finding root cause

12 Steps: Discussions related to the 12 Steps and using them as a treatment to recover from alcohol and drug addiction.
garden variety
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Postby garden variety » Wed Oct 17, 2007 4:22 pm

KevinFL wrote:my trouble here is that i dont know what belief or idea that may be, and i didnt get exactly how to "work it backwards" out of what you are saying. how do i know what it is that i need to abandon or turn over?

Kevin - let me share what two people very close to me told me when I asked the same question.

The first one said "You ask too many questions".

The second one said "Some people spend their entire life trying to answer that question."

It took me almost 12 years to get the answer you're seeking when it involved "relationships" with women.

So what and why I'm saying this is to prepare you to hear something you might not want to hear. And your "answer" might not come to you today, this week, this month, this year, or this decade. But if you have a relationship with a Power greater than yourself, and you are willing to "seek to improve" that relationship, I'm pretty sure you'll find some Direction.

What I can share with you is only what has been told to me. I've already told you two things I didn't want to hear, but they were part of the "solution" for me.

Another thing I can share is what I was told early on my path of spirituality. They told me "Whatever answers you need, you already have inside of you."

I can pick out something in your last post that might be sending you in a direction opposite of what you're seeking. Remember what I said about "thinkng outside of the box"?

Let me quote you:
KevinFL wrote:how do i know what it is that i need to abandon or turn over?

To begin to "work it backwards", if it were me, I'd have to start by "forgetting". Your first response to "working it backwards" was "working it forward". Your response suggests to me that you are looking at the "problem" from the "outside looking in". Step 4 teaches me to look at the "problem" from the "inside looking out".

You are asking "What do I need to let go of?" which looks like you're focused on the "external" - the "thing" you need to let go of.

The book says it this way: "So our troubles, we think, are of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he ususally doesn't think so."

A way to think "internally" might be to ask "What am I holding on to that is an old idea that is an obstacle to the free flow of grace" in whatever area there is a problem. In other words the problem is not an external thing "What do I need to let go of" - the "problem" is "Paul" (I'm using my name because the MODS don't like me using other people to make a point - use your imagination here)."Paul" is holding on to an old idea that came from within Paul - a "Paulism" - it is a part of Paul not an external thing.

So whatever "it" is that needs to change belongs to you, personally, "the man inside". "It" can be an old idea, a false belief, an irrational fear, but whatever "it" is has "arisen" out of "[your]self". That means it was not there as "a neutral, unbiased fact" to start with - "it" came from within and hung itself on your living room wall, so to speak, with your permission. It came to life and developed a life of its own that was totally apart from "reality".

This is hard stuff because it forces me to focus on things within me where I come up inadequate. These are things that are "bigger than life" within me - my "monsters under the bed".

Now I'll share my personal experience with this issue. The problem was the guilt, shame, and remorse that I carried with me for 12 years for betraying my wife. While I was drinking (I went back out after 6 years sober), I got involved with another woman. I ended up divorcing my wife and abandoning our family. I carried that with me into sobriety for years.

Whenever I thought about "realtionships" with women, I'd call up the past and remember that I ruined a good marriage and broke an "innocent victim's" heart who loved me. I also broke the hearts of my children. I did make amends and still do them today. She forgave me. God forgave me.

But early on - while still drinking, those memories "arose" and "took on a life of their own" and turned into a "Paulism" - a false belief. That belief was "I runied a perfctly good relationship with a good woman who truly loved me with all her heart. I don't deserve another chance. I ruined it once - I'll probably ruin it again".

Over time, as those memories faded, and as I made amends the "Paulism" evolved into a deeper, more profound, "Paulism" - sort of a "Paulism on steroids." My "old idea" evolved into "I am not worthy of any woman's love."

How and why? Because although my wife forgave me and accepted amends, and God forgave me, I never stopped to forgive myself. I held on to an a old idea and it took on a very destructive life of its own that lasted 12 years. It all happened at the unconscious level. Each time I tried get involved with another woman, I couldn't escape that deep-seated uneasiness of the guilt, shame, and remorse, but I no longer knew or understood what it was or where it was coming from. I went through the 12 steps and had a spiritual awakening, and I was "transformed" into another man who would never do the same thing again to someone he loved.

So the old idea became buried. The only reason I knew it was there was through "working it backwards". There was spiritual progress everywhere else except relationships. I just kept praying and asking God question on top of question. Then one day, a beautiful girl shows up in my life, and I look into her eyes when we're having dinner one night, and she doesn't take her eyes off of me. I was the center of her world - I knew it this wasn't ego. I knew she had love for me.

I went home that night, and I cried it seems for hours. I knew as an "outside neitral fact" that the girl had loving feelings for me. I could not deny it because I had seen the look in her eyes before from other girls that loved me in the past. I couldn't hold on to that "Paulism" any more. I realized that it was an old idea, a "false belief" that I was not worthy of another woman's love. The idea was proven wrong. I cried so long because I realized that for 12 years I never forgave myself or let go of the old idea. I never lived life the way it could have been lived. It was a hurt knowing that I could have had relationships that could grow spiritually, but I denied them to myself. So my "Normandy" was being "asleep at the wheel" for 12 years.

