BEING A VESSEL FOR TRANSFORMATION
“New Thought principles are very similar to AA principles. Some research by ministers and practitioners reveals that Bill Wilson and Ernest Holmes, the founder of Science of Mind knew each other and spent time together when creating their respective programs.”
“Bill W and Ernest Holmes, the Founder of the Science of Mind philosophy (Religious Science) were good friends and often traded concepts and socialized together. No wonder that many ‘Science of Mind – New Thought’ ideas are in AA and vice versa.”
As we grow on our spiritual path – the healthier we become spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically – the happier and more loving we turn out to be with ourselves and others. By combining the power of New Thought with the Twelve Steps – we create a powerful foundation of principles that we can actively apply to the process of awakening to the Divine.
The 12 Steps, 12 spiritual principles, 12 promises, and 12 action steps:
JANUARY – Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
The Spiritual Principle is; Honesty
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
“Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free’”
The Spiritual Malady of Powerlessness
Page 52:2 – We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn’t make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, and we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people.
Page 60:4 – The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in their own way.
If their arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he/she wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including them self, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrangements our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. One may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, one may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But, as with most humans, he or she is more likely to have varied traits.
Bill W. Says, “It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning. I saw that growth could start from that point.”
FEBRUARY – Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
The Spiritual Principle is; Hope
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
We will embrace our hurts and pains and become stronger because of them.
The atheist or agnostic who wants nothing to do with any sort of God can still make a start on step two. The cliché heard throughout AA is “fake it till you make it.” Some of the most deeply spiritual people we have seen in recovery made a humble start on the second step this way—blindly following this simple advice to – “give prayer a chance.” Those of us who took this approach and forced ourselves to pray on a daily basis have seen a slow but sure faith grow out of it—a casual dawning on our minds that a higher power is indeed working in our lives. The step doesn’t say “we believed in a higher power…” The step says “we came to believe…” Like almost everything in recovery, step two is a process.
MARCH – Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
The Spiritual Principle is; A Journey of Faith
We will comprehend the word serenity.
We will heal our differences with our “Higher Power.”
In the second step we searched deep within ourselves and found our own higher power whom-ever or what-ever that may be to us that will give us hope, strength, and courage.
Sometimes it’s best to break down important words and phrases in order to find the true meaning of what’s being said. Let’s start with decision, which means making up your own mind. Before you can make a decision one must completely think the problem, thought or idea through. There should be no other influences, this is something that you have to feel and be ok with inside. Your decision in this third step is a commitment that you’re making.
Turn our will and our lives over to the care of God doesn’t mean giving up your life – it means letting go of old negative ways of thinking and the way we lived our lives in the past. Using the strength, hope, and courage you receive from your higher power to make better choices with healthier thinking.
With the third step we have to be completely willing to turn over the way we think (which has been negative) as well as our actions (which have been negative) over to our ‘higher power’ as we individually understand God to be. This is a decision that has to be made deep with-in ourselves and can take some time to do. It’s easy to say but not always easy to do. We must actively be mindful that our higher power loves us, gives us strength, courage and hope.
APRIL – Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
The Spiritual Principle is; Courage
We will know peace.
We will come to grips with our burdens, mistakes and secrets
During the first three steps I have turned my attention from my addiction and the wreckage that it has done to my life to the God that I have come to realize can deliver me from my addiction. I have faced the truth of my situation and turned this situation over to the God who can help me. Now it is time to start seeing things as they truly are rather than through the glass of my addicted mind and heart.
The first step in this process of “getting real” is to take an honest inventory of my life. Exactly where have I been, what have I done and how far did I go in my addictive behaviours? When and where did they start and where have they led me? This is a vital step away from my addicted life filled with chaos and insane behaviours towards a conscious life filled with more personal power and serenity.
