When I saw this meme shortly after awakening this morning, I came smack dab up against all of the expectations I have for myself. Many’s the day when I have held the mirror to my face and fully claimed responsibility for being and doing all of these things. Not sure how or why I think that I’m supposed to be ON all the time, but it feels like every bit as much of an addiction as those my clients face. Last night at my job as a therapist in a substance abuse treatment program, I sat in a circle of brave souls whose histories (some as recently as a week ago, some a year or more) included putting chemicals in their bodies that ravaged them, hijacked their happiness and swiped their sense of self-worth. I am in awe of each day they spend above the addictions, while simultaneously learning to see my own compulsions toward workaholism in the same light. As far as I know, there is no specific 12 step program for that AND I have applied the same principles. CODA (Codependence Anonymous) comes closest. As I work my program, my sometimes impossibly high standards to which I hold myself ease up bit by bit.
I admitted I was powerless over the belief that I had to be all things to all people and that my life had become unmanageable. My relationships had been based on erroneous assumptions that I needed to be an example and role model for keepin’ on keepin’ on, denial of pain and challenges and making it all look easy.
- Came to believe that the God of my understanding could restore me to some semblance of sanity(: Ironically, much of my professional work is with people who are often viewed by the world as insane.
- Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand Her/Him to be. That perception of the Divine changes moment to moment.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. That can be tricky since my inventory can be harshly self critical, so I need to add a dash….or 10, of self compassion.
- Admitted to God, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs. I am blessed to have close friends with whom I feel safe peeling off the well established layers of armoring and see them as accountability partners.
- Was entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Hmmmm…. I question that they are defects, even in my most harshly self critical moments. I have come to see them as human qualities that need some polishing.
- Humbly asked Her/Him to remove my shortcomings. Sometimes I wonder if the shortcomings are always that….maybe they are a measuring stick by which I can gauge how far I have come and not just how much farther I need to go.
- Made a list of all persons I had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Although I don’t ever intend to do harm, sometimes, inadvertently things I may say or do, cause pain to others. I go over in my head and then in writing those whose lives I may have impacted negatively.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Sometimes it is as simple as using my words to ease whatever I may have done, sometimes it means stepping back and allowing for them to feel whatever they feel and express to me the impact of my actions. That is the most challenging and I needed to sit with hearing someone recently share in that way. Did it hurt? Yep. Was it every bit as real, from this person’s perspective? Equally so.
- Continued to take personal inventory, and when I was wrong, promptly admitted it. Again, inventory can be used as weapon or a tool. I prefer the latter.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God as I understand Her/Him, praying only for knowledge of Her/ His will for me and the power to carry that out. I have conversations with the Divine on an ongoing basis, since I believe that prayer is portable. I ask for my ‘marching orders’ daily and usually follow them.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, I tried to carry this message to those who are willing to hear, as it best serves them and not from an egoic drive to be ‘right’ and to practice these principles in all my affairs. I find that I am waking up every moment, so I’m not sure that this process of evolution every ceases.
Just as in recovery, this is a one day at a time process that impacts every aspect of my life. Cutting myself some slack, easing up, letting myself off the hook and being gentle with myself is one key to stepping off the pedestal and merging with the One.
Photo Credit: Jeff Foster