Authors: Melody Beattie
Recovery offers us many tools to aid in our spiritual growth. At the “Addictionz” Web site, www.addictionz.com, Dean Brandhagen gathered the most all-inclusive, comprehensive collection of Twelve Step sayings, slogans, and proverbs that I’ve ever seen, heard, or read. These sayings and slogans have a long shelf life. They’ve been around for a long time. The reason for that is that they work. They help us come to believe, especially those days when we aren’t certain if there’s any hope for us.
Sayings like the ones I use in this book have power because they’re simple to follow and they’re true.
Act as if
means that even if we don’t believe something or
feel a certain way, we can
Fake it until we make it.
We’ve used denial for so many years in a negative way.
Fake it until we make it
means that we can use the positive side of denial by pretending we can succeed until we do. We force ourselves to think and when you don’t feel as though we’re already who we want to become.
One more slogan that’s important is
Progress not perfection.
We don’t have to work any Step perfectly. All we need to do at any moment is the best that we can.
Step Two is crucial the first time we work the Steps the thorough way, when we begin the process of consciously growing and changing. But almost all of the Steps make handy little daily tools. That includes this one.
When we become aware of a problem we can’t solve, or we’d like to whip through the solution a little faster, we can apply Step One by thinking to ourselves that we’re powerless over whatever it is that we can’t change. Then we move right up through as many Steps as we need to in order to fix the problem.
Step Two, coming to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, is useful whenever we start controlling, caretaking, or repeatedly trying to do something that doesn’t work. Often all we have to do is think this Step, and that’s enough to do the trick.
We can get to a place in our recovery where we zip through these Steps whenever we get stuck, don’t know what to do, or need help setting a boundary. It takes the power and pressure off us. We acknowledge we don’t have to change ourselves because God changes us.
It’s easy to get caught up in the “self-help” or “do-it-yourself” way of thinking, especially for codependents. Many of us have felt alone and separated from everything and everyone for much of our lives. If anything needed doing, we had to do it ourselves. That doesn’t apply to spiritual growth and change. We need to do our part. We need to work the best program that we can. But we don’t have to transform ourselves.
That’s God’s job.
Take a deep breath. Look around. You have a right to be here. You matter and you count. Where you are is where you belong. This world that may have been so unkind transforms as we transform. What you believe is what you’ll get.
I’m not going to tell you to do something you want to do before you move on to the next lesson. You decide when it’s time to move on to Lesson Four. You decide if you feel like treating yourself, or if you need a rest or break. Making decisions about how to take care of yourself and what you need is your job, and part of working a good program.
These are real powers you possess.
“…forcing my will on any given situation
eliminates the possibility of my Higher Power
doing anything constructive about that situation,
the person, or me.”
—Codependent No More
Suggested reading: chapter 7, “Set Yourself Free”
STEP THREE: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
TWELVE STEPS OF CO-DEPENDENTS ANONYMOUS
s you’re beginning to see, especially if this is your first exposure to the Twelve Steps and what it means to work them, the action we’re to take is clearly spelled out in the first part of each Step. In Step One, we admit that we’re powerless over something or someone, and the result of us trying to have power where we have none is unmanageability or, as related to the Second Step, a lifestyle that’s less than sane. If we back off and look at it, in time we’ll grow to recognize the action called for in the First Step as surrender to reality, the truth, and the loss we’ve been trying to prevent.
The Second Step calls for a slightly less clear action:
We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
It could mean we grow into believing that we can be restored to sanity and our lives can be restored to being manageable. By whatever method or action, we begin to think and believe a new way about ourselves, God, and our lives. This Step relieves us of the burden of having to change ourselves, or pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, or use willpower to change. It tells us that a Power greater than ourselves will transform us.
Step Three asks us to step up to the plate and make a decision. It’s an intense choice, and brings deeper implications than, for instance, deciding what kind of cereal or peanut butter we’re going to buy at the grocery store. We’re choosing to turn the steering wheel of our lives over to God. Although we’re given ample
room for how we define God, this Step clearly states that it’s a spiritual power that we’re giving the reins to, not a lamppost, a doorknob, or a jelly jar.
We’re choosing to let our Higher Power direct the course of our lives, to go along with the Divine Plan for our lives, and to give to God that invisible but important powerhouse of ambition and fuel that we call our
We’re forfeiting self-will, but that doesn’t mean we’re becoming doormats or limp shells of our past selves. We’re aligning that part of ourselves that drives us forward with God’s will and plan for us. This Step implies that there is a plan, that we each have a divine destiny and there’s a reason we’re here on earth.
In this Step, we’re making a commitment to forgo self-will and surrender to God’s plan. We’re going to let Him guide us, and we’ll turn our will over to Him.
For anyone used to micromanaging things and controlling people, this new way of living can challenge our core beliefs about what we need to do to feel safe and secure. Exciting? Not at first. It feels more frightening than walking a tightrope blindfolded. Gradually, as we relax into God’s arms and let go a little, we see that living this way makes for a much more interesting journey through the world. We can’t figure things out, and we don’t have to. We aren’t certain what will happen next. Often, although we know we’re in the midst of a lesson, we can’t see (because we aren’t supposed to) exactly what it is that we’re trying to learn. If we knew, we’d mess with the educational process. Life is becoming experiential. Soon it’s going to become an adventure. That’s when it’s a fun way to live.
“My mother sent me to church on Sundays and church camp during the summer,” one Double Winner said. “I took it for granted that there’s a God. But by the time I became a teenager, I’d lived with so much abuse, abandonment, and emotional pain that I became fed up with and angry at God. I made a clear decision one day to take my will back and do it myself.
“I was on my way to church and almost there when suddenly I said, ‘Whoa. Wait a minute.’ I stopped to think this through. People have plastered signs on the walls at church that read
God is love.
But not much of what’s happened to me even remotely resembles love. If it does, I don’t want it. God can give that kind of love to someone else. I looked up at the sky. ‘I’ll take it from here, thank you anyway,’ I said. Then I did the exact opposite of what this Step says. I took my life and will back from God’s care. I didn’t think I could do a better job than God had, but I figured I couldn’t do much worse.