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steps to freedom

Just about anyone can relate to giving in to temptation, but when giving in becomes compulsion, there’s a distinct lack of control that creeps in. There’s a methodology for taking back control that’s given millions of people hope and freedom.

The twelve steps are a blue print for living life as a whole human being and consist of universal spiritual principles.

The Twelve Steps was originally designed by recovering alcoholics by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in 1939, along with the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. Since then, the steps have given rise to methods of dealing with just about any damaging behaviour pattern.

Recovering alcoholic Steve Castleman says that the steps are a blueprint for living life as a whole human being, not just a way to stay sober. ‘They consist of universal spiritual principles: tell the truth; treat others as you’d want to be treated; monitor your inevitable failures, apologise for them and make things right if you can do so without hurting others.’

UNPACKING THE STEPS

The steps encourage deep introspection and honesty. It’s not an easy process for anyone, but it’s certainly cleansing and freeing.

STEP ONE: Breaking the denial about your addiction so you can gain full acceptance that it’s no longer an option.

First and foremost, you have to admit and acknowledge you have a problem: ‘Hi my name is ___________ and I’m an addict’. While some critics believe the consistent ‘labelling’ of yourself may well be damaging and stigmatizing, the act of identifying yourself as an alcoholic or addict solidifies the powerlessness you have over your addiction. It refers to your inability to control your compulsion in spite of any negatives consequences you’ll have to endure as a result.

STEP TWO: This step works on the belief that there is a solution and relies on asking others for help.

This was originally based on believing in a higher power and asking for strength. Now, although spiritual belief is encouraged, it’s not prescribed. This step also teaches addicts how to ask for help healthily, without manipulation.

STEP THREE: The decision to commit to a new way of life that’s steeped in acceptance and trust.

While this may seem an easy enough thing to do, the reality is that so much discipline comes in here. Commitment takes work and if you’re not willing to do the hard work, you may need to go back to the first step and begin again with truly accepting that your damaging behaviour is simply not an option.

STEP FOUR: Observing and exploring, honestly, harm and resentment from the past caused by your addiction.

It’s difficult to admit when you’re wrong – in fact it’s much easier to blame just about anyone else or any circumstance for your behaviour. While your current addiction may be uncontrollable, the behaviour patterns leading towards your addiction were actually a series of choices.

STEP FIVE: Confessing – telling someone else about the harm and resentment that you’ve played a part in due to your addiction.

Building up your self esteem is a part of the recovery process and in confessing to someone, you learn your story is worth listening to and that you’re worthy of forgiveness and respect. Many people choose to do this step with a sponsor (a person who has completed the steps) as they’re more likely to be compassionate about the journey you’re undertaking. Whoever you confess to, it’s important to choose someone who is likely to help maintain perspective and keep you from slipping in to ‘blame’ mode.

STEP SIX: Confronting your personality traits that have contributed towards your addiction.

As you can see, the steps begin to peel off the layers of self-lies and denial that have helped you sustain your addiction. It’s all part of regaining control by identifying what could be leading you towards addiction and compulsive behaviour. One blogger wrote that after going through steps four and five, he wasn’t sure if he needed step six. However, after contemplating the step he realised that some natural instincts can be enhanced to damaging levels; for example, pride in its natural instinct can lead to a good self esteem, but when left unchecked, it leads to arrogance.

STEP SEVEN: Committing to change your damaging personality traits.

Once again, that commitment may sound a l