Being in recovery is much more than staying abstinent from the use of alcohol or illegal drugs. Recovery is a way of life that, if given your all, will have no other result then a successful life of sobriety. Each person in recovery has a different story to tell, but with the same significant end result…a moment of clarity that led them to a life free of substance abuse.
For many the gift of sobriety becomes nothing more than motions; forgetting the responsibility each of us has taken on to continue living away from the former agonies of addiction. To be “sober” does not only mean being clean of all mind altering substances. As many know, sobriety is the result of living 100% percent in recovery. That means incorporating The 12 Steps into daily life.
So, for a quick reminder, let’s introduce you to your old friend the 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.
Behind these steps are principals, and they are the key elements to living a life sustained for long term recovery. However, when a situation presents itself it is not uncommon that these principals suddenly evaporate into the heat of a moment. Perfection is not the idea here. Consistency is. Responsibility came along when completing each step. This responsibility is to you. Let’s take a look at these responsibilities.
Step One: You admitted you had a problem. By doing this you became honest, most likely for the first time in ages. This honesty should flow consistently throughout each day of your life. Becoming honest throughout every aspect of your life can be a hard thing to tackle, but always keep in mind how a little lie will inevitably turn into a spider web of lies. The amount of time and effort it takes to continue being dishonest, will always be much more than the amount of time and effort it takes to face the truth, and keep your life moving forward.
Remember: “You are only as sick as your secrets.”
Step Two: Hope came back into your life. That hope came from believing in a power greater then yourself. The hope you were given was a vision that this power could restore you to sanity. Keeping this hope alive allows positivity to keep showing up throughout each day leading to ongoing sanity. Sanity that is crucial in maintaining sobriety. At one point we all had hope our sanity could be restored. By grasping our new found hope, it became our motivation to see a new future as a possibility that was within reach.
Remember: The hope you had for a life in recovery was once only a possibility. Now that you have seen those possibilities come true…What are you hoping for today?
Step Three: Faith was grasped when we let go of the thought of control and gave it to our higher power. Finding faith again was a powerful experience. In times of stress, and chaos that faith can get lost rather quickly. These are the times our faith should be the most prominent. Incorporating faith day to day will do nothing less than show you once again the power of letting go, while reminding you of how freeing lack of control is. Face the fear of the unknown by releasing yourself from control. Restore your faith by being conscious of whose will you are doing.
Remember: “Let go and let God” 100 % of the time. Picking and choosing what you are willing to have faith in isn’t part of the game plan.
Step Four: Sitting down and making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves is courageous. The courage to do what we don’t want to do vs. what we want to do can be frightening. But, by doing so a courageous step was taken towards long term sobriety. This courage should never subside. Courage doesn’t always mean being outspoken and standing up. Sometimes it means sitting back and watching events unfold. It takes more Courage to sit back and say nothing. Courage will present its self when you are able to do the next right thing, not to be confused with the next “want” thing.
Remember: Muster up the same courage you had when doing step four. Courage will be needed in different forms. Sometimes being courageous will entail you to be vocal. Other times it will mean being silent, and embracing the faith, and hope you found in steps two and three. Either way, your courage will truly come when remembering acceptance of any situation, by courageously accepting that everything is just as it is supposed to be.
Step Five: This comes with growing up and growing up is exactly what begins to happen when a person completes step five. Admitting the exact nature of your wrongs, to God and another human being will instill integrity in a person. This integrity, which took much work to grasp, should always remain within. A person of integrity is sometimes hard to come by. Let yourself be one of the few by always remaining true to you. Find the honesty you had during step one and the courage from step four and never allow yourself be nothing less than a person of integrity.
Remember: What it took you to do to get you to where you are now. Integrity played a large role in that. Keep your integrity through everything you do.
