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The 12 Steps as Ego Deflating Devices

Old 07-23-2012, 08:38 AM
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Post The 12 Steps as Ego Deflating Devices

The 12 Steps as Ego Deflating Devices
By Dr. Harry M. Tiebout, M.D.

What does Surrender Mean?

For reasons still obscure, the program and the fellowship of AA could cause a surrender, which in turn would lead to a period of no drinking. It became ever more apparent that in everyone's psyche there existed an unconquerable ego which bitterly opposed any thought of defeat. Until that ego was somehow reduced or rendered ineffective, no likelihood of surrender could be anticipated.

AA, still very much in its infancy, was celebrating a third or fourth anniversary of one of the groups. The speaker immediately preceding me told in detail of the efforts of his local group - which consisted of two men - to get him to dry up and become its third member. After several months of vain efforts on their part and repeated nose dives on his, the speaker went on to say: "Finally, I got cut down to size and have been sober ever since," a matter of some two or three years. When my turn came to speak, I used his phrase "cut down to size" as a text around which to weave my remarks. Before long, out of the corner of my eye, I became conscious of a disconcerting stare. It was coming from the previous speaker.

It was perfectly clear: He was utterly amazed that he had said anything which made sense to a psychiatrist. The incident showed that two people, one approaching the matter clinically and the other relying on his own intuitive report of what had happened to him, both came up with exactly the same observation: the need for ego reduction. It is common knowledge that a return of the full-fledged ego can happen at any time. Years of sobriety are no insurance against its resurgence. No AA's, regardless of their veteran status, can ever relax their guard against a reviving ego.

The function of surrender in AA is now clear. It produces that stopping by causing the individual to say, "I quit. I give up on my headstrong ways. I've learned my lesson." Very often for the first time in that individual's adult career, he has encountered the necessary discipline that halts him in his headlong pace. Actually, he is lucky to have within him the capacity to surrender. It is that which differentiates him from the wild animals. And this happens because we can surrender and truly feel, "Thy will, not mine, be done."

Unfortunately, that ego will return unless the individual learns to accept a disciplined way of life, which means the tendency toward ego comeback, is permanently checked.

This is not news to AA members. They have learned that a single surrender is not enough. Under the wise leadership of the AA "founding fathers" the need for continued endeavor to maintain that miracle has been steadily stressed. The Twelve Steps urge repeated inventories, not just one, and the Twelfth Step is in itself a routine reminder that one must work at preserving sobriety. Moreover, it is referred to as Twelfth Step work - which is exactly what it is. By that time, the miracle is for the other person.
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Old 07-23-2012, 08:47 AM
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Nice. Thanks for sharing.

Scott L. talks about how he no longer surrenders to God on a daily basis. Rather he shows up to volunteer and report for duty. Wish that was always the case for me, but sometimes I still need a good ego deflating to get there!

Good stuff.
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Old 07-23-2012, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by KnowHope View Post

This is not news to AA members. They have learned that a single surrender is not enough. Under the wise leadership of the AA "founding fathers" the need for continued endeavor to maintain that miracle has been steadily stressed. The Twelve Steps urge repeated inventories, not just one, and the Twelfth Step is in itself a routine reminder that one must work at preserving sobriety.
IMNSHO spiritual growth is the direct result of repeated struggle/surrender cycles. If you look at the twelve steps, most of them are done in pairs; 4&5, 6&7, 8&9, 10&11 plus step 12 is a compound statement requiring a struggle to help others but a surrender of the results. Success or failure is not ours to pocket.

Almost every major religion has a branch for expedited spiritual growth. The Hindue's have the Tantra. The Buddhist's have Zen. The Muslims have Sufi's. The Catholics have Jesuit's. These branch's are all distinct in that they take extreme measures to discover enlightenment. They are like the daredevils of the spiritual world.

There are many analogies to this struggle surrender cycle; The parable of the Prodigal Son is just one of many stories telling of a venture to discover a new world followed by defeat or a humble return home. I myself like to compare it to a body-builder struggling 100% at the gym till it hurts, followed by a rest cycle so his muscles will rebuild themselves. Or perhaps the metaphor of a baseball player struggling to go around the bases so that he can return to home plate a claim his homerun. "Nothing ventured - nothing gained".

Looking at the 12 steps as either struggle steps or surrender steps, it is easy to see that all the odd steps are a surrenders, most of the even steps are a struggles and step 12 is "try to carry the message" followed by "practice these principles", surrender is one of the key principles.

Life feeds life pure and simple. In the material world, flesh feeds flesh. In the spiritual world, spirit feeds spirit; "We must suffer to get well - we must surrender to win".
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Boleo View Post
IMNSHO spiritual growth is the direct result of repeated struggle/surrender cycles. If you look at the twelve steps, most of them are done in pairs; 4&5, 6&7, 8&9, 10&11 plus step 12 is a compound statement requiring a struggle to help others but a surrender of the results. Success or failure is not ours to pocket.

Almost every major religion has a branch for expedited spiritual growth. The Hindue's have the Tantra. The Buddhist's have Zen. The Muslims have Sufi's. The Catholics have Jesuit's. These branch's are all distinct in that they take extreme measures to discover enlightenment. They are like the daredevils of the spiritual world.

There are many analogies to this struggle surrender cycle; The parable of the Prodigal Son is just one of many stories telling of a venture to discover a new world followed by defeat or a humble return home. I myself like to compare it to a body-builder struggling 100% at the gym till it hurts, followed by a rest cycle so his muscles will rebuild themselves. Or perhaps the metaphor of a baseball player struggling to go around the bases so that he can return to home plate a claim his homerun. "Nothing ventured - nothing gained".

Looking at the 12 steps as either struggle steps or surrender steps, it is easy to see that all the odd steps are a surrenders, most of the even steps are a struggles and step 12 is "try to carry the message" followed by "practice these principles", surrender is one of the key principles.

Life feeds life pure and simple. In the material world, flesh feeds flesh. In the spiritual world, spirit feeds spirit; "We must suffer to get well - we must surrender to win".
Boleo, profound and powerful. You have taken my breath away.

I just finished a new 4th step today, as my own head has brought me to my knees once again.

I'm looking for a new experience on this journey.

I want what you've got.
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Old 07-23-2012, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by KnowHope View Post

I'm looking for a new experience on this journey.

I want what you've got.
Be careful what you wish for. There are "Dark Night of the Soul" experiences on this journey and sometimes you have to pass through "The Cloud of Unknowing".

If God likes you, he lets you have stuff. If God loves you, he shows you how to live without stuff. :burns:
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Old 07-23-2012, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by KnowHope View Post

I just finished a new 4th step today, as my own head has brought me to my knees once again.

I'm looking for a new experience on this journey.
I've done a few 4th Steps over the years. Where it says in 'How It Works' .... "We stood at the turning point" ..... I've stood there a few times.

Lately I've been making the conscious effort to "take the cotton out of my ears and stick it in my mouth" and hang with the 30-40 yr oldtimers. They graciously tolerate me.

The biggest thing that the years in AA has taught me is not to wait until I'm brought to my knees. I can "tap out" and get back to basics when I feel mild discomfort rather than excruciating pain.

All the best to everyone.

Bob R
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