How do you work the steps of recovery?

work the stepsFrom one of our fellows:

“One of the most common questions I hear is how to work the steps of recovery…”

In the White Book of SA, it says:

“No matter how well they are explained, understood, or believed, however, the Steps mean nothing unless they are actually worked out in our thinking and living. The Steps don’t work unless we work them…

“If it seems our feet are too much on the earth, that is because not one of us has ever worked the Steps perfectly. The road was up and down, smooth and rocky…” (p. 77-78, The White Book).

I get from this that there is no “perfect way” to work the Steps; it may look different for every person.

But one of my favorite quotes from the Big Book also says this:

“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” (p. 58)

What does that mean then? Is there a “best practice” for working the Steps?

What does working the Steps look like for you?

The SA Lifeline Foundation has formed a committee to map out a day to day Step work curriculum based on the following books:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book)
  • Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (The Twelve and Twelve)
  • The White Book of SA
  • Step Into Action books (a three book bundle)

If you are interested in getting more information as this curriculum develops, fill out the following form:

  • This is to help us establish more in-person meetings.

What are some of the ways that
you’ve worked the Steps?

Bonus: Learn more about how “pain is the pathway to progress” by downloading a Free audio chapter of “What Can I Do About Him Me?

18 thoughts on “How do you work the steps of recovery?”

  1. One of the most helpful things for me to remember in my own recovery work has been to not only work the steps, but to work the steps WITH a sponsor and within the fellowship of a group. In the past whenever I’ve undertaken to work the steps solely under my own discretion and understanding, i’ve missed out on valuable opportunities to gain inspiration, understanding, and guidance from others in the group (and my sponsor) who can share their experience, strength, and hope. It get’s me out of my own head, and helps me start to exercise more empathy and compassion in my step work. And for me that was crucial.

    1. Thanks Jon. I agree 100%. “Working the Steps” on my own was like trying to recover from the addiction on my own – NOT POSSIBLE. A sponsor, although not a Higher Power, is someone I can look to as a power greater than me. A sponsor can see things that I’ve been blinded to for my entire life, and they can say it in a way that only they and I will understand.

      Exercising empathy and compassion is something I have buried for my entire life; having a sponsor to help me see this and work through it has been essential. Thanks for your insight!

    2. I agree, I have spent many years really trying to work the steps on my own with no real success. When I did choose a sponsor I was amazed at how much more I was able to gain out of my step work. I like to think of it like, I’ve been trying to read a book while squinting my eyes. I can get some information here and there and I may even understand a little but I was really missing most of the story. With the help of my sponsor I was able to fully open my eyes and really start to understand the story.

  2. It is definitely true that for me, it wasn’t until I actually did some work, that things started changing. I can read all I like, but I am not really working the steps until I put pen to paper. I use the Step Into Action books, and talk with my Sponsor and other fellows in the group to get feedback on the best ways to get the most out of the program, and it works.

    1. Thanks for the comment Cody. I feel the same way: sometimes I have to start writing before anything really starts to feel different. Reading helps get the ball rolling, but digging into my feelings and emotions via writing and reflecting are where the real step work begins for me.

      AND, the writing has to be really digging for me – no scripted stuff where I just answer questions based on how I think others will want me to answer them.

  3. Thanks for your comments brothers. It strengthens me. I have been working on the steps for over a year now by going to PASG, but unless I am reading, writing, and applying what I’m learning, I don’t progress. I have realized I need to really “work the steps” not just know about them. It takes a lot of work. But it will be worth it when I am sober and in true recovery.

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