Posted by: David M. Hazen | July 14, 2017

Steps 7 to 9 of 12 Steps to Personal and Global Peace

STEP SEVEN

Step-7Recall that in Step One we noticed our feelings of powerlessness over being oppressed and identifying ourselves as a victim.  In Step Two, we opened the possibility of an alternative path to freedom. In Step Three, we confronted the paradox of the source of victim identity coming from within ourselves even though we did not choose it to be so.  In Step Four, we took a balanced look at our contribution to our own toxic shame. Step Five led us into exposure of feelings as a tool for improving our self-respect. In Step Six, we let go of our defiant attachment to looking good in order to be an ordinary, natural and more understanding person.

Do these steps bring us into a felt personal power that can actually defeat plutocrats, dictators and other oppressors? Yes! That personal power is reinforced by bonding with others who suffer from the same oppression, and those bonds become the basis for an unstoppable movement of strategic nonviolence campaigns. 

Can this all be done by simply reading and agreeing with the steps? Absolutely not! Effective nonviolence is a demanding practice in which suffering becomes a tool for transformation, and conflicts are not avoided, they are approached with curiosity. Recovering from a culture of domination, control and violence is also not much different than recovery from dependency on mood-altering chemicals. Relapse is a constant threat, and a complete cure is impossible, but remission is possible with constant maintenance.

We can never do this alone. We need mentors and groups of supporters who share in the struggle. They will interrupt our false reasoning, keep us enfolded in empathy, and learn from our failures and success.

Questions for Step 7:

  • Who has been a lifestyle problem-solving role model for me?
  • How often have I had conversations with that person?
  • Would I prefer to have conversation with them more frequently?
  • Am I willing to listen compassionately to someone else’s problems?

STEP EIGHT

Step-8This step is incredibly important. We honor our brokenness with all the honesty that we can muster. We open the possibility of restoring right relationship. Honesty and transparency become important replacements to the false pride and isolation of our prior lives, and integrity becomes a primary value for us.

We have harmed ourselves, perhaps most of all, by betraying the gifts with which we were born and failed to develop, feared to expose. It is time for us to own our journey, to take back our ability to respond to our own needs and the needs of others.

We realize that we reacted to the traumatic events in our lives with confusion and anger that we redirected into the lives of other people because we were simply not mature enough to do otherwise. Now is the time for us to step outside ourselves and see our wounds as precious, golden cracks in our being, our opportunity to step into a life of contribution and service. We become our own source of understanding and forgiveness.

“Harm” extends not only to our verbal and physical acts of violence, it also includes being financially irresponsible, using sex and money as a substitute for love, and a long list of crimes of arrogance, intimidation, dishonesty, blame, gluttony and hatred.

Our greatest struggle here is to keep our distance from our residue of shame, to remember we cannot undo the past, but we can create a new future.

Here are some questions with which to open our list:

  • What incidents in my life cause feelings of guilt and shame around my lack of compassion with:
    • myself?
    • others?
    • animals, plants, natural resources, the planet?
  • Am I willing to grant myself the space and time to do what I can to respond to the damage with integrity?

STEP NINE

Step-9This is where the 180-degree turnaround from victim to co-creator gets real. Empowerment starts to sink in, and the horizon for potential action stretches into the distance.

Having made our list of people to whom we feel we owe an amends, we may cautiously at first and then more vigorously restore our relationships to true equality by not just asking for forgiveness, but providing whatever material or behavioral restitution is needed. Some of the harm that we inflicted may have been unintentional, but we make amends anyway. We make this path by walking upon it, by taking our heart on an adventure to find the courage we never thought we had, just like the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. Yet this is exactly what our hearts have been aching to do, to contribute to the lives of other people, to serve them.

Some of those we harmed may have hurt us far worse than what we did to them. You may wish to reserve those amends until last, or avoid them altogether if it seems likely that old wounds might break open. Keep in mind that making amends is primarily for our own benefit, demonstrating to ourselves that we are capable of much more vulnerability and humility than we ever thought possible, and discovering the security and joy of belonging. We are taking the initiative, stepping up and into the role of compassionate friend, resonating with the high value of connecting with other people’s needs. We are also intervening on the old behaviors of our own vengeance-seeking, hurt child.

How we give ourselves away, how we use our energy in relationship with others, determines our true wealth. Our experience of serenity and satisfaction becomes more unshakable in direct correlation with the growth of our investment in our relationships, which will quickly multiply exponentially in quantity and quality. The boundaries of the group that we consider to be family will include almost everyone that we encounter until the nearly 7 billion people on this planet whom we will never meet become our extended family.

Questions:

  • How will you provide amends to yourself for the harm you have done to yourself?
  • Explain how your willingness to make amends could release you from guilt and painful memories.
  • Who can you ask for support concerning your fears around accepting consequences for your behavior?
  • How will you handle a refusal to accept your offer of restitution?
  • For whom is it best for you to make an indirect amends by writing an unmailed letter or simply living your life differently?
  • How will it change your self-respect to make reconciliation and service a permanent part of your lifestyle?

Steps 10 to 12 of 12 Steps to Personal and Global Peace

Advertisements
Posted by: David M. Hazen | July 11, 2017

Steps 4 to 6 of 12 Steps to Personal and Global Peace

STEP FOUR

Step-4This step is most likely to stop us from going any further because we are saddled with the toxic shame that has been handed to us by our cultural environment. However, practicing this step is our golden opportunity to abandon that mud-slinging story and jump to a higher perspective. The goal here is to see that we — and everyone else — are neither all black nor all white. We are a mixture of strengths and weaknesses, and naming them makes it possible for shifting into acceptance and a non-judgmental attitude about ourselves.

