Your Twelve Step Journey

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Have you learned to admit your faults and failings? What insights have you had about your character weaknesses, and how have they changed the way you live?

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In what ways have you become more forgiving and less resentful, or more apologetic and quick to ask for forgiveness? Look for evidence of change in your character. Be grateful for how different you are today than when you started.

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Ask the trusted servant at your meeting how you might be able to volunteer to help in the upcoming months. Often committing to be a regular attendee of the meetings helps to serve the community by creating consistency for newcomers. What do you remember from your first Twelve Step meeting? My guess is it has something to do with the stories of others. This will allow others to relate to your story. You can also share your story in a one-on-one setting with a new member of the group or sponsee. Through your recovery process, you may have become aware of talents or abilities that were masked by your addictive behaviors.

Your sponsor or other trusted individuals may also be aware of positive traits you have to offer. Ask your sponsor or support people to tell you some gifts they think you bring to the recovery community. Write these affirmations down and review them often.

The Twelve Steps for Non-Believers | Behavioral Health Evolution

Seek to fill roles within the community that allow these gifts to be used for the good of others. Your insights can help someone else who is struggling with the same questions or doubts in their own journey. A few cautions before you start: consider the cost of sponsoring another addict prior to taking on this role.

It is recommended that you have at least one full year of sobriety under your belt before you sponsor someone, as sponsoring challenges your sobriety in new and unexpected ways. Changing up the structure of the standard group meeting and receiving inspiration and motivation from time away can help you re-focus on your recovery and learn new tools to help yourself or your sponsees. You may also find yourself motivated to speak or offer your story at a conference. Boredom in your recovery can be a trigger to fall back into the temporary thrill of acting out.

Talk with your sponsor about next steps you might take to address these areas. Another great way to combat boredom is walking through the steps again, perhaps trying out a new sponsor who may have some additional insight. Is it difficult to apply your insights from recovery into more mundane, daily tasks? During this time, you might consider what non-addictive sexuality looks like. Resources like a couples counselor or an individual counselor trained in treating addiction can help you in this process. In particular for sex and love addicts, re-integrating healthy sexuality involves a slower journey, learning to embody your masculinity or femininity without necessarily expressing it through sex.

But moving through the Twelve Steps is meant to be an ongoing process.

My Journey of Healing with the Twelve Steps

Instead, you are called to start back at Step One and examine new areas of your life and well-being that you may not have been aware of when you first began your journey. I got the sense that if I did not believe in God now, it was a matter of me still being new to sobriety, and surely I'd come to my senses soon.

So I gave it a shot. Every morning I watched the sunrise and read a highly religious little meditation book and tried having a conversation with God. I waited for that sense of the presence of a Higher Power that I'd heard of. I chastised myself for not being open to real spiritual experience.

It was one of the loneliest things I've ever done. It sent me, actually, to a pretty bad place. I was terrified I was going to lose my sobriety. I wanted to know what was wrong with me that I couldn't sense or believe in the existence of a God, let alone the personal involvement in my life one might have. I spoke of it in meetings, this failure on my part; I talked to my sponsor, to other people in the program, to anyone I thought might be able to instruct me how to find this God of which everyone spoke of in such personal, intimate terms.

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Finally someone pulled me aside after a meeting. He said, "Here's the thing. I don't know what God is, or if there is a God. I only know that there are moments when I feel spiritual. I can be in a church or a mosque or a temple or a grocery store or the woods. And I get that sense of being spiritual. Of something alive in me. It's not necessarily a sense that something outside me is present. It's the sense that I am present.

Completely present.

The 12 Steps of the Spiritual Journey to Awakening--Life Path & Purpose Series

And in that moment, as we stood there in the church basement kitchen while people around us rustled and chattered and headed home, I recognized that what I felt-a connection to this person, an ability to hear him clearly, to open my mind, to listen, and to learn-was a spiritual experience. It was an enormous relief. I stopped feeling like I was doing the whole thing wrong.

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His words undid the terrible tangle I was in, and I could move forward with a new sense of what spirit meant, and what mine felt like, and what I believed. For all its God language, the Twelve Step program isn't actually an attempt at religious conversion. Really, it just tries to bring us to a place of new spiritual understanding that allows us to live differently in this world.

The Steps are not intended to get us to heaven or save us from hell. This is not about life in another world, above or below. This is about how we live here.

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And though many would not agree with me on this point, it's my contention that how we live here is defined and guided by who we are, who we choose to be, who we try to become. Some believe that a God is the guiding force and principle in this evolution in ourselves. I believe what guides us is already in us, is in fact the deepest part of who we are-capable of turning us into ever-more spiritually grounded, spiritually generous, peaceful people. That evolution itself is a spiritual process. And the Steps can be guideposts on the way.

Each of them asks deep and hard spiritual questions; while some of us may need to find our way past God-centered language to reach the core of those questions, we can find that core, and having done so, can open our minds to what the Steps might teach us about how to live. The Steps are intended-it sounds simple, and it is-to make us better people, more aware, more alive, and more spiritually whole. The Steps, at their heart, are a pathway to spiritual experiences.

Walk the 12 Steps Journey to Inner Peace

Not to a singular spiritual experience. They are, as you'll often hear in meetings, "a program for living. Each Step is based on spiritual principles; taken as a whole, they form a map toward understanding ourselves better as spiritual people. And they are a spiritual practice, requiring not only thought and feeling but action as well. We come to the program "spiritually bankrupt. Addiction starves and eventually kills the spirit; we come in need of spiritual nourishment. That nourishment comes in different forms for different people.