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12 Simple Steps To Loving Life

Robert Radcliffe


Copyright:1915985 ISBN: 978-0-692-40546-8 Published January, 2016


Dear Reader I felt compelled to write the 12 Simple Steps to Loving Life because it was by taking The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that I was able to transform my life as a homeless juvenile delinquent into the life I enjoy today as a successful business man, loving husband, and caring father. My life today far exceeds the dreams I had before taking The Twelve Steps and I want to share the process with everyone interested in living a richer, fuller life. Over the years, I have had the privilege of taking men through these Steps as a means of recovering from alcohol and drug addictions, and have touched countless lives by chronicling my own profound change in my first book, 180 Degrees. Along my journey, I’ve seen extraordinary results in the lives of others, but it was only after reading Power vs. Force: the Hidden Deter-


minants of Human Behavior by Dr. David R. Hawkins, who considers The Twelve Steps the most beneficial self-improvement program in history, that I was struck by the insight that everyone - not just those afflicted with alcoholism and addiction - should have the opportunity to benefit from these Steps. The overwhelming response I’ve received to 180 Degrees almost invariably includes an awestruck wonder about how I was able to turn my life around. In 12 Simple Steps to Loving Life I share some excerpts from my personal journey through The Steps and explain how these same Steps can be adapted to meet the needs of anyone. My intention is to provide everyone access to this simple method of enhancing life through a proven, world renowned, Twelve Step process. This is the perfect book for anyone interested in a healthier, more compassionate approach to life’s challenges. A joyous, peaceful life is yours for the reading. Namaste


“When the elevator is broken, it is now time to take the steps.� - Unknown


How It Works This book offers a transformative design for living. In 12 Simple Steps, anyone willing to honestly apply The Steps’ principles in their everyday lives will witness transformation. The Steps are life-changing suggestions founded on powerful concepts of faith, hope, and love. The Steps are simple but not easy, recognize this significant difference. We must understand and accept that worthwhile things require effort: The Steps are no exception. We must work for the freedom, joy and peace they offer. The spiritual awakening, once reserved for alcoholics, is now available to anyone willing to embrace The 12 Simple Steps. The sweet enlightenment gained is well worth our struggles. The Steps can be beneficial even if we are problem 1


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or illness free. Simply remove the word “alcohol” from The Steps and they serve our purpose here. We may also replace the word “alcohol” with any vice that may hinder our success, or any of the seven deadly sins. With the help of The 12 Steps we can remove the negative character traits interfering with our happiness. I’ve termed these defects ‘Life Liabilities,’ defining these and any other attributes hindering personal advancement. Common Life Liabilities include anger, envy, resentment, and feelings of insecurity, depression, and fear. The Steps can and will free us from negativity and its hold over us. We seek a life free from these and other Life Liabilities: a peaceful, productive, happy life. You happened upon this book for a reason. You are ready to embrace The Steps and improve your life. Be excited by the possibilities. We are comforted by The Twelve Steps’ successful record. The book Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as The Big Book, was originally published in 1939. It was written by founder Bill Wilson, with the help of

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How It Works

Dr. Bob and some early Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) members, in hopes of reaching and saving as many lives as possible and of preserving the integrity of the program. The Twelve Step plan of action outlined in the book was taken primarily from The Oxford Group, a nondenominational movement modeled after first century Christianity. AA’s message of hope and good will has since spread the world over. The first miracles took place in Akron, Ohio and then in neighboring small towns and big cities. Today, miracles happen in every corner of the globe as a direct result of Twelve Step work. Countless people have recovered from chronic alcoholism. These same life-saving Steps can benefit everyone. The Steps can free us from any obsession, defect of character, or any negative mindset. If the solution found in The Steps is powerful enough to free an alcoholic or drug addict from the grips of their disease, then that solution is sufficient to help us with any dilemma. How do I know this? I am one of many people who have recovered from drug addiction by taking The

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Twelve Steps. That was 25 years ago and my life has been completely transformed as a result. Recovering from my drug addiction was not easy. Again, The Twelve Steps are simple but the work involved is not easy. It took me more than six years to finally succeed. My journey began on October 1, 1983. I distinctly remember the date because it was one day before I turned 17 years old. It was the day my parents checked me into Coldwater Canyon Hospital, the day I first laid eyes on The Twelve Steps. They were hanging on the wall like they do in countless hospitals, churches, recovery homes, and meeting rooms around the world. I was high, of course, and paid them no heed. My usual mindset at the time was a dismissive, “Whatever!� It was the next day, my birthday, when the counselors at the hospital presented me with the rules of the hospital and introduced me to The Twelve Steps. Little did I know at the time that these steps were going to completely change my life for the better! I was in that lockdown rehabilitation center three different times as a teenager. I had accepted my life as

