Our first Order is to Calm Ourselves

October 12th, 2012                                                                                                                                                         Our First Order is to Calm Ourselves                                
Okay, maybe you’ve been working the 12 steps of Spiritual Recovery “One Day at a Time” for nine months. If you’ve been reading daily essays on the steps and traditions from “Living the 12 Steps of Recovery” I hope you can report that you’re starting to think about their ever unfolding applications – often.
Here in October (the tenth month)  we practice the 10th step – and it is: 
“We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” 
So many of us get caught up in the second half, the amends portion of step ten (probably because Step 9 is all about making amends) that we make an assumption – a fundamentally shortsighted one, “This step is applicable in the past tense”. In other words, having lost our cool, screamed or been snide, sulking with others we come to our senses, hold ourselves accountable by self-analysis, and then complete the in-evadable “I’m sorry,… how can I make it up to you part.” No doubt, this has regrettably happened to all of us more than we’d like. So what can we do about that?
Hold on here, I’m gonna offer you a different perspective,……. What if there’s another way to look at this? What if step 10 is first and foremost about setting a new heading on your moral compass, seeking a recurring point of self-control in which, because we start practicing the acquisition of the virtues of Patience, tolerance and acceptance we set our sights on developing an internal alert for a plan of action.
From now on, we’re going to try to develop a new default when our emotions go haywire. When we feel ourselves falling into irrational reactions, “non-thinking” feelings instead of planned responses; when we sense our tempers taking over our temperament; when we we feel the raging insanity we call “anger” taking us over Step Ten tells us: Our first effort should be to calm ourselves. When something feels wrong, there is always something wrong within us.
“No doubt” you say. Instead of exercising those virtues of patience, tolerance and acceptance, we rocket ourselves into the mindless-crazy dimension. It’s like the emotional version of Dr.Jeckle-Mr. Hyde. Our Hyde nature wants to beat-down something, or somebody – right now.

So much for Spiritual Balance!


It’s like that moment when the lady holding her cell phone, dog on lap, latte balanced on the dash tries to do a reach-over one handed turn and almost hits you, or the guy who cuts you off and flips you off. Lucky for us they don’t make “car tazers” yet. It’s also like, the condescending know-it-all that preaches at meetings, telling us all how to work recovery based upon their vast years of experience (roll-eyes-here) and does it directly at us even breaking our anonymity by using our names – (as I said, where’s my tazser)? It’s similar to that moment at the Police Department, the Unemployment Office, the 10 mile line at the bank or the License Bureau when you just want to,….let;s not go there, huh?
I read a lot of members rendition about EGO, (the Mr. Hyde within us all) and it’s reversions to our less admirable natures: pride, greed, anger, envy,…..(you know the drill of 7 Capital Sins).
So what are the simple steps that we can take to keep ourselves from “going-off on” our objects de anger?
  • We stop and count to ten or twenty or even a hundred.
  • We breathe – concentrating only on our breath with our eyes closed if we can, slowing our respiration rate.
  • We ask ourselves the questions:
  • 1)What am I really angry about
  • 2)Is it my injured pride?
  • 3) How important is it, really?
  • 4) What is my role? Could this be a reflection of my own shortcomings?
  • 5) Then we ask for help: “Powers of the universe – save me from anger.”
  • 6) “Annnnnnnd we’re walking” mentallyaway from irrational reaction as our response.

    “Our first effort is to calm ourselves”

 Things have changed. For much of our lives we may have heard that it is better to release our anger than to internalize it. If you agree with that – at least do it in a private moment where we don’t have to watch you” go all Dr. Hyde” – maybe focusing on your pillow or throwing rocks at the lake. But our point here today is to realize:
justifiable anger is a slippery slope. It is better left to those who can do it within their capacity, instead of having a recovering alcoholic/addict like ourselves, prone to quick flash points give it an unsuccessful try. We end up in a stew of resentment; “THE MOST COMMON CAUSE OF RELAPSE”!
Soooo, from now on lets try to remember that our first effort is to calm ourselves. Our emotions: the spiritual filters by which we perceive and sometimes react to our world and it’s people, situations and circumstances, are like children in a sandbox – they need supervision and guidance.

Let’s remember and work to change using the 5 P’s of recovery:                                                                                                                                         1) Principles                                                     2)Practice                                                                                                                                      3) Patience                                                                                                                                    4) Perseverance                                                                                                                            5) Prayer

And Oh, Yes,……………breathe.


Essays, spiritual inspired drawings of people in recovery and appendices on Prayer & Meditation Techniques appear in the award winning book: “www.livingtwelvestepsofrecovery.com”

Is Habitual Anger Your Go-To Emotion?

This month, many of us are studying and working the 10th Step: “We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it”. Here’s the idea – don’t get so hung-up on the amends part of this step. Why? Because if you can get to the point where you anticipate an angry or irrational emotional reaction to a person and/or situation, you can take steps to avoid having to need “saying you’re sorry all the time”. Besides, what does another insincere (without change in behavior) “I’m sorry” mean? I used to laugh and say that this kind of personality needs a deck of “I’m sorry, how can I make amends” cards printed to use as hand-outs.

No matter where your behavior falls into this steps practice, it takes the 5 P’s of Recovery to see a new default, a new response as opposed to reaction occur: Principles, Practice, Patience, Persistence and Prayer.

They are the techniques that produce lasting change. THAT – is what I call working the 10th Step.

Now – my dear friends TheDailyOhm.com have once again said it better than I could. Thanks to Madisyn Taylor for this insightful essay:

October 5, 2012
Habitual Anger
Unblocking the Ally

by Madisyn Taylor

Anger can easily become our go-to emotion; to remedy, start noticing when and why you get angry.

Sometimes when we feel anger, it is coming from a deep place that demands acknowledgment and expression. At these times, it is important that we find healthy ways to honor our anger, remembering how dangerous it is to repress it. However, anger can also become a habit, our go-to emotion whenever things go wrong. Often this is because, for whatever reason, we feel more comfortable expressing anger than we do other emotions, like sadness. It can also be that getting angry gives us the impression that we’ve done something about our problem. In these cases, our habitual anger is inhibiting both our ability to express our other emotions and to take action in our lives.

If it’s true that anger is functioning this way in your life, the first thing you might want to try is to notice when you get angry. You might begin to see a pattern of some kind. For example, you could notice that it is always your first response or that it comes up a lot in one particular situation. If the pattern doesn’t become clear right away, you could try keeping a journal about when you get angry and see if you can find any underlying meaning. The good thing about keeping a journal is that you can explore your anger more deeply in it—from examining who in your family of origin expressed a lot of anger to how you feel when you encounter anger in others. This kind of awareness can be a formidable agent of transformation.

Anger can be a powerful ally, since it is filled with energy that we can harness and use to create change in the world. It is one of the most cathartic emotions, and it can also be a very effective cleanser of the emotional system. However, when it becomes a habit, it actually loses its power to transform and becomes an obstacle to growth. Identifying the role anger plays in your life and restoring it to its proper function can bring new energy and expansiveness to your emotional life.

IF – you are working the steps “One Day at a Time” – you’ll find a whole month’s worth of daily essays on Step 10 in “Living the 12 Steps of Recovery,” my book. It’s available from the site: www.livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com in signed original softback, e-Books for KINDLE & NOOK and you can app it from Kindle for daily reference.