“Now let’s ponder the need for a list of the more glaring personality defects all of us have in varying degrees. To those having religious training, such a list would set forth serious violations of moral principles. Some others will think of this list as defects of character. Still others will call it an index of maladjustments. Some will become quite annoyed if there is talk about immorality, let alone sin. But all who are in the least reasonable will agree upon one point: that there is plenty wrong with us alcoholics about which plenty will have to be done if we are to expect sobriety, progress, and any real ability to cope with life.” p. 48.
But what, exactly, are these principles and where did they come from?
The principles of Twelve Step recovery are the opposite of our character defects.
In recovery, we try to take the opposite of our character defects/shortcomings and turn them into principles.
For example, we work to change
- fear into faith,
- hate into love,
- egoism into humility,
- anxiety and worry into serenity,
- complacency into action,
- denial into acceptance,
- jealousy into trust,
- fantasizing into reality,
- selfishness into service,
- resentment into forgiveness,
- judgmentalism into tolerance,
- despair into hope,
- self-hate into self-respect, and
- loneliness into fellow- ship.
Through this step work we learn to understand the principles of our program.
Such work may look like an overwhelming goal to an Outsider, but those of us in AA know that our true goal is progress, not perfection.” As the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, tells us, we are not destined for sainthood and we should not be discouraged when we cannot “Maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles are guides to progress.
Bill Pittman AA historian, author, and publisher 1947-2007