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How It Works

an addict and expected to die failing to get clean. A big stumbling block for me, at that time, was the word “alcohol” in The Twelve Steps and my obstinate refusal to look past it. My problem was drugs, not alcohol. I was convinced the Twelve Steps would not work for me. I was told by senior members to look for the similarities, not the differences, but for a long time I could only see that big difference. I did drink alcohol, but it was drugs that had me down for the count. I wasn’t particular, I used drugs of all sorts. I smoked pot, snorted, shot and smoked cocaine and heroin regularly, even daily. I tripped hundreds of times on LSD. I was a “hope-to-die-drugaddict.” How could a program for alcoholics help me? I struggled with this distinction during my first several attempts at sobriety. I thought I (or my disease) was different and therefore The Twelve Steps would not work for me. Thank God I finally got past this. I realized I could simply remove the word “alcohol” from The Steps and focus on their intention. I applied the suggestions and observed the miracles that transpired

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as a result. I know of numerous others who, like me, were stumped by the wording of The Steps, especially nonbelievers who hit the word “God” like a brick wall. This is another aspect that can be simply overcome. Do not be bothered by the word or its meaning. Look past it. Ignore it. It is inconsequential at this point. The Steps are a spiritual process. They will bring us to a Higher Power of our own understanding. The same is true for those of us who already know but have a sketchy relationship with God. Personally, I have been affiliated with a variety of religions at different times in my life. I was raised with a traditional God. My mom is Catholic and my dad Presbyterian, although his upbringing was in Christian Science. My mother later remarried a Jewish man. I too married into the Jewish faith – twice. My ex-wives are Jewish and, per the Jewish religion, my three boys are Jewish. I’ve spent some time exploring Catholicism, other Christian sects and Buddhism. Then, I met my current

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wife, Tara, who was raised Muslim but converted to Christianity in her late teens. In the end I chose not to follow any one religion, although I am undoubtedly God-oriented. If I had to label myself, I would say I am inclined to New Age thinking. I live my life based on principles of a loving God and loving Universe, even though I am not a part of any organized religion. I have seen many people find a God who works for them by taking The Twelve Steps and likewise I have seen many recover from alcoholism and drug addiction by doing the same. I wrote this book because of the miracles I have witnessed as a result of The Twelve Steps. My desire is to share this opportunity with all people, regardless of their religious affiliations or mental afflictions. These 12 Simple Steps, like the Ten Commandments, are easily explained, but taking and applying them are another matter. The Steps are a way of life: a mindful, happier life, free from fear and past struggles. If this is what you want, then you are ready to begin. The Steps require a willingness and work, but the results are well worth it.

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“You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are” - Yogi Bhajan

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Step 1 “We admitted we were powerless over (alcohol) – that our lives had become unmanageable” This step marks the beginning of an uplifting, transformational journey for anyone willing to approach it with an open mind. I first encountered this step while undergoing drug rehabilitation and balked at the words powerless and alcohol. I read this step countless times trying to see how it related to me and my difficulties with drugs. I could not grasp the connection. I was looking at the differences instead of the similarities. Alcohol wasn’t an issue for me. I certainly wasn’t powerless over it. I substituted the word drugs for alcohol, as suggested, but still couldn’t accept this

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premise. I was not convinced I was powerless over drugs. Sure, drugs were causing me some problems, but I was still in control. I had power over the drugs. I could choose which drugs to take, how many and how often. I could choose not to take them at all. How could something inanimate have power over me? No, I had the power, or so I thought until I was willing to take a closer look, to actually do the work behind this all important first Step. When I was 100% honest with myself, I had to admit the concept of self-honesty and powerlessness was overwhelmingly profound and something I rarely considered. We naturally assume a great deal of power. It’s not until we make a conscientious assessment of ourselves, our abilities and liabilities, like we’ll do here, that we realize our limits. We are powerless over other people, places and things. We will discover the only thing we have power over is ourselves: our actions, reactions, attitudes and perspectives. We can’t change others. To elicit change of any kind, we must alter our own feelings and behavior. To do this we first have to accept ourselves and our circumstances exactly as they are.

