Stepping Stones, home of Alcoholics Anonymous cofounder Bill W. and his wife, in Katonah, NY, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wikipedia lists the 12 original steps from Alcoholics Anonymous and I have copied them here. The great thing about these 12 steps is that they can be used for any addiction, from overeating to alcohol, anger to drug addiction. I’ve added my own thoughts under each of the 12 steps.
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol [overeating or any addiction]—that our lives had become unmanageable.
The first step is to admit you have a problem and that you are not able to solve the problem by yourself. Usually this is difficult to admit and to really stop and think about what it means to say our life has become unmanageable. It simply means we are not managing it in the best way and that we know there must be a better way of doing things. We just have to find that better way. Getting out of denial is actually very freeing.
2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Restore us to sanity? That sounds harsh. But you know the old saying: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. If this is true, almost everyone is insane at some point in their life.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
That may sound scary to many people, to turn our will over to God. Many just don’t believe that there is a God, and that he loves us much more than we love ourselves. If you look at the principles in the Bible, they are not made to limit our fun, but to keep us out of self-destructive thoughts and actions. Jesus said that he came so that we can have abundant life, and have it to the full, to really enjoy it. John 10:10
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Stop and think about what it is that makes us overeat, get angry, fail at a career, etc. Is something missing from our character? Are we being lazy? Why are we being lazy? Probably we are craving something that our soul needs but is not getting and we try to fill that void with overeating, drunkenness, self-destructive drugs, etc.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
If we can get out of denial and admit that we are wrong about something, it is a huge step toward conquering the problem. If we don’t think we have done anything wrong, why change? It really helps to talk to others about it. Talking about it has always been a huge help in my life, and I have heard others say the same thing.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Jesus promised to give us great power by giving us the Holy Spirit. If you are not sure you have the Holy Spirit living in you, you can always ask God for him, and he will come and fill you. More information at http://www.campuscrusade.com/fourlawseng.htm
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Ask the creator of the universe to take away a weakness, he will give you success. I have heard of a few people getting cured of their addition right away, but for most people it takes time and a lot of effort. That is not easy to hear, but just think of an ugly caterpillar changing into a beautiful butterfly, the struggle he goes through to get out of the cocoon makes him stronger so that he can fly and be free.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Overeating is dangerous to our health, but we don’t usually think of it hurting other people the way alcoholism does, but it can. Check with your loved ones for information about this.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
If we are fighting to overcome anger or other bad habits, it is good to ask people to forgive us. This takes wisdom. Sometimes it hurts a person’s feelings to ask them to forgive something they didn’t know we did against them.
10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
This means that as the weeks and months go on, we have to be willing to review our growth and if we find ourselves slipping back into bad habits, to correct our path.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Unlimited power comes from God. We get that enormous power by staying connected to him. Prayer puts us on a higher plane and makes us stronger, as does meditation (thinking about) the promises in the Bible that guarantee success.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Say the second verse out loud ten times and it will change your attitude. Say it out loud ten times every day and it will change your life if you have the faith to accept it. Try looking in a mirror when you say it and it will help even more.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics [overeaters, lack of success], and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
I have found this is one of the most powerful steps. When we teach others something, it really makes us learn it well and fully accept it. Blogging about weight loss, teaching or mentoring others in a support group are ways to really make us experts on these ideas and strengthen them in our hearts.