Some thoughts on the Steps


1.     The Steps as outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (and as amplified in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions) may be ‘taken’ or ‘worked’ or ‘lived’ on a variety of levels.

a.     The intellectual level: the Steps appeal to reason and rationality. They describe the causes of a three fold addiction whose symptoms are physical, mental and spiritual in nature. A clear solution is presented. A detailed course of action is outlined. As objections tot the A.A. analysis of alcoholism arise, the Steps deal wit them in a calm, orderly fashion. Both Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith were New England Yankees - heirs of a long tradition that valued science and reason. You are invited to respond to each step by saying to yourself: this makes sense.

b.     The emotional level: as we journey through the steps, as we start to listen to the experience of other AA members and as we begin to glimpse the richness of our Program B we are moved in our heart/emotions. We begin to feel the Steps at work in our lives. You are now invited to respond to each Step by saying: this feels right.

c.     The spiritual level: reason has it’s limits and emotions are subject to change. Therefore at some stage of our recovery journey we discover the bedrock of our Steps and program B the spiritual realm. It is for this reason that we read over and over again in our literature that the purpose of the Steps is to help you find and develop a relationship with a God of your own understanding. This is the level which the Big Book calls our innermost selves. At this level you know/feel/believe and experience the reality of the Steps. You are at peace with yourself and the world. You begin to see the vast difference between just being dry and living sober. You cross the bridge from the Fellowship to the Program. You experience -- perhaps for the first time…serenity.

2.     The Steps are a journey and a process - not a goal or destination. The Big Book and the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions reminds us often that recovery is a life long adventure.

3.     While the Steps present what might seem to you exalted and lofty ideals - perhaps beyond human achievement - we are assured that our task is simply to work toward these goals/ideals. Recovery is not an invitation to perfectionism. If necessary read and reread the paragraph immediately following Step 12 and How It Works (p. 60).

4.     The Steps are in order for a reason. They are linked and really do depend upon moving from Steps 1 to 12 in sequence.

5.     Pray daily for God’s guidance as you move through the Steps. If you are an atheist - pray. If you are agnostic - pray. If you have a God of your understanding - pray. If prayer and a Higher Power are serious obstacles to working the Steps - discuss this with your step advisor. He or she will know what to do to help you overcome this difficulty.


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