Thursday, April 2

Step 3 – Surrender

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God”

Ok, let’s review.

First off, we knew there was something wrong in our lives. Something that we couldn’t fix and was causing us pain. We identified what it was, or at least as much as we could, and we wrote it down. To paraphrase Dr. Schadenfreude from the movie Igor, “We kicked it, slapped it, took it to the movies and called it Irene.”

Then, after having figured out what our issue was, we realized that we couldn’t fix it alone. That there was no one alive that could fix it for us, and we needed help from something more than ourselves. So we found that we needed a Higher Power, something that was more than any one of us that could help us to fix this problem. What we were doing on our own was NOT working to solve the problem.

Now we need to make that final deciding factor. We need to actively let go. That’s what this step is about, letting go and giving up the control that we think we have over our lives. It’s about getting beyond ourselves so that healing and fixing can take place. We need to get out of the way, and TRUST in our Higher Power.

Whoa…that’s a hard one. Trust.

Our World doesn’t exactly breed that in us anymore. Trust is something that is earned, right? You need to see the “proof in the pudding” before you trust someone or something else. Right?

Wrong. Trust isn’t something that is earned, but it IS something that can be lost. Trust comes from a person’s willingness to be vulnerable and open to being hurt. Wow…that doesn’t really make trust sound all that good does it? :-)

Let’s be honest for a moment. Trust is a choice. It’s that simple. Sometimes it’s an unconscious choice, but it’s a choice nonetheless. Think about it. Think of someone that you don’t trust. Why? Is it because they torture small animals in their backyard? Do they keep mannequin body parts under the bed? No. It’s because, for whatever YOUR reasons, you have decided that you were not going to trust this person. Does that mean that no one will trust them? Of course not. It’s YOUR choice.

This step is another spiritual building block. It’s designed to get you out of your current thinking and behaviors by having you turn to something more than yourself.

We spend so much of our time defending our thoughts and behaviors, simply because they are ours! It’s hard to give up a habit, even if you KNOW it’s bad for you. So, in the words of A.A., this step asks you to “Let go and Let God.” You already know that you can’t manage your problem and you’ve come to realize that there IS someone that can.

Can you become humble and vulnerable enough to surrender your attempts at control over this problem?

I will admit it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. Sure, the words are EASY to say. It’s the commitment and follow through that are difficult. What do you do when the behaviors start to show up again? With this step, you now need to recognize them and turn to your Higher Power for help.

“Step AWAY from the doughnut!”

Stopping the behaviors is, of course, the first part, but you also have to be committed enough to walk away if you find they’ve cropped up again. Change location, talk about something else, call a friend, or even better…PRAY.

You don’t have to believe in God to pray to your Higher Power. It’s for you, first and foremost. It gives you something else to focus on and will remind you of your commitment in this Step.

Here are a few short things you can say to yourself…

Lord help me
to remember
that nothing
is going to happen
to me today
that You and I
together can't handle.

Lord, be Thou my constant Guide,
Lead me all the way,
Till I reach Thy home at last,
Nevermore to stray. Amen.

And for those that LOVE Sci-Fi, like me :-)
Here’s the “Litany Against Fear” from Dune.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Wednesday, April 1

Step 2 – A Belief

“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

This might be a hard step for anyone that’s not currently spiritual or doesn’t already believe in a Higher Power. The key thing to remember here is that you’re not committing to a lifelong attendance in church or a vow of poverty, chastity, or anything else. This is FOR YOU. It’s a subsequent admission of the state of your life, or rather, the state of the problem that you’re working on.

This step isn’t’ about accepting someone else’s idea of a Higher Power. If you read through any of the A.A. materials, you’ll notice that they use the phrase, “God as you understand Him”. It doesn’t matter if you believe in Allah, Jesus, Buddha, or the Great Universe; this isn’t religion, its spirituality. And Spirituality is a vital component of the human existence. On this path, it’s even more important.

