Alcoholic’s Anonymous: the 12 steps
*photo by Madeleine S./written by phong
The 12 Steps are another tool for sobriety and healthy living. Though the steps are directly related to Alcohol abuse, the steps are considered a spiritual journey. There are many misconceptions in the world. AA’s 12 steps have been highly praised and criticized in the health community. Likewise, many others speak ill of a more holistic way of healing. Truth of the matter is… Both camps are saying the same thing in different ways.
Simply choose what works. Whatever method that is safe, healthy and beneficial to your happiness and peace is the best method for you.
Let’s explore the 12 Steps and see how they can be applied both to sobriety and towards healthy, spiritual living. Replace the word alcohol with whatever drug or maladaptive behavior. It’s the process not the task.
Find a Map and Get Some Friends
Read through the 12 Steps for a basic feel of its direction. There are tons of literature and online content available to get a literary understanding. The “Big Book” can be found at all major bookstores.
Find where meetings are taking place in your neighborhood. These meetings are held nightly all across the country. For those who have partners, friends, or family that have dependency problems, there are support groups for you as well. This will be a good opportunity for you to meet people in similar or worse circumstances. With this camaraderie, you have a chance for support, guidance, and education. Listen to their stories. Tell your own. Know that you are not alone.
Try new groups to find new connections. In time you will feel the group that is best for you. These groups usually have varying levels of experience, wisdom, and size. Through this fellowship, you may find a new community, family, and circle of friends.
AA recommends finding a sponsor to help guide you through this spiritual process. Find someone you can trust and can hold you accountable. This may take time, so don’t rush it. Ask around online or at meetings. Soon you will find your perfect match.
The 12 Steps
There is no steadfast rule. There will be times you may have to work on a prior step. There will be other times where you will be working a few steps at once. As you become more aware and evolved, you shall see these steps as a guideline versus a map.
The 12 steps never demands anything from us. These are merely suggestions that may serve us best.
The 12 steps have been broken down into three sub categories.
A. The Problem
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable
Step 1 begins when we are abstinent. If we want to be free from alcohol we must not have alcohol in our system. It’s a very simply concept, but many fail to realize this.
Now the key word in the statement above is WERE. It doesn’t say we ARE powerless. This step allows us to change our thinking, behavior and action. We will have to admit and understand how alcohol has played viral a role in our lives. Once we do that, we are aware enough to create inner change. And in time, alcohol will no longer hold power over us. However, this does NOT mean we can drink socially if we have had dependency issues.
This step is often difficult in our constant denial. Eventually, the lies we tell ourselves will consume us into a bitter truth.
B. The Solution
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
We are reminded in this step of our illusion of control. We realize we have no control over certain circumstances and we no longer need to do it alone.
Instead of the constant barrage of media, we must look within our spirits. Refrain from TV and internet. Look to a higher power that gives us support and comfort. This higher power need not be God. A group devoted to a single purpose is a power greater than us. The same principles apply to any form you desire. It is believing in something more than our own self.
C. The Program of Action
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
Step 3 is decision. We must make the decision to make different choices. We choose perceive ourselves with love and not in fear. We know we need support and guidance. We are not losing ourselves. We are free to live as we are, not who we are supposed to be.
We embrace our gifts and allow the opportunity to work on our weaknesses. We know we are complete.
Step 3 represents the spiritual progression from hope to faith to trust. This doesn’t come easy, but becomes readily available with practice. The opportunity to have such faith in a higher power can be presented if Steps 4-12 are worked on.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
We must be honest with ourselves. We must look at our behaviors, actions and thoughts with an objective perspective. We must be willing to face accurate assessments of our weaknesses, our fears, and our faults. Why do we think the things we think? Why do we do the things we do? Why do we say the things we say?
For an alcoholic and for many of us, fear is the underlying factor. The exact fears and the manifestation of these fears are where each one of us can differ. These fears drive us into dark thoughts, actions and behaviors.
It is time to look at our Spirits and see where we can evolve and better ourselves.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
After our inventory, we shall easily see how we are our own worst enemy. We have been lying to ourselves for a long time. We have lost sight of who we are and what we do. We must admit our shortcomings to ourselves first. But then we must admit it to our higher power and others. In doing this, we learn to love ourselves wholly.
This is a very courageous act. We need this courage to share what is most intimate and fearful. We need to establish trust in ourselves and those we plan to invest in. With this trust we allow others to guide and support us.
We must let go of our judgment and fear by sharing it with others. We speak to others of our faults, weakness, fears, and darkness. We free ourselves from it be letting it out. We share our most personal intimate demons and dreams.
As we do so, we shall see the truth that is underlies our negative interactions. We see why we do, say, and behave in such manners. We start to understand the role that alcohol plays.
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
Now that we are aware of our shortcomings, what shall we do with them? In the past our ignorance has created a difficult reality. We see and understand why we have acted in such negative manners.
Now we must act and be ready for change. We must be willing to evolve and allow growth on a spiritual, mental and physical level. We must be ready.
Step 7: Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
We must submit ourselves humbly to our higher power. We ask for strength and support. We ask our higher power to help us remove our bad habits and thoughts that plague us.
Asking through prayer, meditation, art, or other manners is entirely up to us. We ask for wisdom and truth. We never beg, but we ask with inner peace for the things that would serve our purpose. We gather our spirituality and allow it to work with our mind and body.
We ask to face our demons and find the love necessary to defeat them.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
We have done much wrong to others in our lives. This process allows us to heal these relationships. We imagine different perspectives to see how our actions have wounded and betrayed. Mental strength and clarity is especially important in this step.
These dark moments in time must be faced. We must see them for what they truly are, actions made from fear. As we evolve and grow, we must forgive ourselves and release our guilt. By making amends to those we have hurt, we allow our spirits to be clear from this negativity.
We must not avoid the ones we most fear. So we make a true honest list.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
We must face our wrong doings. We have admitted to ourselves that we have wronged, we must now admit it those we have hurt. By doing this we no longer need to be shameful or feel lesser than.
It is important to be present with our intentions and inner peace. This step is often emotionally charged and it is best to maintain clarity. However in time, this will allow us to create a clear connection with others and create relationships that are beneficial to our health.
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
This is a process. We are never really done. For when we master one set of fears, we will become aware of another level. In this life, we evolve and grow. We are given new tools and new awareness. With this we will make mistakes and have our bumps and bruises.
By being constantly mindful, we can easily face our wrong doings. Thus we will be able to correct and eventually prevent them.
Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out
We take time for ourselves to be away. We look to provide an opportunity to clear our minds, and connect to our higher power. We take this time to become aware of our daily successes and opportunities.
It is in these connections where we are able to see truth. We let go of our biases and judgments to see how we can evolve and grow.
There are no limitations and boundaries for meditation. Do what works. We can fly, we can sing, we can dance or play. We can face our demons and slay our greatest fears.
We can dream.
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs
As we work through these various processes, a spiritual awakening is possible. In this enlightenment, we live a life filled with joy, passion, freedom, and love. We feel it. We see it. We take pleasure in a wholesome natural life.
We have purpose and understand our role. We are able to connect to our higher power and gather the strength necessary to evolve. We are inspired, motivated, and driven. We have purpose.
And we do so together.
And we share our experiences. We share our truth so that others can learn from us. We tell our personal message and become available to others in need.
We wish the best for others as well for ourselves. We participate in loving connections that are happy, joyous and free. Gratitude becomes our underlying force.
We speak our truth.