It's not like that today, Kevin. I have a lady that I love and she loves me. Yeah it took a while. But God's "answer" to me was to live each day, one day at a time, wiht no focus on "find the one" who would be the right one forever more - and no focus on the one that got away. Do what I do each day and learn that love with a woman only comes in 24-hour increments - not in lifetimes of yesterdays or tomorrows.

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Postby Dallas » Wed Oct 17, 2007 6:18 pm

Hey Kevin, I'll continue with numbering where I left off above -- in case you want to jump from one message to the other.

5. Now look at the two sheets for your mother and father. Ask yourself "which one did I feel closer to -- mom or dad?" And, make a note of it. It doesn't mean "which one did I like the most" -- it's "which one did I feel closer to."

Be sure to do this BEFORE moving on to #6 below!

6. By now, you should have three sheets.

a) The sheet with the names of your previous relationships.

b) The sheet with mothers list of things you liked and didn't like about your mom.

c) The sheet with fathers list of things that you liked and didn't like about your father.

7. Fold the sheets for mother and father in half -- where you have the Pros on one side and the Cons on the other side.

8. So, you have the two sheets in front of you -- and you're looking only at the side that has "the things that I didn't like about this parent" ...

and pick up your sheet with the names of your previous relationships --

slowly go through each name, one at a time -- and ask yourself the following question:

"If I looked at the things that I didn't like about this person -- does this person more closely have the traits that I didn't like most about my mother... or my father?"

And, after you ask the question -- and reflect on the name of the person you were in the relationship -- write a "M" (more like mothers things I didn't like about mother) or "F" (more like things I didn't like about my father).

Write down, as if it was a score -- of the "M's" and "F's" -- and, let me know what you came up with.


P.S. I decided to wait on answering the "backwards" question -- until we finish this -- and when we're finished here -- perhaps we can use this list as examples for the "looking backwards" routine -- and see how it all works out.

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Postby KevinFL » Thu Oct 18, 2007 12:02 pm

dallas the person i felt closest to was my father and he also got the highest score when i compared my past relations.

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Postby Dallas » Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:11 pm


That's interesting! My scenario was the same. It was my father. And, those that I picked for relationships -- had many of the same or similar negative traits or characteristics that I didn't like about my father.

The Professor said (the guy who passed on the tool to me and the rest of us who were in his class) said that he believes we do it -- because we have unfinished business with that particular parent. And, to not be surprized when we're picking relationships with someone who has the traits that we didn't admire or like from the other parent, too.

He went on to explain that he believes that when it comes to picking people for relationships -- we're most often doing it on an unconscious level. (The Professor was also a Doctor, and his background is in Behavior Sciences). And, that we're picking the person -- who has those same traits that we didn't like in that parent -- because unconsciously, we are trying to fix the parent.

It first sounded real bizarre to me -- and, I asked him tons of questions about it. How and why could or would I possibly do that?

He said "you're doing it at a level that's below your conscious understanding and awareness of doing it."

And, he went on to explain some "role types" that we will often adapt during the "relationship seeking process."

He asked -- "have you ever walked into a room, and it almost felt like some magnetic attraction to the person, and you couldn't figure out why you were so attracted?"

Yep. "But, if they had the things -- that I don't like ... why would I be attracted to them?"

He said -- during the "courtship process" -- both people are playing roles. They are displaying their "finer and most likeable qualities". As the friendship and relationship progress... the roles change... until you finally see the person as they are. (If you're keeping your eyes open).

On the other hand -- some people deal with the conflict of reality of "this is how this person really is" -- with denial. "No. I couldn't have chosen a person like this! It just isn't true!" (Protecting our self-esteem. Ego.) So, they begin to make up excuses for the other persons personality and behavior traits.

And, he re-iterated the fact that it all happens on an unconscious level.

So, I asked him -- "how do I stop doing that?"

He said to check out the information that he had given me. Explore it in regards to my past relationships. And, if it seems "real" -- then, become aware that you are doing some important things -- like picking relationships -- on an unconscious level.

He said that if I would become aware of that -- I could use this info to help me to stop doing it -- and to start picking healthier and more compatible people for my relations. And, it works for me.

It was a real eye opener for me.... and the insight that I gained from it helped me to start picking more compatible relationships -- and, which ones to avoid.

It also helped me to look back over my previous 4th Step of those that I had been in a relationship with -- and gained a new understanding of those, also.

And, it helped me to take a new look at my old inventory where my father had been mentioned. My father had already died before I got sober. And, I was able to gain a new understanding of him, and I discovered some ways that I could make amends to him -- indirectly. The making of those amends and the change in my perception set me free from the unfinished business.

I've still noticed, that I'll have a tendency to pick those certain kinds of people. Now, I wait until I get to know them -- and I approach it with Intellect over Emotions -- rather than Emotions over Intellect.

The Professor said that most people use more logical thinking -- in regards to the jobs they take, the clothes they buy, the car they buy, etceteras......... than they do in using logical and analytical thinking and checking out -- of the persons that they pick for long-term relationships.

