Posts tagged Working the Steps

Jumping In

Some people really seem to jump into the process of the 12 Step programs in their first years, while others seem only to test the waters.  They wade in the shallows or just dip a toe in to gauge their own comfort level.

Well, we don’t have to be comfortable with any of the 12 Step process.  We are only encouraged to work through the process and open ourselves up to the possibilities.  It’s about trust, not comfort.  We know that what we did before wasn’t working.  It took many of us way too many years to admit it. We lost so much life time by resisting the obvious.  When we hit our bottom and acknowledge that we don’t know how to do life, the next obvious thing to do is start learning how to live well. 

My hope for the newcomers, or those just wading for a while, is that they’ll take the risk and jump right in from where they’re currently at.  It’s so refreshing to start making the progress that we’ve been hearing other members share about in meetings.  To actually experience it ourselves is a whole other level of learning that is second to none.  Sure it seems scarey, or uncomfortable, or threatening.  But the evidence is pervasive.  People can and do recover, if they have the willingness and take action.  It’s so simple – just a bit daunting. Many new things are – that’s okay.  We are supported, encouraged and celebrated by our sponsors and other members as we take the risk and go forward with the process of the 12 Steps.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am willing to do what it takes.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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Reluctance

A meeting I attend seems to have a segment of members who’ve been coming for years, but haven’t yet requested a sponsor, or worked the 12 Steps.  Reluctance might be a fitting description of their situation. It seems little changes in their lives. They’ve learned the lingo of the program and some of them are very adept at spouting it, but they don’t really seem to understand how it works. 

A few sponsees have mentioned to me that they can tell the difference between the members who’ve done the work and are walking their talk, and those who’re only talking.  They’re not criticizing, just noticing because they are so grateful that they are moving forward through the 12 Steps and didn’t wait any longer to get started.  One of these sponsees was formerly in the reluctant group for years, without a sponsor and afraid of working the Steps. With the help of her Higher Power, willingness, courage and the tools of the 12 Steps, her life has transformed in the last year and a half.

Most of my sponsees are now done working through the Steps with me, and are already sponsoring other members themselves.  Their courage and willingness has been an inspiration to me.  And, working with them has shown me the amazing, really wonder-filled way that the 12 Step programs work.  It’s overwhelming at times to witness the process as they move forward in ability to handle what life brings to them.  They show up with more confidence and self esteem each day that we connect.  They are miracles for me to witness daily.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am willing to move forward.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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More Decluttering

I continue to make progress with decluttering our home of the old paper clutter that accumulated over years and months.  Some of it compiled in the past because of cognitive disabilities from an injury.  Some of it just grew out of distraction with other things, and lack of timely responsibility on my part.  And some of it, I’m really just not sure if it needs to be retained – I’m still learning.

However, through the ongoing process of decluttering, my discernment about what is needed and what can be let go continues to develop.  At stores, it’s easy now to say “No bag, please.”  The less clutter we bring into our home, the less energy we need to expend in dealing with it – finding a place for it, recycling it, moving it from one place to another.  Our house is small.  There isn’t much room for clutter.  In fact, the more I scale back on all of the actual waste and duplication of items, the more we both enjoy our home space.  Simple and more empty is less attractive to me.  It also helps me and my husband to be more calm, relaxed and agreeable it seems.  Really, it makes a difference for us.

And that’s as it should be.  When I came to 12 Step programs my life and my thinking were cluttered with extranious, unnecessary clutter about things from the past – hurts, regrets, fears and general mistaken thinking patterns.  They took up an awful amount of space in my thinking and kept me from being present for today.   Being in the moment is so much easier when we work through the 12 Steps which help us to declutter our minds, and teach us to politely say “No thank you,” to the temptation of extra junk and clutter that can so distract us from being present, in the moment.  It’s a skill that we develop.  It takes practice and some time to hone our discernment and reprogram our choices to serve us better.  And when we’re in a better place, there’s more of us available to be present for others as well.  It works.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am making more space for my life.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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Pausing

This morning a friend through the programs called to talk about the anxiety and fear triggered in her so easilythese days.  Actually, I was able to reflect to her that compared to just a few months ago she has made great progress.  Now, she is actually becoming aware of the pre-anxiety stage which is allowing her the option to choose to calm herself down in most cases, rather than needing to make a call to her sponsor or me.

I’m so glad she called, because out of my mouth, definitely from my Higher Power, came words that I too needed to hear again.  The words were about how each time we pause when agitated, we give ourselves the time to stay out of our “ancient” brain where the “fight or flight” response lives and kicks in automatically.  Scientists have proven that if we can just pause for only 2 seconds – yes, that’s all it takes (actually a little less) – we can bypass the ancient brain and make a conscious, thoughtful and more helpful choice to respond – instead of react. 

