If you’re in a recovery program, you’ve probably heard people talk a lot about “working the steps.” You may have even started working the steps. And if you’re like too many, you may have stalled in working the steps, perhaps in step 4 or 9.
Whether you’ve stalled in your step-work or if you want to learn a little more of what the 10th and 11th steps could look like, below are some ideas to help you jump-start your recovery program.
Not Just a Check-list
Even though steps 10 and 11 come after the first 9, you can (and should) start them NOW! These daily practices will serve you wherever you are in your recovery. Recovery isn’t about completing check-list item. It’s about changing the way you interact with yourself, God, others, and the world around you. And that’s just what steps 10 and 11 are about.
Step 10 & 11
Step 10 reads that we “continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
Step 11 says that we, “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” (Alcoholics Anonymous. (2004). Alcoholics Anonymous (4th )Retrieved from: https://www.aa.org/assets/en_
You will understand those steps better once you complete the first 9, but the essence of those steps is to build a daily recovery program that does two things:
- Daily take a personal inventory
- Build our conscious contact with God. So how can we build a daily routine that accomplishes those two things?
Try the following six things as you build up a daily recovery program:
1) Recovery Reading
It can be really helpful to start your daily recovery program by reading a meditation. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Others have paved the way with some excellent readings for you to meditate on each day. For example, a book I really like is Tim Stein’s Gifts of Recovery daily meditation book: https://www.amazon.com/Gifts-Recovery-Daily-Meditations-Addiction/dp/1794682449/. Using a resource like this one will help provide a new perspective on life and recovery as you begin each new day.
2) Reflect, Meditate & Journal
After you’ve done your recovery reading, take some time to reflect. Take a few minutes to meditate on what you’ve read by sitting in silence, praying, or journaling. What about the reading do you most relate to? What can you apply to your own life? What do you need to do to apply this reading to your life?
As you meditate you will build more connection with yourself – New insights can help you learn more about who you are and how you operate in the world. These insights can then help you continue to grow towards the person you want to be. Other ways you can connect with yourself during this time include: Practicing deep breathing, muscle relaxation, stretching, etc.
3) Consider Your Relationships
Now turn your attention towards others in your life. How can you be the best version of yourself today with your family, friends, and loved ones? What did you not do so well in yesterday in how you related to them that you can work on doing better today?
Do you have anything that you need to apologize for? If so, make sure you apologize, and strategize how you will not fall into the same traps today that you fell into yesterday.
How will you turn towards connection today rather than isolation? How can you be of service to others in your life today? How can you better ask for help today if needed? What outreach phone calls or fellowship can you do today? How can you be better present with your family and loved ones today?
Finally, turn your attention towards God as you reflect on the day to come. And as page 86 in the “Big Book” directs you, ask God to direct your thinking, especially asking to be divorced today from “self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives.” Make contact with God through prayer, realizing that God is big enough to help you through the day to come.
4) An Intention for the day
Now that you’ve done your reading and meditation, from the insights you’ve gleaned, set your intentions for the day.
- What is a goal or two that you want to implement for the day that would help you become even more of the human being you were designed to be?
- What action steps do you need to do to better connect with your loved ones today? What ways can you better watch out for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear?
Put another way: When you lay down to sleep tonight, from what you have just read and meditated on, what will have made today successful?
Finish your morning routine with 3 affirmations that you write down and/or say out loud. Affirmations are “I am” statements about who you are as a person. Use these affirmations as inspiration to hold on to your value and worth today. Some examples include:
- “I am enough,”
- “I am worthy,”
- “I am loveable,”
- “I can get through this,”
- “I belong,”
- “I deserve to be loved,”
- “I am ok, just as I am,”
- “I am valuable,”
- “I am aware of the consequences of my actions,”
- “I am whole,”
- “I matter,” etc.
6) Reflect on Your Progress
At least once during the day, and in the evening at the end of your day, reflect on the progress of your intensions/goals for the day. How’d you do? Do you need to modify any of these intentions in any way?
Also, consider these reflection questions from page 86 of the “Big Book”, “Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others?”
Remember a few things as you build your daily recovery program:
- This is about progress, not perfection. None of us do this perfectly. As a rule of thumb, strive to do your new daily routine more often than not. You may not do all the routine 7 days per week, but make it a daily practice to do SOMETHING each day. You want your new routine to be come the rule, not the exception to how you live in recovery.
- It’s better to do SOMETHING rather than nothing. If you didn’t give yourself enough time to do your full routine, it’s better to do some parts of it than to do nothing at all. Addicts tend to resort to all-or-nothing thinking, so don’t abandon the whole thing just because you can’t do it all.
- Just do it! You may not “feel” like doing your routine, but use contrary action: You will feel better after you finish your daily routine. This is a new life-giving activity for you to center yourself each day.
- Remember that recovery starts with making your bed. You may feel like you have no control over things in your life, but you DO. You may not be able to control the big stuff, but you can control the little stuff. Practice “micro agency” – Controlling yourself and your environment. You can build on those successes, and hopefully let go of the illusion that you have control over the big stuff along the way. This is the essence of the serenity prayer after all.
- Don’t give up. Modify this plan as you grow and learn more. Stay in consultation with others, and stay accountable to these safe people. Recovery is about the JOURNEY, not the destination, so as you learn to “travel” recovery better, you can also keep adapting your daily recovery program. Ultimately, this will help you become a person who can embrace the “promises.”
It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you commit to creating a daily routine like this one, you can quickly create a program that works for you. Recovery is about maturity, and taking little steps each day to grow in new ways. Starting and ending your day this way can be a really valuable way to enhance your recovery.