Understanding Steps Six and Seven

By Rick R.

Since the day I entered the A.A. program, I have had an insatiable appetite for learning all I could about the disease of alcoholism. Having completed very thoroughly the fourth and fifth steps,  and examining my motives for everything I did with steps six and seven, it occurred to me that most of my problems in life involved my interfacing with, “Those Other People.” As I got further into the steps and started to process every one of these interactions, it became apparent that the basic cause of my discontent was low self-esteem. Until I resolved that, there would be very little peace of mind. I had to get right with everyone.

They say understanding is the key to right living, and I read just about anything I could get my hands on about these issues to reinforce the principles we learn in the AA program. Books like:  Emmet Fox’s Sermon on The Mount, , Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled, Ernest Kurtz and Kathleen’s Ketchum’s The Spirituality of Imperfection, Max Ehrmann’s poem “Desiderata”, and the like. This kind of reference material helped me get a better perspective on how to reduce the obstacles standing in the way of my ability to solve these problems.

I should be willing to get right with “every human being I know” as suggested in step eight. (12 & 12) Scott Peck describes the word love as: “Caring for and nurturing another person’s soul.” Now I look at love as a verb and not a noun. You can love someone who doesn’t love you back when you use this definition. As a result, I truly wish the best for every human being I know and offer help and guidance when I can. I become their best advocate. If I want to heal, I must look deeper and try to understand the other person and be strong enough to rein in my ego; then to realize the other person may be reacting to my adversarial position.

Finding ways of removing my own judgmental attitudes opens the door to love and compassion. Today, I can love everyone by simply giving them the respect and acceptance I would want for myself. After doing my best to adopt this plan of action over the years, I can only say nothing  I have ever done, with respect to Those Other People, has been more rewarding than this approach. I have stopped, to the best of my understanding, judging others by their outside behavior and have the strength to look deeper. When I do, I usually find a person not too different from myself, trying to protect himself from his fears. I can’t bring myself to pile on and compound his pain. My heart goes out to him, and I don’t have to deal with regrets later. My ego is neutralized as I come to understand his troubles. The greatest gift I receive as I apply this to all Those Other People, is I seem to allow myself the same latitude without even expecting it because at one time, I was That Other Person. Self-forgiveness and peace of mind seem to be the natural result of my efforts. I can accept everyone just as they are and not mess with God’s work.

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