Tag Archives: step 3

I created this meme as part of a project for grad school. I spend a significant portion of time most mornings in a delightful exploration of the inner. Awareness of and communion with self and Self.

And yes, there is indeed a time and a place for inner work, and a time and a place for action.  For me, if all my action is based on what came of my inner work, I can trust that my actions were the right thing to do.

In recovery, I first learned about inner work through steps 1-4.  It was said to me that steps 1, 2 and 3 were two conclusions and a decision.  This implied to me inner stuff, not outer.  It also implied to me that I only needed to come to those two conclusions one time, and I only needed to make that decision one time.

As I progressed in my recovery, I began to remember that I had never really believed in a god that was separate from me.  I grew up hearing New Thought wisdom, the result of which meant that god was within me, a part of me, working in, as and through me.

As I progressed on my journey through the steps, I was told that steps 10 and 11 were where I would “live” for the rest of my life.  They aren’t just maintenance steps, they are growth steps.  And I learned that I got my power back in step 10.

As I continued to research and study the literature, I realized that the text book of AA, also known as the Big Book, was written for newcomers.  “Substantial sobriety time” was two years.  Check out the Foreward to the Second Edition, where it is talking about the first group having been formed in 1935, the second in 1937, at which time “the number of members having substantial sobriety time behind them was sufficient to convince the membership that a new light had entered the dark world of the alcoholic.”

This means that steps 1, 2 and 3 are for newcomers.  It was good to realize that I wasn’t doomed to a life of victim hood, being powerless over everything.  It was good to realize that the sanity referred to in the seconde step meant sobriety.  It was good to realize that I only need to make a decision one time, and that immediate action was necessary to cement that decision.  It was good to realize that steps 10 and 11 are for a deeper dive into personal self awareness and communion with god.  A way of living that increasingly allows me to feel and know the presence of god in everything I do and feel, and a way of living that not only allows me to know what I am thinking and feeling, but to be ok with all of that, and to change what I am thinking and feeling if it no longer works for me.  Can you say “no more unworthiness?”

In New Thought we advocate and teach about inner self awareness.  Meditation, journaling, affirmative prayer, looking at belief systems, values and thought patterns are all ways to go within and discover just what makes us tick, and what used to make us tick that no longer serves so well.  And likewise, those same practices also allow us to go deeper with that god stuff.

For me, Steps 10 and 11 are where the true power of the program lies, and it is also where the power of New Thought lies as well.  I find that I am much more at peace and joyful when I can spend a little bit of time each day in inner exploration and communion.

Buy the book A New Thought Journey through the 12 Steps here.

Ernest Holmes: “Turning from everything that denies this and quietly contemplating the Perfection of the Inner Man, who is an incarnation of God, we meet the Great Reality in the only place we shall ever discover It, within our own hearts and souls and minds.”
Alcoholics Anonymous textbook: “We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that It may be found.“

In my research I have found more than one example of common language between Ernest Holmes and Bill Wilson.  This is evidence that those two chatted, and I have a lot of fun imagining what those talks must have been like!

This concept of going within to find a Higher Power is one of those paradoxes that we frequently find in spiritual teachings.  Surrender to find strength they say.  Give up to find a solution they say.

This concept of going within to find a Higher Power is also a paradox, and can also be quite scary.  I’ve had newcomers tell me that the idea of using something within themselves to get sober simply does not work for them.  I get that.  When we are first in recovery, our insides are scrambled.  Perceptions are skewed, ideas are....to put it bluntly...a bit “out there.”  It truly is a dangerous neighborhood inside.

But it does not stay that way forever.  I believe that the Big Book was written for beginners.  You can find evidence of this throughout the book.  The “great reality” statement is in step two of the book, which tells me that it is a good idea to begin to change our beliefs of where God is found sooner rather than later.

I can tell you that it was only when I began to contemplate the idea of a great reality deep within me that I was able to move from a consciousness of victimhood to one of personal empowerment.

In New Thought, we teach that there are 4 levels of consciousness:  life happens to me (victim), life happens from me (beginning to sense our own power), life happens through me (I am a channel for God), and life happens as me (I am One with God).  In the steps, this process begins in steps 2 and 3, continues through 6 and 7, and is deepened and enriched in steps 10 and 11.  We get our power back in step 10, and in step 11 the Big Book encourages us to strengthen our connection with a God of our understanding by exploring other spiritual paths.  By the time we get to step 10, going within should no longer be a frightening place to go.  We truly do find that Great Reality deep within us.

This means that what happens “out there” no longer has the power to affect us, because we have an inner strength upon which to draw.  It is a great way to live.

Explore the deep reality deep within you by joining me on a group camping retreat in Death Valley.  March 6-8.  Details and registration here.




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!