Thursday, 19 October 2017

Permitting resentment

Step Four teaches us some lessons about resentment, namely that it is futile (i.e. achieves nothing), fatal (i.e. promotes a return to drinking or other active addiction), and embarrassing (i.e. it puts others in control of our emotions). Pages 66 to 67 establish these incontrovertibly and then provide a solution.

After taking Step Four, however, I continued for a long time to permit high levels of resentment, believing that if I periodically practised Steps Ten and Eleven, both of which touch on resentment, and even Step Four, which focuses significantly on resentment, I could feel myself to be an excellent step-worker, morally upright, and executing the AA programme effectively. I mistook my crocodile tears of remorse for genuine contrition and used my copious AA activity to mask the lack of AA action.

I was dead wrong. If our problem is that we punch people in the face, and we discover in Step Four that this is immoral, harmful, and unconstructive, we would not permit ourselves to continue punching people in the face on the basis that to write about punching people in the face and to show remorse about it on a daily basis is just as good as stopping it altogether. The same would go for shouting at people, stealing their money, or other immoral behaviour.

The same principle applies to resentment. It was completely hypocritcal of me to nod faithfully during Step Four at the insights about resentment then merrily permit myself to continue to resent widely and deeply.

Page 66 makes really clear that resentment does not happen to me any more than any other bad behaviour: we permit it. Obviously we are not in control of the temptation to resent arising but we are in control of whether it is indulged.

Far too late I learned I had to stop indulging it. As with anything else, what I claim is progress not perfection. Permitting resentment then writing about it every evening is not progress, however; it is stasis. I suspect that what is needed amongst AA members, and I include myself in this, is not more inventory but more change.

No comments: