Hello Everyone, Lanaya here, COE/alcoholic
The Twelve Steps are the heart of the OA recovery program. They offer a new way of life that enables the compulsive overeater to live without the need for excess food.
The ideas expressed in the Twelve Steps, which originated in Alcoholics Anonymous, reflect practical experience and application of spiritual insights recorded by thinkers throughout the ages. Their greatest importance lies in the fact that they work! They enable compulsive overeaters and millions of other Twelve-Steppers to lead happy, productive lives. They represent the foundation upon which OA is built.
The Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous
Permission to use the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for adaptation granted by AA World Services, Inc.
- We admitted we were powerless over food ≠ that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- 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.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
For the purposes of the rest of this post I am referencing "Alcoholics Anonymous" on line at http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org where you can read the Big Book online. And then I am using http://www.io.com/aamen/steps.html for the AA 12 and 12.
http://www.overeatersanonymous.org/pdf/SlippinSlidin30Qs.pdf 30 questions is not particularly referenced here, but if you want something extra to work on or if you ever find yourself considering relapse these might help.
Again, I am not making the translation from alcohol to food here, but please do so as desired.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
For a long time step three was a very perplexing step for me. I felt it, but could not explain it. Then one day I heard someone say that "will" could be looked at as oneís attitude and "life" as oneís actions. That helped to bring it down to planet earth for me.
Regardless, the whole thing seemed a bit drastic. I wondered what would be left of "me". In fact, I was down right terrified. I had no idea if the kernel of willingness I had could actually be converted into more. I did not like myself and I knew there was some pretty ugly stuff in me and I was afraid that was all of me! What if I found out that was true? What if I found out that I really wasnít lovable, just as I feared? My life was a mess!
P. 60/61 in the Big Book describes my attitude and behavior to a tee!
"Being convinced, we were at Step Three, which is that we decided to turn our will and our life over to God as we understood Him. Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do? The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful."
As I made my surrender in step one in both OA and AA, my relationships with others were in varying degrees of conflict. I was plagued by the idea that "IF ONLY" he would, or she would, or they would.....fill in the blank with whatever suits you, then I would be happy and every thing would be okay and my life would not be a mess and I could be sober or abstinent!. The point was that I had the solution and if only others would do it my way everything would be okay.
I told myself that I could change my mind later if I wanted, but for now I was going to act-as-if I believed the steps worked as they said they did. I did this because I was downright desperate for some relief and all of "my" efforts had not accomplished a thing and indeed seemed to make my situation worse!
p.34 in the AA 12 and 12 says " There is only one key and it is called willingness".........."In fact, the effectiveness of the whole AA program will rest upon how well and earnestly we have tried to come to a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. This is telling us that at this point we do not have to actually take action to turn our will and life over, but rather that we have tried our best with an attitude of willingness to make a decision to do so.
The difference between making a decision and taking the actions to actually turn my will and life over is big, although I did not think so originally. I interpreted the step to mean I needed to turn it all over now. I had no idea how to do that and seriously doubted that I could accomplish the task. My sponsor told me that working the rest of the steps was the validation of step three; that was how I demonstrated and took the action of step three, by working the rest of the steps!
p. 25 12 and 12 says..."Fortunately, we who have tried it, and with equal misgivings, can testify that anyone, anyone at all can begin to do it. We can further add that a beginning, even the smallest, is all that is needed." ............."Every man and woman who has joined AA and intends to stick has, without realizing it, made a beginning on Step Three."
The idea that willingness was the key ingredient and that a small beginning would suffice as a start, was such a relief! I could no longer keep myself out of the program. It does not make too hard terms for us. I did not have to do this step perfectly in order to move on. I did not have to understand or even have solutions, but I did need to be willing to recognize that I was not in control.
p.39 12 and 12 says, "More sobriety brought about by the admission of alcoholism and by attendance at a few meetings is very good indeed, but it is bound to be a far cry from permanent sobriety, and a contented, useful life. That is just where the remaining Steps of the AA program come in. Nothing short of continuous action upon these as a way of life can bring the much-desired result"
Why in the world would anyone go through all of this for anything less than permanent sobriety and a contented, useful life? The idea that I could have permanent sobriety/abstinence was novel, to put it mildly. I had been afraid to hope for that and then here it was! And it is in other spots in the literature as well....and then there are all those folks out there with decades of sobriety and abstinence!
There is a story in the Third Edition, He Had to be Shown. P. 206. As he is approached by his brother and Dr Bob he says,
"I then began asking a lot of questions of both my brother and Dr. Bob about how this thing worked, and I suppose I was becoming more glassy-eyed all the while, for eventually I said to Bob, "Youíre all dried up. Youíre never going to want another drink, are you?"; and this answer of his is very important to those of use who are victims of alcoholism. He said, "So long as Iím thinking as Iím thinking now ad so long as Iím doing the things Iím doing now, I donít believe Iíll ever take another drink."
I hope you can read this story in its entirety to put this in context.
This made a big impact on me and I try to remember that as long as I do my best to stay in fit spiritual condition each day I will remain abstinent/sober.
We obviously have free will. I have heard it said that God gave us free will so we can make a rational, intelligent, informed decision to give it back to God! If I give my will to God, does he give it back to me...ever, easily, under what conditions?
To help me with these questions my sponsor told me the following story. Picture someone so depressed that they are suicidal. One day, while feeling slightly better, she goes to visit a trusted friend. She takes along the gun she had been contemplating self destruction with and asks her friend to please take this gun and hold on to it. She implores her friend not to give the gun back no matter how much she might beg or plead, no matter what excuse she might come up with. Imagine what kind of friend this would be, who, when asked for that gun would just hand it back. How could anyone trust a friend like that?
I believe when I asked God to remove the bondage of self, to remove my self will, that God is not going to give it back to me on a mere whim. I believe that God is not going to let me hurt myself as long as I am thinking the way I am thinking now and doing the things I am doing now. I know that self can rise up, but that means I have to have abandoned the tools and the steps in my life for a prolonged period of time. This has been the case before; I was blind and other times in out and out defiance.
p. 40 in the 12 and 12
"It is when we try to make our will conform with God's that we begin to use it rightly. To all of us, this was a most wonderful revelation. Our whole trouble had been the misuse of willpower. We had tried to bombard our problems with it instead of attempting to bring it into agreement with God's intention for us. To make this increasingly possible is the purpose of A.A.'s Twelve Steps, and Step Three opens the door."
There have been more times than I could count when I have not liked Godís will in the moment. Regardless, my part in working this step is bringing my will in alignment with Godís....accepting life on lifeís terms as Dr. Earle from the Acceptance story in the Big Book 4th edition says.
So, how do I know what Godís will is or isnít?
AA Comes of Age, p.63 Bill Wilson shares:
"I was to test my thinking by the new God-consciousness within. Common sense would thus become uncommon sense. All about me and through me there was a wonderful feeling of Presence, and I thought to myself, "So this is the God of the preachers!" A great peace stole over me and I thought, "No matter how wrong things seem to be, they are still all right. Things are all right with God and His world."
12 and 12 p.104
"We discover that we do receive guidance for our lives to just about the extent that we stop making demands upon God to give it to us on order and on our terms."
My sponsor told me the following story to help me with discerning Godís will.
A person pulled up to a stop sign, and had a decision to make. If he made a left turn he would go to a fantastic party; a right turn would take him home for some much needed rest. He sat there quite a while, praying for an answer to this problem. God didnít answer him, so he made a right turn and went home. He didnít get an answer in a way that he could accept: a voice, a burning bush, or a flaming arrow pointing the way. So he didnít accept the answer that he did get. He made a right turn and went home.
I believe that when I pray that Godís will be done, that I will know the answer by what it is that happens. There are some caveats to this in that I believe I must be in fit spiritual condition and have an attitude of willingness and open-mindedness. I believe that this means that I have taken step three, cleaned house in steps 4 - 9 and then continue to live in steps 10 - 12 and each day ask that my thinking be directed and guided. I have to believe that this program works and that God is not mocking me!
Whatever Godís will is for us we can work at accepting that. My attempt to do things my own way does not work...never did work.
P. 68 in the Big Book says,
"Self-reliance was good as far as it went, but it didnít go far enough. Some of us once had great self-confidence, bit it didnít fully solve the fear problem, or any other. When it made us cocky, it was worse. Perhaps there is a better way - we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity."
p. 62 BB
"This is the how and the why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didnít work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most Good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom. When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn "
OA 12 and 12 p.20
"Our new way of life begins with a willingness to adopt a whole new attitude about weight control, body image, and eating. Our twelve-step program is the most important way OA differs from the diet and weight-loss programs we tried in the past. Those systems gave us diets to follow but made us responsible for adhering to them. In OA we are given no diets. Weight loss is not our only goal, and we accept that even a "perfect" body (if there were such a thing) would not make us happy. Our primary purpose is to abstain from eating compulsively, and we know that in order to do so we will need help.".............p.23 "As we continue abstaining, we find we can depend upon God to eliminate our yearning for the kind of eating that harms us. Much of the time, we no longer want to eat unwisely and we come to prefer foods that are good for us. This miracle of sanity is an everyday reality for thousands of recovering compulsive overeaters. We find we are seldom obsessed with eating and food, so that it is possible for us to continue eating moderate, nutritious meals, one day at a time, day after day, month after month, year after year."
