Understanding Step 12
As we put time and effort into working the steps, we realize our lives have been completely transformed. We are able to accept life on life’s terms and to cope with situations that we never dreamed we would be able to deal with. Some people refer to this psychic change as a spiritual awakening.
We begin to realize that there are other alcoholics and drug addicts who haven’t found their way to recovery, or who have gotten sober but are struggling to make sense of the simple tools that will change their lives. We know that we are responsible for passing on the message that has made such a huge difference in our lives. It’s time to work Step 12.
Recognizing a Spiritual Awakening
We find it’s sometimes easier to recognize a spiritual awakening in others than in ourselves. By working on ourselves one day at a time, a very gradual change has taken place. We have learned to be calm in the midst of turmoil. We have become honest toward our loved ones. Our life is no longer driven by self-centeredness.
We can be tolerant of the shortcomings of others. We no longer feel constantly hopeless
We are not perfect, but we have made a huge amount of progress on our spiritual journey. The changes in ourselves and in others are amazing and often more than we ever dreamed we would get by being sober.
Carrying the Message
In Step 12, we reach out to others in recovery who need love and support. We can offer the benefit of our experience to people who are newly sober. We can offer love and support to others in recovery even when they are not newly sober. There are many ways to work this step. Often just showing up at meetings is a way to work the 12th Step, because others may know they can count on us to be there. We can do simple tasks, such as making coffee or setting up chairs for meetings.
We learn that we are responsible for carrying the message but not for carrying people or doing things for them that they should be doing for themselves. In other words, others in recovery have to take responsibility for their own lives. We offer our experience, strength and hope, but we don’t try to fix other people. At times we may try to help people who don’t want to be helped. We don’t need to be upset when people don’t respond to the message we are carrying. We have still planted the seed of the possibility of recovery.
Benefits of Step 12
We wouldn’t be sober if others before us hadn’t shown us the way. We owe the same to those who come after us. We need to develop the willingness to give to others what was so freely given to us.
As we share our stories with others, we remind ourselves where we have been. We are recovering but not recovered, and by sharing our stories, we remember how bad things once were and how bad they may be again if we don’t stay on the right track. In this way, working Step 12 can benefit us as much as the people we reach out to.
Step 12 also states that we will continue to practice these principles in all of our affairs. That means that the coping skills we have learned for staying away from a drink or a drug need to be applied to all other areas of our lives. We have learned to practice love and tolerance toward the members of our support group, and we need to be just as loving and tolerant toward people we meet every day outside the safety of meetings.
As we continue on our journey of recovery, we will be presented with many ups and downs. We will face pain and disappointment as well as happiness and excitement. Practicing these principles in all our affairs means learning to deal with life on life’s terms. We will never do everything perfectly, but as long as we continue to practice the 12 Steps of recovery to the best of our ability, we will continue to see improvement in ourselves and in others, and we will be able to live a life that is sober and content.
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