Eliminating Limiting Beliefs in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step groups


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Taking Step 1 Is A Powerful Action

 Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over (name the addiction) and that our lives had become unmanageable.

The admission and acceptance of our addiction is a must if we are to recover. Whether the addiction is to alcohol, or other drug (including nicotine) or to food (which can be used and abused just like a drug) or to a behavior like gambling, debting, under earning, or co-dependence, we must, somehow, come to terms with the fact that we are addicted.

That's what's meant by the admission of powerlessness the total, unrestricted acceptance that, by ourselves, we cannot behave in a normal manner. It's 'hitting bottom' and it's the place of humility that allows us to accept the help a 12 Step Program offers. 

Step 1 is about our addiction

Notice, however, that Step 1 says our powerlessness is only about our addiction. The 1st Step doesn't say we are powerless over anything else but our addictive drug or behavior. Then the Step makes clear that our lives are a mess because of the addiction.

These distinctions are important because taking the 1st Step is indeed a powerful action. The admission and acceptance of our need for help is, in fact, probably the most powerful positive action we can take on our own behalf.

Admittedly, this is not the usual way Step 1 is talked about in most meetings today. The prevailing view is that as recovering addicts we are powerless forever, over everything. But this is a myth that has grown up in the Fellowship over time, and it's truly sloppy thinking and far from what the founders intended.

We need not fear relapse if...

I suspect the reasons behind the myth of Perpetual Powerlessness comes from fear of relapse (a fear we're promised we don't need to have IF we follow the Steps) and the recognition that many of us do need a good dose of humility.

As addicts, we do have a tendency to swing between total self-aggrandizement and self-debasement, particularly when we're practicing and in the beginning of our recovery. We are not known for solid, sensible and accurate self-worth.

Fortunately, the Program is designed to restore us to balance, and that includes balance in our view of our selves. The notion that we are forever powerless tends to keep us in a victim role and gives us lots of excuses to avoid responsibility.

On the other hand, if we recognize we can act powerfully on our on behalf (which is the opposite of practicing our addiction) we can step full into life, just as we're meant to.

The 1st Step is just that... the first step in a process of letting go of our addiction. I think it works best when we really understand it. 

Love, peace and abundance,

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