A few years ago, I was doing some home renovations and some guys from Harvest House were helping me. We took a break from drywalling in the mid morning and sat out on the porch. It was late summer and fair time. Every year people crowd into the little town I live in and go to the fair. They all want to park on my front lawn and I hate that- absolutely hate it. It makes me crazy angry when people park on my grass!
Sure enough as we were chatting during our morning break someone pulled up and parked on my front lawn. They didn’t ask. They didn’t pay any attention to us (to me). They just parked their car and started to walk down to the fair. I jumped up and yelled – “Don’t park your car on my front lawn and I won’t park my car on your front lawn – How would you like it if I did that to you?!!!!”
The owner of the car was really apologetic and said that he wasn’t going to stay long and he was only visiting his step daughter next door to me. It turned out that I knew the guy and he was surprised by my reaction. I felt bad that I had yelled at him. My friends who were all recovering addicts said; “Hey Tony, you’ve got issues, you better ‘step four’ that resentment.” They had me pegged!
Later that day, when I took a walk I started to ask myself – Why do I get so angry when someone parks on my front lawn. I do it every time and today I yelled at someone I knew and looked like a fool. Why do I keep doing it? So I thought – I’ll do a step four and see what comes out of it.
Doing a step four can be as simple as stating what your resentment is, who you are resentful at and how it makes you feel. It’s best to write down your resentments in a journal. When you have many of them written down you begin to see that who you are emotionally is neatly summed up by the feelings generated by your resentments. You can see them listed in resentment after resentment. There are many more comprehensive worksheets that go into greater depth and detail but for me this was how I started.
So, I am resentful of people who park their cars on my lawn without asking. When they do that I feel like I don’t count, people can do what they want to me and I’m being picked on. I feel angry, powerless and hurt, hurt, hurt! Those feeling always make me react in an angry defensive way. I suddenly realized that those were the same feelings I had listed when I did step fours for the many instances of being bullied when I was a child. The power of those feelings made me behave in a certain way that I would regret afterwards.
Finally understanding where my feelings came from gave me control over my response to the situation. People parking on my lawn is still a ‘hot button’ for me but now I don’t immediately launch into angry tirades. I can cope with the situation in a more positive way. In a way the step four allowed me to expose a ‘small demon’ in my life and took away its power over me.
Fortunately, doing step fours isn’t rocket science – we can all work this simple step and come to understand ourselves and how our past shapes our responses today. That understanding enables change!