Spiritual Principle: Integrity in Recovery

Integrity: We continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. (Big Book, p. 84)

One of the hardest things to admit is that we have lied to ourselves.

Lied about our eating or our food behaviours. How many of us have binged and then “forgot” just a day or so later? We think we have the flu or food poisoning or we didn’t sleep well. In reality, we make ourselves suffer physically when we binge, restrict or purge. Like any other addiction, compulsive food behaviours are a form of self-abuse. The dishonesty we have around our food behaviours is also self- harming. It destroys our trust in ourselves.

Step 5 asks us to “admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” The underlying spiritual principle to this step is integrity. The courage to be this honest, to act with integrity going forward, is the cumulation of doing a Step 4 Inventory and sharing it honestly with our sponsor or another trusted person in Step 5. We face our behaviours, our fears, our resentments, our self-seeking and other character defects squarely. We acknowledge our past. We face the truth about what we are like and how we got to this point in our lives. As the 12 & 12 text says:

In steps four and five we learned courage and integrity as we faced the truth about our defects of character. Applying these principles in all our affairs means that we are no longer ruled by a fear of admitting our mistakes. We have the integrity to show the world our true selves. No longer needing to appear to the world as perfect people, we can live more fully, having the courage to face up to our mistakes and test our strengths in the challenges of life. – OA 12 & 12, p.104

Have you ever realized what goes on in your head does not match what the outside world sees? Many times, I’ve heard at a meeting a fellow acknowledge feeling “fake” or like an “imposter” sometimes. If people knew what you are really thinking sometimes, would they be shocked or appalled? In completing Step 5, telling someone what you have done, what your resentments are, how they affected your life, what your part is, what you fear, how you have distorted relationships – all these things help in the process of aligning your thoughts with your behaviors. This realignment requires integrity.

When we move forward in our recovery with integrity, we embrace the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; a spiritual uprightness in our daily lives. We are now in a state of being whole and undivided.

No longer do secrets – big and little – haunt us. We have made peace with our past. We are ready to move forward, whole. There may still be wreckage in our past to clear – that’s what we have the amends process for in Steps 8 and 9. But in taking Step 5, we commit ourselves to acting honestly and with integrity, not just in the eye of our High Power, but in our own mind’s eye and that of our fellows.

Step 10 encourages us to maintain this place of honesty and integrity daily. We continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong, promptly admit it. A nightly inventory keeps us honest:

When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? … After making our review we ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken. – Big Book, p.86

The Big Book assumes we are sober when doing our nightly inventory. In OA, we add “was I abstinent today?” to the inventory. If not, we honestly acknowledge our relapse to ourselves, to our Higher Power and another fellow. We look at our behaviours and rework the Steps. Am I willing? Do I surrender? Have I asked for help? What “corrective measures” do I need to take? Integrity demands we ask ourselves the hard questions. We are only as sick as our secrets.

Need to add to your plan of action on integrity? Some members use an AEIOU method to take their inventory daily: was I Abstinent? Did I Exercise? WhatdidIdotodayformyself?WhatdidIdotodayfor Others? What Unfinished business or Underlying issues do I need to deal with? YAHOO!!! What 5 things am I grateful for today?

Others find it helpful to use a recovery app on their phone, like the free 10th Step app on iTunes or My OA Toolkit app (iTunes or Google Play). Still others use pen and paper, in a journal or with a template such as this OA Daily Worksheet. or these Step 10 & 11 Worksheets.

OA Region 1 also sells a daily program journal that some people find helpful. Any of these tools can help us work The Steps. The only important thing is that we have the integrity to work our program daily. You got this. You’re worth it.

~ Jennifer S, North Vancouver


Learning to Listen

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

My first Step sponsor told me I could begin to practice Step Eleven early in my OA program. I did not need to wait until I had worked the preceding ten Steps.

Prayer for me, until then, had just been asking God for things I thought I needed; basically “God, please give me _____.” But my sponsor had me stick with the basics each morning. I prayed the Serenity Prayer and prayed the prayers for Steps One, Two, and Three—preferably on my knees. Sometimes it was just “I can’t, God can, and I think I’ll let God!” The third Step Prayer also became crucial. “God, I offer myself to Thee . . . . May I do your will always!” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 63). My sponsor had me focus on one idea every week from For Today or Voices of Recovery and discuss the changes in my relationships to God and others.

Prayer is when we talk to God. Meditation is when we listen to God. I became curious about how I could add meditation to my program, and I found answers right after the famous Ninth Step promises (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th. ed. pp. 83–84). Many twelve steppers read these promises (and the suggestions through p. 88) daily, since our daily reprieve is based on maintaining our t spiritual condition.

I attended a session of guided meditation in which we learned to sit quietly and use the Tool of writing. After pouring our hearts out to God, talking to him as we would our best friend, we were asked to listen silently. As ideas came into our minds, we jotted them down quickly.

We sat still for about five minutes, which can seem like an eternity to beginners in meditation. At the end of the session, we went around the circle, and people shared the messages that perhaps God had sent. A key suggestion was that some thoughts may arise from our own self-will, so it is best to share our writings with a sponsor or another person who can be objective to help us decide whether to act on any guidance we receive.

Soon I fell in love with my morning time spent with my Higher Power. It became a time I longed for on the days I missed it. It gave me incredible peace and serenity as I dealt with death, loss, illness, and pain. It has not been my willpower or self-discipline that enabled me to go from 300 pounds (136 kg) to 140 pounds (64 kg) and stabilize at this weight. My healing has been a miracle from my Higher Power. He has spoken to me through my many wonderful sponsors and through OA-approved literature. The prayers my wonderful OA family said for me have made a tremendous di erence in my life.

Thank you, God, and thank you, OA, for saving my life. I will be eternally grateful.

— Mary A., Austin, Texas USA