Step Ten of Alcoholics Anonymous — A Life Journey

Responsibility: No single drop of water thinks it is responsible for the floodStep 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Steps one through nine provide tools to awaken internal realizations and relational manifestations.  They offer help to accept the past and heal what is possible.  The first nine measures give guidance for honesty, faith, hope, courage, and humility for responsible lives.

Step ten is based on the principle of responsibility.  Being responsible is using our authority to make independent decisions for our actions and for our failures to take action.  We are accountable for our actions and their consequences.

The tenth step uses the basis of responsibility and applies it to daily life as an ever evolving journey.  Throughout the stages of life, we are in a in a constant state of transition, emerging, evolving, and becoming.  We are continually discovering and making sense of our existence.  As we repeatedly question ourselves, others and the world, it is important to continue looking within and practice being accountable for our behaviors especially when we are wrong.  Paying attention to our varying degrees of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors helps improve conscientious decisions-making.  Keeping abreast to our internal being and being true to ourselves and others maintains balance and happiness as we progress in our lifespan.

To help encourage awareness make time each day to practice stillness.  Stillness is slowing down from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  Set up a quiet sanctuary for your practice.  Maintain a personal ritual in a quiet place where you can focus internally.  It’s a time to just notice and listen in the moment.  This is not a time for judgment or ridicule.  Just allow thoughts to surface and pay attention to where the feeling is sensed in the body.

The concept is simple, yet can feel difficult to perform.  To assist, you might create a place dedicated solely for the purpose of reflection.  Form a tranquil space with pillows, blankets, and memorabilia that are personally special.  Wear comfortable clothing.

Nature is another sanctuary.  Ensure there are no external distractions such as electronic devices or interruptions.  Take the time to focus internally and scan your body and listen to your inner being.

Begin by taking several slow, deep breaths.  Start your practice remaining silent for five minutes and as your meditation muscles strengthen, add more time.  Increase in one to five minute intervals each week until you reach thirty or forty-five minutes, or as much as feels right for you.

In the beginning taking time for mindfulness may seem like a waste of time. Allow for the process to transpire and you will reap many benefits. You will have more clarity and decisiveness.  With less wandering of the mind, you are able to make quick, precise decisions.   You are more centered, well-balanced and connected with your core and inner being.  Having greater connection to your body and mind provides more awareness.  Being aware supplies consciousness to peace and confidence in your authenticity.

Stillness is your sacred time to connect to your spiritual power and to reflect inward.  It is a valuable time solely for you.  With practice, you will adopt, habituate and notice positive changes in all areas of your life.

Now that you are more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and actions, challenge yourself to experience fearful situations and remain there knowing you can manage your emotions and take responsibility for your behavior.  Each person has unique thoughts, emotions, and urges.  They are a natural part of life.   Distinctive thoughts and feelings are not right or wrong.  Labeling them good or bad/right or wrong is passing judgment.  Acceptance is a state of non judgment.  Reassure yourself, that your thoughts and feelings matter and are of value.  They equate just as much as everyone else’s.

The more in tune you are with your thoughts and feelings, the more you can create a safe place for you to express them in a healthy way.  This means stating your wants and desires.  If you are not getting want you want, it is your responsibility to express your needs.  People are not mind-readers.  The only way to have a healthy discussion is to communicate openly and honestly.  Allow the other person to speak, express their thoughts, desires, and feelings; and then do the same.  Use respectful dialogue.  Establish ground rules such as no name calling, blaming, yelling, or stonewalling. If the conversation elevates to such a level, take a time out with a specific day/ time to reconvene and continue the discussion.  Ensure you return at the established day/ time.  This builds trust.  With practice, responsible responses will habituate and become easier over time.

Having an awakening to your internal psyche creates more options and alternatives. Exposure to communication brings deeper connection and better relationships.  We are our choices.  Thus instead of using alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, gambling, and relationships to restrain what you think and feel, you have the capacity to notice, acknowledge and choose how you manage your internal workings.   Your relationships will show the improvement.

Step 10 encourages you to notice and allow whatever thoughts and emotions you are thinking or feeling to surface.  By observing your interior consciousness you are awakening to a richer life of happiness, joy, and serenity as well as managing your own life for safety and protection.  Having thoughts and emotions are normal and healthy.   Allowing them to surface doesn’t mean you have to act on them.  It’s being in charge, building a relationship with your fears and distress, and strengthening your confidence to know you can handle difficult experiences.

