The 12 Step AA Way of Life
We know that the letter “D” stands for quite a number of things, of which concern alcoholics, such as “drunk,” “debilitated,” “delirious” and “dead”. But did you know that the essence of each of the Twelve Steps (see below) of the AA program can be summed up in one word, each beginning with the letter “D”?
The First Step speaks of how we were DEFEATED, completely defeated by alcohol.
The Second Step shows that we still had enough DISCERNMENT left to recognise that somewhere beyond this mad mental climate we had created for ourselves, there was a Power which could help us back to a life of sanity.
In the Third Step, we tell of how we DELIVERED our will, our lives, lock stock and barrel, over to the care of this Power as we understood Him.
The Fourth Step was very hard on the ego, for in taking it we had to burrow into every hidden corner of our personality, and DISCOVER what kind of person we really were, discover all those nasty traits of character that we despised in others, but never suspected in ourselves.
And Step Five was even harder’ for, having discovered these things, we were required to DISCLOSE them, not only to God who already knew, not only to ourselves, who had just found out but also to another human. And that is where we learn humility.
Step Six speaks of our very sincere DESIRE to rid ourselves of these faults, with the help of God
And in Step Seven we approach Him humbly and ask Him to help us to DISCARD them. This is not a Step to be taken lightly. In the seven words of this Step is contained the heartfelt cry of men of all breeds and creeds right down through the ages “Lord, God Allah, Jehovah, whoever and whatever you are, help me to become a better person “ And if it is asked in complete sincerity, it is always heard and answered.
Having attained the right mental attitude, we were then ready to tackle the practical aspects of our problem. What’ could we do to show our sincerity.
Well, for one thing’ although we could not unlock the door to the past and undo all the wrongs we had done to others’ at least we could make such amends as we were able. And so, in Step Eight, we DECIDED to do so. And, in Step Nine, having decided to make amends we DID, as far as possible.
Step Ten is a safeguard for us, to ensure that, having found our right place in the scheme of things we continued to keep it. We use DISCRETION in our dealings with others, and in our mental attitudes. If we have been following a wrong course of thought, word or deed we should have the DISCRETION to see it and admit it
The word “prayer” means “request” and in Step Eleven we submit a request for DIRECTION The prophet Jeremiah said, “It is not for man that walks to direct his steps”. We in AA recognise this fact, it is the backbone of our faith. If we tried directing our steps they would lead us into the nearest bar.
So, instead, in our various ways, we ask God what He wants us to do, and to give us the power to do it. He will put the right answer into our minds, and we can be sure He will give us the power to do it.
Now, in regard to Step Twelve, I have heard it referred to as the final Step, or the last Step of the Twelve. There’s no such thing as the last Step of the AA program The principles which lie behind all of these Steps are timeless.
Obviously, something has to be written first and something last but to speak of the Twelfth Step as if it were the last nail in a building is, I believe, to miss the whole point of the program I like to think of the Twelfth Step as the happy result of the application of the preceding Eleven to our lives. The carrying of the message to alcoholics and practising these principles in all our affairs, seems to me not only a vital step, it is also an unselfish, positive manifestation of DEDICATION to the cause of AA, something we will do just as naturally as breathing.
So, to sum up, From DEFEAT we use DISCERNMENT to DELIVER ourselves over to the Higher Power. From DISCOVERY of our faults and DISCLOSING them we DESIRE to DISCARD them. After DECIDING to take positive action, we turn thought into DEED. By using DISCRETION and seeking DIRECTION, we reach the happy goal of DEDICATION to the service of God and man, and what higher goal can any human attain.
Neal of Roma, Pathfinder, November 1973.
Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Page 59-60 of the AA Big Book.