STEP FOUR, STEP 12, AND SELF-WORTH. AGREE TO DISAGREE BY GAINING SELF-WORTH, GAIN SELF WORTH BY WORKING THE STEPS
Having a different opinion than my fellows is ok. Expressing varied views and opinions is good. Debate is good and necessary for the progress of A.A. AND OUR NATION. We have elections in every aspect of A,A, except regular meetings. We learn to agree to disagree because it is the mature and emotionally sober thing to do. Even in a facebook A.A. group varying outlooks and opinions are part of healthy social expression. DISRESPECT AND PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE INSULTS ARE A WHOLE OTHER MATTER. Time to learn which is which if we don’t already know. And if we don’t know how to disagree with a fellow without running away no doubt it’s because of a valid reason stemming from our past. We shouldn’t be hard on ourselves or others if we or they are in the process of growing up emotionally.
AGREE TO DISAGREE by working the 12 steps.
Without “agree to disagree” there would be no Alcoholics Anonymous or any of the other 12 step programs. Without agree to disagree anything that involves political decision making and voting would be chaos. Firstly humans always will and always have had varied opinions and viewpoints on topics. When we have business meetings in A.A. whether it be in our home group, inter-group or at area assembly there are important matters at hand and decisions to be made. Sometimes the outcome of these votes will effect A.A. as a whole. These votes are not about “me” as an individual. The votes and varied opinions though they may differ than my own choices or viewpoints do not mean that I am bad, wrong, ugly or any other negative adjective for having different viewpoints than my peers. Sounds a little crazy when you say it outload but this issue is why fights break out over minor disagreements people perceive that if someone has another opinion than theirs that they are belittled somehow. The thing is if a man has low self-worth then he takes many things personally as an insult about himself. Low self-esteem always has its feelers out looking to protect itself against perceived insults. Low self-esteem is always in “defense” mode. It hones in on comments or actions that have nothing at all to do with itself and perceives them as if they are putting him down and expressly meant to insult him. Let’s face it low self-worth thinks that the world revolves around its belly button.
What are the solutions to low self-worth? Notice in the fourth step grid on page 65 http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_bigbook_chapt5.pdf in the “effects my” column of the fourth step. After every resentment “pride” and “self-esteem” are at the core of every resentment. It’s not that the resentment gave me low self-worth it’s that low self-worth is the prime breeding ground for resentments because it puts us on the defensive. So typically if I have low self-worth then the chances of me being able to engage in a peaceful disagreement such as a business meeting vote and debate or an election of some sort are slim. With addiction we continually go against our ingrained conscience and each blow against our conscience is a blow against our self-worth.
And if we were raised in a home where every disagreement or varying viewpoint ended in a violent fight it’s no wonder we are squeamish around any hint of varying opinion.
So what then do we leave all the important elections, crucial debates and decision making to those who understand peaceful debate and didn’t grow up in a violent home where agree to disagree was never exhibited? HELL NO! We learn, we grow we find out how to achieve the self-worth needed to NOT take every comment personally! Image how nice it would feel to not get emotionally triggered every time we try to socialize? So, we do a painful and honest fourth step. We do a candid fifth step and share with someone who shows respect and empathy not some “beat you down” sponsor who hasn’t gained any self-worth themselves.
We do 12 step service work until we are blue in the face! We take meetings into jails and institutions even if we feel like our anxiety is going to kill us! We stifle our expression of pen and tongue unless we are speaking with respect. We journal until we are blue in the face because getting out our fearful feelings WILL RELIEVE OUR ANXIETY. We get a same sexed sponsor and gain a support group who will show us respect, and if they don’t respect us then we respectfully tell them, …no we “ask” them not to do it again because we consider their action toward us disrespectful. We remember that we can’t make anybody do or think anything, if they don’t show us respect we WALK AWAY and find friends that will show us respect by choice. We will find that once we start to work the steps and engage in steps 10 through 12 on a regular basis we won’t have to command and defend because people will automatically show us respect. Even fulfilling our part of probation is an emotional growth experience. Doing a couple years’ probation in early sobriety will most likely benefit us in many ways. Once we have worked the steps and put the things on our fourth step that we were most ashamed of, those things we did that we NEVER WANTED ANYBODY TO EVER FIND OUT these are the things that need to be on that list the most. If we can’t be honest with our steps we won’t gain the self-esteem needed to agree to disagree.
We do these thing even though they are new and scare the hell out of us emotionally. We do not hesitate to make a “fear list” even though we may have a year or two sober because there is no shame in being afraid. The people that hide their fears are the one’s that suffer the most emotionally. Being afraid is part of the human condition and if we are newly sober SOMETHING IS WRONG IF WE ARE NOT AFRAID. So after we write down all our fears pertaining to loss of our loved one’s loss of our social status and loss of our security we have a talk with our higher power and ask for some “faith” and to learn how to better trust that Higher Power. If we have a resentment that won’t let up we pray for that person to receive all the blessings that we wish for. And we do the work that 75% of the people in A.A. are too far into denial to see that they need to do as well. And every time we catch ourselves looking for the differences instead of the similarities in a meeting we pray for help with that because relating to others in A.A. is one of the ways we get well. Just some solutions.