A newcomer doesn’t need a sign around his or her neck to be identified as one. Usually they’ve taken a seat in the back of the room. They are the ones who often bolt out of the meeting as soon as it’s over. If they do stay for the meeting after the meeting, they often begin to assess the other people who were present. They might judge how a person dressed or spoke. The newcomer might also freely express his or her judgment about what was said.
Usually though, no one corrects the newcomer. Yes, it’s true, they are taking other people’s inventories. Experience has shown that if we criticized the newcomer, it might turn them off to the program. Even if they accepted our criticism, they really aren’t ready to grasp the idea of taking someone’s inventory. They probably would say they are just expressing their opinion.
As they gain some time, that newcomer will begin to take their own inventory. When they do so, their eyes will be opened as to their own character defects. They will learn that we need to keep the focus on ourselves. As they work on their fourth step, they will suddenly stop judging other and begin to keep the focus on themselves.
Personal Reflection: Do I still take other people’s inventory?
We are all going to have one of those days. From the moment we get up, nothing seems to go our way. We spill the coffee, are late for the bus, and late for a big meeting at work. And, it’s not even 10am in the morning yet. Later in the day, one too many things happen to us and we lose it. All our emotional sobriety gets thrown out the window. Right after that we toss out the Big Book. Forget about “let go and let G-d. We find ourselves right back to the way we used to be before we entered the program. However, there is a difference. We do have the capacity to catch ourselves. It make take 5 to 10 minutes or even half an hour, but we can return to our sober equilibrium. Once we do, we immediately make amends to whoever we might have hurt with our outburst. We also do a quick self inventory and see which defect of character emerged earlier. It would probably be a good idea to call our sponsor and talk about what happened. Many of us find journaling, prayer and meditation beneficial as well after such an event. We take comfort in knowing that we can reclaim our emotional sobriety whenever we are ready.
Personal Reflection: How do I reclaim my emotional sobriety after one of those days?
In recent years there have been a flurry of books on gratitude. Internet self help experts advice people to keep daily gratitude lists to record all that is good in their lives. In program, we too acknowledge the incredible importance of gratitude. We also maintain daily gratitude lists.
Beyond that, as part of our step work, we continue to take daily personal inventory. It is all well and good to write down 2 or 3 gratitudes in our daily journal. However, if after that we walk around leaking negativity, complaining, and judging others, are we really full of gratitude? It is only through a rigorous daily self assessment that we can ascertain how grateful we really are. It is also important to listen to the feedback from others regarding our behavior. When people indicate to us that we are being judgmental or negative, rather than getting defensive, we need to take the information and meditate on it carefully. As they say, where there’s smoke there’s fire. Finally, part of gratitude is being a gracious person who is willing to be of service to others. When you acknowledge that your cup truly does runneth over, then there is the possibility of sharing your good fortune with others.
Personal Reflection: Are your gratitude and actions in sync?