Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand...

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.

Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand...

Postby leng12 » Fri May 06, 2016 10:44 am

Hi

Working on Step Four, Chapter Five with my Sponsor makes me think AA is not for me. Sober for nine months and got round to the work this January.

Literally couldn't believe what I was reading and being told. I AM NOT SELFISH. I AM THE LEAST SELFISH PERSON I KNOW. I understand and recognise all the bad words beginning with 'self'. I see selfishness in others all the time. It's not me. I'm sure.

At an impasse with sponsor. Can you help? Thanks.
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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby Noels » Fri May 06, 2016 10:57 am

Hi Leng 12 :D welcome :D I've just completed step 5. Just to get clarification -your sponsor telling you that you are not selfish, everything is another person's fault?
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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby avaneesh912 » Fri May 06, 2016 11:08 am

If you can share some of your resentments/fear/relationship issues we can probably help. Or perhaps you can try a different sponsor.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby Brock » Fri May 06, 2016 11:42 am

Welcome leng. I did the steps pretty much on my own, using the book and various guidelines on the internet, when it came to #5 I asked someone from NA I trusted to assist. He was very pleased at the way I prepared my 4th, but said it fell short of identifying those he could advise me to make amends to in 8 & 9. At that point I thanked him and said I needed no further assistance.

It is my belief that some sponsors decide that everyone else must have been as selfish as they were, and screwed over a similar number of people to make amends to. We have had inquiries like this in the past, some people having written twenty and more resentments, and the sponsor saying 'not enough find some more.'

Perhaps if you asked him for examples from his own list, you could say you never did that. But you must look closely and make sure you are not fooling yourself, for example most of the companies I worked for I didn't give 100%, if someone asked me then if I was being selfish with that I would have said no, they are not paying me 100% of what I would like to make, so I won't give more than I have to, now I see that it was selfish.

All sorts of people need AA, and some of them even while drinking might have been the most decent folks you could hope to meet, you can do no more than search your conscious for your own mistakes, and I hope your sponsor will come to understand that good guys need AA too.
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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby ezdzit247 » Fri May 06, 2016 1:28 pm

Hi leng12 and welcome.

Congratulations on 9 months sober!

I can identify with your feelings about the words "selfish", "selfishness" and "self-centeredness" especially as those words are sometimes interpreted and used by some AA members. Fortunately for me, I had read one of the books in Dr. Bob's library entitled "The Art of Selfishness" by David Seabury and had spent two years in transactional analysis with an excellent clinical psychologist before I finally got sober. This gave me a much better understanding of the difference between a healthy ego and constructive selfishness and an unhealthy ego and destructive selfishness. In AA meeting rooms, I heard some members express this distinction as the difference between ego "needs" and "wants" and recovery as going from having my eyeballs pointed "inward" and only being able to "see" self to getting to the place where my eyeballs pointed "outward" and I was finally able to "see" others as well as myself. Those kinds of shares were very helpful to me when I began to work Steps 4 through 12. What might be very helpful for your emotional and spiritual growth right now is for you to step outside your comfort zone and ask your sponsor to set aside some time to do some dialog on how each of you understands and personally defines the words "selfish", "selfishness" and "self-centeredness". Maybe AA really isn't right for you but it doesn't really sound like you have enough information about what AA is about to make any decision yet. Good luck.
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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby Noels » Fri May 06, 2016 3:13 pm

Hi Leng12, I always believed (and still do :D ) that I was and is an exceptionally nice person yet I found that in every resentment or fear there was selfishness. It was just disguised as " niceness " or " trusting " or " caring " etc, etc, etc. I'll share some with you then you'll understand.
I have taken in almost every member in my family into our home during the first 5 years of our marriage as they were either getting divorced or were unemployed. Ive had my one brother twice due to him being unemployed. The first time for about 9 months and the 2nd time for about 12 months. My late sister's son stayed with us within our first few months of marriage for approximately 6 months due to unemployment. We also gave him a job. My late brother's daughter stayed with us for about 7 months. Hubby drove her up and down to work. Once we found her a place of her own we haven't even had a phone call from her. (or her mom for that matter). My parents lived with us within the first year of our marriage - mom for about 6 months then she passed and dad for about 2 years then he passed. Why do I say my character defect is selfish cause all of this are good things. Because I didn't consider how having other people in our home will affect my hubby and son. They simply had to " fall in " with the arrangement, look after all these people financially, share their personal space where they are supposed to rest and rejuvenate with them, pick up and clean up after them and arrange their work schedules according to these people's schedules so they could have transport whenever they required it. These people also went with us wherever we went socially so it also impacted on our personal time together.
I have helped my brother out financially on a permanent basis since the day we got married (21 years) - why do I say Its a selfish act because surely if a close relative suffers we should help. Yes. We should help but not for 21 years on a continuous basis. Here I was selfish because once again I did not consider my hubby and son. My hubby works just as hard as I do so our finances are treated as " together ". I had no right to just give away what he worked for. My son - whatever we make and leave behind is for his comfort and future. I had no right to dabble with his inheritance. Apart from this character defect I also realized that I was doing it because of fear. This brother is one of twins and the other twin committed suicide on 2 days before new year whilst he was in a drunken argument with his girlfriend and I was afraid that this brother would do the same. Furthermore, by always helping this brother out I wasn't actually helping him because (I) he is an alcoholic who wont admit it and I always " rescue " him when he hits bottom and (ii) by always being there to help I never gave him the chance to grow and learn to fend for himself. So although it seemed to me that it was something I had to do I was actually being selfish toward him as well.
One more very simple example which is actually now a joke in our office. My sister and I work together. I run my own department and she is my hubby's PA. I hardly ever made us coffee in the 7 years that she's been with me. Ive always had this attitude that I was too busy so I would simply ask her to go and make us coffee. (many times disguised as " why don't you take a break and go stretch by the kettle then you can make us coffee while you're at it?) Very funny but very very selfish of me. How dare I think that my work is more important than hers? We are in the same business and how selfish of me to suggest she leaves whatever she is busy with and make coffee immediately? Really simple example but just thinking about it makes me feel ashamed inside. I will still apologise to her for this when I get to step 9 but I do in the meantime make coffee many more times now that ive realised my really bad behaviour and to see the joy on her face every time I do this simple act and present her with a cuppa I can not describe in words.
There are many incidents that I remember which came up in step 4 where other people did do me harm but even in those situations there was something I learned about myself and my deeper intentions. If you do get to a particular resentment or hurt that you honestly can not see your fault in that situation then let that particular one be. Step 4 is about looking at what WE could have done. Don't worry about what the other person did or did not do. They will pay for it in good time.
This is a very important step and you need to take your time with it.
What I also found helpful was to sit down with my pen and paper, breathe nice and deep a couple of times and then visualised that I took my brain and placed it on a shelf or table somewhere in a corner. Then whenever a situation / resentment / fear came up I " placed " that situation by my tummy (yes, don't laugh :D ) by my solar plexus and I " felt " whether I felt an emotion when I thought of that situation / resentment / fear. If I " felt " nothing, I let it go but if I " felt " anything it went down on my paper.
Good luck, take your time and don't give up. It will come as it should. It took me almost 6 weeks to finally have everything down on paper before I was ready to discuss it with the member I chose to discuss it with. I do know now, however, that I did an honest and complete job of it so it was worth it.
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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby leng12 » Sat May 07, 2016 7:11 am