MAY – Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
The Spiritual Principle is; Integrity
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
We will grow in spiritual, self and relational trust
How It Works:
This is perhaps difficult, especially discussing our defects with another person. We think we have done well enough in admitting these things to ourselves. There is doubt about that. In actual practice, we usually find a solitary self-appraisal insufficient. Many of us thought it necessary to go much further. We will be more reconciled to discussing ourselves with another person when we see good reasons why we should do so.
The best reason first: If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome our addictions and unhealthy behaviours. Time after time we have tried to keep to ourselves certain facts about our lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, we may have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably we backslide. Having persevered with the rest of the program, we wonder why we fail. We think the reason is that we never completed our housecleaning.
We took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. We only thought we had lost their egoism and fear; we only thought we had humbled ourselves. But we had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until we have told someone else all of our life story.
JUNE – Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
The Spiritual Principle is; Willingness
That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
We will grow in self-love, esteem, respect and worth
Alcoholics Anonymous’ step six is another step that can be deceptively complicated. This step feels like a respite from action following the brutal honesty and heart-felt sharing of steps four and five. This step, as the AA literature says, separates the men from the boys.
Removing negative characteristics would seem to be an obvious goal. None of us wants to be cruel, dishonest, glutinous, promiscuous, etc.
Step six does not ask us to do anything to actually get rid of our character defects…it simply asks us to prepare for the event. Making a thorough attempt here is important because doing so will improve our chances of having success in the steps that follow.
The Purpose of Step Six
Step six is another chance for us to demonstrate the degree to which we have found humility. At this point we have dug deeply into the recesses of our minds. We have thoroughly searched and learned important lessons about ourselves. Despite the difficulty of the task, we have shared our shortcomings with another. Soon we will be extracting the poison that has been holding us back for so many years.
Step six is a time for us to take a deep breath and get ready for this blossoming of freedom.
JULY – Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
The Spiritual Principle is; Humility
We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
We will grow in self-less service and will heal our selfish, narcissistic and self centered behaviours and thoughts.
At this point on our journey we realize that the only presence that can truly meet our needs is God. We no longer have to rely on ourselves or others to solve our problems. During the first 6 steps we became aware of our problems, looked at our lives honestly, revealed our secrets and became ready to change. Our honesty and pain have humbled us to open our mouths and pray for the removal of our shortcomings; one defect at a time. If we are fearful, we again pray to feel the comfort of God’s presence. We prepare for this step by holding nothing back and by learning to draw nearer to God; becoming more comfortable in the presence of our Higher Power.
Using our 4th step inventory as a guide to prayer, we “work” step 7 – by Humbly asking God to remove our shortcomings and surrender our will to God so that we may receive the serenity necessary to achieve the happiness we seek. Step 7 is a vitally important part of our cleansing process which prepares us for the next part of our journey. We trust that God hears us and will restore us to wholeness, and our willingness to accept God’s help builds trust and confidence in ourselves and in God
Some behaviours may remain with us after we complete step 7, but we have an opportunity to transform them into positive traits and use them constructively. With God’s help our lives can be rewarding. By continuing to practice humility and accepting the tools the Universe has giving us – we begin to aspire to living a more Christ-like life, sharing with others the love we have received.
We now rely on our infinite God rather than our finite selves, and we pray, “My Creator, I am now willing to surrender all of me, good and bad. I pray that every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to serve God and my brothers and sisters is removed. Grant me strength, as I go from here, to do your bidding. Amen.”
AUGUST – Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
The Spiritual Principle is; Forgiveness.
Self-seeking will slip away.
We will learn to live in reverence of all life.
“Steps 8 and 9 are concerned with personal relations. First, we take a look backward and try to discover where we have been at fault; next we make a vigorous attempt to repair the damage we have done; and third, having thus cleaned away the debris of the past, we consider how, with our newfound knowledge of ourselves, we may develop the best possible relations with every human being we know…
“Having carefully surveyed this whole area of human relations, and having described exactly what personality traits in us injured and disturbed others, we can now commence to ransack memory for the people to whom we have given offense… We shall want to hold ourselves to the course of admitting the things we have done, meanwhile forgiving the wrongs done to us, real or fancied. We should avoid extreme judgements, both of ourselves and of others involved. We must not exaggerate our defects or theirs. A quiet, objective view will be our steadfast aim.”
