Step Two The Behavior Chain 1
STEP TWO EXERCISE
In Step One, you admitted that you were powerless over drugs or alcohol and that your life was unmanageable. In Step Two, you need to see the insanity of your disease and seek a power greater than yourself. If you are powerless, then you need power. If your life is unmanageable, then you need a manager. Step Two will help you to decide who that manager can be.
Most alcoholics and drug addicts who see the phrase restore to sanity revolt. They think that they may have a drinking or drug problem, but they do not feel as though they have a mental illness. They do not think that they have been insane.
In AA and NA, the word sanity means being of sound mind. Someone with a sound mind knows what is real and knows how to adapt to reality. A sound mind feels stable, safe, and secure. Someone who is insane cannot see reality and is unable to adapt. A person does not have to have all of reality distorted to be in trouble. If you miss some reality, then you ultimately will get lost. It only takes one wrong turn to end up in the ditch.
Going through life is like going on a long journey. You have a map given to you by your parents. The map shows the way in which to be happy. If you make some wrong turns along the way, then you will end up unhappy. This is what happens in chemical dependency. Searching for happiness, you make wrong turns. You find out that your map is defective. Even if you followed your map to perfection, you still would be lost. What you need is a new map.
Both AA and NA give you this new map. It puts up 12 signposts to show the way. If you follow this map as millions of people have done, then you will find the joy and happiness that you have been seeking. You have reached and passed the first signpost, Step One. You have decided that your life is powerless and unmanageable. Now you need a new power source. You need to find someone else who can manage your life.
This is a spiritual program, and it directs you toward a spiritual answer to your problems. It is not a religious program. Spirituality is the intimate relationship you have with yourself and how you relate to everything else. Religion is an organized system of faith and worship. Everyone has spirituality, but not everyone has religion.
You need to explore three relationships very carefully in Step Two: the relationships with yourself, with others, and with a Higher Power. This Higher Power can be any Higher Power of your choice. If you do not have a Higher Power, do not worry. Most of us started that way. Just be willing to consider that there is a power greater than you in the universe.
To explore these relationships, you need to see the truth about yourself. If you see the truth, then you can find the way. First you must decide whether you were insane. Did you have a sound mind or not? Let’s look at this issue carefully.
People are insane when they cannot remember what they did. They have memory problems. They do not have to have memory problems all of the time, just some of the time. People who abuse chemicals might not remember what happened to them when they were intoxicated.
List any blackouts or memory problems you have had while drinking or using drugs.
People who are insane lose control over their behavior. They do things when they are intoxicated that they never would do when they are sober.
List three times when you lost control over your behavior when intoxicated.
List three times when you could not control your drinking or drug use.
People who are insane consider self-destruction.
Did you ever consider hurting yourself when you were intoxicated or hung over?
Describe what happened.
People who are insane feel emotionally unstable.
Have you ever thought that you were going crazy?
Describe this time.
Have you felt emotionally unstable recently?
Describe how you have been feeling.
People who are insane are so confused that they cannot get their lives in order. They may frantically try to fix things, but problems stay out of control.
List some personal, family, work, or school problems that you have not been able to control.
People who are insane cannot see the truth about what is happening to them. People who are chemically dependent hide their drinking and drug use from themselves and from others. They minimize, rationalize, and deny that there are problems.
Do you believe that you have been completely honest with yourself?
List some of the lies that you have told yourself.
People who are insane cut themselves off from healthy relationships. They might find that they do not communicate with your spouses as well. They might not see their friends as often. More and more of their lives center around alcohol or drugs.
List three people who you have cut yourself off from.
As your drinking and drug use increased, did you go to church less often?
List any relationships you have damaged in your drinking and drug use.
People who are insane cannot deal with their feelings. Alcoholics and drug addicts cannot deal with their feelings. They do not like how they feel, so they medicate their feelings. They may drink or use drugs to feel less afraid or sad. They may drink to feel more powerful or more friendly.
List the feelings that you tried to change by drinking or using drugs.
Now look back over your responses. Get out your Step One exercise and read through it. Look at the truth about yourself. Look carefully at how you were thinking, feeling, and behaving when you were drinking or using drugs. Make a decision. Do you think that you had a sound mind? If you were unsound at least some of the time, then you were insane. If you believe this to be true, then say this to yourself: “I am powerless. My life is unmanageable. My mind is unsound. I have been insane.”