Responsibility Sure Glad the hole isn't at our end.

5 Ways to Improve Your Conscious Listening

active-listening_pinkTaken from Julian Treasure: 5 ways to listen better | Video on TED.com

Conscious listening is understanding sound.   It increases empathy, connection, consciousness, and peace.  Listening externally improves relationships.  Listening internally increases awareness of inner wisdom and self-sabotaging talk.  Read on to learn ways to uplift your capacity to hear with clarity.

1. Sit silently for three minutes a day to recalibrate and hear the silence again.

2. Listen and count the many channels of sound (i.e. count birds chirping or the different depths of sound listening to the flow of a creek, or the clasps of the coffee machine being worked at Starbucks as you stand in line).

3. Savor mundane sounds.  Turn the sound of a washing machine into a waltz.

4. Listening positions allow room to navigate, see different perspectives, and find solutions.

  • Active | passive
  • Reductive | expansive
  • Critical |empathetic

5. R A S A is an acronym to simplify the rules to listen better.

  • R = Receive, pay attention
  • A = Appreciation, thank for sharing
  • S = Summarize, use so… frequently
  • A – Ask, pose many questions

Listening is a rare art form that takes practice, dedication, and consciousness.  Notice how slowing down to listen to others and yourself can help transform your relationships, decision-making, and peacefulness.

Journal Writing: Helpful or Harmful?

journal writingJournaling is journaling, right? Well come to find out, it can either bring relief or intensify misery. It all depends on the focus of writing.

What is the best way to journal?

When writing about a particular event, focusing on cognitive processing (making sense of a stressful event) and emotional expression helps to resolve the experience and find positive outcomes. Research shows writing about a stressful incident with emphasis on thoughts and feelings increases positive growth. It directly affects beliefs about the self, the world, and the future (Ullrich & Lutgendorf, 2002).

A study regarding bereavement supports that persons who engaged in deliberate, effortful thinking about the death and externalized their thoughts on paper were more likely to find greater meaning in their relationship with their lost loved one.  They came attuned to more values, priorities, and perspectives in response to the death (Purcell 2006).

Writing not only has mental improvements but also physical.  Here is a list of just some of the positives of journaling:

  •   Strengthens immune system
  •   Increases white blood cells
  •   Decreases symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis
  •   Reduces stress
  •   Effectively solve problems
  •   Resolve Conflict
  •   Clarify what makes you happy
  •   Helps to resolve stressful experiences and find positive outcomes
  •   Increases positive growth
  •   Increases ability to find multiple solutions to a single problem
  •   Helps broaden perspective and enables resolution to disagreement
  •   Provides clarity about situations and people
  •   Increases awareness and organization of wants and desires

What is an ineffective way to journal?

The negative consequences to writing persist when focusing solely on emotional expression. Centering on emotional aspects of traumas or stressful situations may not produce greater understanding. One study explains that expressive writing can actually hinder emotional well-being without any relief from distress. We naturally tend to focus on negative emotions and in doing so further deepen despair about the event without concluding anything positive from the experience.  As daunting as some experiences are, there is usually something that can be learned or gained.  It may be hard to find and may not reveal itself immediately but over time may turn into the best thing.  Change usually doesn’t happen until the pain persists and becomes unbearable ( Nauert 2012).

When expressing just your emotions on paper, the negative consequences can effect your physical and mental health.   The following list describes just a few negative costs:

  •   Increases physical illness
  •   No relief from distress
  •   Lowers immune system
  •   Decreases emotional well-being

Thus when writing about a stressful experience hone in on your emotional outlook and cognitive reasoning. Writing about events and reactions to the situation can help to restore self-efficacy, mastery, and add meaning to the incident. Eventually traumatic or stressful images and emotions are translated into organized, coherent, and simplified linguistic forms. Structured representation of the occurrence can be assimilated with other schemas and subsequently can reduce suffering related to the event.

References

Nauert PhD, R. (2012). Journaling May Worsen Pain of Failed Relationship. Psych Central. http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/11/30/journaling-may-worsen-pain-of-failed-relationship/48379.html

Purcell, M. (2006). The Health Benefits of Journaling. Psych Central. http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/

Ullrich, P. & Lutgendorf, S. (2002).  Journaling About Stressful Events:  Effects of Cognitive Processing and Emotional Expression.  Annals of Behavioral Medicine.  Volume 24, Number 3. University of Iowa.

Brené Brown: Listening to shame | Video on TED.com


TED Talks Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.