Monthly Archives: March 2016


Today I want to talk about the first step.

They say in meetings that it is the only one that needs to be done perfectly.  And yet it seems to be the most difficult one.  And not just for New Thought folks but for everyone.  If you are a New Thought person, then you know what the objection is.  That one word: powerless.  We are taught in New Thought that we are most definitely not powerless.  Others object because they simply don't want to stop the old way of living, and still others object because they are too afraid of the unknown to let go of the known.

I've seen people use these very objections and allow themselves to be dragged into a pit of non-recovering toxicity that never fails to shock me.

So today I want to present another way to view the first step.  I think if viewed in this way some of the objections might be removed, hopefully all of them and you will enter into a new way of being that is more wonderful than you can imagine.

When an addiction doesn't work anymore, it's like a door has closed.  And if we don't listen and learn when one door closes, others begin to close.  Try and open a door that has closed.  Try and drink successfully.  Try and control and manipulate members of your family.  Continue to enable loved ones to be the worst example they can be.  How is that working?  The truth is, it doesn't. It has never worked and never will.  A door is firmly shut.  And to continue to try and reopen it means you stay in a hallway of uncertainty and dissatisfaction and misery and denial of who and what you were meant to be in this world.

Drinking, or thinking about drinking, is to keep facing the door.  Attempts to control or manipulate or enable mean you are still facing  the door.  It just keeps you in the hallway.

What the first step can do is allow you to turn away from the door. Say goodbye to the old behavior, turn your attention away from it and toward something different and more productive.  Do your inner work, grieve properly the loss of an old friend, and move into a new way of living with courage and enthusiasm.

I was a New Thought person when I got into recovery.  I looked at that word powerless and thought, "no.  I'm not powerless.  But I don't want to drink anymore.  So what do I do now?"  And I turned away from that door and began to look for new ones.  The new ones showed up as promised.  I began a new way of living that was somewhat clumsy and inelegant at first, but I kept looking forward and have never looked back at that firmly closed door.  I don't miss my old way of life, nor do I regret it.

It isn't about missing and regretting and hanging onto the old way of life.  It is about embracing a new way.  It is about turning your thoughts from the old and towards the new.  It is about letting go of that which does not work, and then healing, and then facing the new doors with an air of excited expectancy.

As Parker J. Palmer say, turn away from the door.


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One of the biggest organizations in the New Thought movement is Centers for Spiritual Living.  Their publication is the Science of Mind magazine, which has been in continuous publication for almost 90 years.  At the front of every issue, they publish the "We Believe" statements written by Ernest Holmes, the founder of Centers for Spiritual Living.  The ninth of the eleven statements says, in part, "We believe in control of conditions."

The first step of the 12 Steps says we are powerless.  Go to any 12 step meeting, anytime, anywhere, and you will likely hear someone say proudly that they are powerless over people, places and things.

If you are a member of a 12 step organization and a member of a New  Thought organization, how on earth can these two seemingly opposing beliefs hang out together?

Personally, I think the first step is spirituality 101. I think it is a doorway into a deeper and more satisfying way of living, not somewhere to park.  I think it is for beginners, and I believe it when I read in the AA textbook that we get our power back in the 10th step.  I've addressed this here and want to move beyond that for this post.

Getting our power back in the 10th step is not the same as believing in control of conditions.  Control of conditions takes it a step further, and I understand how thinking that we have the power to control conditions might be foreign and scary and quite frankly, not possible to most 12 steppers.

Bear with me here, because I think that embracing the empowering message inherent in this bold statement allows for a more satisfactory life.

Both the 12 steps and what we teach at Centers for Spiritual Living emphasize that we work from within out.  We change our insides, and the outsides follow.  If we are willing, the 12 steps work us as we work them, allowing us to have "a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism."  (from the text book of AA, Appendix II, Spiritual Experience).  That personality change then manifests as behavior  changes and differing choices, which then results in different conditions in our lives.

At Centers for Spiritual Living, we teach that we change our consciousness (and we have a LOT of tools to do so!):  our beliefs and our thoughts, which then change our feelings, which then changes our behavior, which then changes conditions.

Looked at in this way, the concept of control of conditions no longer seems so scary or impossible, at least to me.  How about you?


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