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Step 1 is about admitting what is wreaking havoc on our lives. For me, it was drugs. While I wasn’t ready to admit powerlessness, I was willing to concede that my life was unmanageable. I couldn’t deny my life was a mess, a nightmare, in fact. I’ve since learned this is often the case with the First Step. People will admit one part or the other, but seldom do we grasp it entirely until we’re in a great deal of pain. Pain is the trigger for most change. We don’t have to wait until our situations are unbearable to take the first step toward a better life. Anyone can take this step at any time regarding any matter. The First Step is appropriate for the ordinary, primarily healthy people who allow traits and behaviors to interfere with their well-being. Often, we know things could be better but we are accustomed to things as they are. We aren’t uncomfortable enough to do anything about our impediments to true happiness. We may be powerless over feelings of anger, fear, resentment, insecurity, anxiety or depression. We may be powerless over bad habits like overeating, gambling,

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procrastinating, or worrying. We may be addicted to sugar, caffeine, tobacco or sex. Possibly we’re strapped with irreconcilable differences in relationships or at work; maybe we suffer from an inability to commit, or to complete tasks or goals. We’re stuck in a proverbial rut. Let’s insert any one of these obstacles or Life Liabilities into the First Step and make a start toward overcoming it. These bad habits and negative feelings are handicaps, hindrances to the life we are meant to live. They can get out of control and cause stress, conflict and related health problems. They prevent us from reaching our potential and deter us from our rightful purpose. “Life Liabilities” pull us off course like a car’s flat tire. The flat has to be changed before it can successfully continue its journey. Once we identify which aspect of our lives is creating a problem for us, we simply acknowledge it. If we determine it is within our power to fix it, great, but chances are we would have done so already if we could. We embark on The 12 Simple Steps because it

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is beyond us to overcome our difficulty independently. Thus, we take Step 1. We admit we are powerless over the problem making our lives unmanageable. We got honest with ourselves: this is the crux of Step 1. Leading us to the next step, we concede to our innermost selves that we need help with whatever issues we’re dealing with. We are powerless to change it and our lives on our own. We enjoy immediate relief from this quiet act of admitting our powerlessness and surrender, from relinquishing control. We free ourselves from the struggle. Our dilemma is that we are powerless without help. The solution is to find a Power greater than ourselves who will help. This leads us to Step 2. “We cannot become what we want by remaining where we are. We must let go of our old ways, habits, and beliefs. This is the only way we will be the person we truly desire to be” (Tara Radcliffe).

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“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am going to change myself.� - Rumi

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Step 2 “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” We humbly arrive at Step 2 eager for a solution, but instead we are challenged by two more overwhelming prospects: a theological Power and mental instability. Don’t panic, all we need for Step 2 is an open mind. We don’t need to believe in anything right now and we aren’t referring to God yet. Step 2 merely suggests we will come to believe in a Higher Power sometime in the future. The idea of something greater than we are may bewilder us. So might the idea of being restored to sanity, which implies we are insane. Certainly, we are not that. We admitted we were powerless, that our struggle

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for control was making our lives unmanageable. That doesn’t mean we are crazy, does it? Once again, we are confronted with a task that at first may seem daunting, especially if we are about to contemplate God. Don’t be dismayed, it is not necessary to believe in God or be affiliated with any religion to successfully complete Step 2. The only thing that is necessary is an open mind. Some of us already believe in a Power greater than ourselves, whom we may or may not call God, while others do not believe at all. The beauty of this step is that all we have to do to begin is acknowledge there is something out there greater than we are. Mother Nature, for example, is a powerful force that is certainly greater than you or me. Any metaphysical or spiritual conception will work as long as we come to recognize its existence and supremacy. We learned in Step 1 that our obsessions - although they may have been mostly unconscious obsessions with controlling people, places and things - made our lives chaotic. That chaos begins in the mind. We may

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not like the word, but our thinking was crazy. Wild thoughts led to wild behavior and inevitably most of our troubles were of our own making. We were, by definition, insane. This is blatantly clear with drug addicts and alcoholics; certainly my obsession with drugs rendered me insane. The same is true for people obsessed with food, sex, gambling, relationships, and other people. Anything that dominates our thoughts affects our ability to function efficiently and successfully in life. When we’re caught up in our heads, we are not present in our lives. We are unavailable to those around us. We can become utterly useless because we’re obsessed with getting our own way. Our minds can be our worst enemies. If we are constantly haranguing ourselves with negative talk the results can be debilitating and even dangerous. Insecurity, doubt and fear cripple us. These and other Life Liabilities rob us of the joys of daily living and steal our dreams and futures. Buddhists liken the description of our minds as incessant, negative chatter to the screeching of drunken