And, looking over my past -- I could see that this was definitely true for me!


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Postby KevinFL » Thu Oct 18, 2007 9:08 pm

thank you dallas, there are some things you said there that i will definitely keep in mind and try to put into practice.

i still would like more information about the process of "working backwards" when you get an opportunity

thanks for all your support

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4th Step in Reverse to find root cause and condition

Postby Dallas » Fri Oct 19, 2007 1:29 am

Note: To make it easier to follow along, you may want to download and/or look at the form for Resentments at this url: -- Scroll down that page to locate the link to the pdf file with the form. And, then click on the form’s link. End-note.

Kevin, this is really going to be long – I hope you see why I had to wait until I would have time to write it all down! And, when I wake-up enough to re-read it, it will probably get edited a few times!

Resentment Inventory – backwards (Remember – this is “notâ€

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Postby KevinFL » Fri Oct 19, 2007 9:58 pm

sounds good dallas, thank you so much for your time. i will check back often to keep it fresh in my mind, and to see any updates you may have added.

thank you everyone for your posts.

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Postby DebbieV » Fri Oct 19, 2007 11:02 pm

Hey Dallas,

I did the little exercise you were talking to Kevin about, and I think I am a little confused.

And, after you ask the question -- and reflect on the name of the person you were in the relationship -- write a "M" (more like mothers things I didn't like about mother) or "F" (more like things I didn't like about my father).

Write down, as if it was a score -- of the "M's" and "F's" -- and, let me know what you came up with.

I did that and I came up with that I felt closer to my father, however, I chose people who had more of the negative traits that my mother had/has.
All, but one. And the one who was more like my father, is the one who I seemed to fight with the most. But, had the closest relationship with. and, probably the most attraction for.

I'm almost afraid of what that means. But, if you have any in-site let me know anyway. :shock:

BTW: That was a very enlightening view on past relationships. Thank You.

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Postby Dallas » Fri Oct 19, 2007 11:59 pm

It's a good idea to be careful when looking for root causes --
if too much time is spent on looking back -- it leaves little time to look at now.

The more time that's spent in looking at problems -- means the less time spent in working the solution.

A little principle that I learned many years ago, that has worked miracles for me is this:

"If I'll spend 90% of my time focusing on my strengths and the good things that I can do -- the weaker areas of my life will automatically improve.

If I spend 90% of my time focusing on my weaknesses, and the things that I need to improve -- my things I consider as my strengths, and the things that I do well -- will automatically become more of my weaknesses."

Your mind is going to attract what it thinks about. If you're a "thinker"... and you're spending your time thinking about "what you don't want" -- you're goint to rapidly attract and manifest "everything that you don't want."

Keep your mind on what you want -- and off of what you don't want.

The way to keep your mind off of what you don't want -- is to keep your mind on what you want.

That holds true for sobriety -- and everything else in life.

Remember, that "the problem centers in the mind."

Negativity attracts more negativity. Water seeks its own level.

Problem-focused problem solving -- attracts more problems. :lol:

Funny, how some alcoholic minds work. I can ask an alcoholic to make a list of the things that they do well, and a list of their strengths. They'll go for months... and sometimes for years... and never complete the list.

I can ask the same alcoholic to make a list of their problems and their weaknesses -- and they can't even wait to get a pen and paper before motor-mouthing all their problems, weaknesses, and the things that they are not good at doing!

Try it sometime. You'll be amazed -- before you are halfway through!

So, why does "the alcoholic" gravitate towards the problem thinking and his/her weaknesses, and the things that they don't do well?

The answer: "The problem centers in the mind." :wink:

That's why it requires a "transformation of thought and attitudes" to get over the drinking problem.

It takes a transformation of thought and attitude to get over a living problem.

It takes a transformation of thought and attitude to successfully get over any problem.

Remember page 58, BB "Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely."

When you're trying to solve your problems -- with your old ideas -- your results will be nil. It's like trying to drive the square peg into the round hole. You can beat and beat and beat and beat until you're exhausted and depressed and want to give up -- but, you keep beating and beating and beating. :lol: (This lesson appears to be the most difficult task for the alcoholic to grasp, and learn and understand. They just look for bigger and bigger hammers!).

If you change the thoughts -- the life will automatically change.

So, how can you change the thoughts? (Especially if the problem centers in the mind?)

You change the thoughts -- by taking different actions.

Some alkies will try to "think their way" into different thinking -- but, that doesn't work. Taking different actions ALWAYS works!


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Postby Dallas » Sat Oct 20, 2007 12:09 am

Debbie wrote:I'm almost afraid of what that means. But, if you have any in-site let me know anyway.

It would mean that you have more unfinished business with your mother -- and, the relationships that you've been picking -- are the unconscious attempts to "fix your mother."

After you've picked 'em -- and you can't change them -- you may begin to start thinking "hell! being with this guy feels like being with my mother! He does all the stuff that she does -- that I don't like!" :lol:

Or... if he does change and he gets better... you may become discontented... and need to go find another prospect so that you can work on that one.


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