Thursday, January 21, 2010

This list was shared with me over the weekend on retreat. Our theme for the weekend was working the 6th and 7th Steps.

"The Seven Deadly Needs"

1) The need to know
2) The need to be right
3) The need to get even
4) The need to look good
5) The need to judge
6) The need to keep score
7) The need to control

Now, I don't know if these came out of the treatment center movement or some psychological approach to Alcoholism or whatever. But, when I am looking at myself in an attempt to do an inventory/make a list of character defects or shortcomings, this little list certainly gives me plenty to consider. I can run down this list an cite examples of times where I've lived in these "needs" (and sometimes downright addictive behaviours) and have had troubles as a result. And, I bet if you look at these closely and cite your own examples, then drill down to see what's the cause behind these indulgences, you'll find what I've found that drives each of them within me.

I am self-centered, egotistical and insecure. Those all seem to stem from fear and/or a lack of faith. When I live in my fear, I do things like judge others, try to control others, lord my opinions over others, fret over what others think of me, plot to get back at people, worry about why people are "out to get me..." the list of behaviours goes on. When I find that I am indulging in these types of behaviours, I know there's something amiss with me spiritually.

So, what now? How do I rid myself of these defects of character? How do I become entirely ready to God remove them from me? That's the little magic deal now isn't it? This is really the stepping off point to life that's not just "dry" or "drug-free." This is the path to a life that becomes peaceful, utterly peaceful. It's the way to a life that is productive, based in service to God and others. How do I get there? Well, for this guy I had to realize, accept and internalize something so simple that I couldn't see it's application when it comes to my shortcomings. We have a saying in AA "you can't quit drinking, drinking." in other words if you want to change, you have to change your behaviour. You cannot think your way into better living, you live your way into better thinking. So, I GOTTA change. It's that simple.

If I want to stop lying,I simply have to not tell lies. I have to do the mental work to stop myself when I see it happening. I have to be willing to ask God to help remove my desire to behave like this, and then do my best a day at a time to stop the behaviour. It takes effort, mental perspiration, not just a request for willingness then some "couch time" while we wait to be made "pure as the driven snow..." If I want to stop lusting, I have to stop lusting. If I want to stop being a selfish ass, I have to behave differently. If I want to stop cursing,I have to stop cursing. In time, God WILL remove my desire for that behaviour, and then my behaviour will change on a consistent basis, it will be removed from a part of my personality, I "won't be that person anymore." He did it with my drinking and my drugging didn't He? Heck, I used the Steps with my smoking and He removed my addiction there. But, I first had to stop lighting cigarettes, putting them in my mouth and sucking them down.

But the first step is to stop. I stopped drinking, went to meetings and voila... in time I stopped obsessing over drugs and drinking. If He can do it with my awful addiction, I need to have the faith that He can remove my desires for my more subtle addictive, negative behaviours... He can, He will but it's cafeteria style, I have to do my part.

How many times have you "whipped through" Steps 6 and 7 and went right on to Step 8?


Lou said...

This is great. Just like in AA, there are AlAnons who refuse to leave the magical thinking behind. We must participate!! God is busy for crying out loud, He can't do everything for us!

dAAve said...

I like this list. Well, sorta.

Syd said...

Great post Scott. I haven't whipped through those steps. We take it pretty slow in Al-Anon. I have a sponsee now who is working on Step 7. He is working on each character defect a day. He has 57 of them listed. The behaviors take a while to change but the willingness is there.