Principles of the 12 Steps: Pay It Forward
As mentioned before, some consider Step 12 part of that “maintenance step” package included with Step 10 and 11. For me, Step 12 is a call for more action and to double down on my efforts to make sure I’m in the community, attending meetings, and being of service to others. By the time I got to this step, I had a spiritual awakening and felt I was equipped to help other alcoholics. Up to this point working through the steps with a sponsor, the focus of them has been a lot of interpersonal work, changing myself, and solely focusing on me; one could say we need to be selfish. When I reached this step, I was at a point where I could turn those efforts outward to help the next sick and suffering alcoholic.
Step 12 is a culmination of the principles behind each of the steps:
- Honesty – I have to be aware that being dishonest breaks down the connection with my Higher Power because I’ve developed a conscious and want to avoid feeling guilty for my decisions.
- Hope – Simply put: I hoped the 12 Steps would help me get sober, stay sober, and restore my peace of mind.
- Faith – When I started the program, I was hurting, angry, miserable, frustrated and exhausted. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I had no option because of how I was living my life wasn’t working. However, I somehow had faith the program could work for me because I saw it work in other people.
- Courage – Having the nerve to jump in and commit to follow through with what I started and stick with it. Honestly, Steps 1 – 3 are easy. A lot of people don’t get through Step 4 because you’re digging out all the skeletons in your closet, and it takes a lot of courage to face reality and complete it.
- Integrity – Doing the right thing when nobody is watching. Sticking to my word and following through is what integrity means to me.
- Willingness – I have to be willing and have the desire to make this entire life change by trusting the process and the program. I have to be willing to remain teachable because recovery is a lifelong process and there’s no finish line.
- Humility – Realizing that once you think you’ve “got it,” you don’t. I practice this principle by reminding myself that I’m not any better or any worse than anyone, EVER.
- Brotherly love – Working to restore a connection with other people and not excluding myself from society.
- Discipline – Recovery has to be a priority. It has to stay at the top of my list, and I know I need to get to those meetings even when I don’t feel like it. Recovery is non-negotiable or else it’s gone. As long as it took to gain, it can be taken away just as quickly. I keep my first sponsor in mind when I think about this principle and go back to the humility principle.
- Perseverance – Don’t quit when things get difficult or you’re faced with adversity. When you’re 100% committed, you stay dedicated to recovery. My life now is SO much better than it was three years ago. I’ve come further in my family life, career, and relationships than I ever did in active addiction. I won’t jeopardize that.
- Spirituality – Believing that some form of a Higher Power is going to help me get, maintain, and continue my sobriety. Here’s news for you: it’s not me that’s keeping me sober because I wasn’t able to stay sober on my own accord. It has to be some entity I’ve connected to internally that is keeping me sober.
- Service – This work can be done in many different forms: volunteering with a charity, sponsorship, chairing a meeting, or something as simple as just being present at a meeting.
Doing 12 Step work every day is how I stay sober. I’m fortunate to be in the position I’m in at Lakeview Health as an Alumni Coordinator because I can implement the 12th principle on a daily basis. I also work the 12th Step when someone calls me needing help getting to a meeting, detox, or just someone to talk to. This step is extremely important because The Big Book says in order to keep what you have (a program of sobriety), you have to be willing to give it away to others. At this point in the 12 Steps, it is no longer a selfish program.