The 12 steps were introduced in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, in 1939. Since that time millions have benefited from the process of working the steps. The steps integrate many tools designed to develop a life in partnership with a higher power. The higher power can be one of your choosing. There is no religious affiliation needed to benefit from the 12 steps.
Here are 4 tools from the 12 steps for everyday living:
Acceptance is the key.
There can be no joy without acceptance. Whether you are accepting your alcoholism or that you are going to miss your flight because of an accident blocking traffic on the freeway, acceptance is crucial. Complaining about the traffic doesn’t magically open a new lane for you to drive in. Worrying about missing your flight doesn’t change reality. Until we can accept what is happening, we have no chance of finding solutions and joy.
We are not alone.
One of the key tools from 12 steps programs is the message that it’s a “we” program. Humans are designed to live in community and have partnerships. You can sharpen this tool by reaching out for help or helping another. Ask your neighbor for butter. Offer to give a friend a ride to the repair shop. Join your local Buy Nothing Facebook group. Resist that voice that says you should be able to do it alone.
Honesty and vulnerability are strengths.
The 4th step asks us to create an honest appraisal of our lives. We then are asked to share this with another human being in the 5th step, requiring more vulnerability than we have ever known. You can continue to practice these tools after your 4th and 5th step. Try sharing something on Facebook that won’t make you look good. Invite your friends to post a picture of their kitchen as-is after your share the photo of your 4 days of dirty dishes. Notice the relief in sharing the messy parts of yourself and the laughter in seeing you are not alone.
We are invited numerous times throughout the 12 steps to take time for quiet reflection. Some call this focusing on their breath. Some call it writing. Some call it meditation. Turn off the phone, unplug the TV, and put down your book. Get quiet and just be.
The 12 steps offer a new way of living. There are a multitude of tools available to create a new experience in life. Give them a try. Practice makes perfect, but remember we seek progress, not perfection.
Addiction affects the whole family.
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