Step Six: Willingness came into the picture when you were ready to have God remove all your defects of character. The willingness to let go of the characteristics you identified yourself with opens the door to freedom. Willingness gets lost when a person is presented with something they don’t want to do. Sometimes one of the hardest words to say is “YES.” However, that word becomes powerful to a person that once refused to do anything that they did not see fit. Regain the power of that three letter word by remaining willing to do the next right thing.
Remember: Look inside for whether or not you are willing. More often than not a person will be doing the next right thing when they DON’T want to be doing it. Full time Willingness will find permanent residency after practicing it over and over. Soon what you don’t want to do will become what you want to do. This will happen when doing the right thing is exactly what you want to do.
Step Seven: Could possibly be the hardest principal to manifest. To remain humble throughout each and every day can sometimes be confused as weakness. That is far from the truth. The strength it takes to remain humble is massive. Many of us created larger than life, defensive, and outspoken persona. This is what would create the most trouble. Silence was not a quality that was a possibility at the time; neither was sitting in the back row of life. If being the center of attention was a sport, an addict/alcoholic would win the gold medal. However, when step seven came along it was what had to be done. To continue this humility in all aspects of life is crucial to long term recovery. Continue your humility, by finding the courage you had in step four. Don’t allow yourself to be standing in the center of the stage again. After a while your chorus members will disappear, and your audience will no longer be listening.
Remember: “To be truly great a person has to stand with people, not above them.”
Discipline and Action
Step Eight: When completing step eight that is exactly what was happening. We took the principles and knowledge we learned while completing steps 1-7 and put it into action. Keep this alive by remaining structured, and just doing it. Without the proper structure a person in recovery can quickly fall right back into a world of chaos. Day to day varies. That’s life, but by maintaining a close connection to what you are wanting out of life further amplifies a successful life in recovery. If you can’t make a meeting, make a call. If you can’t answer a phone call send a text. The point being is to be active in your recovery and just do it.
Step Nine: Here we asked forgiveness. Some things big, some small. Either way a person cannot ask another to do something they are unwilling to do themselves. If not ready to forgive at the present moment, become willing of the thought to forgive in the future. Without forgiveness a person will become resentful, and we all know where resentments will lead.
Remember: Holding resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Stay free of resentment by allowing yourself to forgive.
Step Ten: Step ten suggests us to continue taking a personal inventory, and that takes perseverance. Maintain this perseverance by going for exactly what you want. Long term sobriety takes perseverance. It is a journey of lessons, but those who maintain it will continue getting up time and time again and going for what they want. Remember: Success will come after entering the right door. To reach that door you must close the last one and open the next. Failure doesn’t mean give up, it means get up.
Step Eleven: This was gained by completing the steps above. We found a path of spirituality, and to continue on that path is crucial. As well as keeping that conscious contact with your higher power every second of every day. Always keep in mind that each day is a daily reprieve, and when the loss of contact with your higher power happens, the rest goes with it. Work for that contact, work for your sobriety by maintain this contact.
Remember: Each day sober is another day to thank your higher power for. Without that conscious contact the sobriety begins to diminish.
Step Twelve: This is a major part in a successful program of recovery. Yes, Life gets busy. Without service work your story stays within. A person will never know how their words can vastly change the life of another without sharing. Share what you know with the suffering addict/alcoholic just as one did for you. Keep your story growing.
Remember: When you don’t know; learn. When you learn; teach. Show your gratitude for sobriety by giving back to the community of people who shared their support during your journey. Pay it forward.
Every aspect of the 12 steps has been put together as a way to continue on going sobriety. To maintain the certainty of your journey, each of these principals needs to be implemented into your daily routine. Sobriety can be gone in an instant, and that can sometimes be forgotten. Don’t let yourself forget that each day you lay your head down sober is a gift. A gift that is granted through following all the principals. Day to day becomes nothing more than motions. So, put the brakes on for a second, and breath. Look around, and double check if you today are utilizing each tool, piece of knowledge and principal you learned. Whatever the answer is, own it. Keep moving forward, and become certain about your program today.