I love the 12 steps. They have made my life what it is, and continue to do so, serving as a strong foundation for everything I do and everything I am. Specifically, the concepts presented in steps 10 and 11.
Yes, 10 and 11 are my foundation, not 1,2 and 3.
The steps were originally created for people who were in a bad place. The steps are for those who recognize that perhaps it might be time for a change in their lives. We aren’t always going to want such radical change, and those first three steps are pretty radical. Those first three steps are not for the long haul, they are to introduce us to a way of living that works. They are tools to allow me to move beyond the limiting conditions and beliefs that currently affect the conditions in my life.
Step one, in using the terms powerless and unmanageability, is pretty definite about what is happening in our lives. Yet, I can’t tell you how many people I have spoken to who have said, “the steps are not for me, I am not powerless over anything.” In New Thought, we learn that our thoughts are powerful, so the concept of powerlessness goes against everything we believe to be true. But what happens with that is that line of thinking puts up a solid road block to progress. And people continue to suffer. What is it about that one word, powerlessness, that makes all of our self defense mechanisms stand up and fight for our right to be wrong? Yes, we have power, lots and lots of power, but in terms of the steps, we don’t get that power until step 10, and we certainly don’t have it when a substance has all the power. Our minds are clouded with drugs, alcohol, food, or insane lifestyle choices that limit us, and until we can rid ourselves of that, yes we are powerless. You could say that we are without choice.
Put that first step in New Thought lingo, and it is all about where I want to place my focus. I can focus on fighting against that first drink or drug, saying, “I don’t want to drink” over and over again. We all know where that gets us: drinking! Or, I can say, I want to be sober. And we can envision what sobriety would look like, we can see ourselves as sober people, we can imagine ourselves as non drinkers, we can view with excitement all the gifts a sober life can bring. This is how I did my first step, and when viewed this way, I never needed to revisit it again. I just envision the new way of life, and move on from there.
Steps 2 and 3 are also for beginners, for people new to this way of life. It’s an introduction to a lifestyle. Those steps are saying, find a God, call it whatever you want, and begin to form a relationship with that. And, make a decision.
I don’t know about you, but God has never been separate from me. This is one of the basic fundamental teachings of New Thought: God is not separate from us, but a part of us, and we a part of it. So, turning my will and life over to something within me doesn’t really make a lot of sense. However, making a decision to follow the wisdom of a path, in this case the path carved out by the rest of the steps, makes perfect sense. In doing so, we change our beliefs, our attitudes, and our reactions to life.
I’ll go more into steps 2 and 3 in future posts. For now, I want to go back to the focus of this post, steps 10 and 11 as a foundation for successful living.
Step ten is about self awareness, and Ernest Holmes, in the Science of Mind textbook, talks about inner awareness being a path to divinity, which leads us right to step eleven, where we are urged, every day, to renew and strengthen our relationship with whatever God works for you.
This is where the power and strength lies. This is where the dignity lies. Self-awareness or inner contemplation is recommended by every spiritual path and religion we are aware of. Even if your god is one of science, you will find that simply paying attention to the messages of your body will tell you much about how you are feeling. And knowing how you are feeling is of upmost importance, because when you know how you are feeling, you will be able to track the beliefs that created the feelings, and change them when necessary to ensure maximum good stuff in life.
And step 11 is simply a natural next step after nurturing self-awareness, because it is about nurturing Self-awareness, that God self that is within us.
So, a sort of magical formula would be: go within and nurture your relationship with self, and with Self. That’s with who and what you are, and with the God within. Do this daily. Repeat. And when your awareness tells you that something needs to be changed, change the insides, and the outsides will naturally follow.
More on the magical formula in future posts. You can subscribe to this blog on the right side of the page (below if you are on a mobile device). I look forward to hearing your comments!