"STEP SIX - THE SIX "P"s"Here I go again with those "P"s, but this time they come from Al-Anon's "Paths to Recovery - Al-Anon's Steps, Traditions, and Concepts". (Under "Members Share Experience, Strength and Hope", p. 67-68)
From the book, "I find myself at Step Six. I've been here before and I'm sure I'll be here again. This time, now that I've been working the Steps for eight years, Step Six is about the six "Ps" for me - perspective, pain, prayer, patience, process, and payoff."
Perspective - This is about gaining a new perspective on my character defects. Looking back in my past, I know that most of my defects were behaviors I adopted to cope with a life that I didn't know how to survive any other way. I did not learn healthy coping skills. I used to hide my feelings and thoughts especially when I felt I was being hurt. One of my primary tools for dealing with perceived rejection or slights was the "silent treatment". I also used self-inflicted pain to avoid my feelings.
But I am no longer the person who needed these behaviors. In recovery I have learned to live a different way. I no longer need or want behaviors that don't work for me anymore - they hurt me. I can now make the choice to let go of these shortcomings and focus on the tools the program teaches; prayer, amends, etc.
Pain - To quote from the book, "When clinging to my defect or survival skill becomes more painful than my fear of letting it go, I become entirely ready to have God remove that defect of character."
In my case, one example was when the pain of using alcohol to deal with life became more painful than admitting complete defeat and asking God for help, then I became willing to have God help me. When I found that the "silent treatment" caused more internal pain than just openly discussing my feelings and thoughts, I became willing to be honest with others.
Prayer - Quoting again from the book, "Step Six says God removes all these defects of character, not me. My part is to pray for openness and willingness. God chooses which defects He will remove. I just do the footwork."
My experience with this is that I must continue to pray and continue to do the best I can with certain character defects. I think of smoking. It took me years to finally give up smoking. I had to try many times, fail many times, and continue to pray and try before I was finally successful. I know that it never would have happened without my willingness, desire, and God's help.
Patience - This is a tough one for me, but the longer I work the program, the easier it gets.
From the book, "Since God is in charge, God gets to choose when and how fast He will remove my defects of character."
Once I become aware of a new defect, I usually want to do surgery and cut it out immediately. Of course, this never happens. -grin- First of all, it is God who does the surgery AND it is rarely accomplished in an instant. I want things done yesterday, but God does it in His own time.
Process - To quote again, "Becoming entirely ready involves a process for me - a grief process - where I walk through my denial, anger, bargaining and depression. As I complete the grief process, I become ready to have God remove a defect or former survival skill."
As much as I wanted the obsession to drink and my compulsive smoking to be lifted, I still went through a grieving process over the loss of these two behaviors that were firmly, completely entrenched in every fiber of my being. I could not sidestep this process. I had to go through it.
Payoff - To quote, "When I struggle with a defect, my current sponsor asks, "What's the payoff?" In other words, since I'm having a hard time letting it go, "What's still good about it?""
I used my "silent treatment" as a way to punish the other person for hurting me. I became willing to give it up and find another way when the payoff became too painful. I had progressed enough in the program that I no longer wanted to punish another and I no longer wanted to hurt myself. It made me willing to just sit down and talk.
Thank God for Al-Anon.
Thank God for Alcoholics Anonymous.
Love you all,
Photo credit: http://phoenix75.deviantart.com/art/Letter-P-39928446