A Powerful Spot Check
The AA meeting last month was a game changer. The topic was Step Ten, and the meeting focused on spot inventories; people shared how they caught themselves and said “I’m sorry” right away.
Then an AA sister re-framed the discussion. She said, “I have a terrible temper. I did Step Ten like everyone else who has shared tonight. Every time I lost my temper, I would say ‘my bad’ like a good AA. I thought that was enough.
“My secretary was the target of most of my temper tantrums and therefore heard most of my apologies. She is not in the Program and, to my knowledge, knows nothing about it. So, you can imagine my surprise when one day, after I apologized yet again, she said to me, ‘apologies are okay, but really, what is wrong? It’s like you have no power over your temper and it’s making our work together impossible.’
In one sentence, she had summarized Step One. I was powerless over my anger, and it was making my life unmanageable.
“That flicked a switch in my head. Repeated Step Ten apologies from spot checks were good, but they were the clue that I was powerless. The repetitive nature suggested the lack of power. That was Step One language. Not Step Ten.
“That night, I went to my Big Book. I read the Steps with my anger in mind. I was powerless over my anger — my life was unmanageable. I thought for a moment and concluded, if my Higher Power could lift my desire to drink, He could restore me to sanity regarding my temper. I decided to turn this part of my emotional life over to God, as I understood Him, drawing on my experience with Him to date.
“Next, I started to work; I did a full review of all my temper tantrums that I could remember, a searching and fearless inventory. Then I worked with my sponsor to identify the exact nature of the wrong, the driver for the anger.
“For me, it was self-centered fear. It might be different for you.
“Then I made a list of everyone I had affected with my anger and became willing to make things right with them all. And I am still working through that list. But you know, every amend reminds me of my self-centered fear and the importance of this work.
“The key lesson is ‘if I see or hear myself repeating the same issue in my spot checks, go to Step One and apply the principles of the Program and work the steps on whatever defects I am repeating.’ I watch my Step Ten spot checks and keep track of them.
“Now, I apply the principles of our Program in many more of my affairs. For me, anger was the first of my affairs that I applied the Program to, and there have been others.
“And it all started with Step Ten and a secretary who knew nothing about our Program.