The Four C’s: Gaining Clarity

Establishing your personal addictive patterns and accessory behaviors (based on your destructive behaviors) will give you great clarity about how to set your bottom lines.

And it’s clarity that will help you develop singleness of mind and purpose.  If you are committed to change and are consistently taking the action to gain a clear understanding of yourself and your addiction, nothing will prevent you from setting and keeping your bottom lines.

Blurred lines and Bottom Lines

As addicts, we thought we had control of everything.  But instead of remaining in command, we tried to define our lives using blurred lines.

Most of the time we did not know the difference between fantasy and reality.  We got so used to fantasy that – after a while – it all seemed real.  Fantasy became our reality.  The lines were blurred… and we became quite insane!

But the lines between real and unreal must be clearly defined if we ever hope to live in the real world and regain our sanity.

Bottom line behaviors are “self-defined activities from which we refrain in order to experience physical, mental, emotional, sexual and spiritual wholeness.”

Bottom lines are based on your patterns of addictive and accessory behaviors.  They should be clear – without any ambiguity – so that you know if and when you cross them.

Engaging in any of these behaviors is considered a slip or a relapse.  (A slip is when you catch yourself in one of your bottom line behaviors and you immediately stop and tell your sponsor about it; a relapse is when you cross the line continually and lie about.)

Once you have set your bottom lines (with the help of your sponsor and your Higher Power) refrain from these behaviors one day at a time.

The Four C’s: Consistency

Have you made the commitment necessary to begin the program by setting your bottom lines?  If so, there are certain things you need to do that will ensure you stay committed.  And you will need to do them consistently.

In order to set your bottom lines, you will need to make five lists:

  1. Destructive behaviors
  2. Addictive patterns
  3. Accessory behaviors
  4. Bottom line behaviors
  5. Healthy behaviors

This may seem like a lot of work, but it is just the beginning…

This process will cost you.  And one of the things that you will need to provide is your time and attention to this procedure.  You spent precious hours, day after day, in your addiction – planning, obsessing, and compulsively acting out… obsessing again… over and over.  You spent your money, you spent your time and energy…

And all your time and energy will need to be spent in recovery if you ever hope to get your sanity back.  Here’s what you need to do…

Destructive behaviors:  You have addictive behaviors that made you realize your life is spinning out of control.  You will make a list of your past behaviors that have proven to be destructive.

Addictive patterns:  When you review your addictive behaviors, you will see certain patterns of behavior emerging.  Using your list of destructive behaviors, try to identify your personal addictive patterns.

Accessory Behaviors:  Daily habits are powerful – perhaps more powerful than we realize.  For an addict, these habits show up as accessory behaviors, things we do almost without thinking.  Define the habits (accessory behaviors) that need to be monitored.

Next week we will take a look at another list that will help to gain ‘clarity’ in your recovery.

The Four C’s: Commitment

In order to gain sobriety and recovery, you must commit yourself to the task.  But where does the willingness to commit come from?

As we said last week, it all begins with the desire to do so…

Commitment is a result of step one:  “We admitted that we were powerless…

It is simply making the decision to begin where we are… powerless.  From that point forward, we base all our future decisions on our addicted and powerless state.

It may seem like such an obvious point.  But without this decision – to admit to your powerlessness – you don’t have a “snowball’s chance in hell” of ever making it through the other eleven steps and still remain sober.

You must ask yourself the question:  “Do I want to live or do I want to die?”  It’s your choice.  As an addict, you are already dead; but by admitting to your powerlessness you are saying “Yes!” to life.

I have a close friend in AA who struggled for years trying to stay sober.  It was painful to watch him wrestle with his triggers.  He had will power, and he had determination.  But the problem for him stemmed from his denial that he was powerless over his addiction to alcohol.  There existed – in the back of his mind – the hope of becoming ‘normal’ again.

He really wasn’t sold on the idea that he was absolutely powerless, and hoped for the day when he could drink responsibly like a ‘normal’ person.

After several relapses and a brush with death, he finally admitted that he was hopelessly addicted – powerless – and eventually committed to the program completely.  And for you in SLAA, I can promise you this:  If you are not completely convinced of your powerlessness to your compulsive sexual behaviors, you will continue to struggle with keeping your bottom lines.

No one can make that decision for you.

Either you are ready to commit, or you are not.  Jesus Christ once said: “No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back… is fit for the kingdom of God.”

In other words, you can’t drive a car while looking in the rear view mirror!  If you plan to walk the ‘straight and narrow’ you had better keep your focus on the road ahead.

Desire is a forward gaze.  Looking over your shoulder will kill that desire.  Remain in your desire to move forward so you can stay committed to your bottom lines.

The Four C’s of setting and keeping your bottom lines

I’ve read a lot of motivational and ‘self-help’ literature – you could say that I have an addiction to that kind of stuff.  But some of the ideas I found helpful.

One concept that has stuck with me is the Four C’s:  What are they?  You may have read about them in motivational literature.  They usually center around the task of setting and reaching goals.  And setting a bottom line is a lot like setting a goal.  But instead of stating where you want to go, you are stating where you don’t want to go…

Here are the Four C’s:

  • Commitment
  • Consistency
  • Clarity
  • Confidence

Let’s face it.  Anyone can set a bottom line.  The day my three year old grabbed the curling iron when it was ‘on’ was the day she decided not to grab it anymore.  After a bad burn to her right hand and many, many tears, curling irons quickly became her ‘bottom line!”

But when you’re an addict and you want to quit your addiction… why is it so damn hard to keep the bottom lines that you so willingly set when you first started the program?

Before you can set and expect to keep your bottom lines, you must have the desire to do so.  Without a strong desire to reach your goal of sobriety, you will encounter great difficulties and frustration, but you will not be able to go the distance.

Desire is fundamental to maintaining your motivation.  As it states in step one of the 12 steps of SLAA:  “We admitted we were powerless over our sex and love addiction…”

In fact, admitting to your powerlessness is where your desire for recovery begins.

This is not referring to our helplessness; powerlessness is not helplessness.  To admit to your “helplessness” would be admitting to your defeat.  There is no motivation found in that hopeless word – only sad resignation.

To admit, on the other hand, to your powerlessness is to begin realizing that, up till now, you have done it all wrong.  And that is where you begin to feel the desire – the need – to find a better way… a way that will correct all your mistakes and bring you power and healing.

I want to spend the next few weeks examining the Four C’s.  How do they relate to our addiction?  How can we use the four C’s to help us understand how we can successfully set and keep our bottom lines?  Next week we will take a look at the first C:

“Commitment”