The Twelve Steps – A Design For Living
The Twelve Step Programme is a proven good way of living for addicts and non addicts alike. The programme promotes honesty and integrity. Living a life free of resentment and fear and being an ethical and moral person. There is, however, a lot more to the Twelve Step Programme than that.
It is important at the outset to recognise that there are indeed 12 Steps and each one is important. None should be missed out. They should be worked through in the order in which they were written. There is no time frame given for working through them, that is usually up to the individual. I would recommend that there is some momentum behind your progress and you do not take years. If you take too long you might forget the good work you have already achieved.
Need to Get Step One
Some people attach more importance to certain steps rather than others. I have my own ‘favourites’ but if I consider each step, I am not sure I can justify my view. It is universally acknowledged that everyone needs to really get step one – our powerlessness over alcohol or our drug / addiction as if we cannot grasp this, then the chances are we will use again.
It never fails to amaze me how many people really struggle with step one, even when their lives are so obviously in chaos and broken. This is as a direct result of their alcohol or drug use. They will look to any other reason for this – childhood experiences, failed or unpleasant relationships, death of a loved one etc – which has lead to their problems rather than blame the alcohol or drugs. If we cannot understand and truly believe Step 1, then the foundations of our recovery are weak and all subsequent steps are likely to be shaky and untenable.
The Twelve Step Programme is a spiritual one and having a belief in some form of Higher Power (not necessarily a religious God) is also vital. Putting right the wrongs from the past and understanding our character defects and how to work on these to stop them damaging our lives in the future is also important, as is forgiving others who we believe have harmed us in the past.
Holding a resentment against another person eats away at us. While they are probably living quite happily, oblivious to the emotional anger we feel. It is like drinking poison ourselves and expecting the other person to feel the effects and die. Living our lives on an honest basis daily and being true to positive principles of goodness is how the twelve step programme works on a daily basis. Finally we are encouraged to spread the message of recovery to other still suffering alcoholics and addicts. It is only by giving away what we have found that we keep it.
If you are working through the twelve step programme and find it somewhat daunting, do not be put off. Jjust concentrate on the step you are on. When you reach the end you will have discovered how to live your life free of the prison of addiction and free of guilt, remorse and fear – not a bad way to live!
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