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This Way of Living
Working Steps 10, 11, and 12.
Building a personal practice.
Creating a small group practice.

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... We deal with fear by doing Step 10. We try not to deal with it by thinking ourselves out of it, or by talking to an expert, or by doing something to distract us, or any one of a thousand other things that ordinary people do when they're afraid. We just do Step 10 and we ask for the fear to be removed ...

... Some of us couldn't even stay sober or abstinent at all. Some of us got sober from one addiction, only to relapse into another. Some of us stayed sober or abstinent for a long time and attempted to live like "normal" people, but we seemed even at our best to be prey to fears, disappointments, or anxieties ...

... When we discuss our fears with someone, we don't just talk about the big ones. We talk about the little fears too, the tiny iddy-biddy fears that whisper to us, "Don't pay any attention to me. ...

... So we learn to be rigorously honest about all our fears when we do Step 10 by ourselves. And when it comes to doing Step 10 in a group, we prefer small private groups or a very small 12-Step meeting, because of the trust and intimacy we find there ...

... So fear isn't a problem for you ...

... It can sometimes be difficult - occasionally it can be impossible - to admit that we are afraid. A common habit is using elaborate language in order to avoid the words fear or afraid ...

... Let's begin with those of us who say we are never afraid. We are usually men - men who like to think that we are "real men." When we say "I'm never afraid," what we actually mean is, "I am so full of fear that I'm even afraid to say I'm afraid. ...

... For us members who practice Steps 10 and 11 constantly, the statement "I'm never afraid" is the password to a life of ongoing fear and misery ... even to a possible death sentence ...

... When we're selfish and dishonest, we are trying to create a world that doesn't really exist - a world that will look the way we want it to look, rather than the way that it really is. Having created it, we try to live in it. The result - inevitably - is more fear, because the real world keeps intruding and spoiling our fantasy world. And then that fear leads in turn to more selfishness and more dishonesty ...

... The main purpose of Step 10 is to rid ourselves of fear - not for ever, but right here and right now. Instead of trying to manipulate the world and everyone in it, we simply give in - we surrender completely. We ask for the fear (and the resentment and the selfishness and the dishonesty) to be removed, and we discuss these things with someone. We describe elsewhere how we do Step 10, alone or in small private groups ...

... For members like us who have realized we need to practice Steps 10 and 11 constantly, the first problem that must be dealt with - over and over - is fear ...

... One of the purposes of the first 88 pages of the Big Book is to help us understand that we can never recover in the fullest sense of that word until we have learned what to do about our fears ...

... When members like us are afraid (or resentful, which is simply fear that we blame on someone or something other than ourselves), two kinds of behavior follow. We become dishonest, and we become selfish. Both of these are the result of trying to make those fears go away using our own resources ...

... We only have three problems, as we note elsewhere. The first of these is fear - not fear yesterday or fear tomorrow, but fear that we are feeling right here and right now ...

... If we're always right here and and it's always right now, it follows that Step 10 can only remove the fear that we feel right here and right now. That is no real limitation, because it's always now and we're always here ...

... If we do Step 10 right here and now, and if our fears are removed right here and right now, then fear has ceased to be a problem right here and right now ...

... Step 11 offers the solution to the second and third problems. Once we have done Step 10 and the fear has been removed (or lessened), we can use the various suggestions on pages 86-87 of the Big Book to find out what we should do and where to get the strength to do it. Actually doing it is what Step 12 is really all about ...

... We're afraid, and we don't know how to make that fear go away ...

... Step 10 is primarily intended to help us deal with our fear. The Big Book tells us that fear, if it is allowed free rein, leads to resentment, and to selfish and dishonest behavior ...

... It follows that - if we don't do Step 10 first - it's more likely that our prayer and meditation will be influenced by our fears. To some degree at least, we will meditate or pray in order to get what we want, or to avoid what we don't want. We'll be meditating in the hope that it will make our fears go away. That's getting things backwards ...

... We have discovered that the purpose of Step 10 is not to immunize us against fear. It is to deal with our fears when they arise ...

... Our practice of Steps 10 and 11 is a spiritual practice. It is not about self-improvement, a better self-image, a positive outlook on life. It is about removing our fears (Step 10), asking our Higher Power for guidance and strength (Step 11), and then doing what that Higher Power suggests (Step 12) ...

... For us, Step 12 is simply the natural result of working Steps 10 and 11. In Step 10 we ask whatever Higher Power we may have to remove the fear that distorts our view of ourselves, of other people, and of the world. In Step 11, we ask that same Higher Power what we should do, and for the power to do it ...

... We have had a spiritual awakening. We have it every time we do Steps 10 and 11, because the practice of those Steps involves asking our Higher Power to remove our fears and doing what that same Higher Power suggests ...

... This can only be done wholeheartedly in a situation of trust. That is why our attempts to do Step 10 in large 12-Step meetings can be unsatisfactory. We may be sitting next to a complete stranger, and we may quite understandably be reluctant to talk about our mistakes and our fears with someone we don't know. In small private groups, trust comes more easily ...

... Intimacy is what permits discussion of our deepest fears. And discussing our fears in turn deepens that intimacy. We are not talking here about sexual or physical intimacy. We are talking about a relationship that is based on trust and openness ...

... We do Step 10 by ourselves as a constant practice, just as the AA Big Book suggests on page 84. But part of Step 10 is the discussion of our selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear with someone else. Obviously, if we need to do this part of the Step, we have to interact with another person ...

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