This shift is both subtle and profound, because our self-understanding paves the way to empathy for our brothers and sisters who appear to be so far away from our world view. For most people it will be like water wearing away the stone, and we may eventually encounter an outpouring of grief for the history of unrealized human potential.

These are examples of the behaviors that we may have used to foster separation:

Bluffing, Arrogance, Controlling, Manipulation, Laziness, Guilt, Dishonesty, Self-centeredness, Self-pity, Depression Jealousy, Frozen feelings, Self-Isolation, Blame, Resentment, Distrust, Impatience, Criticism

Equally important, these are examples of the behaviors that we may have used to foster connection:

Willingness to listen without judgment or giving advice; Honest self-disclosure, vulnerability; Humility, awareness of belonging; Surrender to not knowing the answer; Asking for help; Relaxing hyper-vigilance (fortress mentality); Detachment from perfectionism; Viewing mistakes as opportunities to learn; Acceptance and forgiveness of self and others; Self-care, self-respect; Repair of damaged relations, making amends; Co-creating solutions that serve the needs of all stakeholders; Gratitude; Compassion; Making requests for specific actions with the willingness to accept any response.

A good place to begin is to simply write down

  • why we might be anxious about making such an inventory,
  • how our powerlessness over oppressive situations might be related to our ineffective ways of connecting with others,
  • what barriers may be blocking our heart’s intelligence,
  • and how we deny our interdependence with our systemic context.

We do this exercise of self-examination for our own benefit, not anyone else’s. In order to dig deep into our own psyche which has remained obscure to us for so long, we do it gradually, allowing insights to surface spontaneously by not rushing through this step. We also make sure that we complete a balanced picture of ourselves by including all our efforts to connect with others.

Ideally, we will do this with the coaching of a mentor who has preceded us with their own self-inventory, and the mutual support of a wisdom circle, peers who are engaged in the same struggle of self-understanding.

STEP FIVE

Step-5When we collaborate with another person to validate our self-perceptions, we take the first baby steps toward healthy relationships not only with others but most importantly, with ourselves. Sharing our stories of secret inner judgments, opinions and accusations that may have harmed or distanced ourselves from others shrinks the size and power of our shame. A new self-respect based on honesty begins to grow.

We can only lie to ourselves. Our good friends can instantly detect when we are rationalizing some outrageous idea or denying the truth. It is very important that we choose a friend who has previously experienced this step themselves, because they understand why gentle listening and soft feedback will increase the probability that we will restore our own dignity from what we hear ourselves saying.

This is not about self-humiliation. This is about acknowledging and discovering our normal, natural human failings that apply to everyone. In doing so, we humbly see that we are not super-bad, nor are we super-good. We are engaged in the struggle to be fully alive. 

In working this step, we will see our own inner mechanisms, our analytic processes, that lead us to separation from others. We will see the chains of reasoning based on our dependency on our parents, necessary childhood survival strategies that no longer serve us if we are to be mature adults.

We can take any behavior and “drill down” to the rationale, the belief and the feelings that create the impetus for it. For example,  either in writing or with a friend asking the questions, as quickly as possible, answer:

  • “My undesirable behavior, ___A___ , happens because I want or need __B__.”
  • “I want or need __B__ because I think, believe, or feel __ C __.”
  • “I think, believe, or feel __ C __ because __D __.”
  • REPEAT, digging for deeper reasons in the causal chain.
  • When a strong feeling begins to arise: “I am feeling tension, heat, tingling located ____ in my body.”
  • “I want ____”
  • “I am afraid of ____”
  • “I don’t have to believe ____ because _____”
  • “I am a person who can choose because ____”
  • “I don’t have to behave like __A__ because ____”
  • “I feel better because ____”
  • Often, we cannot name our feelings because we lack the vocabulary words for them. A feeling word list can be very helpful, and can easily be found by searching the internet.

STEP SIX

Step-6Our goal is to surrender our struggle to change ourselves into a better person, and to simply allow it to be, to trust the process. The work of achieving the freedom in which our best qualities shine forth has to do with letting go of our defiant desire to look, sound, and act in way that others would judge to be good, strong, or virtuous. When we surrender to a process greater than anything we could devise from our own rational perfectionism and our old, fierce self-reliance, then we are able to feel a strength and peace that we probably never expected.

We feel supported to simply be who we are right now when we relax the voice of the inner critic. In its place, we attend to the evidence of a benevolent, intuitive life-energy in our heart which motivates and guides us to simply do the next right thing.  We no longer carry our heavy baggage of toxic shame. We can forgive ourselves, and we can forgive others because we understand  ourselves and our social environment so much better. We see for perhaps the first time how much love and support is available to us.

This could be extremely threatening to all our defenses — our ego identity of separateness — that we have learned from the “school of hard knocks.” It could be very terrifying! At first. We can get used to it. We can focus on the feeling that we belong, that we are accepted just as we are, and that our intention is simply to allow that love and forgiveness to grow and expand. We don’t need to fix, manage or control it.

Questions for this step:

  • What feelings arise when you think about surrendering your struggle to be a better person?
  • What evidence do you see for the intuitive motivation and guidance for you to do the next right thing?
  • What confidence do you have that your best qualities of character will arise from letting go of your perfectionism?
  • Which one of your character flaws will be the most difficult for you to accept just as it is? What do you anticipate might happen if you did accept it?

Steps 7 to 9 of 12 Steps to Personal and Global Peace

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories