The quality of a person’s life can be determined by the quality of their relationships

All to often, what a person considers as “the truth” is only how they have processed the information that they have. When emotions are involved, the “facts” get adjusted to support what we want to believe. What I mean by that is when I feel that I have been done wrong, I will seek out the reasons why and dismiss anything that doesn’t support my position. The process of the personal inventory allows for me to get past this and see not just the evidence that I am attached to, but also the facts that I have an aversion to.

When doing my personal inventory it became more and more obvious that I had problems in my relationships. Like every one of them. Of course the only common denominator was myself. Sure I already knew that I have been stubborn, rebellious, arrogant and outright mean at times but it was really surprising to me that I had gone forty-something years without ever having a moment of extent of this. I don’t think that would have ever happened without doing a personal inventory- which is just an exercise in taking subjective perspectives and reviewing them objectively.

I have a pretty well developed imagination. What I mean by that is not just that I am creative but I am also able to envision scenarios. When those of the opposite sex are involved, I would call it being romantic. Picturing how good we will be together. How we will not have any problems and life will be oh so wonderful. Then when we do share life and its not as I expect it to be, resentments begin to happen. This anger is directed towards them and myself. My imagination once again is attached to ideas that something or someone should be different than it really is. My subjective viewpoint is the core reason why I believe things that are not completely real. My estimations and expectations of what is right and wrong in all of my relationships are skewed because of only recognizing things my way. And I didn’t really know what was happening so I could not change it. That is not until I did my Fourth Step.

Now that I have done the personal inventory repeatedly, and led many other’s through it too, I have concluded that the only reason many people don’t open their hearts and minds to other people is that these people trigger confusion in us. It’s because we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to fully deal with all that is involved. So a lot of us repress and rationalize what’s going on. Over and over again. That’s why living life on life’s term is so difficult. We don’t like what life is giving us, we try to control the relationship, that backfires, we get upset, then we adjust reality by getting high.

Staying sober requires an honesty that surpasses what has been done before. Chronic justification led me to an incomprehensible hopelessness because I could not be honest with myself and therefore others as well.


Relationships are the most important factor in having a meaningful and satisfying life. My life was not any of that, so I had to learn how to see myself and the world differently if the quality of life was to improve. And by doing the fourth Step, this exercise in rigorous honesty, I was able to begin to having hope for a better future. But know that being rigorously honest does not mean just focusing on all the wrongs we each have done. Remember, this is about being objective. There are always assets in every person’s character. They just seem to get overshadowed by the liabilities. For me, that was me practicing self-pity; which is me imaging that I deserve something different than what is really happening.

To the degree that we each look clearly and compassionately at ourselves do we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. When that does happen a better life is unfolding. Doing a personal inventory is the first step in doing that. The fourth Step is the beginning of better relationships. And the quality of a person’s life can always be determined by the quality of their relationships.

I didn’t use to allow myself to feel other people’s love for me – not family, not friends, no one. I lived in extreme fear of intimacy and vulnerability and I self-medicated to the extreme when I couldn’t tolerate my feelings. Any therapist, teacher, mentor, healer who I’ve worked with reading this post knows this to be true of me. It’s been a long road for me to build the resources within myself to feel safe enough to let love in and to trust that life is happening for me and not to me and to stay present with my feelings. Today, I’m grateful.

Attitude of Gratitude, Shine A Light On It

Step 4: Shine A Light On It

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. “That laundry isn’t very clean; she doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs a better laundry soap.” Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same type comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: “Look, she’s finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this.” The husband replies, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”

And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look. except in real life, no one can clean the windows we see through. That’s no one else’s job but yours.

The 4th Step is about shining some light into the areas of your life that you would prefer to keep hidden in the shadows. It’s a process that will illuminate the hidden influences and blind spots that have sabotaged your development. Based upon doing this exercise personally and leading other through it too, I have come to believe that hidden deep beneath our conscious personality are layers of thoughts and feelings that can inhibit our development by causing us to avoid aspects of our experience or by encouraging damaging addictions. The personal inventory brings to the surface how all this is hidden in the shadows and the effects it has had upon your life and on the lives of others.

The 4th Step is an incredibly effective and powerful way to identify your character defects and transform them into valuable assets. All the Steps up to this point have been decisions – this is the beginning of getting into action and really doing the deal. And frankly it where many do stop. Often because they misunderstand what the purpose is. The inventory is not about anything but gaining clarity to the causes and conditions that have brought you to this point in your life so you can make an informed decision. Then you present what you have found to an objective person who can bring it all into a better focus. Then you can decide what you want to do next.

You may think you know yourself now. And you probably do know a lot. But millions of people who have done the personal inventory have discovered so much more about themselves. It’s how they begin to let go of thoughts and feelings that have blocked you from becoming the best person you can possibly be.

Attitude of Gratitude, Hope Versus Expectations

Step 5: Hope Versus Expectation

What is the difference between hope and an expectation? Expectation is founded in ego and Hope is a product of Humility.

Long ago, without even knowing it, I started building my masks as a matter of survival. It was a result of me having the ability to read people, and situations, and then showing you the mask I thought would best serve me in the moment so I could get by. It worked pretty well too. The problem was that it worked well enough that I adopted it as a valuable skill set. When I was aware of myself acting this way, it seemed like it was working but upon consideration now, somewhere along the way, I forgot who I really was. Actually, I didn’t want to remember. No, I couldn’t show the world any aspect of the real me because the world surely wouldn’t like me, because I didn’t like me. So I kept the appropriate mask on for as long as possible; Hiding the hideous monster that I believed was within. The trouble was that the characters I portrayed became a dominate part of me. So many masks were worn that I was virtually a troop of entertainers. The freak I believed that I was actually became a self fulfilling prophecy. I was feeling worthless due to misjudging my value in the first place.