A POWER GREATER THAN YOURSELF
Consider a power greater than yourself. What exists in the world that has greater power than you do—a river, the wind, the universe, the sun?
List five things that have greater power than you do.
The first Higher Power that you need to consider is the power of the group. The group is more powerful than you are. Ten hands are more powerful than two. Two heads are better than one. Both AA and NA operate in groups. The group works like a family. The group process is founded in love and trust. All members share their experiences, strengths, and hopes in an attempt to help themselves and others. There is an atmosphere of anonymity. What you hear in group is confidential.
The group acts as a mirror reflecting you to yourself. The group members will help you to discover the truth about who and what you are. You have been deceiving yourself for a long time. The group will help you to uncover the lies. You will come to understand the old AA saying, “What we cannot do alone, we can do together.” In group, you will have greater power over the disease because the group will see the whole truth better than you can.
You were not lying to hurt yourself. You were lying to protect yourself. In the process of building your lies, you cut yourself off from reality. This is how chemical dependency works. You cannot recover from addiction by yourself. You need power coming from somewhere else. Begin by trusting your group. Keep an open mind.
You need to share in your group. The more you share, the closer you will get and the more trust you will develop. If you take risks, then you will reap the rewards. You do not have to tell the group everything, but you need to share as much as you can. The group can help you to straighten out your thinking and can help restore you to sanity.
Many chemically dependent persons are afraid of a Higher Power. They believe that a Higher Power will punish them or treat them in the same way as their fathers did. They might fear losing control. List some of the fears that you have about a Higher Power.
Some chemically dependent persons have difficulty in trusting anyone. They have been so hurt by others that they do not want to take the chance of being hurt again. What has happened in your life that makes it difficult for you to trust?
What are some of the things that you will need to see from a Higher Power that will show you that the Higher Power can be trusted?
Who was the trust worthiest person you ever knew?
How did this person treat you?
What do you hope to gain by accepting a Higher Power?
Alcoholics Anonymous wants you to come to believe in a power greater than yourself. You can accept any Higher Power that you feel can restore you to sanity. Your group, your counselor, your sponsor, and nature all can be used to give you this restoration. You must pick this Higher Power carefully. It is suggested that you use AA or NA as your Higher Power for now. Here is a group of millions of people who are recovering. They have found the way. This program ultimately will direct you toward a God of your own understanding. “That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives. That probably no human power could have removed our alcoholism. That God could and would if He were sought” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 1976, p. 60).
Millions of chemically dependent persons have recovered because they were willing to reach out for God. Alcoholics Anonymous makes it clear that nothing else will remove the obsession to use chemicals. Some of us have so glorified our own lives that we have shut God out. Now is your opportunity. You are at a major turning point. You can begin to open your heart and let God in, or you can keep God out. God tells us that all who seek will find.
Remember that this is the beginning of a new life. To be new, you have to do things differently. All that the program is asking you to do is to be open to the possibility that there is a power greater than yourself. Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that you believe in anything. The Twelve Steps are but suggestions. You do not have to swallow all of this now, but you need to be open. Most recovering persons take Step Two a piece at a time.
First you need to learn how to trust yourself. You must learn how to consistently treat yourself well. What do you need to see from yourself that will show you that you are trustworthy?
Then you need to begin to trust your group. See whether the group members act consistently in your interest. They will not always tell you what you want to hear. No real friends would do that. They will give you the opportunity and encouragement to grow. What will you need to see from the group members that will show you that they are trustworthy?
Every person has a unique spiritual journey. No one can start this journey with a closed mind. What is it going to take from God to show you that God exists?
Step Two does not mean that we believe in God as God is presented in any religion. Remember that religion is an organized system of worship that is made by humans. Worship is just a means of assigning worth to something. Many people have been so turned off by religion that the idea of God is unacceptable. Describe the religious environment of your childhood. What was it like? What did you learn about God?
How did these early experiences influence the beliefs you have today?
What experiences have caused you to doubt God?
