Yes, it is time for the next part of the 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery series!
In the 12 Steps of many recovery fellowships, step 4 is all about being honest with yourself about the past and the defects of character that have led to some difficult times. It is an emotional examination of the self.
But in an effort to point the conversation in a different direction for Christmas, we present our own edit to this very important piece of the recovery process.
Step 4: Made a Searching and Fearless Christmas List
Well, now we start to get into some more exciting stuff. While normally people in recovery start to get a little nervous about step 4 of the 12 Step program, this list is sure to be a lot more entertaining. Instead of doing the searching and fearless moral inventory of one’s own actions and appraising the wreckage of the past, we will actually make our version a little more about the hope in the future.
In most 12 Step recovery fellowships, the 4th step is a detailed look at an inventory of things like resentments, fears, harms and character defects that can seem a little daunting to some. However, in my personal experience, it is NEVER as serious as some people would have you believe. It is just a list!
So to lighten up we are going to instead make this a searching and fearless Christmas list of goals or gifts just for you. You can start grandiose if you like; writing a Christmas list that looks more like a bucket list. You might imagine yourself in your dream car driving to the career of a lifetime. It might not seem possible right now, but a little bit of imagination and ambition might just give us the spark of inspiration to keep working hard and dreaming big. But it does not necessarily have to be material items.
Try some real searching inside yourself to see what kind of life you are looking for in recovery. What kind of person would you be if you chased your hopes and your dreams fearlessly? How would you treat the ones closest to you if you loved fearlessly?
What else would be possible if you were actively seeking out the thoughts and experiences and feelings on this list?
Give yourself the gift of hope…
While we have been talking about letting go of control over the holiday, we also have to remind you that it’s still your job to control your actions, which means you’re still responsible for your future. Set some obtainable goals for the season ahead. Making a fearless Christmas list is about asking yourself what you’re going to do with your new found freedom in sobriety. Then seek hope for that future.
For some of us, that list can be as simple as spending quality time with our families and friends, trying to make the most out of the holiday. So if you’re giving yourself the gift of hope, give others the gift of your presence.
But you can also stay focused on the now, making your list more about what you want to do now to be a better friend, spouse, sibling, parent or child. Do you want to reconnect and reconcile some of the ghosts of Christmas past? Do you want to grow stronger bonds with those in your life? Maybe you just want to be able to get through the presents, avoid emotional eating and family feuds without the urge to get hammered.
Whatever you decide you want to put on your Christmas wish-list, when you look back at it (checking it twice) it might give you a glimpse of where you are in your journey, and how far you have come.
So in a way, we tricked you! It is kind of a personal inventory. If you made this an introspective list, it might remind you of where your character defects a showing through during the holidays. This could set the tone for some more in-depth reflection on how you’re handling the occasion. You might realize that the things you used to think mattered most don’t really measure up to the gifts of sobriety you have received.
At the end of the day, making a Christmas list is supposed to remind us of that youthful belief that anything is possible. We might not think Santa is going to drop a new career or car down the chimney, or stuff our stockings with a sense of purpose and serenity, but a kid can dream, right?
It might not be an inventory of our past, but it can give us a new respect for our growth and help us take stock in what we want out of our recovery.
As for the calling birds, we actually call that Tweeting now. It’s a thing.