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An Excerpt from Chapter 7: Emotional Sobriety through Step Ten

Emotional Sobriety through Step Ten

Through Step Ten we are attempting to keep our channel clear of obstacles to our relationship with Power, with ourself, and with others. On the spot we identify disturbances and take the indicated necessary actions to eliminate them.

Finding Our Center of Gravity

The solution to being disturbed is not to identify the solution to the perceived problem, but to identify the reason within myself for being disturbed. The problem can’t really be controlled or managed outside myself. When the source of being disturbed is within, and the observer of being disturbed is also within— then I have an object and subject that is under my influence and can be managed. I realize the perceived problem is but the symptom of the problem. The real problem is my reaction to it. When I assume the witness role, observing the source of my disturbance as internal, as my perception of the problem, I begin to grind the lens of my beliefs to better show reality as it is, not distorted to perceive myself as the victim of outside forces. If we are centered, we are not as influenced by those forces. Thus my goal is to have my center of gravity within me, rather than outside me.

We have received the gift of physical sobriety and are now finding emotional sobriety. We are using the faculties of our neocortex to manage both our mind and our will: the emotional feelings produced by the limbic system and also the biological drives flowing from the brain stem system. We have a thermostat.

Thus, we are now organically inclined to self-regulation and work for conscious management and containment to produce:

  • sustained abstinence
  • sanity; healthy thinking
  • personal responsibility
  • harmony
  • equilibrium
  • acceptance
  • serenity
  • joy and happiness
  • healing and wholeness
  • freedom
  • accountability
  • integrity and authenticity
  • understanding
  • effectiveness
  • resilience; openness to change
  • right relationships
  • interdependence
  • self-actualization
  • living the middle way
  • realization of our true self

With as much consciousness as we can muster and sustain, we manage our thoughts, feelings, and instincts; we pause before taking any action. We cut the internal and external puppet strings and take responsibility for all our thoughts, all our feelings, and, especially, all our actions, as well as their impact on others.

We identify, establish, and hold on to our true self. We keep our center of gravity within ourself. We consciously decide what we want or don’t want to do. We stop living our story and start living our life. “We have begun to sense the flow of . . . Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense” (Big Book, page 85).

We have an effective GPS: God positioning system! Being and Becoming Being is eternal; Becoming is temporal. What we love is what we become. I resolve not to live in collusion with my delusions. I resolve to live as a Loving being.

We pause and pray, on the spot: “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

We pause and meditate, on the spot: Visualize how we might have done better.

We ask: Am I doing to others as I would have them do to me?

The formula for change is captured in the Twelve and Twelve (page 95). On a daily basis:

  • We spot (we identify).
  • We admit.
  • We correct.

This technique provides us an opportunity to restart our day at any time. It allows a Power greater than self to continue to shape us. This is the essence of character-building and good living.


PART ONE                    PART TWO                    PART THREE                    PART FIVE

Herb K.

Herb K. was given the gift of freedom from alcohol February 21, 1984. As a result of the application of the Twelve Steps as contained precisely in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, he experienced a profound spiritual awakening in 1988. Since then he has been very involved in carrying the message of recovery through presentations, facilitating workshops, and leading retreats.

He has authored three books to help people access the instructions and confirm the actual process contained in the Big Book for experiencing a spiritual awakening: Practicing the Here and Now: Being Intentional with Step 11 (2017), Twelve-Step Guide to Using the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book (2004) and Twelve Steps to Spiritual Awakening: Enlightenment for Everyone (2010). His books are available on Amazon and other locations.

This is part four of a special five part blog series on HerbK.com to help those preparing for an Emotional Sobriety workshop reflect and meditate. It is an excerpt from Practicing the Here and Now: Being Intentional with Step 11.  Specifically it is Chapter 7,  “We Continue Awakening by Dealing with Internal Disturbances.”

Allen Berger, PhD and Herb K. have been hosting workshops as more people recognize the importance of Emotional Sobriety, especially in long-term recovery.  Bill W. first coined the term in a letter written and then published in AA Grapevine in 1958 (see The Next Frontier: Emotional Sobriety for more background.)

In addition to workshops and retreats on the topic of Emotional Sobriety, Allen Berger and Herb K. have founded the Institute for Optimal Recovery and you can find resources, events updates and more on the Facebook page OPTIMAL RECOVERY.


“We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness.”

— BIG BOOK, page 84

Keep these questions in mind

  • Am I aware of my tendency to fall asleep, unintentionally unconscious?
  • Am I committed to a daily practice to stay awake, intentionally conscious?
  • Am I willing to work at keeping my channel clear to enable – a vital prayer and meditation practice? – a life of compassionate service based on universal principles?
  • Am I willing to have a guide or teacher?
  • Am I willing to be accountable for my daily inventory practice and my daily behavior?