Your willingness is essential to your recovery. Give some examples of your willingness to trust in a Higher Power of your choice. What are you willing to do?
Describe your current religious beliefs.
Explain the God of your understanding.
List five reasons why a Higher Power will be good for you.
If you asked the people in your AA/NA group to describe a Higher Power, you would get a variety of answers. Each person has his or her own understanding of a Higher Power. It is this unique understanding that allows a Higher Power to work individually for each of us. God comes to each of us differently.
Through the ages, there have been two philosophical arguments against the existence of a God:
1.If there is a God, then where is God? Why does God not make Himself more knowable?
2.If there is a God, and if God is all good, then why do bad things happen?
To understand these questions, you must understand what God is like and what God is doing. God created you to love. That is the only reason why you exist. God did not need you; God has no needs. God wants a loving relationship with you. God desires the most intimate friendship possible. That is why God lives inside of your thinking.
God knows that love necessitates freedom. God created you and gave you the freedom to make your own decisions. You can do things that God does not want you to do. If God placed His face in the sky or was so obvious that everyone worshipped Him, then no one would have a free choice. This is why God exists in a gentle whisper inside of your thoughts. You have to stop and listen to hear God. It is incredibly easy to keep God out, and it is incredibly easy to let God in. When you were abusing yourself, God was there encouraging you to love yourself. When you were lying to others and treating others poorly, God was there encouraging you to love others. God has loved you from the beginning.
It is difficult to deny God because God exists inside of you. To deny God is to deny an essential part of yourself. We all know instinctively what is right and what is wrong. We do not have to be taught these things. The rules are the same across every culture and group. No matter where or how you were raised, the moral laws are the same and everyone knows them. We know not to lie or steal. We know to help others. We know to love ourselves.
Bad things happen because God allows free will. People hurt each other when they make their own choices independent of God’s will. They can break God’s law, and when this happens, there is great suffering. You probably have done some things you are ashamed of. You never would have felt this shame if you had followed God’s plan.
“Where was God when I needed God?” many people cry. “Where was God when all those bad things were happening to me?” Well, the answer to those questions is that God was right there, loving you and encouraging you to see the truth. God never promises that life is not going to hurt. God promises that God is there, loving you all of the time.
Do not be discouraged if you doubt God. Your doubt about God is not bad; it is good. It means that you think and reason. You should not blindly accept things without proof. That would be foolish. What you must know is this: Only God can overcome your doubt. There is nothing you can do to make doubt go away. You can only trust that if you seek God, then God will find you. Once God finds you, your doubt will be removed. Only by swimming in the sea of doubt can you learn how to swim with strong strokes. This is how your faith gets strong. No one is asking you to accept God blindly. Follow your AA/NA group. The group members know the way. Be willing to seek God. Open your heart and your mind in every way you know how. Seek the God of your understanding. Ask your clergy or your counselor for some reading. Go at your own rate. Follow God in your own way. Soon you will find a peace that will surpass your understanding. This is the peace that we call serenity.
Chemical Dependency Counseling: A Practical Guide, Fourth Edition This best selling book is used by most treatment centers to treat addiction. It will tell you everything you need to know about treating addictive disorders. Plus it includes all of the tests and exercises for clients that will satisfy accrediting bodies.
Treating Alcoholism: Helping Your Clients Find the Road to Recovery:Everything you need to know to help someone with an alcohol or drug problem.
The Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Client Workbook, Second Edition:All of the exercises a client needs to develop a stable recovery program. Used in most treatment settings as the treatment workbook.
The Gambling Addiction Client Workbook, Second Edition: All of the exercises a person needs to develop a stable gambling recovery program. Used by many gambling programs as their treatment workbook.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says that only God can relieve the illness of addiction. Here are a few spiritual tools to help you:
God Talks To You: Second Edition:Teaches you how to hear God's voice and details the spiritual path forward. Includes spiritual tests, prophets, prayer, meditation, contemplation and how to find a spiritual friend.
Peace Will Come CD Sit back and let the words and music sink into your soul. Come back often and play the songs over and over again. You won't be sorry. God will teach you many things you need to know.
A Communication From God: A meditation tape that will give you long communications from God. The tape takes you through two exercises where God speaks to you directly.
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