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January 9th, 2014

The Twelve Steps in Layman’s Language

Posted in Insight by dan

Daniel Callahan
Bill Wilson

Bill Wilson

“We must remember that AA’s Steps are suggestions only.  A belief in them as they stand is not at all a requirement for membership among us.  This liberty has made AA available to thousands who never would have tried at all, had we insisted on the Twelve Steps just as written.”

Bill Wilson, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age

In keeping with the spirit of the Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous suggestions to not restrict or limit how the Twelve Steps are utilized I have broken them down in laymen’s language in order to assist you in developing a strategy based upon your personal beliefs, for you to implement the steps into your life.

“The wording was, of course, quite optional, so long as we voiced the ideas without reservation.”

Alcoholics Anonymous p.63.

The Twelve Steps of Alcohol Anonymous

  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.

Insight into each step

We asked Daniel Callahan, Solutions Founder and CEO what he thought of each step and asked him to offer some insight. Dan has over 25 years in recovery.

Step One:  Have you ever used a drug or drank alcohol knowing that there would be consequences or that there was significant risk involved, based upon your past experience?  If your answer is yes then you may want to consider abstaining from alcohol or drugs.  Many people get hung up on the concept of powerlessness and admitting that their life is unmanageable.  It is my belief that an honest appraisal of yourself and the negative effects of your drinking or drugging in your life and most importantly the decisions you make is the intent of this step.

Step Two:  At the basic level of recovery, do you believe that people before you have accomplished abstinence and recovery, and you have not been able to yet?  The Twelve Step approach asks you to consider calling upon a Higher Power to assist you in overcoming this malady.  The truth of the matter is simple that if you want to be successful overcoming addiction, simply implement the proven methods of those men and women that have been successful overcoming addiction and you will be successful too.  These people are considered “Powers of Example” in their own lives, thus the fulfillment of the concept of calling upon a Higher Power and not necessarily a deity.

Step Three:  Can you copy the successful strategies that these same people have accomplished?  Are you willing to COPY them?  This is the “Decision” step.  There are four components to making a decision: 1) Decide to abstain from alcohol. 2) Commit to that decision. 3) Make sure that decision is in your best interest. 4) Take action and implement the strategies to remain sober.

Step Four: We make a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves; where we address all personal and internal potential roadblocks within ourselves.  We look for any potential negative stressors, anxiety provokers, or sources of irrational fear that has the ability to set us off and back into negative self-destructive behavioral patterns.  Taking an honest inventory of yourself is key to uncover the issues that may cause havoc in your life.  Repeating poor decisions over and over can often be traced back to poor thinking.  An inventory may disclose these deep seated issues.

Step Five: Admit to Ourselves and another Human Being of personal significance the exact nature of what we have uncovered in our Fourth Step.  Simply uncovering these issues is not enough.  Cleaning your side of the street is imperative.

Step Six:  By our actions and desire to live a productive life we become entirely ready to make better choices and become the positive and loving human beings we are.  Having a willingness to change and think differently is key to happiness.  Stubborn thinking leaves you prone to relapse.

Step Seven: We humbly seek reprieve from these burdens.  Developing a strategy that embraces positive change is the path to take.  Simply knowing what not to do is not enough.  Who do you want to be, do and become?  That is the strategy for positive change.

Step Eight: We make a list of all the people, places and things that we have harmed and become willing to make amends to them.  We have all stepped out of bounds with others.  Clean up the damage done by listing all those mistakes.

Step Nine: We make direct amends to these people except where we could potentially cause more damage than good.  Amending your actions and then apologizing for your inconsistencies and mistakes is a must or you are doomed to repeat these mistakes.

Step Ten: We continue on our new path and take a daily personal inventory to monitor our progress and remain congruent with whom we are as “Human Becoming’s.”  This is the maintenance phase of recovery.  Taking  a personal inventory on a daily basis is essential for maintaining an honest approach to life.

Step Eleven: Seek through Prayer and Meditation to improve our continued growth spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.  Following a spiritual path is a realization that comes with time.  We are spiritual beings living one day at a time.  Maintaining an awareness of such is important for continued recovery.

Step Twelve:  Becoming who we have always been and dreamed of becoming we realize the significant improvement in our lives as the result of these steps and principles.  We share and carry this spiritual message to others recognizing that we cannot keep it if we do not give it away.  Finally, we continue to practice these principles of discipline in all areas of our lives.

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