Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Those who work the 12 Steps are promised to have a spiritual awakening — a notion which, at first, seemed to me to be unattainable if not outright fanciful. After all, how could someone like me, with all of my prejudices, ever become awakened to the mystery and beauty of this life? Looking through the prism of active addiction, life appeared bleak, purposeless, and vacuous. However, faced with no other alternative than to surrender or die, I set aside my prejudices and opened my mind to new possibilities. Now, having undertaken the work of the 8th and 9th Steps, I have no doubt that a spiritual awakening is not only possible for me, but that it has been happening all along.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
In the essay, On Human Nature, three basic human instincts — the survival instinct, the social instinct, and the happiness instinct — are described as the foundation of all cognition, behavior and emotion. Though the means by which we endeavor to satisfy these innate end objectives vary greatly by individual and by society, the most common manifestations thereof were first noted by the renowned psychologist, Andrew Maslow. In a 1943 article entitled A Theory of Human Motivation, Maslow proposed a universal hierarchy of instrumental needs which exist as means to satisfy instinctual end objectives.
Step Three: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
Shakespeare once said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” For the addict, the analogy of the stage of life — so eloquently drawn by Shakespeare — could not be more apropos. That being so, the Third Step thus presents a choice — will the actor star in a new role, or will the tragedy continue to unfold under the current script?
STEP 2: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
While the First Step left me in a position of defeat and subsequent surrender, it is in the Second Step that I am given the opportunity to embrace the hope of recovery. It is now that I can begin to shift my beliefs from reliance on self to reliance on a way of living that has proven to bring peace and happiness in the lives of others. Taking the Second Step gave me the opportunity to explore the insanity of my addiction, the concept of belief, the potential for my own restoration to sanity, and to begin to conceive of a power, or powers, greater than myself.
Today, I take the time to reflect on the First Step and how it applies to my life. I have often heard in the rooms that the First Step is the most important — and the only one that must be worked to perfection. As the old saying goes — “this ain’t my first time at the rodeo” as far as trying to recover by working Steps is concerned. Given that my prior attempts have been unsuccessful in terms of achieving long-term sobriety, I now believe that the importance of the First Step is not underestimated.
Step One: We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction — that our lives had become unmanageable.
It is said that the First Step is the most important of all because it is only when it has been accepted as true for the individual that recovery may begin. Drawing on the wisdom of recovery literature, this article will provide a general overview of the First Step.