally when I approach a newcomer, I offer a
copy of the third edition of the Big Book and suggest
reading some of the stories. If they want to read
further, I suggest that they begin at the front of
the book with the Doctor's opinion.
I would never tell a newcomer to open to chapter
five to start reading. Bill W. placed How It Works
in chapter five for a special timed effect. I believe
that reading this material to the newcomer is a
terrible mistake. Yet we do it all the time. Even
Overeaters anonymous has followed our lead and it
has become a part of their format.
My concern is A.A.'s loss of half a million members
since 1992, and our current stagnation. Our mistakes
have caused our loss of effectiveness. We must admit
our blunders and correct them if A.A. is going to
survive. If the newcomer says he is prepared
to "go through with the steps", give her/him a copy of our
12&12. Bill W. tells us how to do the steps. Just be
there to answer any questions the newcomer may ask. I
usually suggest a weekly step meeting where the group
can teach the steps. This is a lifetime practice. I don't
believe they are meant to be taught in a workshop setting.
I agree with what you say. I assume “the original” manuscript referred to here is not in fact the original but a copy of a pre-publication multilithed draft of the Big Book which I understand is now being published by organizations outside AA. Before the Big Book was published in 1939, 400 pre-publication multilithed copies of the draft manuscript were distributed to alcoholics, non alcoholic AA friends, (psychiatrists, clerics, etc); for their suggested amendments. (Pass it On, pp 200-205) The chapters “Bill’s Story” and “There Is a Solution” were also multilithed and circulated by Bill W. before publication of the Big Book, to raise money in 1938. (Pass it On, p193)
These multilithed pre- publication draft manuscripts were yet to be finally edited and approved by the fellowship’s group conscience. Therefore, to call any of these multilithed drafts the “original” manuscript can only be described as the dishonest rationalizing of half truth into deceit. The only manuscript which can honestly be claimed to be the original manuscript is the final draft edit, approved by the fellowship and published in 1939, the first edition of the Big Book “Alcoholics Anonymous”. We can all see this re-printed in the first 164 pages of the current edition. These pages remain unchanged from the original. Some of the original stories in the section at the back of the book were taken out in later editions in order to make way for newer stories. These are now published in “Experience Strength and Hope.”
As for the getting down on your knees, protests in the fellowship at the time caused the kneeling suggestion in the draft multilithed manuscript not to be printed in the original Big Book (first edition). This was the New York group’s response, as recalled by Bill W:
“… In one of the steps I had even suggested that the newcomer get down on his knees.
When this document was shown to our New York meeting the protests were many and loud. Our agnostic friends didn't go at all for the idea of kneeling. Others said we were talking altogether too much about God. And anyhow, why should there be twelve steps when we had done fine on six? Let's keep it simple, they said.
This sort of heated discussion went on for days and nights. But out of it all there came a ten-strike for Alcoholics Anonymous. Our agnostic contingent, speared by Hank P. and Jim B., finally convinced us that we must make it easier for people like themselves by using such terms as "a Higher Power" or "God as we understand Him!" Those expressions, as we so well know today, have proved lifesavers for many an alcoholic. They have enabled thousands of us to make a beginning where none could have been made had we left the steps just as I originally wrote them….” (Bill W. Extract from “A Fragment of history: Origin of the Twelve Steps” The Language of the Heart p 201, AA Grapevine July 1953)
Here’s a newcomer’s reaction to the multilithed draft which had been given to psychiatrist Harry Tiebout M.D; the doctor decided to try it out on one of his alcoholic patients with spectacular results:
“…Indeed, its heavy larding with the word "God," so angered Marty that she threw it out her window, flounced off the grounds of the swank sanitarium where she was, and proceeded to tie on a big bender…” (Bill W. “In Memory of Harry” The Language of the Heart p 369, AA Grapevine July 1966)
After some persuading Marty M. did eventually read it, went to a meeting, achieved long term sobriety and became a notable AA member. She can be looked up in the indexes of “Pass it On” and “The Language of the Heart.”
If we want AA to continue to be inclusive to all alcoholics irrespective of their creed or nationality and for AA to grow worldwide, then it doesn’t make any sense to me that some groups appear to be trying to turn the clock back in order for them to repeat the past mistakes of the Oxford Group. The Oxford Groups and their methods in dealing with alcoholics were not early Alcoholics Anonymous groups and should not be confused as such.
Came to believe God could restore us to sanity.
Before I say anything. When I speak of God, I am refering to my own conception of God. Therefore when you speak of God I give you the same courtesy.
From what I have read in the big book, I have gathered that "insanity" is defined as the lack of ability to think straight where alcohol is concerned. Nothing more or less.
In chapter 4 We Agnostics, it states that almost half our origiional membership was athiest or agnostic. My understanding of an athiest is they believe there is proof therer is no God. My understanding of an agnostic is that they don't know either way. they are without knowledge where God is concerned.
On pg 45 in the bb it says "lack of power was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this power?"
"Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a power greater than yourself which will solve your problem.
On pg 47 it says "we needed to ask ourselves but one short question. Do I now believe, or am I willing to believe, that there is a power greater than myself?"
I think an agnostic says they do believe, and an athiest says they are willing.
On pg 53 it says, "When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the porposition that either God is, or he isn't. What was our choice to be?
To me that is step 2. I belive this is why it is so important to use the big book with newcomers. If they are not willing, then let our greatest advocate and promoter "ALCOHOL" do its persuading untill they are ready.
