Understanding Step Two | 12 Step Program

Understanding Step Two

January 21st, 2015 12 Steps, Helpful Articles

Once we admit we are powerless over our addiction, we move on to Step Two, in which we come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. For those with religious convictions, this step makes a lot of sense. For those whose faith has been shaken by their addiction or other difficult life experiences, this step may be a sticking point.

Twelve-step programs are not religious programs. Those who have religious beliefs are often able to use their beliefs to build the foundation of their sobriety, but there are no hard-and-fast rules about what we have to believe in. There are probably as many interpretations of Step Two and a “power greater than ourselves” as there are people. None of the 12 steps of AA and NA are commands. They are only suggestions.

Finding a Power Greater Than Ourselves

In Step Two, it is suggested that you find a power greater than yourself to believe in. For those of us who struggle to find a Higher Power, people at meetings offer a variety of suggestions. For many of us, belief takes time. Some say:

We came.

We came to.

We came to believe.

This is a perfect description of how developing the open-mindedness necessary for Step Two requires us to show up and to gradually come out of the fog that we’re in when we first get sober. Only then can we gradually come to believe in something bigger than ourselves.

Some of us come to recovery with a belief in God but full of anger and bitterness toward Him. We may have suffered a series of losses and disappointments. We may believe God has treated us unfairly and we may struggle with the idea of giving God any kind of credit for our recovery. We don’t want to rely on God because we have been disappointed in the past. The more meetings we attend and the more sober people we talk to, the more likely it is that we can redefine exactly what we believe in, and can then heal from our hurts.

Many Forms of a Higher Power

Some members of 12-step programs are comfortable with the word “God” and the concept of a Higher Power having religious connotations.

Atheists and agnostics have to find a different path. If we can’t believe in an actual “god,” we may believe instead that God is a Group of Drunks, or that God stands for Good Orderly Direction. We may be able to think of our Higher Power as a force for good in the universe, or we may simply believe in the power of the group itself. We will find that this is good enough.

Those who still struggle may be told “If you can’t believe, believe that we believe.” We may find that if we have trouble believing in a Higher Power, it’s easy to believe in the faith of those around us and the transformations we witness in the lives of others.

The important thing to realize is that following a religious path is not a requirement for Step Two. We all have the right and the responsibility of finding our own path.

Struggles With the Word Insanity

The second part of Step Two tells us that this Higher Power “could restore us to sanity.” Can we be restored to sanity if we don’t first accept that we have been insane?

Some of us are uncomfortable thinking of ourselves as insane. But was there anything sane about drinking and drugging until we damaged our health, our relationships or our financial security? What sane person would steal from or lie to the people he loves the most? Who would keep drinking and drugging after we have lost our jobs or our marriages or were arrested?

Being restored to sanity is about the power of possibilities. If we can hang onto faith in something or someone who is bigger than we are and who is able to help us heal, the possibility is there that we never have to indulge in self-destructive behaviors again.

In recovery, with the help of a Higher Power, however we define that, anything is possible. Step Two will never be worked perfectly. It’s part of our ongoing journey of recovery.

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