This article is the second of many to come that address each of the steps of the Twelve Steps tradition. The reason why these articles are important is because each step helps a person further along in their recovery, and each step supports a person in a particular way. Each of the Twelve Steps asks something of a recovering addict. For instance, in the first step, a person is asked to be honest with themselves. They need to admit that the substance use has become unmanageable and that they have lost power over it.
As pointed out in a previous article on Step One, admitting the loss of power to a substance isn’t meant to disempower someone. On the contrary, it’s meant to put someone in a position where they feel prepared to ask for help. Without admitting a problem, an addict will likely not seek the support they need.
Similarly, Step Two also asks something of a recovering addict. According to Alcoholics Anonymous, the second step is:
Step Two: Come to believe that a power greater than you will restore you to sanity.
Some people may initially have a hard time with Step Two, especially if they’ve never explored spirituality or relating to a higher power. However, there are a few significant reasons why having a higher power is one of the crucial elements to change, such as:
Addiction Creates Behavior You Can’t Control on Your Own
Addiction affects the brain in such a way that it creates compulsory behavior – that is, behavior you can’t control. This is the reason behind losing the ability to say no to drinking and drug use, even when you wanted to. Because of the compulsive nature of substance use, the Twelve Steps encourage recovery addicts to use a higher power so that they are relying upon a power bigger than them. But that’s not to say that willpower has no place in recovery. Both a higher power and willpower are necessary for successful sobriety. Yet, in the beginning it’s important to form a relationship with a higher power so that you’re not relying on your own mind alone, which has been affected by the illness of addiction.
Having a Higher Power Helps to Bring Hope and Purpose to Recovery
It’s hard to go through recovery alone. It’s challenging to stay sober without the support of others. And another form of support is the reliance of a power that is greater than yourself. With this sort of relationship, a person is likely to feel hopeful and their life often feels meaningful and purposeful. Many men and women who have experienced the transformation of the Twelve Steps say that having a relationship with a power that is greater than oneself can facilitate accessing a kind of strength that they wouldn’t otherwise have and it helps them get through challenging moments in life. In fact, some men and women in the AA community might even say that their willpower helps them accomplish the little things, while their higher power helps them achieve the bigger goals.
It’s important to note that having a higher power doesn’t necessarily mean a belief in God, such as the God known in organized religions, it can be something as simple believing in a greater intelligence or recognizing that cosmos is a vast and miraculous place. Simply believing in and trusting a power that is greater than your own, can help you feel hopeful and supported in your recovery.
At some point, you might be ready to develop your own definition of a higher power. Of course, you might not know what that is at first. Yet, you can begin to find that by perhaps including more spirituality into your life. And to do this, you don’t have to necessarily attend church or practice meditation. You can try a practice of being grateful, mindfulness, relaxation, and visualization. Each of these are practices that can cultivate spirituality in your life so that you can discover your own sense of higher power.
At the same time, you might come to the conclusion that having a higher power isn’t for you. There are many people who arrive at this conclusion and who wind up getting sober on their own. And if you’re in this category, there are a handful of non-religious recovery groups that you can participate in. It’s important to know that you have options in your recovery path.
Many of those who choose to continue with the Twelve Steps find that coming to know and rely upon a higher power is the most significant element of their recovery.