A Universal Road Map to Healing
by Node Smith
What if there was a universal road map to healing? A foolproof plan for ending the suffering in our lives, and reaching our highest potential?
I think there is—or at least pretty darn close.
The Twelve Steps of Recovery
If you are not familiar with the twelve steps of recovery—which have been adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous for virtually every support group that has followed in its wake—one of the biggest mistakes you could make is assuming that these powerful steps are only for alcoholics, or chemically addicted drug addicts.
If I was only allowed one single recommendation I could give to my clients—through which, I could virtually guarantee meaningful transformation—it would be to work the twelve steps, and attend twelve step groups if relevant.
The beauty of the twelve steps is they can be adapted to serve whatever issue a person is struggling with. The first step is universally relevant to any cause of suffering:
1. We admitted we were powerless over __________(anxiety, depression, codependency, food, sex addiction, porn, alcohol, drugs, etc.), and that our lives had become unmanageable.
The Universal Nature of the Twelve Steps
We all have something that is controlling us. For some it is a chemical—alcohol, drugs, sugar, or food in general. For some it is a behaviour—sex, anorexia, bulimia, or gambling. And for others it’s harder to nail down—our own ego, our own negative thoughts, our own need for control, our own resistance to change, or our own physical health. We all have a monkey on our backs.
This is why the twelve steps have been adopted to serve those struggling with virtually every type of addiction, compulsion, or toxic element in life that overwhelms them, controls them, or generally makes their lives unmanageable.
In fact, the power of the twelve steps begins by calling us to look at our lives and realize they are indeed chaotic, overwhelming, and out of control, and that our best efforts in finding a solution have not yielded productive results.
In other words, “We admitted that we were powerless and our lives had become unmanageable.”
This is not an exclusive realization for drug addicts and alcoholics. Anyone who repeatedly failed to make positive changes in their life, would be well served to admit that “my best thinking got me into this mess, and it’s truly beyond my control to manage it at this point.”
This is step one. And it gets better from there.
The Original “Self-Help” Program
The twelve steps are a guide for a better life than you are currently living. They are a guide that will likely serve you whatever your struggles are. And here’s the thing, you probably already are familiar with them.
Virtually every self-help book ever written, every personal development seminar, or transformation workshop can probably trace its origins back to elements contained within the twelve steps. If not in its entirety, then certainly individual steps. The reason for this is because these twelve steps are absolutely universal in overcoming obstacles that prevent us from finding joy in life, connecting to a higher purpose, releasing ourselves from the bondage of external projection, taking accountability and responsibility, and sharing our purpose with the world around us in an absolutely authentic way. It gets even better.
The most amazing thing about working the twelve steps is they come with a limitless amount of help and support. There are millions of individuals using the steps to transform their lives, and thousands upon thousands of various types of support groups out there.
The community that has grown up around the twelve steps is the #1 reason why they are so successful.
For some it may seem counterintuitive that a bunch of people who have the same problem would be able to support each other to make changes in a positive direction. But remember, all of these individuals, or a vast majority, have admitted their powerlessness, and are now open to learning a new way of living; this encourages healing and growth.
The experience, strength, and hope we derive from others who are going through similar trials, struggles, and suffering is drastically different from the “help” we get from going to a counsellor, or talking with family and friends and people who are looking at the situation from the outside. Also, getting advice and opinions from those who are not consciously trying to better themselves can be absolutely disastrous.
The twelve steps are as valuable as the work you put into them. There is no requirement to sign up for six months, or do an intensive boot camp, or pay for a health coach, or any of that stuff.
The twelve steps are absolutely free. There is no cost for membership. There are no fees or dues to participate and work with other people who have been utilizing the steps successfully in their lives. AND, you can leave at any time for whatever reason.
There’s also no requirement to talk at any meeting, or make friends, or even like the meeting.
I usually recommend that people go to a bigger meeting the first couple of times (if possible) and sit in the back, maybe even next to the exit if that makes them feel more comfortable. Sometimes this isn’t possible. And if you live in a smaller town, it may be appropriate for you to drive a distance to a neighbouring area to feel comfortable.
The twelve steps are not a fad diet, a gimmick, or a fashionable trend. They are an incredibly simple, straightforward process of recovery from the very thing you are struggling with. They are the real deal, and if you are ready to truly commit to yourself and your healing process, there is no better direction to proceed.
Dr. Node Smith is a modern day renaissance man. He has made a career out of simply being curious, interested, and open. He practices as a naturopathic doctor, specializing in integral counselling. Node lives with his wife, and their two cats, in Lipton, SK. Also see the display ad on page 12 of the 28.4 November/December issue of the WHOLifE Journal.