** This blog is dedicated to my daughter and anyone who suffers from an addiction, as well as the loved ones that are standing by watching, loving and encouraging them to wholeness again.**
The 12 steps are a group of principles, spiritual in nature, that are to be practiced as a way of life for those suffering from addiction. The idea is to help expel the obsessive behavior (drinking, drugs, or any addiction) so the person can feel and become happy and whole again. These principles are so powerful they can be used to overcome not only addiction, but limiting beliefs and harmful thoughts and behaviors in the non-addict as well.
Reference: Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (1981), Alcoholics Anonymous World Service, Inc.
Step #1: We admit we are powerless and our lives have become unmanageable.
Complete and utter defeat…or as I like to call it…surrender. No one likes to admit they are wrong, let alone suffer the humiliation that often accompanies the admission. The truth is, it is only by admitting that something outside of ourselves took our power that we are then able to be free. As the Bible says, “the truth will set you free.”
We all allow something in our lives to take our power…money, people, places, thoughts, drugs, alcohol. You know what it is for you. It is that one thing that almost immediately makes you feel less than what you are. When we feel powerless, we tend to make choices that follow suit…choices that render us powerless.
I often do an exercise when I am working with corporate groups that help individuals identify their personality tendencies. I call them tendencies because I believe that once we are aware of something, it can be changed. We may lean towards one behavior or another, but we always have the power to make a different choice… one that serves us rather than harms us. This exercise is called The Behavior Matrix. Individuals identify themselves as a Controller, Supporter, Analyzer or Promoter. Each category has a characteristic associated with it that is a characteristic the person who identifies with that category tends to have a hard time exhibiting in their daily behaviors…especially in relationships. The one that always stands out to me (maybe because I fall into that category) is the Controller category. Controllers find themselves needing to show more humility in relationships. Controllers also tend to want to control situations and people around them due to fear. Mostly fear of not being in control and knowing the outcome. I remember when I first heard the word humility when I did this exercise; I needed someone to give me an example or definition of it. I was a bit disconnected from my own reality then. In order to allow yourself to feel humbled by something, you must also have an underlying hope that once the admission takes place, something better will take its place.
When my father died 6 years ago, I struggled with hope. I not only couldn’t define it for myself, I felt void of it…hopeless. This paired with the lack of humility was a devastating combination. I already felt hopeless and was mad at God, so what good was trying to understand it all…let alone admit that maybe what the issue was my relationship with God.
Everything comes back to our relationship with God. What we call our struggles and challenges are simply God’s way of bringing us back to him. How else does a relationship strengthen other than through challenges that test its very nature?
Hitting bottom is a common phrase we hear in the addiction circles. One must “hit bottom” before they are ready to admit defeat and humbly enough admit to be powerless to that which brought them to their knees. What I have learned beautifully from my daughter and from countless others in the field, is that “bottom” is different for everyone. For one it may be losing everything they hold sacred in their life and for another it may be a scare with the law. Our bottom depends on the lessons we each have to learn in this lifetime.
We have different experiences because we have different lessons. No one person experiences the same thing the same way. We bring to each experience our past, conditioning, strengths and challenges. Our future is made up of our present choices.
Admitting you are powerless and have lost control and manageability of your life allows the doors for opportunity to open. This admission cracks a window in your castle so the winds of change can enter. When your computer freezes and becomes powerless due to a glitch, you shut it down and reboot it. Trust me when I tell you that we all need “rebooting” at least once in our lives (some of us several times). Thank God for control-alt-delete!
Where do you lose your power? Regardless of whether or not you call yourself an addict, spend some time identifying the thoughts, people, things or places that render you powerless. In what areas has your life become unmanageable? The first step to recovery and balance is awareness. Awareness allows for a pause in the sands of time so you can then have the time to make a different choice.
The choice is always up to you…
Aware, awake and humble,
Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and Google+.