Principles and Recovery Pt. 2
“Openness, respect, integrity – these are principles that need to underpin pretty much every other decision that you make.” Justin Trudeau
In our last blog, Principles in Recovery Part 1 we discussed spiritual principles for steps 1-6. In this blog, we’re going to cover the spiritual principles behind steps 7-12. All these spiritual principles become second nature through living a life of sobriety while working a robust recovery program, helping to keep us “right-sized.”
Humility and Step Seven
Humility is at the core of the entire process. Bill W states, “Indeed the attainment of greater humility is the foundation principle of each of AA’s Twelve Steps. The 12 steps produce ego deflation at depth. There are many definitions; most are along the line of “an accurate sense of self-appraisal.” Addicts and alcoholics too often go back and forth from being better than everyone or worse than everyone. Step 7 focuses on humility in that we have “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
Brotherly Love and Step Eight
Being that the 8th step is only three lines in the big book and only speaks of making a list, we would have to turn to the Twelve and Twelve to connect the principle to a step. The entire chapter is about relationships and the inventory of the distance between us and others in the arena of intimacy, “Since defective relations with other human beings have nearly always been the immediate cause of our woes, including our alcoholism, no field of investigation could yield more satisfying and valuable rewards than this one.” (pg. 80) It is the process of steps 4 through 9 that teaches how to have brotherly love.
Discipline and Step Nine
Discipline is a staple of solid recovery and any success in life in general. Tact, timing, and prudence are discussed in the 9th step mostly. On page 89 it states “We alcoholics are undisciplined people. So, we let God discipline us in the simple way we have outlined. The is the end of step 11 in the book. There are two interpretations of that sentence. One is the entire book leading up to that and all the instructions up to step 11 are a disciplining process; the other is that the two pages prior with very detailed instructions on how to go about the day from start to finish is the outline. Both of those interpretations work.
Perseverance and Step Ten
Step 10 discusses recovery and the practices of steps 1 through 9 not being an overnight matter, “this should continue for a lifetime.” Like anything from physical exercise to spiritual growth, consistency is what produces results.
Spiritual Awareness and Step Eleven
The entire recovery program can come down to one thing: discerning God’s will. What is this but spiritual awareness? In the instructions on step 11, some promises are made concerning awareness. “If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent, we have become God-conscious.” There is always contact with the Universe, Higher Power or God, the question is how conscious or present we are to it. Over time and practice “we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it.” (pg. 87)
Service and Step Twelve
We have all heard the paradox, “We have to give it away to keep it.” The 12th step is the highest form of service in the fellowship. All have value, but something magical happens when two addicts or alcoholics sit down with literature in between them. The Carpenters’ adage of two or more beings gathered creating a Presence seem to apply. Carrying the message not only saves lives, but it also improves the life of the carrier as well. We re-engage the process when we teach. Teach to learn. In normal math when someone gives something away they have less, the spiritual alchemy of service doesn’t work the same. When we give, we receive more of what we give.
For an interesting perspective on the many principles attached to each step the Friends of Bill site seems to have done a fantastic job as well. When you go through the steps with your sponsor, you will see these spiritual principles presenting themselves in your life in the way you act. The longer we practice a program and remain active in our sobriety the spiritual principles integrate into our daily lives. Even if you’re not in recovery, these principles can help you to be a better person, that’s the beauty of recovery, it shows you how to live a new way of life. Sobriety can become a way of life.