This discussion topic about working the steps is from one of our friends in recovery, Jared. Thanks to Jared for contributing to the group discussion and for the time he put into collecting his thoughts about recovery. If you’re interested in sharing a discussion topic, please reach out to me here.
How do I know when I’m ready to work the next step in recovery?
The beauty of the 12 Steps is that the steps are sequential, and they build on one another. As I understand and implement the principles in one step, I move on to the next step taking knowledge and understanding I gained from the previous step with me to the next step. But one aspect of the 12-Step program that has eluded me at times is knowing when it’s time to start working on the next step.
Initially when I started attending 12-Step meetings, I thought I’d attend the meetings for three months, working each of the steps for a week and be done with the program. I thought I’d be back to my “normal” life minus the pornography in no time.
Ha, was I wrong!
I quickly realized that the program was going to take more time. I started reading the steps and answering the questions in the manual for the Addiction Recovery Program. I stumbled my way through the first five steps and made it to Step 6. For whatever reason, I completely stalled on Step 6. I went from thinking I would work a step a week to remaining on the same step for over a year.
Eventually, I decided to start back over with Step 1. I cycled through the first five steps for a couple more years never feeling I was ready to move past Step 6.
In the past three months, with the help of the arpsupport.org’s 90-day program and my sponsor, I have been able to break through Step 6 and am currently working on Step 10, 11, and 12. Here are a few things that have helped me know when it’s time to go to the next step:
- I have prayed for the ability to discern when I am giving an honest effort and when my sacrifice has been accepted. If I’m having difficulty discerning, I’ve asked my sponsor for help. He has more experience in recovery and has a fresh perspective.
- Be honest with myself. Often if I’m honest with myself, I’ll know deep down when I’m ready for the next step or conversely when I’ve left something on the table and need to dig deeper.
- Getting stuck on a step may be a signal that I need to go back and revisit the previous step (or steps).
- When trying to decide whether to move on to the next step or not, I must keep in mind that it’s infinitely better to be working a step—any step—than spinning my wheels and not working anything.
- I can’t let perfectionism paralyze me or prevent me from progressing.
- I can’t forget the principles and tools I’ve already learned from previous steps. As I read on another blog devoted to the 12 Steps, “The output of a step becomes the input for the one that follows it.”
Keeping in mind that I will be working the steps the rest of my life and will have the chance to revisit all of the steps multiple times, my question is this: