The Alternative 12 Steps
The Alternative 12 Steps
Admit we are powerless over other people, random events and our own persistent negative behaviors, and that when we forget this, our lives become unmanageable.
Principles: Insight, Honesty
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Step 1 is a shift in thinking. We shift from thinking that we are powerful and in charge of our lives to accepting the reality that our efforts haven't worked. Our struggles to control ourselves and others have only made our lives unmanageable. In this way we have been blind to ourselves. Step 1 gives us the insight and honesty to admit that we are not managing our lives very well, that a lot of things are beyond our control and that we live with emotional pain. It is the first step on our road to serenity. We can begin to use the affirmation of serenity that millions of people have used before us.
Today I seek the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
(Adapted from "The Serenity Prayer," by Reinhold Niebuhr)
Something About Denial And Self-Deception
Unexamined lives are often lives lived in denial. Denial is not conscious lying - it is simply self-deception, a series of personal blind spots. We don't have to be bad people or have bad problems in order to engage in self-deception. The only requirement is that we don't want to know all the truth about ourselves or our lives. We use our wonderfully complex brains to deny and obscure reality and to keep on believing that we are managing, that we are in control.
We throw ourselves into arranging the outcome we desire. And the outcome we desire is to keep on doing what we are doing. We want to feel good about ourselves without facing the pain and difficulty of admitting that we aren't able to control other people, the random events around us and even our own persistent negative behavior. We want to feel good about ourselves without having to change, and denial is our shortcut.
We have many ways of deceiving ourselves. We deny that we have a problem. We hide a problem behind a visible asset or success. We give our problem a new name. We manipulate or blame others. We control. We knock ourselves out to please, to be good. We bully. We act helpless. We rationalize and justify. The list goes on and on in endless variation.
Our techniques are mental inventions that deny the truth about ourselves. We believe our inventions and cling to them. The denial that has been our shortcut becomes our dead end. We are blocked from real growth because we are blind and we stay blinded. Blindness remains our condition until we are ready to grow up.
Our Inner Condition Makes Us Ready For Step One
We have problems. Whatever they are, however large or small, we are afflicted and affected and less than serene. It's a chronic situation. Some of us are stuck with an insolvable problem, some with a generalized inner distress. Our problems may be at the crisis stage or they may not be terribly serious. They may be obvious to outsiders or others may hardly notice them. It doesn't matter. The point is that we feel an inner strain. Emotionally and perhaps physically, we are not comfortable.
Our chronic problems often grow up around points of unresolved pain. We have hurts from the past and we attach to them strong emotions, such as rage, feelings of inferiority or fears of being excluded or abandoned. We pile these emotions on top of each other and are propelled into ways of behaving that cause us even more pain. So we fall into a vicious cycle of compulsive feelings and activities as our solution.
We Are Packed Full Of Self And Loaded With False Power
One thing true of most of us is that we are full of ourselves. We are tied up in our own knots - we have no objectivity about what we think, feel or do. We are full of our pain