RA offers hope, sanity, and recovery, especially to those who, despite their best efforts, have yet to find full recoveries, no matter what their problems or behaviors may be and their family and friends.
V Broaden and Deepen Your Understanding of the Twelve Steps
1) Step One
Broaden and deepen your understanding of Step One.


“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.”

1. In A.A.'s 12 & 12, on page 21, starting with the first paragraph:

“Who cares to admit complete defeat? Practically no one, of course. Every natural instinct cries out against the idea of personal powerlessness.”
Skipping to the second sentence of the 3rd paragraph, it says:

“We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength.”
Skipping to the last paragraph, the second sentence says:

“Until he so humbles himself, his sobriety—if any—will be precarious.”

2. Powerlessness! It’s a very simple concept. It’s so simple a concept that many of us didn’t really understand it.

3. In A.A. Comes of Age, in the middle of p.61, Bill Wilson, the co-founder of A.A. described his powerlessness:

“I remember comparing myself to a cancer victim. If I had cancer, I would do anything to get well, would I not? Yes, anything, whatever. Would I sit home and put cold cream on the affected parts? No, of course not. What would I do? I would head for the best physician in the business and beg him to destroy or cut away those consuming cells. I would have to depend on him, my God of medicine, to save me. My dependence would be absolute; for myself I could do nothing.

“Alcoholism, not cancer, was my illness, but what was the difference? Was not alcoholism also a consumer of body and mind? Alcoholism took longer to do its killing, but the result was the same. So if there was a great Physician who could cure the alcoholic sickness, I had better seek Him now, at once. I had better find what my friend had found. Would I, like the cancer sufferer, do anything to get well? If getting well required me to pray at high noon in the public square with the other sufferers, would I swallow my pride and do that? Maybe I would.”

4. Bill’s definition of powerlessness was based on the recognition that if he had cancer there was not a thing he could do for himself. There was nothing he could do that would have an effect on cancer. He was totally, absolutely, completely powerless to cure himself of a disease of that nature.

5. In the 12 & 12, on page 21, starting with the last word on the page, it says:

“The principle that we shall find no enduring strength until we first admit complete defeat is the main taproot from which our whole society has sprung and flowered.”

6. Complete defeat accents that we can’t have a degree of powerlessness.

7. Some of us hesitated at this concept. We felt that, at times, we could take action. We forgot that no matter what actions we took or did not take, we still could not control the outcome, the result of those actions. We were, and are, powerless.

8. One of R.A.'s members shares about how her powerlessness finally hit home when she thought of all the lottery tickets she had bought. As important as she thought buying lottery tickets was, she still occasionally forgot to buy one. And even when she took the action of buying a lottery ticket, there was no way she could control the result. No matter how many tickets she bought or how often she bought them, whether or not she won had to be up to a Power greater than herself.

9. Being powerless can be defined as: being absolutely without power; being without influence; being without the ability to control.

10. Unmanageability can be defined as: being totally without the ability to manage; being without the ability to manipulate; being without the ability to control.

11. It was important for us to really recognize what these words meant.

12. In the 12 & 12 on page 68, the second paragraph, in the fourth line, says:

“Only Step One, where we made the 100 percent admission we were powerless over alcohol, can be practiced with absolute perfection.”

13. One of R.A.'s members shares:

"I needed to accept that I was totally, absolutely, unconditionally without power or influence over my problems and behaviors, and over life itself. That, to me, is what this step now calls for.

"The sun shining on a day I wanted the sun to shine didn't mean I personally had control over the weather. It just meant that God's will happened to coincide with mine for that day.

"I came to understand that the fact that I was sometimes able to drink, eat, or feel the way I wanted to only meant that God's will happened to coincide with mine for that day. I was still as powerless as ever over the weather, as powerless as ever over my problems and behaviors, and over life in general. Just because I did some things the way I wanted to, didn't mean I had been given control over them, or over my life. I had years of proof that I could not be in control. I had the proof; I just wouldn't accept it."

14. In the 12 & 12, on p.23, in the top paragraph, the last sentence says:

“Many less desperate alcoholics tried A.A., but did not succeed because they could not make the admission of hopelessness.”


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