Talks on Step Work: Talk1 - What is Unmanageability?

1 What is unmanageability 23-04-2019.mp3

What is Unmanageability?

A short talk on what is unmanageability - part of a series on working the steps.

This is a collection of audio clips of talks on working the steps. This first audio clip of about 14 minutes is on the topic of What is Unmanageability?

Rough Transcript:

Hi, my name is JS and I am an Alcoholic, A Co-Alcoholic and A Compulsive Overeater and live in Bangalore.

This talk is for about 15 mins max and the topic would continue till I’m complete with this topic and move on to the next one.

I can take a few questions and then answer others in the WhatsApp group we have for this purpose. To join that group, just click on the Invite Link distributed.

Our online meetings are for a maximum of 30 minutes.

Today I’m going to start my share my ESH on the topic of Unmanageability – the second half of the first step. I think this topic would last a few sessions and not conclude today.

I walked into my first AA meeting on 25th October 1984. I learnt in no time that the Big Book and the 12&12 were our primary texts. I took a sponsor from day 1 and my first question to him within weeks of reading the books was what is this “unmanageability”? He explained that once I drank that first fatal sip, I could not stop till I blacked out. I readily agreed as I found it true in my own life. That the first drink did all the damage. If I could just stay away from the first drink then somehow, I could stay sober are all my life.

This was a very convenient are finding for me. After all I had come to AA with the sole purpose off stopping drinking and saw that the first step seemed to be rather easy as long as I attended meetings and served my home group.

For the next 10 years I kept coming to meetings and serving in my home group, the intergroup and AA events. I found that others did the same and kept sober. And so it was easy to assume that the unmanageability that step one talks about was restricted to the unmanageability after the first drink. But I slipped twice!

Much later in the program did I realise that it (Unmanageability) was not restricted to drinking at all. The step says that our lives had become unmanageable. The keyword being ‘had’. I noticed much later that my various defects of character persisted well after I stopped drinking.

So today I view unmanageability in rather simple terms which I think it was originally meant to be. Let me give you an example.

I would go to a party promising that I would not drink. However, I found that eventually I would end up drinking and often times it would be far too much! So how was unmanageability restricted to “after” that first fatal drink? I got no answers for that question.

Unmanageability is really about the fact that I ended up doing something I did not want to do. In other words, I could not manage to not drink let alone stop after I started drinking.

Other examples would be getting angry when I simply did not want to get angry.

Or reacting when I simply do not want to react. Like I could not just “ignore” something if it rankled me, even though I knew my best option was to ignore it.

Saying yes and then I wanted to say no.

To sum it up, unmanageability is doing what you did or do not want to do or I did not plan to do, yet ending up doing that very thing!

This isn’t just lack of control on oneself. It’s far deeper as we’ll see in talks to come.

Unmanageability is the root cause of loss of control over one’s self. Period.

I think I will and stop here for today and take any questions that may be there for you.

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Thank you Sir

Deeper understanding which lead me to effortless Identification and acceptance.


I strongly understood and accept the unmanageability. I don't have control over it. Am simply doing the things which i don't want.

Thank you for the sessions you are taking and I really feel good to be part of the same...Today after 45 years of my life could identity that saying yes when I want to say NO is my unmanageability..

Thank you once again..

Looking back after completing my OSWS2, I am able to see the beauty of the OSWS how it was designed. Module Fear and Upsets was the key gave me free to work and understand what is Unmanageability. I wrote what the lessons suggested and I found my unmanageability. No denial stopped me from accepting. While working I am unaware. Now I am enjoying the result of the fantastic process I have gone through it.

The 12 Step Workshop

The 12-Step Workshop - or SWS for short is the entry-level programme for people to work the 12-steps of AA. Coached by AAs, for AAs and of AAs, the SWS is a 3-day programme.


The Promises Workshop, or PWS for short, is for people who've maintained long-term sobriety and have completed doing at least two SWSs. They need to have also actually worked all the 12 Steps in their entirety.

Train the Trainer

WSLB believes in the AA tradition of "give it away to keep it". Hence a Train the Trainer (T3WS) Course.