By design the 12-Steps, like recovery, are meant to be ongoing.
The steps are not something you simply check off a list. In addition to being ongoing, the 12-Steps are not always linear either. You may need to work the steps out of order or come back to steps from time to time. The 12-Steps work because they provide people with addiction the tools to practice good mental health continually throughout their lives. Specifically, the last three steps do not have an endpoint and require ongoing work and consideration.
Let’s look at each of these steps to see how you will continue to work them throughout your recovery.
Continuing to take personal inventory and admitting when one is wrong
As you change and grow as person both in recovery and in other aspects of your life, it may become necessary to take personal inventory again. You need to check in with yourself so you can make improvements or changes to your behaviors when needed.
Celebrate your successes and examine what is not working in your life.
You get an annual checkup with your doctor for your physical health. Your mental health needs the same consideration. For all of us, frequent and regular personal check-ins help with mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Depression and anxiety are both risk factors and warning signs of potential relapse. Reach out to a mental health professional if you feel you are struggling with anxiety or depression. Taking care of your mental well-being is essential in recovery.
The second half of Step 10, admitting when one is wrong, is also an ongoing practice you will want to adopt in recovery. We all make mistakes. When we do, it’s best to admit that we are wrong and try to fix the situation.
Fixing a mistake or addressing an issue as soon as it arises can nip problems in the bud before the situation escalates.
Seeking enlightenment and connection with the higher power via prayer and meditation.
Even if you are not religious, taking a few moments for yourself every day is very important for mental health. If you do find comfort in a higher power, make sure to honor that. Take a moment in the morning or evening every day to pray or worship as you see fit. Think about what you are thankful for or reflect on the day. Do a breathing exercise or listen to tranquil music to put yourself in relaxed headspace. Go for a walk or sit on your porch if being outside brings you peace. Meditate on a phrase or affirmation that’s meaningful to you. However you choose to seek enlightenment and connection, make sure to incorporate it into your daily routine. Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life that you forget to reflect and de-stress.
Carrying the message of the 12 Steps to others in need
The 12th step especially is something you will continue throughout your life. There will always be people who struggle with addiction. Many in recovery find healing through service. You can be a sponsor for a person new to the 12 Steps. You can speak in AA meetings or to groups about your experience so others can learn from your experience. Most importantly, you can show others that they are not alone in their struggle with addiction. You are proof that recovery IS possible.
The 12-Steps are a way of life, a way of living. You should incorporate the tools they teach into your daily life. As you continue to work and practice the 12-Steps, they will become second nature. Remember: it works if you work it!