The trouble was that I could never feel like I fit in without wearing a costume, and performing some kind of act. It wasn’t until my inventory was shared that I realized that, and the consequences of being that way too. Now I have a choice to believe that I am acceptable just being myself. I can now be alone, or with others, and be at peace.

There is no denying that this step is humbling. It produces an understanding of who we really are, and is the first action step toward becoming who we may just really be. This new found humility is the beginning of removing the need for the barriers that we have built up over the years to protect ourselves from being hurt. And as we develop genuine humility, then our self-esteem becomes more and more unshakable.

You really do have the power to turn your wounds and worries into wisdom; you just have to do something about them! So perhaps your worst battle has been between what you know and what you feel. If that’s true, you have to accept what has happened and use what you’ve learned to step forward. Knowing, recognizing and accepting your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness’s of other people. So everything you’ve ever experienced has given you what’s needed for dealing with everything you have yet to experience! Realize this and you will have begun to set yourself free.

Attitude of Gratitude, Choice Not Chance

Step 9: Choice Not Chance

It’s Choice Not Chance That Determines Your Destiny

Life is hard. There are so many things that are beyond our control, and often that leads to feeling like a victim or at least it did for me. Because of that, there still are some unresolved issues that continue to surface in my life. Fortunately, I now know that this is just an indication that more healing is needed. Of course as much as I have said that, focusing on the pain only makes it worse. Friends told me that I really have to do something about it, and I am really trying but these emotions still mess me up. I know in my head that no one needs to be enslaved by their feelings or the feelings of others, but still.

When my personal inventory was done, the resentment that was at the top of the list was me. I hated myself for what I had and hadn’t done. Basically there was no self-esteem left. So, when I began making amends, it seemed only natural that I should be the first on that list too. (It was natural to think this way because the selfishness was still so deeply embedded inside me.)

My spiritual guide at the time reminded me that the amends to myself was in the process of making amends to others. He said that if I wanted self-esteem, I must do esteem-able acts. To back up his point, he opened up the Bible and went to the first book of John, chapter 3, verses 18 through 20.

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.”

I asked that he read that again. He did, and I just sat there in silence. He did too. In that moment it seemed like all our time together led up to this and created a moment of clarity my perspective had been changed. Big time.

True Christianity, the kind that I deeply desire, is characterized by a love in which there is no fear. Despite what the past had presented, there was no reason to continue feeling, thinking, and acting like I had before. No longer will there be any empty promises and boasts of what will be. By the grace of God, now I can chose to live in the Truth and live in this moment without fear and loathing.

Yes, I was hurt, and yes, I am afraid that I may hurt again. Yes, I was concerned about what may happen. I still am at times. My character defect of denial had created a picture of me being a victim or at the least being innocent some of the times. All my life I had said that these where not excuses, that there are explanations on why the past happened as it did. Never again will I ruin an apology with an excuse.

So after what seemed like an eternity of silence, my trusted friend then just smiled and reminded once again – ‘It’s not if it’s right, not if it’s wrong, but is it true.”

Nothing I could say or think could deny this. My pattern of arguing to prove myself had been broken. My feelings had controlled me subtly and the only way to change this was just like the previous steps taken, I had to take direction, get into action and stop procrastinating.

I’m not sure what happened next, but sponsors do seem to say what’s needed at exactly the right time. Maybe they just prepare us for God to sneak in and change us. Whatever it was, it affected me greatly then and still does to this day. All he said was: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

It is really that simple. I have now cast away all the other thoughts and just keep it simple…and change has happened. I know that I am acceptable. I know that everyone is. None are greater or lesser than another. Because of this awareness, no longer do I need to be better than others. We all are doing the best we can, regardless if we know it or not. I know these things now because I did my 9th step. Life really begins when the fear ends.

Please don’t delay making your amends as long as I did. Please. Just start doing what you know is the right thing to do today and the feelings will follow. Don’t wait. Action ignites motivation.

The fact of the matter is that if we don’t change, we don’t grow. And if we don’t grow, we aren’t really living. Seriously. Life is a continual process of learning to live with personal integrity. Unfortunately, we imperfect souls all too often fall short. We lie to keep the peace. We refuse to try a new way to do something, not because it’s a bad idea but because it’s strange and different. We continue to carry a grudge. We’re afraid to trust a friend. These things happen, but it’s important to keep our values and goals in front of us. This is really the only way life will get better. If we keep remembering where we are trying to go and take responsibility for trying to get there, eventually we will see the day when life is different. Making your amends will help solidify this new way of living and learning. life is a continual process of learning to live with personal integrity. Unfortunately, we often fall short. We lie to keep the peace. We refuse to try a new way to do something, not because it’s a bad idea but because it’s different. We continue to carry a grudge. We’re afraid to trust our friend. These things happen, but it’s important to keep our values and goals in front of us. This is the only way life will get better. If we keep remembering where we are trying to go and take responsibility for trying to get there, eventually we will.

The amends won’t turn us into being necessarily better women and men, but it will make us more emotionally honest about who we are. They teach us that our integrity is not determined by what we say we believe. Our integrity is determined by what we understand about ourselves, what we do, how we actually live.