This is a hard step for some people, especially when you get down to the nits. Turning your will and your life over to the care of something you do not see or trust is difficult for most people! My sponsor used the analogy of a babysitter for me and it really helped! She said, "Suppose that your mother comes to you and says, "letís go out and have a great time. Iím going to bring you the most fantastic baby sitter in the world. Give her the kids and the keys. Weíre going to go out for the day." When the babysitter arrives, you see that the babysitter is wearing a black mask. In all probability, no matter how much your mother reassures you that this babysitter is the most fantastic babysitter in the world, the chances are that you are not going to leave your children and your home entrusted to somebody wearing a black mask!"
So, that concept of God we talked about in step 2 is important in helping us take step 3.
Some people develop a concept of God by going through the steps, for after all they are simply beginnings of a lifetime journey. I have found that it is through going through the steps that I can really begin to trust HP and through that begin to see just how truly insane I have been with food and just how powerless I am. I know that the OA 12 and 12 says that we have to do these steps in a linear fashion and that we cannot take step three till we have taken the other two steps and I get that. However, once you can get a concept of God that works for you it makes it a lot easier to let go. We are not letting go into a vacuum.
When I first became abstinent I wrote my food down every day. I wrote down the portion sizes and kept track of my nutritional intake. I wrote down how fast I ate and how I was feeling. I prayed either before or during every meal to let go of control/diet mentality. Using these tools helped me immensely!
I shared above about "If only". Whenever I hear that phrase begin a sentence I can almost guarantee that I am trying to control a situation that is not mine to control! The other tell-tale sign is when I tell myself, "Itís not that big a deal. I can handle it." That is a huge booby trap, baited with pride, ego, fear and denial! I just cannot believe sometimes how insane with food and this illness I have been. I have moments where I minimize the impact. I believe that as I continue in abstinence/recovery, through working these steps, I will become clearer and my context will continue to grow.
I have heard many people talk about God getting their attention by hitting them over the head with a 2x4 or other such analogies and I always shuddered inside, but did not know why. I now know that this step talks about CARE....this was a novel idea to me....God and anyone would CARE for me.
The steps are inter-woven and a package program or recovery. In AA Comes Of Age p.160 in the fall of 1938 the program was presented as the following 6 steps:
"We admitted that we were licked, that we were powerless over alcohol.
We made a moral inventory of our defects or sins.
We confessed or shared our shortcomings with another person in confidence.
We made restitution to all those we had harmed by our drinking.
We tried to help other alcoholics, with not thought of reward in money or prestige.
We prayed to whatever God we thought there was for power to practice these precepts."
Most of us would never tell a newcomer not to work step 11, and pray and meditate, until after the first 10 steps are completed. The pioneers worked the program and presented it to newcomers as their membership was growing so that the last step was to pray for power to practice these precepts in the other steps. It was a package, and the steps were implemented simultaneously.
It never occurs to me to expect to get the same results from a recipe if I put in only 3 of the ingredients as I would if I put in all 12. But I remember thinking that I should have been all fixed up by going to some meetings, etc. NOT! In the story in the 3rd edition, He Sold Himself Short, the author, at 2 or 3 weeks in program, was formally taken through the steps. By the end of his 2nd or 3rd week in the program he was living in steps 10, 11 and 12.
The 12 step program is now over 70 years old and some people say that the Big Book is dated and sexist. I thought so and used it as a bar to keep from using it as a text. I thought it did not apply to me and my everyday life. My sponsor told me that if somebody happens to have one of their grandmotherís recipes, and if they go to the store, buy the same ingredients called for in the recipe, and they follow the instructions in that recipe, they will get the same result their grandmother got, even if it is a 70 year old recipe!
Big Book p. 181 at the end of Dr Bobís Nightmare he says,
"If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you. If you still think you are strong enough o beat the game alone, that is your affair. But if you really and truly want to quit drinking liquor for good and all, and sincerely feel that you must have some help, we know that we have an answer for you. It never fails if you go about it with one half the zeal you have been in the habit of showing when you were getting another drink.
Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!"
p. 63 Big Book
"God I offer myself to Thee- to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy will always! Amen."
Next weekís reading assignment: Step 4 in the AA and OA 12 and 12.
1. Are you willing to make a decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of God as you understand Him?
2. Is there anything holding you back from making this decision? If so, what is it?
3. What are your favorite quotes from the literature on this step and why?
4. Can you see that dieting is a form of control and will not work? How so?
5. Do you have any typical thoughts or behaviors that tell you that you may be trying to take your will back? What are they?
6. When you say the third step prayer how do you feel?