“I don’t want to work the 12 steps! I don’t want to make amends! I’m the victim here, can’t you see?!” Sound familiar? When a person new to recovery is first introduced to the 12 Steps, many emotions abound. These responses are normal, even expected. What are you telling me? I have to admit… be restored… inventory… and what is this amends stuff!? At first look, the 12 Steps can seem daunting, even to a hardened drug addict, an alcoholic that just drank a little too much, to anyone being introduced to recovery and the 12 Steps for the first time. The 12 Steps are a proven method for a better way of life.
The First Step: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction (or alcohol) and our lives had become unmanageable. The first Spiritual Principle behind this step is Honesty.
Wait, what is a Spiritual Principle? A principle is something by which we try and condition our behavior. The 12 Steps are a design for living, based upon Spiritual Principles.
So, in the First Step, we become honest about our addiction and our disease. That we’re sick people, not bad people. By admitting we are an addict or alcoholic, may be the very first honest thing we’ve said in a long, long time. It is truly the first step in this process of recovery.
Powerlessness is a Spiritual Principle, too! It means when an addict or alcoholic puts a drug or drink in their body, they are no longer in control or in charge. The disease is making the decisions for them. Admitting powerlessness is a good thing! We are not in charge, trying to control things, and no longer making life unmanageable for ourselves and others around us. There is a freedom found in powerlessness. We can stop trying to be the ruler of the Universe. Look where it got us!
Open-mindedness is the next Spiritual Principle found in the First Step. A mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work unless it’s open. What does this mean? As we are introduced to new ideas, and all aspects of recovery, that maybe, just maybe this stuff might work for us. Open-mindedness is having the belief that there might be a better way to live. We don’t end up in rehab or in our first meeting by accident. Our way does not work, this thing called recovery just might. We don’t have to ask why or even know, just by listening and even considering the ideas that are being presented is practicing the principle of open-mindedness.
Willingness is the next Spiritual Principle in the First Step. By raising our hand that first time to introduce ourselves, shows willingness. Showing up, talking to other alcoholics or addicts, letting others know what going on with us, all shows a willingness to begin practicing the First Step. And we can try some these things they are suggesting, or at least be willing to try.
Ahh, the Spiritual Principle of Humility is already shrouded in fear. Humility may be what brought us here; either by a judge, a family intervention or just being miserable. Whatever brought us to rehab or our first meeting, we are beaten down. We are ready to surrender. Again, our way does not work. So why not try a new way to live? Humility is knowing our right place in our world. We are no better or worse, than anyone else. We are human.
Finally, Acceptance. Accepting that we were beaten, that we’ve admitted we are addicts or alcoholics, will provide for us a new sense of peace. We can begin to believe in ourselves and have some hope that a new way of life is possible. Also accepting the fact that there are things we can do to continue on the road of recovery will help further our surrender and acceptance. Go to Step Two