SEPTEMBER – Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
The Spiritual Principle is; Justice. Meaning fairness and impartiality
Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
We will grow in the power of spiritual discernment.
Although these reparations take innumerable forms, there are some general principles which we find guiding. Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience, we ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be. -A.A. Big Book p.79
After we have made a list of people we have harmed, have reflected carefully upon each instance, and have tried to possess ourselves of the right attitude in which to proceed, we will see that the making of direct amends divides those we should approach into several classes.
There will be those who ought to be dealt with just as soon as we become reasonably confident that we can maintain our sobriety. There will be those to whom we can make only partial restitution, lest complete disclosures do them or others more harm than good.
There will be other cases where action ought to be deferred, and still others in which by the very nature of the situation we shall never be able to make direct personal contact at all.
– Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 83
OCTOBER – Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
The Spiritual Principle is; Perseverance.
Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
We will embrace and practice the law of circulation
Steps one through nine have sensitized us to see the truth about our own behaviour and the manner in which the rest of the world, especially people, respond to our actions. Having developed this awareness, we come to see, during each moment of each day, what is really going on. In other words, we are living in the truth of the moment.
We have, in addition to a new awareness, also developed some measure of ability to actually control our actions. No longer are we simply sleep-walking under the direction of old habits—habits, the way we think and act when we are not thinking about what we are doing, and our elaborate delusions. The process of exchanging good habits for destructive old habits is, unfortunately, laborious, and we don’t always respond in accordance with the principles of A.A..
When we retire at night, we constructively review our day by asking ourselves, “Were my behaviours and actions in alignment with my Higher Power.” If the answer is an astounding “yes” – Welcome to Recovery…
NOVEMBER – Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
The Spiritual Principle is; Spiritual Awakening.
We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We will learn the power of the pause before we speak and act.
Step 11 is a continual reality check and compass. It keeps one grounded in the reality that has brought one out of bad habits, unhealthy and addictive behaviours. It keeps one in a safe place through keeping a conscious contact with God. Through prayer and meditation one maintains this conscious contact with God by finding the path to sanity, serenity and joy that each person seeks.
“Those of us who have come to make regular use of prayer would no more do without it – than we would refuse air, food or sunshine. And for the same reason – when we refuse air, light or food the body suffers. And when we turn away from meditation and prayer, we likewise deprive our minds, our emotions and our intuitions of vitally needed support – As the body can fail its purpose for lack of nourishment, so can the soul. We all need the light of God’s reality, the nourishment of Spirit’s strength, and the atmosphere of Grace. To an amazing extent the facts of A.A. life confirm this ageless truth.”
– Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 97-98
If we have had little or no experience with prayer, we should probably begin in a simple fashion. That means putting aside perfectionist concerns about praying “the right way.” We should pray simply and forthrightly with our Higher Power as a loving Presence, not worrying about what we should and should not say. Through prayer and meditation – one deepens their conscious awareness and relationship with our Higher Power.
DECEMBER – Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The Spiritual Principle is; Universal Love.
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
We will actively share the message of God’s compassion.
The joy of living is the theme of A.A.’s Twelfth Step, and action is its key word.
Here we turn outward toward others who are still in distress. Here we experience the kind of giving that asks no rewards. Here we begin to practice all Twelve Steps of the program in our daily lives so that we and those about us may find emotional sobriety. When the Twelfth Step is seen in all its full implication, it is really talking about the kind of love that has no price tag on it.
– Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 106
The selfless service of this work is the very principle of Step Twelve. We received our recovery from embracing our Higher Power, so we now make ourselves available to share recovery with those who seek it.
Most of us learn in time that we can only carry our message to someone who is asking for help. Sometimes the only message necessary – is the power of example. A person may be suffering but unwilling to ask for help. We can make ourselves available to these people, so that when they ask, someone will be there.