When we pause (when agitated, as the slogan goes) we allow ourselves the option of a new experience no matter how difficult or triggering the situation.  Having a list of things to when pausing helped me; breath, say the Serenity prayer, think about my Higher Power, call my sponsor, pleasantly excuse myself from the room, and so on.  These alternatives gave me the time to stay out of an old pattern and create a new pattern.  Most of the time I’m able to pause.  It takes less energy in the long run, and saves face for me and others.  It means fewer amends as well.  That’s a bargain for a little pause!

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am learning to respond appropriately.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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Asparagas

Our asparagas plant has been surfacing every Spring for several years now.  It sends up skinny spears that I was able to harvest last year for about 3 months.

Last week the first spear appeared – and this time it was fat!  What a surprise!  And it stayed that way with each new day of growth.  Two days ago, a second spear appeared – and it’s fat too!  Now this may seem like no big deal to most people, but it’s taken years of patient nurturing to see our plant reach such a hearty state of being. 

It takes years of patient nurturing for those of us in 12 Step programs to reach a hearty, maintainable state of being as well.  Although the miracles can start to happen for us right away, we need to stay on the learning curve.  Regular weeding of old ideas, regular refueling of new ideas from meetings and our sponsors, and voila – we show up firm and strong in our new way of being in the world.  Okay, so it’s not quite as fast as “voila,” but it is that simple.  Willingness has something to do with it.  And by then, we can give back to others by sharing what we’ve learned that works.  It’s a simple, natural progression that makes the world a better place for us all.  Keep coming back – it works!

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am learning what works.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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Steady Stewardship

Thanks to an earlier than normal Spring thaw, most of our cold crops are already sown in the garden.  Patience is in place to temper my anticipation, which is elevating by the day.  Now is the important time for keeping conditions ripe for germination.

What that requires is warm days, moist soil and not too cool evenings.  God is taking care of the warm days and the temperate evenings.  But in the absence of rain the past few days, I’m in charge of the moist soil.  And it’s a little daunting.  The sprinkler, resurrected from Winter storage, seems unwilling to cooperate.  It will probably require some tinkering.  My husband is good at fixing things – so he’s contributing his know how to this part of the garden project.  And my father-in-law was kind enough to share some of his amazingly prolific (and hardy) bunching onions, so we already have green dotting our garden plot.  Very optimistic. 

This is an exciting time, and it requires diligent stewardship.  The soil must maintain just the right level of moisture.   And it’s up to me to see that it happens.  It’s similar to our state early in the 12 Step programs.  We’re responsible for maintaining conditions that make us ready for the germination of new ideas.  We are in tender condition.  We too need diligent stewardship when gingerly proceeding with a new lifestyle.  It takes regular meetings – more when conditions require – early sponsorship to learn about and work the 12 Steps, and patience.  New territory can be confusing and overwhelming, yet exciting and rewarding, all at the same time.  We are responsible for showing up to receive what is sustenance, both in our meetings and with our sponsors.  When compared with the effort we used to put into unhelpful activities, it’s a minor thing to show up, be quieter, and listen.  It creates conditions necessary for a completely new life.  And miracles start to happen.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am willing to show up.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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Step 1

Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over acohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.  Although it’s the first of the 12 Steps, it can seem like the tallest order.  Who would want to admit they were powerless over anything?  Or, that their lives were unmanageable – that they were out of control?

No one would want to, but when we’re desperate enough, tired enough, and willing to surrender we can admit these things.  And there is power in surrender, as a good friend of mine in the program promised me in my first year.  When we surrender, it opens doors to possibilities that previously were unavailable to us.  And it doesn’t matter the addiction; drugs, food, alcohol, gambling, people, sex, spending, hoarding.  They are all symptoms of the real problem, the cause.  They are what we were choosing instead of feeling the emotions that spring from the mistaken thinking that happens in our heads.  And it is mistaken.  We find ourselves trapped in a spiral of automatic unhelpful, thoughts, behaviors and actions that do not serve our well being.

When we know better, we do better.  I do believe that statement.  We may be reluctant, or even defiant.  But when we are desperate enough we can choose to try what has worked for so many hundreds of thousands of other people around the world.  I remember thinking prior to finding the 12 Step programs, that there had to be a better way to live.  It didn’t seem possible that everyone on the planet was as sad and hopeless as I felt when witnessing such unkind, self-defeating and at times cruel actions between people.  ” There have to be people who live happier lives than I’ve this.”  That was my thought.  And my Higher Power has confirmed it for me, and led me to what will continuously transform my life for the better.  For me and for those whose lives I impact.  Progress starts with the 1st Step.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am surrendering.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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