Maybe you are one of those rare people who can actually accomplish what Bob Newhart suggests via his comedy skit Stop It! – i.e. perhaps you're able to notice a pattern of compulsive or addictive behavior; and immediately thereafter decide all at once to “stop it.” And if so, that’s great! Sometimes just seeing clearly the harmful effects of a behavioral pattern is enough to catalyze a deep transformation into more balanced and healthy ways-of-being.
But for many (perhaps a majority) of us, a more gradual approach is necessary. Twelve Step programs are designed to support an incremental, step-by-step journey from addictive/compulsive patterns to the joyful freedom that lies beneath and is hiding within them. Whether your substance/activity “of choice” is alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, marijuana, addictive love/sex relationships, being in debt, gambling, over-working -- you need a coping mechanism or a program that will give you more Power over Addiction.
If you're a smoker and have thought about quitting, you can start by simply downloading our Free Checklist to check for signs that you're ready to quit.
In this short poem, Wayne Liquorman – author of The Way Of Powerlessness, and a student of Australia's own Sailor Bob Adamson -- expresses the revolutionary transformation that is possible, when we commit and deeply surrender to the process of unwinding destructive patterns:
I’m just another miracle
A common resurrection
Lifted out of the dead zone
Into the light
Open Secret: The Power Of Powerlessness
Of the various principles that guide a Twelve Step process, two stand out as particularly important: The first is to take it “one day at a time.” Instead of expecting grand results all at once (in the model of Bob Newhart's Stop It!) – we learn to be satisfied with success day by day; moment by moment.
The second and perhaps most pivotal principle is that of surrendering our limited (and, as it turns out, largely imaginary) individual power; and in its place invoking the support of a “Higher Power.” There are many names we might give to this higher power: God, Nature, Universal Power, Life-Force, Tao, the Divine, Inner Wisdom, True Self, Buddha-Nature or Great Spirit are some common ones.
Regardless of what we call it, we invoke and surrender to this Higher Power. Initially, the giving-over of (what we imagine to be) our individual power might feel like a loss. What eventually we experience, however, is that the flow of a Higher Power is infinitely more nourishing and satisfying. And we come to understand that the addictive pattern -- along the separate “self” upon whose behalf it was functioning -- is what has been blocking the natural flow of this Higher Power.
It's a delicious paradox: By surrendering our individual power, we become an open channel for the flow of a Higher Power. So in this sense, powerlessness is revealed as being the secret to genuine strength!
Our Universal Body
Along the way, we come to acknowledge the radical interdependence of our human body with its surrounding environment: with the air that we breathe, with the water that we drink, with the fruits and vegetables that we eat – even with the Earth’s electromagnetic field, whose information continuously “feeds” our human nervous system. When we trace the lines of interconnection, we discover the entire universe to be our “true body.”
Similarly, we notice that what we call our “mind” (viz. thoughts and internal images) is continuously influenced by the so-called external environment, via sensory perceptions, impressions from the media, and conversations with other people. So “mind” also is not the isolated entity that we may have assumed it to be.
And finally, we tune in to the fact that even our consciousness, our awareness (that which is aware of these words, right now) transcends any boundaries – any space-time borders – that we may be tempted to assign it. And this is the “open secret” of Twelve Step programs: that in surrendering to a Higher Power, our true identity is revealed – not as something separate and isolated, but rather as a flowing interdependence with all-that-is; and the transpersonal awareness within which our human body, mind and world unfolds.