AA is a Program for Living.
Yes an old life ends because the truth is told, and yes a new life begins because a truth is told at the first step.
It is in the other 11 steps that we learn to heal, let go of more and more old ideas, adopt new ones, become vulnerable, and develop a reliance vs defiance on our Higher Power.
Many dislike the 12 step programs because of its spiritual base, thew idea of fellowship, what they call brainwashing, cultish mentality, going to meetings for support etc. I am grateful there are alternatives like SMART Recovery, CBT, Acupuncture, Acupressure, Good Therapy, Rational Recovery, Women/Men for Sobriety, Secular Organization for Sobriety, going to church, not going to church, doing nothing but stopping, Recovery and Healing through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Celebrate Recovery and many more.
What is important, is to move past the duality debate (right, wrong, good, bad) and explore what each does and how it fits the needs of the client vs the therapist, recovery coach, or member of any support group. There is no “one way approach for everyone”.
I personally like the 12 step idea, combined with good reality therapy, voice dialogue, psychodrama, hypnosis, Energy Psychology like TFT, EFT, EMDR, Psy-K, Smart Recovery, CBT, Amino-acids, Meditation, Silva and the Sedona method.
I see the 12 steps like this:
Tell the truth, it sets one free, it opens the door to develop faith
Believe something bigger than self can help, expanded awareness
Trust it to help (1st step in reliance)
With this newly formed reliance get to honestly know yourself
Share self with another, calculated risk taking
Now that harmful patterns of behavior are identified get ready to let them go
Let them go (back to reliance) open up to more possibilities
List those from the fouth step that you hurt and become willing to make amends
Let them go by telling them the truth and how you rectified your wrong, no strings
Daily clean up mistakes made today, no more backlog of problems unsolved
Unselfishly ask for highest good, listen for Spiritual guidance, power to act on guidance
Give what you get freely and willingly, knowing you are evolved never having to use again
In “Keys to the Kingdom” one part stands out to me which states -
“I have had my share of heart aches, problems and disappointments because this is life, but I have also known a peace that is the handmaiden of an inner freedom” speaks to how life is or can be now. The program provides effective tools for living if we use them. The IBM gift of the sign “Think, Think, Think” is a powerful reminder of being restored to sanity and of the right use of the mind. If the mind is not encouraged to grow and look for solutions through prayer, meditation, helping another, introspection it never does and recovery does not happen.
Through retraining, the neuroplasticity of the mind is demonstrated; we learn to be
honest vs. dishonest
care vs. carelessness
integrity vs. lying
trust vs. mistrust
forgiveness vs. resentment
freedom vs. bondage.
The longer one is in recovery practicing the aforementioned behaviors the more natural they become.
If I had my way about it I’d put the first step at the bottom and the other steps like rungs on a ladder to the twelfth step at the top ascending to our higher consciousness. Since the only constant is change we slide up and down this ladder of life using the tools at our feet whenever they are remembered and/or needed.
Nothing is too bad or too good to knock us off our path that is based in truth. Remember the non-dualistic truth that;
“life is empty and meaningless and that it is empty and meaningless is empty and meaningless."
We give every breath, thought, action of self and others, book, belief all the meaning it has. “Basically we think our troubles of our own making”. If we make it we can release it. Steps 4-7.
Other articles will highlight some of the other self-help paths to a clean and sober conscious life. No path is the best for everyone find and/or remember yours.
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