Thanks for reading.
How do we use the Big Book with newcomers? Do we leave
the Book and the other spiritual tools at the new member's
feet, or do we cram them down their throats. Most of today's
sponsors, teachers and preachers are crammers. To reach them
at depth, we must allow the new person and all other members
to make their own decision, without any prodding or pushing
from us. Who are WE to ask "ARE YOU READY YET! We should
be saying "thanks for listening to me, that is how I stay
sober, by sharing my experience, strength and hope. Don't
ask, suggest, demand anything of the newcomer. If they
eventually show interest in the steps, offer them the
12 & 12. Allow every member do the steps when they decide
for themselves they are ready. Many of us work the steps,
some of us just practice them in our lives. They really
are suggestions. Honest! ANONYMOUS
Anonymous writes: "Many of us work the steps, some of us just practice them in our lives. They really are suggestions."
I got sober with the second edition of the Big Book, used the third edition to continue on the road to recovery and now use the fourth edition. Not a one of those said the steps are merely suggested. What they say is, "Here are the steps we took WHICH ARE SUGGESTED AS A PROGRAM OF RECOVERY."
From "The American Heritage Dictionary":
sug·gest (sg-jst, s-jst) KEY
sug·gest·ed, sug·gest·ing, sug·gests
To offer for consideration or action; propose.
To serve as or provide a motive for; prompt or demand."
The steps are not a list of things we might do when we feel like getting around to them, they are "A Program Of Recovery."
Knowing and admitting I am an alcoholic means nothing unless I believe there is a solution to my problem.
Knowing there is a solution means nothing unless I'm willing to take the treatment necessary to solve that problem.
Being willing to have my problem solved means nothing unless I take the necessary action, which is the remaining nine steps. ("Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless AT ONCE followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us." page 64)
The belief that the twelve steps are merely a dozen suggestions keeps far too many suffering alcoholics suffering.
Here are the steps we took, WHICH ARE SUGGESTED AS A
PROGRAM OF RECOVERY. How can you say that not a one of
those said the steps are merely suggestions? It is there
in black and white. You wrote it in capitol letters. I
personally do not like the phrases "mere suggestions",
or "only suggestions". They are suggestions. I think what you are missing is the true meaning of suggestion. This is the first definition in my dictionary: 1. To mention, introduce, or propose an idea for consideration, possible action. We keep far too many alcoholics suffering by trying
to cram the dosen suggested steps down their throats. And all at the same time in "How It Works". ANONYMOUS
I hope you still have your copy of the second issue
of the Big Book. I often wonder how many times "fellowship"
has been changed to "Fellowship". In today's A.A. it
has been changed almost everywhere except our preamble. The
preamble still reads fellowship. But that will evolve into
Fellowship soon. ANONYMOUS
That definition of "suggest" interests me. Bill W. wrote
later in our 12&12, first printing 1953, Page 26. I copy:
First, Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that you believe
anything. All of its twelve steps are but suggestions." The
sponsor of that era says relax, take it easy. Today's
sponsor says: That One is God, may you find Him now!
Alcoholics by the thousands were joining the fellowship
of the 1950's. Have you looked at our growth recently? The
result of todays approach is Nil!!
The definition of suggest which I feel fits A.A. is :"to indicate indiretly or without plain expression. Another definition is: the process of inducing a thought, sensation, or action in a receptive person without using persuasion and without giving rise to the reflection in the recipient. This is a far cry from: These are the steps we took! Are you ready to take them yet? Find God Now or forever be darned!! ANONYMOUS
It just seems to me that you are making the twelve
steps requirements, instead of suggestions. Our early
members Hank and Jimmy fought hard day and night to
get the steps labled as suggestions. But I believe this
fight was fought after most of the Big Book had been
written. I also believe that is why the whole book
was described as suggestive only, as written on page
164 of the book. Hold on to that third edition. That
was just the best! Of course that is pure opinion.
In Pass it on, they say Hank Drank again. Check it out.
That indeed is a sad story. After all the work Hank did
for us, he did drink again, and did not recover. I believe
it had to do with a relationship. I think Jimmy remained
sober. I think fifty percent is acceptable. Hank and Jimmy
did not want to see A.A. become a religion. They insisted that the steps be labled as suggestions, and that God be
a higher power of each member's understanding. Without
those changes, I don't believe A.A. could have been
effective for as long as it was. Ignoring those changes
is what is killing us. I wish I could explain in a way
that could be understood. Someday maybe I will be able to
do so. It has to do with the the alcoholic's nature. We
do not respond well when someone tells us what to do. If
someone just tells us what they did and what happened to
them, then we are more likely to follow that path. Tell
an alcoholic what he must do and he rebels. The true
method which works is to let the alcoholic decide all
by himself, in the light of his own circumstances, what
he wants to do. Let him ask the questions if he is
interested in what we offer. Attraction, not promotion.
This may still not make any sense. It is based on my
understanding of Dr. Silkworth's IDEA. ANONYMOUS
If you had what I wanted, and I asked you to show me how u got it,how would you show me?
I know what I do. I take the newcomer through the steps in the bb just the way my sponsor did with me in 1992. Just like his did in 1981. And just like his did in 1972.
I have done it this way because that's my experience. The 2-15 newcomers I work with a year do It the same way. And guess what? Almost everyone has stayed sober! The 12 guys that worked with me and that I worked with through the steps in1992 are all sober today! The bb works!
That's my experience.