A UNIVERSAL ROAD MAP TO HEALING
What if there was a universal road map to healing? A fool proof plan for ending the suffering in our lives, and reaching our highest potential?
I think there is - or at least pretty darn close.
The Twelve Steps of Recovery
If you are not familiar with the twelve steps of recovery - which have been adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous for virtually every support group that has followed in its wake - one of the biggest mistakes you could make is assuming that these powerful steps are only for alcoholics or chemically addicted drug addicts.
If I was only allowed one single recommendation I could give to my clients - through which, I could virtually guarantee meaningful transformation - it would be to work the twelve steps, and attend twelve step groups if relevant.
The beauty of the twelve steps is they can be adapted to serve whatever issue a person is struggling with. Here they are:
We admitted we were powerless over __________(anxiety, depression, codependency, food, sex addiction, porn, alcohol, drugs, etc.) - that our lives had become unmanageable.
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him/Her.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Humbly asked Him/Her to remove our shortcomings.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him/Her, praying only for knowledge of His/Her will for us and the power to carry that out.
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The Universal Nature of the Twelve Steps
We all have something that is controlling us. For some it is a chemical - alcohol, drugs, sugar or food in general. For some it is a behavior - sex, anorexia, bulimia, or gambling. And for others it’s harder to nail down - our own ego, our own negative thoughts, our own need for control, our own resistance to change, or our own physical health. We all have a monkey on our backs. AND, if you don’t, you’re probably not reading this, because you’ve worked through your baggage and come out the other side a transformed human - AMEN, YOU’RE A MIRACLE.
This is what makes the twelve steps so powerful, they are universally applicable to whatever is holding you back from realizing your full potential.
This is why the twelve steps have been adopted to serve those struggling with virtually every type of addiction, compulsion or toxic element in life that overwhelms them, controls them or generally makes their lives unmanageable.
In fact, the power of the twelve steps begins by calling us to look at our lives and realize it is indeed chaotic, overwhelming, and out of control - and that our best efforts in finding a solution have not yielded productive results.
In other words, “we admitted that we were powerless and our lives had become unmanageable.”
This is not an exclusive realization for drug addicts and alcoholics to make. Individuals struggling with food addiction, sex addiction, relationship addiction, codependency, or any form of compulsive behavior will inherently need to come to this realization for healing to begin in their lives; that your best thinking got you to where you are, and its truly beyond your control to manage it at this point.
This is step one. And it gets better from there.
The Original “Self-Help” Program
The 12 steps are a guide for a better life than you are currently living. They are a guide that will serve you whatever your struggles are - likely. And here’s the thing, you probably already are familiar with them.
Virtually every self-help book ever written, every personal development seminar, or transformation workshop can probably trace its origins back to elements contained within the twelve steps. If not in its entirety, then certainly individual steps. The reason for this is because these twelve steps are absolutely universal in overcoming obstacles that prevent us from finding joy in life, connecting to a higher purpose, releasing ourselves from the bondage of external projection, taking accountability and responsibility, and sharing our purpose with the world around us in an absolutely authentic way.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like pretty much every self-help book I’ve ever read.
It gets better than that.
The most amazing thing about working the twelve steps is they come with a limitless amount of help and support. There are millions of individuals using the steps to transform their lives, and thousands upon thousands of various types of support groups out there.
The community that has grown up around the twelve steps is possibly the #1 reason why they are so successful.
For some it may seem counterintuitive how a bunch of people who have the same problem would be able to support each other to make changes in a positive direction. But remember, all of these individuals, or a vast majority, have admitted their powerlessness, and are now open to learning a new way of living; this encourages healing and growth.
The experience, strength and hope we derive from others who are going through similar trials, struggles, and suffering is drastically different from the “help” we get from going to a counselor, talking with family and friends, and people who are looking at the situation from the outside. Also, getting advice and opinions from those who are not consciously trying to better themselves can be absolutely disastrous.
In this way, community is a key component to healing. Being surrounded by others who are all striving to make the same positive changes in their lives offers inspiration, hope and support.
NOTE: If you are new to the twelve steps, or are contemplating attending a twelve step recovery meeting/group, keep in mind that every group is different, and if you don’t resonate with one, go try a different one. I’ve been to tons of meetings I didn’t like. Sometimes there are just people that “rub you the wrong way.” This will change as you attend more meetings, and you’ll find meetings where you really connect to the people who are there.
Money Back Guarantee
The twelve steps are as valuable as the work you put into them. There is no requirement to sign up for “6-months,” or do an “intensive boot camp,” or pay for a health coach, or any of that stuff.
The twelve steps are absolutely free. There is no cost for membership to attend any __________anonymous meeting (and there are literally hundreds of thousands of them). There are no fees or dues to participate, and work with other people who have been utilizing the steps successfully in their lives. AND, you can leave at any time - for whatever reason.
There’s also no requirement to talk at any meeting, or make friends, or even like the meeting.
I usually recommend that people go to a bigger meeting the first couple times (if possible) and sit in the back, maybe even next to the exit if that makes them feel more comfortable. Sometimes this isn’t possible. And if you live in a smaller town, it may be appropriate for you to drive a distance to a neighboring area to feel comfortable; this is a great idea.
The twelve steps are not a fad diet, a gimmick, or a current fashionable trend. They are an incredibly simple, straightforward process of recovery from the very thing you are struggling with. They are the real deal, and if you are ready to truly commit to yourself and your healing process, there is no better direction to proceed.