Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Some thoughts on the 12 steps

For those who have never been around the 12 Step philosophy, here is a
quick overview according to Ron (I knew a little but not much when I
started my journey)...This is NOT offered as a prefect piece of writing,
but rather some thoughts on the 12 Steps, and what I learned as I
studied and tried to apply them.

The 12 Steps grew out of the experiences of Dr. Bob and Bill W., the two
original co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The steps are loosely
based on another Christian program called The Oxford Group (The 12 Steps
are NOT Christian, but the strong influences are there as is the assumption
that one will come to believe in a Judo-Christian type “God”, although
Higher Power is also used. The idea or confession and cleansing is common
in many belief systems, and is the basic philosophy behind the 12 Steps.
That is to say if we rid ourselves of resentments toward others, fears,
and come to trust that we can live without our “Drug of Choice”,
we can become free from the compulsion to do whatever our compulsion is.

Here is a short review of how the process is laid out in the unchanged
original 164 pages of the book Alcoholics Anonymous or the “Big Book”.
I find it interesting that many, many other works, to include the "Universal
12 Step Program" by Dr.s Peiser and Sandry, use the same ideas of internal
cleansing, even when the idea of God is replaced by "Rational Thinking" or
"Reality". The basis of "How to Manage your DICK (Destructive Impulses with
Cyber Kinetics)" by Dr. Sean O'Reilly is to find a set of beliefs to confront
your "Lizard" brain with. Again, replacing my "Will" with a belief in something
outside myself. I often use "Good Orderly Direction" (Picked up from a Jew
addressing the troubles people from non-traditional spiritual beliefs have with
working the 12 Steps) or “Group of Deviants”.

As I read the preamble to the 12 Steps, there are three pertinent ideas in the
"Program of Recovery":

a. A need to "completely give themselves to this simple program” or “become
willing to go to any lengths."
b. Get honest (with ourselves and others, but not necessarily those who you
could hurt with your honesty).
c. Let go of our old ideas.

They are then followed with the "suggested program" of basically finding
something outside myself to trust, cleaning my house or "soul" of any harms
I have done and forgiving those who I believe have harmed me. And that by
doing this, the "need" for my DOC will be cleansed from me. And then I
maintain my newly cleaned "soul" by practicing daily the act of watching to
give no offense and living free of resentments by forgiving others. I also
need to let go of any and all fears, believing that my "God" or HP will
provide for me. I think it is this last part, the letting go of fear, and
trusting "God" to meet our needs that causes so much trouble for so many of
us. Once again I refer to the "Big Book",

"Many of us exclaimed, "What an order! I can't go through with it."
Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything
like perfect adherence to these principals. We are not saints. The point is,
we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principals we have set
down here are guides to spiritual progress. We claim spiritual progress, not

Because if it had come from me, I would not be in a place where I believed my
life was out of control.

Letting go of my old ideas - I can control my compulsive behaviors doing
what I have done in the past. Duh, it didn't work before, maybe I need to try
something different.

1. We admitted that we were powerless over (sex, love, lust) -- that our lives
had become unmanageable.

Step one to me is a given, else I would not have sought help.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
My "will" says act out, even though another part of me knows that it will
hurt, albeit it a different kind of hurt then the one I was trying to kill
my DOC. So I am asked to turn over that part of me, my will and thus my life,
to "God". But what or who is "God"? Some claim to know the answer.... the
AA Big Book says you must find your own. But if you don't fined one bigger
then your disease, you won't have anything to turn to that you can trust when
the desire to act out is overpowering. Most find that the “God” they came into
the program with has to be replaced with a new “God”, simply because that “God”
wasn't able to help stop the acting out. Once you have that “God” or "Good
Orderly Direction" in your life, then you can move forward.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

How to do this has many different models. Many use Dr. Pat Carnes “Gentle Path
Through the 12 Steps”. Some use the “Joe and Charley Step Study” Many simply use
the AA Big Book” it's self. The AA Big Book process can be a little confusing
(though the intent was to have a simple example the common business person would
understand) but the idea is to list who or what bothers you (resentments and
fears), the exact idea you have about the cause, and what part of me is bothered
or pained; our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions or our relationships.
Then we finely list what are our defects of “character”, selfishness, dishonesty,
and inconsideration.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of
our wrongs.

As the AA fellowship grew, the “another human being” came to be understood as
one's “Sponsor” (in the early days of AA, you had to be “Sponsored” into one of
the “Anonymous” meetings). When the Big Book was written, there where less then
100 members, scattered around the country.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Here again, this “God” has to be one you want to trust.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Those we identified in our inventory.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends
to them all.

Often the same people listed on the inventory.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so
would injure them or others.

This too is where the help of a Sponsor is considered indispensable, so it does
not become a “Guilt Dump” or give more hurt then help.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly
admitted it.

Keeping our house clean by daily looking at where we have been resentful
selfish, dishonest or afraid? “Have we kept something to ourselves which should
be discussed with another person at once?”

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.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to
carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our
affairs. We stay sober by helping others, thus remembering when our lives were

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This article is for informational purposes only.
Please contact a licensed professional in your area
if you are in crisis or require mental health services

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