Step One states: We admitted we were powerless over our problems and that our lives have become unmanageable.
The foundation for recovery is the belief that healing is possible. We can each experience freedom from the damaging effects of ours and other’s behavior. But, in order to receive healing, we have to know the exact nature of the healing we need. It’s important, especially if this is your first journey through the steps, to get specific about what behavior, issue, or relationship you want to focus on. I recently heard a word picture that speaks to recovery. Our life – our feelings, relationships, behaviors – is like a pool. Debris from life settle at the bottom of the pool and make it dirty and unpleasant. God, through the 12 step process, is like the pool sweeper. The sweeper cannot get every single bit of debris and algae on the first time across the bottom. It has to stir some things up, collect what is can on that pass, and come back by that spot later. Recovery is very much that way. We work on one particular feeling, behavior, or relationship and then later discover other parts of the pool that need attention. So, in order for this journey not to get overwhelming, it is wise to choose one main focus for the next 12 weeks.
- A behavior (Drinking, drugs, sexual conduct, eating, self harm, shopping, cheating, working, gambling, controlling, stealing, etc)
- A relationship (Marriage, Parent, Child, Boss, Co-worker, In Law, Neighbor, etc)
- A feeling (Fear, isolation, rebellion, anger, resentment, guilt, self-pity, uncontrollable emotions, desire to flee, etc)
It is important that you discover what your focus will be. You can do that by journaling through some thought-provoking questions. I’m going to borrow some material from Keith Miller’s book Hunger for Healing I would strongly recommend you pick up a copy for yourself, as it is a fabulous resource for this journey! Grab your notebook and a pen and start sweeping your pool!
Feelings over which I am Powerless
- Describe recurring fears and worry (finances, family, authority, God, etc)
- Describe resentments, anger, or hurt you still feel caused by family, organizations, or others.
- Describe guilt or shame you still feel (specific past actions, relationships, etc)
- Describe lingering feelings of sadness, self-pity, or loneliness
- Describe jealousy (material things, other’s status or position, relationships, etc)
- Describe areas where you are unable to feel anything (with those you love, with those who hurt you, when tragedy strikes, etc)
- Describe physical symptoms over which you are powerless (eye twitch, rumbling stomach, trouble sleeping, headaches, sexual dysfunction, muscle tension, etc)
Behaviors over which I am Powerless
- List items you keep eating, drinking, or taking even though you don’t want to
- List compulsive behaviors – things you keep on doing though you know it’s probably not in your best interest (or best for those you love) to keep doing it (lying, exaggerating, manipulating, taking unreasonable risks, raging, making excuses, blaming, giving advice, criticising, compulsive fantasies, sexual behavior, pornography, spending, etc)
People over which I am Powerless
- List family members, co-workers, bosses, and others whose behavior irritates, hurts, and upsets you and what it is they do that you can’t get them to stop doing