Monday, March 2, 2009
Are the steps the only way?
I enjoyed hosting the chat last night. There were quite a few bloggers on there. Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed it.
One of the most interesting questions that came up for me was whether the steps were the only way.
I immediately thought "Yes". But then I realized that I needed to qualify that by saying, "Yes, for me they are a proven way." But the steps may not be the only way for others.
So I went back to the source. The Big Book states, "Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery.."
And further reading revealed that "It would be a product of false pride to claim that A.A. is a cure-all, even for alcoholism." (Bill W. in "A.A. Comes of Age", page 232.). Bill W. repeatedly said that "our hats are off to you if you can find a better way" and "If [those seeking a different cure] can do better by other means, we are glad." (Bill W. in Concept XII).
For me as an Al-Anon member, the 12 steps are a guideline for change. I took these steps and found a process to focus on myself, seek the help of others, clean up the problems in my life, and share the process with others. These steps are not the only way that people can change, but the key to recovery is change.
Many people resist any kind of change. They don't want to do the work, or they think it will be too painful. Trying to quit an addiction, whether it be to drugs, alcohol, or other people, without replacing that addiction with healthier things doesn't work. The active addiction masks and covers up the underlying problems. Without the mask, the problems become glaring and painful. There are not many choices when anyone gets to that point. They can live with the problems (pain), begin to change the problems(recovery), or go back to masking the problems (addiction).
Each person must make the choice about how they are going to deal with this. I needed a guideline for change. I'd been to therapists, but it wasn't until doing the 12 steps that I started to move into recovery.
I didn't want to live with the pain anymore. So the pain of changing became less than the pain of remaining in my problems. And from what I've heard in meetings, those who work the steps find that something wonderful and remarkable occurs. I found that I could overcome hopelessness, despair, dishonesty, loneliness, anger, resentment, fear, impatience, arrogance, intolerance, and a host of other defects that gave rise to great suffering.
So the 12 steps were a way for me to undergo cognitive restructuring. I'm sure that working the steps won't succeed in every individual. But by doing the Steps, I took myself through a new way of thinking, feeling, seeing and acting. And in doing so, I found aspects of myself that had been hidden and that were much more vital than I had known before.
I don’t know of any better alternative for me. May you find your own way.