You see, you’ve already accepted that there is an area of your life that is out of control and YOU can’t fix it on your own. That’s where your Higher Power comes into play. See, there IS a higher Power that can help you to overcome and fix whatever your specific problem is. That’s the ultimate purpose of this step. To get you to a point where you stop relying solely on yourself and reach out for help.

So, let’s break it down and see what we’re really doing in this step.

1. Came to believe – This implies that you didn’t believe in the help in the first place. That you had to come to a belief. This is definitely true; otherwise, you’d have already had the help to manage whatever you can’t manage right now. Let’s face it, what we’ve been doing hasn’t really been working, has it?

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
- Albert Einstein

I think it’s time to rely on something bigger than ourselves to help fix the problem. Don’t you?

2. that a Power greater than ourselves – This is the real meat of the step. That we find ourselves a Power that is GREATER than ourselves. A Higher Power that is able to do the things that you aren’t able to right now. Your Power doesn’t have to be the same as my Power, that’s not part of the requirements. What is required is that you realize and accept that you CANNOT fix this by yourself. That you do indeed need help and no other person will be able to give you that help. Part of the problem is that you’re not just dealing with stopping something; you’re dealing with CHANGING a part of your life. The reality of this fact is that the only true help you have is from a Higher Power. Other people can’t help you change behaviors, thoughts, or feelings. Unless you sign up for shock therapy, and even that’s no very effective. :-)

3. could restore us to sanity – This is almost like a promise. The light at the end of the long tunnel. With the help of your Higher Power, you can finally get your life under control and manageable. Granted, it’s not the end of the process, but rather the beginning, one of the first points where true healing and change can start from.

These first steps are, in truth, the beginning of acceptance of the state of your problem. They are the point where you come to realize that what you are trying to fix is out of control, beyond your ability to fix, and causing your life to spiral in a way that causes you pain. That is why it is SO important that every time you go through the 12 Steps that you don’t skip over the first few. They give you a foundation to build from where no foundation existed before.

One other thing that comes about through this step is the beginnings of a Spiritual growth and journey that you may never have experienced before. When you come to rely on a Power greater than yourself, you are surrendering yourself to Its guidance, wisdom, protection, and love. From there you might be amazed at the turns that your life will take.

"But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
- Matthew 19:26

Tuesday, March 31

Prelude and the First Step…

Before we start anything, I’d like to take a second and talk about a few of the things that I found when looking for 12 Step info with my friend, Google.

I saw a LOT of rants and discussions and “proof” that A.A was little more than a cult. And I will even admit that you can present it in a certain light to get that conclusion.


Regardless of anyone else’s feelings or opinions about A.A…that’s not what we’re doing and why we’re here. At least, I hope you’re not dealing with that. :-)

I found MANY sites that paint the 12 Steps in a very negative way. That’s OK. They can have that opinion. I want to walk through a path and the 12 Steps, I think, are very helpful on that path. They ask a person to look, REALLY look, at aspects of their own character, thoughts, and feelings that might be hindering or hurting them. I believe that, THAT is the only way to honestly grow and change. If you can’t look at the problem, see it for what it is, and find a way to deal with it and move through it, then you’re not really growing. You’re just walking around the problem and it WILL come up behind you and bite you in the ass.

The only thing that I will say, is that if you are uncomfortable with the steps…then by all means, don’t do them! Personal growth and change is NEVER something that is forced or demanded. I want you to be a better person, but YOU ultimately have to make that choice for yourself. If you’re not ready…then you’re not ready. No shame in knowing and admitting that. :-)

So…let’s move on to the first of twelve steps to a better you.

I think the beauty of the 12 Steps is that you can really use them for anything. Pick a part of your life that you want to “fix” and start with step one. Work through the steps until you get to the end and see what progress you’ve made. You might even want to do the steps a few times on the same issue. Kinda like the directions on the shampoo bottle. “Wash, Rinse, and Repeat.”

