AT one of the first meetings I attended, the speaker said that staying sober required two things: being honest with one’s self, and being willing to keep an open mind.
I had always taken pride in being honest with myself. Oh, sure, my job made necessary some degree of intrigue and deception, some evasiveness, but never dishonesty. One had to be clever, shrewd and have acumen in dealing with others–but to deceive oneself? Impossible.
I had always been a firm believer in the scientific approach to evaluating everything. One of my favorite sayings was, “Get the facts! Have the courage to face the facts! And then take the action the facts dictate!”
Thank God someone said I had to work the Twelve Steps. And, thank God for Step Four! I followed the recommendations in Chapter Five (took pencil and paper) and for the first time in my life took a searching and fearless inventory of my whole self, in writing. It was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. I found it’s much easier to deceive one’s self than it is to deceive other people.
I discovered that my search for facts had been a diligent search for only those facts which would prove my already preconceived opinions. Intellectual pride and prejudiced beliefs had warped and stunted my spiritual growth until I was unable to see and understand even the most elementary truths.
I had not been the creature of logic I had imagined myself to be, but rather a creature of emotion, bristling with pride and prejudice, motivated primarily by vanity.
I am definitely convinced that if I had failed to make the inventory, complete and in writing as recommended by Chapter Five, I’d now be left with a very shaky and uncomfortable sobriety–if I were sober at all.
So, when I’m tempted to be positively certain about the wisdom of my own opinions, and positively certain the other fellow is wrong, I’m able to maintain a reasonable degree of “thoughtful uncertainty.” when I remember to “Be honest, and keep an open mind.”