A Spiritual not Religious Programme
The misconception of the “spiritual” aspect of the programme.
Often, when someone comes into a 12-step programme, they either come in as atheist, agnostic or belonging to a certain religious denomination. This can create panic in an individual’s mind as it states in the 12 steps “that we came to believe in a power greater than ourselves…… and turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him”. The misconception of this, is that, some individuals become uncomfortable and feel that they are pressured into believing in something specific or that they may be forced to move over to a different religion, and this often deters someone from seeking out recovery. Many people don’t understand what we mean by “spiritual” in a programme of recovery. The programme only teaches us to live by spiritual principles, not according to a certain religion. Many people will have something they believe in. The programme helps us to reconnect to that path that we may have forgotten in active addiction. In a programme of recovery we choose to focus on spirituality rather than specific religions.
What do we mean by a spiritual, not religious programme?
While working a 12-step recovery programme, each of us will follow our own individual spiritual path. We are not forced to take on a new religion or change our beliefs. What the programme means by “spiritual” is that in doing the steps, we find ourselves on a path of self-discovery. By doing so, we become reconnected with the God of OUR understanding, with ourselves and with the world around us. It is important for those of us working a programme of recovery, whether we believe or not, to create our own spiritual path. This may be complicated or difficult for some people, but it can be done. The 12-step programme works in our lives no matter what our beliefs are. Some people may struggle with this concept at first, but if they trust the process, they may find the spiritual path they have been seeking.
What do we mean by spiritual principles?
Spiritual principles are not separate from the actions we need to take. They are connected. By applying spiritual principles in our daily lives such as honesty, open-mindedness and willingness, it allows us to work a programme of recovery and develop our own values of what we want out of our lives and how we are going to live by them. This is important for an individual who has come from active addiction and lived a completely dishonest and selfish life. Spiritual principles help us to identify our beliefs, actions and the reasons why we act as we do. According to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, there are 31 spiritual principles that someone in recovery can live by.
Why is a connection to the God of our understanding important?
Having a Higher Power in recovery is a pivotal part of the programme. Addicts and alcoholics are often trying to fill a void in their soul with external sources such as drugs, alcohol, food, sex or gambling. This void happens to be somewhat bigger than any external source. A more meaningful way of living a life of sobriety, is to fill this void with a belief in something that is bigger than you, bigger than all of us. The belief frees us from having to control the world and our lives and replaces calamity with serenity. In active addiction, the person will often run on self-will, trying to control everything around them causing powerlessness and unmanageability in their lives. Step 3 of the programme helps us to hand our will over to a power greater than ourselves. This leads to the addict becoming surrendered, and their lives can become more peaceful and more manageable. Without connection we can feel lost and not know how to handle life on life’s terms. So, it is important for any addict in recovery to remain connected, not only to a power greater than themselves, but to the fellowship as well.
Dominique Le Claire Rossouw
Stories of Recovery
- The encouragement, love and support from the team at Crossroads allowed me to eventually see that I was worth something - that my life could be turned around and that I could accomplish the things that had long been a forgotten dream.Oliver VGRead more
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