Please remember that this isn’t going to be a quick 12 days for 12 steps kinda thing. If I could do THAT…I’d be rich and you probably wouldn’t hear from me for a good long while. :-) This is a process, a journey, an adventure into yourself. Take your time and realize that you will have good days and bad days in this process. Go easy on yourself and just keep on truckin'.

Step one is an initial step of admission. The exact wording is:

“We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable”

*Note – The 12 Steps were originally used for alcoholics and has since been modified for many other addictions. Don’t get hung up on the words used. Substitute as necessary.

There are a couple things in the first step that I’d like to point out.

1. We were powerless over SOMETHING

That means that there is something in your life that you just can’t find a way to control. It’s a behavior, thought pattern, emotional pattern, something that impacts your life and YOU don’t have full control or possibly, any interaction at all in the process.

2. That our lives had become unmanageable

This is really a key point here. Because of this behavior, there is a MAJOR negative impact to our lives. Whatever this behavior is, it’s causing us pain. Because we don’t have control of this behavior, our lives, in this area, are unmanageable. Now, this may overflow into other areas of life and be causing a cascading of problems and pain, but we’re just going to focus on one area at a time.

This is ALWAYS the initial step in any run through the 12 Steps. Just because you do this once, doesn’t mean you can breeze through it the next time. This is a conscious admission of a problem that you are going to focus on. You MUST take this first step in order to get your brain in gear for the work that is to follow.

Part of the work of this first step is to get down exactly what it is that you’re going to be working through. To that end, I’ve found this. It’s a brief worksheet that will help you to organize your thoughts and force you to detail what the issue is and how it impacts your life. Decide on a name for it, and throughout the rest of the steps, be sure to use that name on everything you write. It will help you to keep focused.

That’s it for Step 1. A simple :-) admission that you can’t control whatever it is that’s causing you pain. It’s the start of an understanding that YOU can’t do it alone.

And hopefully….you realize that you ARE not alone. In so many different ways, we aren’t alone. If anything, I’m here, walking this path with you.

Monday, March 30

12 Steps to a Better Life…

Recovery. That’s what everyone thinks when you mention the phrase 12 steps. Usually associated to alcoholics and drug addicts, the 12 Step Program is absolutely amazing in its simplicity and effectiveness.

I have had the opportunity to be around and witness an addict’s downward spiral first hand. As such, I’ve read through much of the A.A Big Book and the N.A. Basic Text. What I found in there was a program for finding yourself and finding an amazing peace (Serenity) that can come into anyone’s life.

You see, the 12 Steps aren’t just for alcoholics and addicts. Anyone can live by them and use them to have a better life.

First published in 1939, the 12 Step Program is designed for people that can’t find any other way to live, except through alcohol. Written by people that successfully travelled the road from ruin back to a normal and successful life, it holds within it a great set of truths and a proven program to become a better, healthier person.

So, I’m going to run a new series here. One that looks at the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step Program and will, I hope, show you how you can use these principles and ideas to guide you into a becoming a better person, for yourself and everyone around you. If you’re interested in finding out more than I provide here, Google is your friend. :-) And you can also look here.

Here are the original A.A 12 Steps.

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.

Notice that the Steps refer to a “Power greater than ourselves”. They shorthand that in the Steps as God, but it’s not limited to that. You can believe in ANYTHING you want, God, Allah, Squirrels, it doesn’t matter, so long as you believe that there is some Power greater than yourself. And I think everyone here would agree on that point.

Now, I’m going to break each of these down, and, if you’re lucky, I might even include some things to help everyone walk through these steps with me. See, I’m going to make a commitment to each of you and myself, my friends, and mostly, my son, that I’m going to walk through this path as I lay it down here. There’s no excuse why you can’t do this with me. After all, the reason that A.A meetings exist is to provide support for everyone walking the Steps.

I think that everyone in the World wants to be a better person. It’s probably one thing we all agree on. :-)

So, walk with me a while, work with me sometimes, and smile with me often.

And maybe we can come out together, better than when we went in.