When most people think of the 12 Steps, they picture a bleak church room that smells like decaf coffee and stale donuts, filled with alcoholics and addicts chanting in a circle. Many people don’t realize that the 12 Steps are more than just some AA or NA cult ritual we see in movies. They are just 12 simple steps to becoming a better human being. They teach you how to be more compassionate towards yourself and others, why you do some of the annoying things you do, and how to let go of things that no longer serve you.
The 12 Steps For the Imperfect Person
We admitted we are powerless, and our lives are unmanageable.
We can be powerless over anything. ANYTHING. If it is causing you stress or taking up too much space in your mind, you can decide you are powerless over it. Reread that sentence one or two more times. You can decide. Nobody else, just you. From gambling, binge eating, relationships or office gossip to the weather and the traffic on your way to work. Some things may sound irrelevant, but do you get road rage when the guy next to you won’t let you merge, stay in bed all day when it rains, or use spending money as a coping skill when dealing with sour relationships? That puts these seemingly irrelevant daily things in the driver’s seat and puts us in the passenger seat on the big bus of life. The thing is, people don’t want to admit they are powerless over something, it makes them feel weak or incapable. What so many people cease to realize is that when we admit that we have no power and ask for help, we are taking a piece of the power back. As my dear friend Bill says, “only through utter defeat we are able to take our first steps towards liberation and strength.” So, if you want some liberation and strength, if you want to feel better, if you are ready to let it apply or let it fly, take the first step and admit that you are powerless.
Honestly, I am pretty sure this step is what leads people to believe that AA and NA are cults. I promise, I am not asking you to join a cult, I’m not even asking you to join AA or NA, but during this step try to remember that an open mind can lead to faith and freedom.
So, Step 2 says that, “We came to believe a power greater than ourselves could restore our sanity.”
If reading this step puts an image in your head of stained church glass, Jesus on the cross and your elderly Sunday school teacher, please forgive me. Just try to take a second to think of a powerful force that isn’t related to religion. (Unless you are religious then by all means pray to whatever God you worship!) I always like to think of the great outdoors, wind, trees, flower, or even emotions like love and hope. You can pick anything so long as its powerful and meaningful to you. Now that you have picked a powerful force, you are going to rely on it. I know this must sound a little crazy, but trust me, this force will become a powerful tool for you on your journey. This force is your guiding wind, and it is going to help you learn to let go of the things holding you back.
Turning over our will and our lives.
When I first thought about turning my will and my life over to some mystical power greater than myself, I laughed, what does that even mean? Our will is our stubborn faithfulness to our own desires. So, Step 3 is calls for willingness, it calls for affirmative action. The action being us, cutting away our will, and giving our will to that higher power we found in Step 2. Our actions can be small or big, whichever works best for you, all you need is faith in something greater than yourself. Pretty much, what that means is, we are standing at a closed door and on the other side is our higher power, all we need to do is be willing to walk in, and the door will open. So, what does all this mean? I like to think of it as deciding to let something else guide you through life, something else help you make better choices, and something greater than yourself in charge of your destiny. When someone does something like cut you off in traffic, think of it as the winds will, and decide that you can’t change that they cut you off and there must be a good reason for it; maybe if they hadn’t cut you off you would have rear ended the guy in front of you five minutes from now. Step 3 is one of the most important steps when it comes to deciding to change your life. This is the step where you say, mother nature, God, or anyone in between, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.