Thank you all for getting back quickly.

For example. I don't talk to my alcoholic Mother. I also don't talk to my siblings as they gave me no support as a child suffering with our parents alcoholic madness. Fair enough, my siblings went through the same experiences I did but their refusal to discuss what happened or even acknowledge it is the reason I don't talk to them.

My Sponsor believes this is SELFISH on my part. To me it seems perfectly normal.

I'm angry at my Sponsor.
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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby leng12 » Sat May 07, 2016 7:27 am

I came into recovery last year and received counselling/therapy before I found the rooms. I told this therapist things I've never told anyone. I now know secrets mess you up. I'm about to do this again as Step Four/Five with my Sponsor (a non - professional). The only difference is I'll be writing it down instead of looking someone in the eye. At step meetings I hear people say Step Five is a "game changer". Really? Showing my inventory to my Sponsor will stop these visceral urges for vodka?
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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby Stepchild » Sat May 07, 2016 7:29 am

leng12 wrote:My Sponsor believes this is SELFISH on my part. To me it seems perfectly normal.

I'm angry at my Sponsor.


I was angry at the whole world and everyone on it when I came into AA. I had to put some serious thought into this part of the book. Really think about it.

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. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.

So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so.

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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby Stepchild » Sat May 07, 2016 7:34 am

leng12 wrote:At step meetings I hear people say Step Five is a "game changer". Really? Showing my inventory to my Sponsor will stop these visceral urges for vodka?


What does the book say?

We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past. Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator. We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience. The feeling that the drink problem has disappeared will often come strongly. We feel we are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe.
Page 75

That was very close to my experience. Trust the process.
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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby avaneesh912 » Sat May 07, 2016 7:38 am

Really? Showing my inventory to my Sponsor will stop these visceral urges for vodka?


From your question, I am assuming, I maybe wrong, someone is not guiding your right. You see alcohol is just a symptom. Selfishness and self-centeredness is our problem. And thats that your sponsor help you highlight in the fifth step.

There are some great workshops. Look in your message bin. There could be some PMs you may have overlooked.

Good lunck.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby leng12 » Sat May 07, 2016 7:48 am

I don't believe I am in 'self'. I live and have always lived a seond had life. Always putting others first for fear of dealing with my sh*t. I believe I should now be selfish, putting myself first for a change. (Like that Micmac Native American in the personal stories).
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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby PaigeB » Sat May 07, 2016 7:59 am

Sounds like me - I was an all giving person. I gave until it hurt. Then I got resentful of the people I gave to. Even when a resentment did not occur, I still harbored feelings that life owed me something.

IF your sponsor is truly wrong about you being selfish, it can't hurt to explore the idea, see what sort of thinking led them to believe you are selfish. Just try to have an open mind.

Honesty
Openness
Willingness

Tha is how we stay sober. Apply these to your current situation and see what comes up!
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby leng12 » Sat May 07, 2016 8:27 am

Selfishness & Self-centeredness is not my problem.

I'm not closed to the idea. Even signed up here to explore the possibility and get advice. It seems so vital to agree with these paragraphs bevore moving on. A lot of weight is attached to these couple of pages. I was looking forward to going through the steps formally but can't get past this.

Any other suggestions?
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Re: Chapter Five...Step Four...'SELF'...Help me understand..

Postby avaneesh912 » Sat May 07, 2016 8:36 am

My response further down.
Last edited by avaneesh912 on Sat May 07, 2016 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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