UNDERSTANDING THE 12 STEPS – an insiders point of view
In keeping with helping to understand the 12 steps I’ve written this from my own experiences and those who have helped me over the years to become free from addiction. I hope it helps you too.
Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives have become unmanageable.
This is without a doubt the most important step and really the simplest to do, yet we balk at it. Why? We initially shared with society the idea that an alcoholic was a bum, a hobo, you know the guy on the street looking for change to get that bottle of $2.00 wine. Many alcoholics may become that, but they were alcoholics way before they were homeless. I know you’re probably saying I’m not like that so how can I be an Alcoholic or Druggy? Well Take a step back. Examine your life and be honest with yourself. Can you control your drinking or drugging or are you in the words of this step “powerless.”
Alcoholics and Drug users are good at lying to others and even better at lying to themselves. The fact that you can “stop for a while” must be weighed up against the truth of what happens when you take the first drink or snort. I could stop for months at a time, but when I stopped in at the pub for that “quick beer” before I went home, I was unable to stop until I gotten a good buzz on. You know that numbness feeling in your cheeks. But, I could stop for months at a time, the hardest part for me was realizing that it never just stopped at “one”. For this reason I now choose NOT to Drink. Because I know in my soul I can’t stop.
Step 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
For the agnostic or the atheist, this is a difficult step. It requires us to suspend intellectual faculties and cynicism. My feeling is that my intellect and skepticism didn’t help me avoid beer. This “God” person never saved anyone from dying that I knew. So how in the hell was he going to save me. For me this was one of the most struggle-some of steps to accomplish – I had to let go – yea right! took years to understand that line. Now some 20 years later I laugh at myself – if only I had done this sooner.
Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and out lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
How do I understand God? I have been Christian for years, having been brought up in a religious home. If a God exists and he/she/it is omnipotent, how can I comprehend this being? I read the bible, and went to church and there were so many unanswered questions that I gave up – hence for me my life changed for the worse.
Again, take a leap of faith, step off the edge of the cliff and into the realm of faith. Whatever understanding you need, God will give you. The only way of approaching faith is to surrender human intellect.
It is not important that your perception of God match anyone else’s perception. It may be difficult, for example, for someone subjected to years of abuse by their father may have trouble thinking of God as a “father”. That doesn’t matter. Define God in the way you can. Just surrender your life as it is now to that which you call Your God or Higher Power.
Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
This is so difficult for everyone. After years of conning ourselves and others, we now have to shift away from this mind set and examine ourselves warts, blemishes, and all, and they aren’t very attractive. Yet it cannot be escaped. To
change our dependency on alcohol or drugs, we need to change ourselves, this cannot not be done without ruthless self examination. This is a daily process not one that is to be taken lightly either. For every day we step on toes and hurt someone’s feelings. It’s understanding the reasons, and whys that helps us to be better people. This leads us to the next step.
Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
It’s easy enough to admit your faults to God, who can be viewed in abstract terms. It’s more difficult to admit them to yourself, but to someone else! No way! Stop, let me off this roller coaster. I Quit!
Don’t stop now. This is necessary. It acts as an unburdening of all the things you have kept secret for so long from family and friends. As difficult as this may be, it is one of the most important steps in overcoming your addiction.
To understand this step, it is necessary to understand the disease of alcoholism and drug abuse itself. It is a disease which works on three levels. These are the physical, the mental and the spiritual. To confess to God helps remove the spiritual disease and to confess to another human being eases the mental anguish. It also says to us that after years of avoidance we are now going to stop lying to ourselves and to others and to make the necessary behavioral changes to overcome our addictions.
Step 6. We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
This seems easy, but there must be a word of caution here. The words are easy, but behind the words must be an earnest desire for the removal of these flaws in our self. Nobody can do this but you, so don’t look to a sponsor or family member to get you through this one and Do not pay lip service to this stage.
Step 7. Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.
Here again sincerity is everything. This is a final admission that we have shortcomings. Just as before this can be one of the hardest steps to achieve for you are going against everything that is natural to you – you are trusting in something you can’t put a face to.
Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Wait a sec, didn’t I do that already? Nope! You just admitted you had flaws.
now comes the task of making amends to them. There are probably so many names it will scare the day lights out of you, I know it did me. When you have completed the list, go back and add other names from your earliest memories as a child. The more cleansing you do here the stronger you’ll become and stay in the future. There will certainly be those you have either forgotten or avoided and yes you have to add them as well. Remember you can’t hide anymore!
Step 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure others.
Stop! I want to get off again I feel that this step is perhaps the most difficult and certainly the most intimidating. In the last step we did all those wonderful people we loved, well guess who we get to approach now… yep those that we forgot.
Many tears will be shed with step, as you admit not only to yourself and to those you approach how hard and cruel you’ve been to them over the years. So be prepaired to walk lightly on this step. Wait, a sec, what’s the Injure mean then? Name calling and fighting are a given here. I and a friend came darn near to blows when I approached him. I had to use a 3rd party to make contact with them because there was so much dirt over the years that had to be taken care of. You also have to look at that persons circle of friends, they may be unwilling to accept the “new you” and rather hold onto the “old you” this too may cause friction in this step. You’ll be judged from this day forward by them and any friends for weakness.
Step 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
It is necessary for us to continuously monitor ourselves for faults because the two biggest dangers to an alcoholic and drug user are guilt and resentment. An additional danger is to become complacent. This step asks us to continue to live with humility and a knowledge of our frailties. As a method of conducting this step try the following way of taking your personal inventory:
A.Become quiet and become aware of the presence of your higher power. B.Ask your higher power for guidance to see and understand the inventory you are taking. C.Review the period since you last did this. Look for instances when you were guided by your higher power and look too at the instances where you did wrong. D.Examine the instances of error and determined who and why you responded or did not respond to the guidance of your higher power. E.Plan how you can more effectively conduct your life in harmony with the will of your higher power.
This may not work for you, but try it. The lovely part of this is that it also incorporates the 11th step.
Step 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.
It is through God as we understand him/her that we find our strength to stay sober and to change the old habits that came so close to destroying us. This is your personal time to reflect on all that has and will be. Listen to your inner voice, and your “gut”, pay attention when you are in a situation that you shouldn’t be and act accordingly.
Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and drug users, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
This step is vital as it shows us what we were and it is in serving that we find redemption. You become the hope of others who will look upon you for strength when they are weak. Be ready to support and guide them as you begin your new way of life free from your personal addiction.
And always remember that the 12 steps are a way of life for you now. With out them you’ll be right back where you were when you started so practice them every second of the day and before long you’ll find that today is over and you will have made it – clean and sober. Then tomorrow do it again, and before long it will be a week, and then a month, and then a year. You have the choice to change but it’s your choice to make so what are you waiting for take the leap of faith.