Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Twelve Principles of Alcoholics Anonymous

There are principles which correspond to each of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Part of Step 12 is that we “practice these principles in all our affairs”. So, it’s important to know what they are! This is an effort to expand on the meaning of the Principles of the 12 Steps. These are the principles that are incorporated into our daily lives as 'we walk the walk'. Employing each of these behaviors will help to rebuild a life of increased self-esteem, self-confidence and recovery. Here are the action principles behind the Twelve Steps:

1. Honesty – It is vital to concede that we are alcoholics if we are to achieve sobriety. The odds are against us if we don’t completely admit defeat and surrender. This takes being truthful with ourselves. The alcoholic cannot differentiate the true from the false. By learning to be honest with ourselves and admit an honest desire to be sober, we begin the spiritual program of action.

2. Hope - In order to engage in a course of alcoholism recovery, we must have hope of success. If there is no hope, why try? We have not been able to stay sober on our own, and the desperation we feel when we enter AA is overwhelming. A way to instill hope is to realize recovery is not a question of ability, but rather a desire to stay sober. Seeing others recover and live free of alcohol brings hope.

3. Faith - This decision step to go on with the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous asks that we step out on faith. It is only a matter of being willing to believe. Through the process of the 12 steps, that belief turns into faith. We carry this faith into the rest of the steps by being willing to believe. We must begin to have faith it will work.

4. Courage - This step is really about courage to honestly look at ourselves. Take a look at how our behavior has become warped to justify our continued behavior. We are here to take an honest assessment of ourselves. Looking at causes and conditions of our alcoholic behavior can be scary.

5. Integrity - If we have truly done a thorough job of introspection and evaluation of our assets and shortcomings, do we have the integrity to own up to it? It can be very difficult to be open and honest about our past behaviors. We begin to learn to do the right thing even though no one is watching.

6. Willingness - Now that we have accomplished an inventory of the good and not so good aspects of our character and behavior, are we willing to change them? All of them? The important part in this 12 step principle is the willingness to let go of old behaviors and rely on our Higher Power.

7. Humility - Here we move further into action. We have seen in step 5 where we have been selfish and self-centered. We practice being humble by realizing that we are not the center of the universe. We are all simply small parts of a huge whole. To be human is to make mistakes. Hopefully our journey has led us to the point where we can readily admit mistakes and accept ourselves for being imperfect. We are asking for help in forgiving ourselves.

8. Brotherly Love – While we are preparing a list of those to whom we owe amends, it becomes time for the “golden rule”. It is important to begin treating others as we wish to be treated. We must also learn not to judge others, but accept them for who they are, not our vision of who they should be.

9. Discipline - We are continuing to remove the barriers that can block forward sober growth. We are getting ready to sweep our side of the street clean. We are learning to become accountable while making amends to those people we have harmed. We are practicing new behaviors by facing our wrongs, so it is important to have this self discipline. We are trying to try to correct our wrongs through action, not just words. We stay close to our sponsor during each amends to stay focused and disciplined.

10. Perseverance – We have entered the world of the Spirit and strive to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This takes practice and means we have to keep on keeping on. We are beginning to trudge the road of Happy Destiny, and this takes diligence.

11. Spiritual Awareness – Step 11 suggests that we continue to improve our conscious contact with our Higher Power, so we tap into that power through prayer and meditation. We become cognizant of the blessings we are receiving in our new life. We are learning to notice His handiwork in all aspects of our lives.

12. Service - Having experienced a psychic change that keeps us sober one day at a time, we are empowered to demonstrate the new principles by which we live. We remain in action in our daily life through example. We seek out and are available to help others in need. We continue to carry the message of hope and recovery. We strive to help wherever we can even in the smallest, simple tasks of life.

These are the action Principles of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. As long as we use these principles each day, we receive the gift of sobriety.