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Simplifying and Understanding the 12 Steps

Understanding the 12 Steps | Just Believe Recovery PA

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The disease of alcoholic thinking is a treacherous hypnotism of the mind that has the ability to knock the most intelligible of men/women of their rocker. It is a disease because nobody in their right mind would dream of asking for it. Coincidentally when under the spell of active alcoholism, nobody is in their right mind. You see, there’s a mental fog that takes ahold as an unsystematic mental disorder, causing those afflicted with it to harm themselves and/or others all for the sake of the escapism they’re latched to.

Think about it: Nobody wakes up aspiring to be the local drunk or the black sheep of their family, but more individuals than ever are finding themselves fitting those shoes in the 21st century. It is becoming a prevalent thing amongst the masses, particularly in the United States where there is an opioid epidemic underway. Most likely whoever is reading this has somebody close to them dealing with such, or they themselves are questioning their ism ism ism. However, where there is a problem, there is typically found a solution.

For the addicts and alcoholics of the world, we turn to Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous. These are two self-sustaining meetings that have saved the lives of countless thousands upon thousands of those suffering under the grip of their alcoholic thinking. Parallel in message, the only difference really boils down to one focuses on alcohol and the other narcotics. Simple enough.

It is in these meetings we are taught ways to better ourselves with sobriety and by attempting to eliminate the defects of character that plague our very existence. In these practices, there is a book that is our blueprint. This book is called The Big Book. The Big Book spells out a 12 step methodology that is guaranteed to return our sanity if done right. To be clear, this doesn’t mean it will teach us how to drink or use properly. That is not possible for the disease of alcoholic thinking will always remain. How it is channeled is an entirely different story though.   

All 12

The 12 steps will present themselves with confusion and clarity if that possibly makes any sense. They are a guideline, an outline, and a means to an end. It’s almost like a code that alcoholics and addicts of all sorts can live by. These 12 steps in all their utterance are noted as follows:

  • 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  • 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  • 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.
  • 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  • 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  • 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  • 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  • 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  • 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 alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Sure it can seem like a lot at first, but the 12 steps kind of work like dominoes. Once you get the first one down, the rest fall smoothly in place.

Simplifying 1-6

So in breaking the 12 down, of course you start with the beginning of the beginning. The first couple steps really break down into admitting there is an issue, identifying it, and implementing action. Then as you slowly start progressing forward it becomes more about learning to accept our daily tribulations while taking life on life’s terms. Submission. Usually this part of the 12 steps involves obtaining a higher power or a “God of your understanding” to help with the learning of that acceptance. Some may roll their eyes, but having some entity or another to fall back on when we start preaching about how “unfair” life is can make a ginormous difference. No religious affiliation necessary, this is a power greater than yourself as you see it. The possibilities are limitless.

After the first few parts, then it becomes about acknowledging our past wrongs and rectifying our new future. Nobody and no thing is ever too far gone to come back from. So we begin admitting our faults to others and swearing off of our previous endeavors. We ask that “God” or whatever powers that be for forgiveness, beginning to realize that everything in life isn’t all about us. Having reflected on this for a little bit, it then becomes about paying it all forward.

Understanding 6-12

Restitution, once in the right frame of mind, does wonders for others and for personal self-esteem. A feeling of not being completely hopeless will begin to take hold, only propelling our esteemable acts even further. Let the butterflies dancing in our stomachs commence. This will all be new territory, but as we continue down this new pathway, all these changes will start presenting themselves. We will begin to feel differently about ourselves and others. Our standpoint on life will embark positively in a way we would’ve never imagined. Things will become increasingly better every day JUST from attempting to be better people than alcoholic thinking would prefer.

Having made it this far through our recovery guidelines, the only things left to do is to maintain while passing along the message. The last several stages of the 12 steps are about recognizing the transformation and preserving the growth that one has worked so diligently to attain. That’s it. We’re taking our old way of life and replacing it with a better one. What’s not to like?

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: First Steps to Recovery
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