Pride – Grapevine Article April 1976 by Bill C

WHAT is pride? It is always named first of the seven deadly character defects–but what does it have to do with sobriety? And what can I do about it?

The dictionary tags it “an excessively high opinion of oneself; arrogance.” We are not speaking of legitimate pride, in doing well whatever we ought to be doing. Pride in the alcoholic is a distorted opinion of oneself. Since it is a spiritual quality, it starts and festers within, and therefore a balance must be found without.

Usually, only alcoholics are beaten down enough to go outside for help. Most earth people never know the desolation of the defeated alcoholic. They may not been forced to look into themselves fully, because they do not have the same terminal need. Whatever self-love they have may never be altered.

The alcoholic, on the other hand, has been slugged often and forced to face facts. This is one key to AA progress–eyes are opened and can begin to see. (We are not the only defeated ones. Some others, non-alcoholics, suffer defeat and dig their way upward. But we should remember the Preamble, stick to the primary task, and leave those others to people better qualified to attend them.)

Bill W. says in the “Twelve and Twelve” (page 48) that “pride. . .is the basic breeder of most human difficulties, the chief block to true progress. . . When the satisfaction of our instincts. . .becomes the sole object of our lives, then pride steps in to justify our excesses.” Certainly, pride is inseparable from the emotional storms that racked us; it has been a basic cause of suffering everywhere since time began. To escape it, we must look for the absolute opposite–humility.

In the Grapevine (June 1961), Bill said that one could attain “humility for today” only by steering a middle course between “the bog of guilt and rebellion” on one side and the opposite path strewn with the fool’s-gold coins of pride. Bill points out that “a constant inventory. . .is always in order.” Back to the Tenth Step. It’s wonderful how the Steps keep popping up. Once again, we are pushed toward living them, one day at a time. This is a perfect way to diminish pride, first and deadliest of the seven character defects.

One thought on “Pride – Grapevine Article April 1976 by Bill C

  1. Here are some extracts from the 12 and 12 (Step 12 ) that maybe useful inputs to this discussion about pride as we consider how to practice these principles in all our affairs

    Page 112 – Step 12
    Furthermore, how shall we come to terms with seeming failure or success? Can we now accept and adjust to either without despair or pride? Can we accept poverty, sickness, loneliness, and bereavement with courage and serenity? Can we steadfastly content ourselves with the humbler, yet sometimes more durable, satisfactions when the brighter, more glittering achievements are denied us?

    The A.A. answer to these questions about living is “Yes, all of these things are possible.” We know this because we see monotony, pain, and even calamity turned to good use by those who keep on trying to practice A.A.’s Twelve Steps. And if these are facts of life for the many alcoholics who have recovered in A.A., they can become the facts of life for many more.

    Page 116, 117
    It became clear that if we ever were to feel emotionally secure among grown-up people, we would have to put our lives on a give-and-take basis; we would have to develop the sense of being in partnership or brotherhood with all those around us. We saw that we would need to give constantly of ourselves without demands for repay- ment. When we persistently did this we gradually found that people were attracted to us as never before. And even if they failed us, we could be understanding and not too seriously affected.

    When we developed still more, we discovered the best possible source of emotional stability to be God Himself. We found that dependence upon His perfect justice, forgiveness, and love was healthy, and that it would work where nothing else would. If we really depended upon God, we couldn’t very well play God to our fellows nor would we feel the urge wholly to rely on human protection and care. These were the new attitudes that finally brought many of us an inner strength and peace that could not be deeply shaken by the shortcomings of others or by any calamity not of our own making.

    This new outlook was, we learned, something especially necessary to us alcoholics. For alcoholism had been a lonely business, even though we had been surrounded by people who loved us. But when self-will had driven everybody away and our isolation had become complete, it caused us to play the big shot in cheap barrooms and then fare forth alone on the street to depend upon the charity of passersby. We were still trying to find emotional security by being dominating or dependent upon others. Even when
    our fortunes had not ebbed that much and we nevertheless found ourselves alone in the world, we still vainly tried to be secure by some unhealthy kind of domination or dependence. For those of us who were like that, A.A. had a very special meaning. Through it we begin to learn right relations with people who understand us; we don’t have to be alone any more.


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