This week’s Here’s To Your Health is a continuation of our Step Ten discussion as Bill Wilson wrote it in his book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions: “Whenever we fail people, we can promptly admit it—to ourselves always, and to them also, when the admission would be helpful. Courtesy, kindness, justice, and love are the keynotes by which we may come into harmony with practically anybody. When in doubt we can always pause, saying, “Not my will, but Thy Will, be done.” And we can often ask ourselves, “Am I doing to others as I would have them do to me—today?”
When evening comes, perhaps just before going to sleep, many of us draw up a balance sheet for the day. This is a good place to remember that inventory—taking is not always done in red ink. It’s a poor day indeed when we haven’t done “something” right. As a matter of fact, the waking hours are usually filled with things that are there for us to see. Even when we have tried hard and failed, we may chalk that up as one of the greatest credits of all. Under these conditions, the pains of failure are converted into assets. Out of them we receive the stimulation we need to go forward. Someone who knew what he was talking about once remarked that pain was the touchstone of all spiritual progress. How heartily we AA’s can agree with him, for we know that the pains of drinking had to come before sobriety, and emotional turmoil before serenity.
As we glance down the debit side of the day’s ledger, we should carefully examine our motives in each thought or act that appears to be wrong. In most cases our motives won’t be hard to see and understand. When prideful, angry, jealous, anxious, or fearful, we acted accordingly, and that was that. Here we need only recognize that we did act or think badly, try to visualize how we might have done better, and resolve with God’s help to carry these lessons over into tomorrow, making, of course, any amends still neglected. But in other instances only the closest scrutiny will reveal what our true motives were. Here are cases where our ancient enemy, rationalization, has stepped in and has justified conduct that was really wrong. The temptation here is to imagine that we had good motives and reasons when we really didn’t.
We “constructively criticized” someone who needed it when, our real motive was to win a useless argument. Or, the person concerned, not being present; we thought we were helping others to understand him/her, when in actuality our true motive was to feel superior by pulling him/her down. We sometimes hurt those we love because they need to be “taught a lesson,” when we really want to punish.
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