Turning Scars Into Stars


Principles of the 12 Steps

The principles of the 12 steps can be very difficult or very simple to understand.

This is an effort to simplify the meaning of the principles of the 12 steps for those who may be having difficulty. These are the principles that are incorporated into our daily lives as ‘we walk the walk’. Employing each of these behaviors will help to rebuild a life of increased self esteem and self confidence. So, in my never ending quest to keep it simple, here are the acting principles behind the twelve steps:

  1. Honesty - The operating principle behind step 1 is honesty. If you cannot get honest about the scope of your problem, and honest about a sincere effort to resolve it, you will not succeed. How about a definition of honesty as the absence of the intention to deceive? Who do we try to fool? Ourselves
  2. Hope – In order to engage in a course of addiction recovery, we must have hope of success. If there is no hope, why try? Perhaps we have failed on our own, how about enlisting some help? A way to instill hope is to realize recovery is not a question of ability; but rather persistence and application.
  3. Faith – This stage of action is to begin to employ the recovery skills being learned. You can seek out help, but it is also necessary to utilize it. Our job is to become willing to do the right thing. A simple way to view the ‘next right thing’ is don’t engage in your behavior. Have faith it will work.
  4. Courage - This step is really about courage to honestly (see step 1) look at ourselves. Take a look at how our thinking has become warped to justify our continued behavior. We must have the courage to take an honest assessment of ourselves.
  5. Integrity - If we have truly done a thorough job of introspection and evaluation of our strengths and shortcomings we must be able to own up to them. Do we have the integrity to do this? It can be very difficult to be open and honest about our past behaviors. We accept the need for a dose of humility.
  6. Willingness – Now that we have accomplished an inventory of the good and not so good aspects of our character and behavior, are we willing to change them? All of them? The important part in this 12 step principle is the willingness to let go of old behaviors.
  7. Humility – Here we move further into action. In step 6, we became willing to as let go of our old behaviors, now we ask for help in actually letting go. Can we learn to forgive ourselves?
  8. Discipline and Action – We are continuing to remove the barriers that can block forward sober growth. We are getting ready to sweep our side of the street clean. Make a list of all those people we have harmed both through actions and absence, not living up to our obligations.
  9. Forgiveness – Asking for the forgiveness of those we have intentionally or unintentionally injured is the order of the day. A key point here is to try to correct those injuries through action, not just words. It is highly recommended that guidance and help is utilized here. Asking forgiveness is not a gift to the other person, but rather an act of kindness to you.
  10. Acceptance - To be human is to make mistakes. Hopefully our journey has led us to the point where we can readily admit mistakes and accept ourselves for being imperfect. We must also learn not to judge others but accept them for who they are, not our vision of who they should be.
  11. Knowledge and Awareness – Here we search for knowledge and awareness of our path and purpose in life, then actively pursue them. I view this principle as just being aware, not being got up in the rush of life, making conscious effort to do the right thing and to be at peace.
  12. Service and Gratitude - After we have brought about the personality change we need to remain in recovery, we are empowered to demonstrate our new principle by example, through the way we live our daily lives. We seek out and are available to help others in need.

There you have it. These are the simple, one word, action principles of the 12 steps. You can practice them each and every day to improve the quality of your life in addiction recovery and those people you come in contact with.

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