New Year’s Resolutions?

3 Jan

I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. In fact, to the best of my recollection, I have never made resolutions for the new year. I’m not really sure why that is. I think to some degree I may doubt that I will follow through on them to begin with.

For the last 19 1/2 years of my life, I have had be repeatedly told to live “one day at a time.” It has been said that at the beginning of each day, that I am to do the next “right” thing that is in front of me to do. I have heard it said “If you want to hear God laugh… just make plans.”

Although I agree with most of that, I am also realistic. I recognize that on some level, it is vital that we prepare for the possibility of a future, understanding of course that the “future” is not guaranteed. I have a savings plan… pretty unimportant unless you are preparing for someone’s future. I complete maintenance on my vehicle… also unnecessary unless you are hoping to drive again tomorrow. There are many things I do and even “resolve” to do with the hope that I will wake up again to accomplish and enjoy them.

What most people think of as “resolutions” I think more in terms of “stock taking.” In 12 step programs around the world, we are taught that in effort to grow and improve our character or our lives, we must take a personal inventory on a regular basis. In chapter 5 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, it states, “A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke. Taking a commercial inventory is a fact-finding and a fact-facing process. It is an effort to discover the truth about the stock-in-trade. One object is to disclose damaged or unsalable goods, to get rid of them promptly and without regret. If the owner of the business is to be successful, he cannot fool himself about values.”

I believe any successful individual must also take regular personal inventory. I know from personal experience the value of taking an honest look at my life. I spent many years walking the earth, angry at the world for what it and it’s people had done to me. I blamed society for my abuse, for my addictions, and waited around for “them” to come apologize and fix it.

When I became willing to take an honest look at myself, I discovered that I was my biggest problem, not you or anyone else. So, that first inventory gave me a clear and honest look at what had happened in my life, how I felt about what had happened, how I reacted to those situations, how those situations and feelings affected me, and most importantly, the inventory gave me the eyes to see, for the first time, what MY PART in every situation and relationship had been and where I was at fault.

I have helped hundreds of people through the 12 steps and specifically with their 4th step (the inventory step). WITHOUT FAIL… when each person gets to the part where they are looking for their “part” in each situation, they come to a dead stop. They sit, staring blankly at the page trying to figure out what they did to DESERVE what happened. One may try to figure out what she did to deserve being dumped by her first boyfriend. Another may try to comprehend how he had a “part” in being physically abused by a parent.

When I was in the middle of my first inventory, attempting to discover my part, I struggled immensely. The reason for my struggle was that I was trying to figure out what I did to DESERVE the outcome. However, the flaw is in the question.

Here is the key to getting over this hump. One day, I reread the part about personal inventory. This particular time, when I read page 67, it clicked! I saw the paragraph that said I needed to put “out of my mind” or put aside what had happened to me and try to separate my involvement in the situation from what happened to me.

For example, I was raped by my father daily for six months. If I ask myself what I did to “deserve” being raped, the answer is I did nothing to deserve that. I should have been able to walk naked in front of him and expect my dad to keep his boundaries with me.

What I have to say to myself is, “Putting out of my mind… forgetting that my dad raped me, for just a moment… In my relationship with my father, did I ever lie to him? Did I ever steal from him? Did I ever manipulate him? Did I ever sneak around and cause suspicion? Did I ever instigate a fight? Did I ever treat HIM in a way that was mean or unloving?” If I ask myself those questions, I can easily see where I was at fault in my relationship with my father.

When the person in question has hurt you, it is VERY difficult to step out of that hurt and evaluate yourself honestly. Looking at myself in regard to my father who raped me, was the single most difficult thing I ever did. However, it was ALSO the single most REWARDING and LIFE-CHANGING act I ever went through.

For the first time in my life, I was able to step outside of my victim role and evaluate myself. Honestly. For the first time, I saw my true character. I saw who I really was. I began to see that I had done just as much hurting as I had received. For me, this was the first step into true and honest CHANGE.

I hope to always have enough courage to mentally step out of a situation and ask myself, “What is my part.”

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