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monkeys cavorting, carrying on and clamoring for attention. Fear is a particularly ornery monkey, constantly sounding an alarm, directing our attention to everything that could go wrong: What if I can’t pay the bills? What if my spouse leaves me? What if the sky falls? Our minds create endless lists of problems that only serve to induce misery. It’s madness! It is essential we admit our thinking has been insane, just like we had to acknowledge our lives had become unmanageable. If the words insanity and unmanageable are unacceptable to you, then just try to admit being irrational. Once we become aware that our thinking has been irrational, we can be restored to sanity. Step 2 asks us to believe a Higher Power could restore us to sanity. Again, we’re accepting the possibility. We have hope. This is often enough to ease our minds. We discovered in Step 1 that our unease stems from trying to control what is beyond our command. With a Higher Power in our lives we no longer need to strive for control. We can let go of the reins. We can

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let go and let God. Now that we’ve found a Power we can rely on, we can tame the monkey mind. Many self-help spiritualists stress the importance of quieting the mind in all spiritual practices. Quiet is control. Once we can control our minds we are restored to sanity. Happiness comes or emerges from a sane, serene mind. We will discuss this at length in Step 11 but for now acceptance of a higher power is the key. Trusting all is as it should be provides enormous relief. One of the gifts of working The Steps is our obsessions are removed. I no longer struggle with drug addiction; neither do countless other addicts and alcoholics who came to believe in a Power greater than themselves who restored them to sanity. All we have to do is ask that our obsessions, our Life Liabilities, be removed. We admitted we couldn’t do it on our own, but as the book Alcoholics Anonymous states, ‘God could and would if He were sought.’ We can’t. A higher Power can. In Step 3 we’ll let Him.

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“Life in the physical realm is glorious and its purpose is to bring you happiness through the awareness of who you are. So go into this magnificent world of your creation and make your lifetime an extraordinary statement and experience of the most glorious idea that you have ever had about yourself.� - Neale Donald Walsch

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Step 3 “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him” Step 3 marks the beginning of a new way of life, one that is free of fear and far more fulfilling. We trust God is here for us and things will work out exactly as they should – perfectly. This faith gives us all the strength we need to meet life’s challenges. Our belief allows us opportunities and freedom. Our perspectives and motives change and our lives take on deeper meaning and purpose. In the previous Steps, we found it is futile and frustrating for us to exert our will on other people and situations. Our obsessions drove us and those around us crazy. It is time to surrender ourselves to the Power we

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now believe in. Step 3, then, is making the decision to put our belief into action, to let God direct our plans. This Step should not be taken lightly. It is a commitment to a different lifestyle and ideology. There is no right or wrong way to take Step 3, as long as we are ready. The Big Book states it is desirable to take Step 3 with a loved one, but also that it’s better to face God alone than with one who might misunderstand. In my opinion, AA suggests taking Step 3 with a trusted confidant for greater impact. Saying the words aloud to another person is both more formal and more humbling. There is a significant difference between saying something and merely thinking it. Thoughts are meaningless unless we breathe life into them with words and actions, then they take on an authority of their own. Voicing our decision to turn our will over to the care of God with a witness gives it undeniable life. I took Step 3 with my sponsor, as most Twelve Step program members do. I chose to get down on my knees to take Step 3, although my sponsor said

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it wasn’t necessary, and even teased me affectionately about doing so. He’s Jewish, and according to him, “Jews don’t kneel.” We laughed about this, keeping the occasion lighthearted. I remained on my knees, kneeling before God with my hands in prayer position. I repeated aloud the 3rd Step prayer as written in Alcoholics Anonymous: “God, I offer myself to Thee, to do with me and build with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power Thy Love, and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always” We let the words of the prayer resonate and a profound silence followed. I immediately sensed a loving presence around and within me. This humbling gesture of sincerity helped me redefine my relationship with my Creator. I instantly felt closer to Him and rightly aligned. I had pleaded and bargained with God many times during my addiction. That’s not the relationship we have today. There are no

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more appeals or empty promises. Instead, I ask what He would have me do and the strength to do it. The wording is optional as long as the sentiment is sincere and that we have completely surrendered to wanting a change in our life. My concept of God has changed drastically since then. Today, I perceive my Higher Power as the loving Universe. Step 3 is ongoing. We make the decision to turn our will over to God, but it is human nature to take it back again. We turn something or someone over to His care, but impatiently resume our own efforts when we’re dissatisfied with the results. This is a Step most of us take repeatedly. It is good practice to ask for guidance each morning. Sometimes, it’s necessary to do so throughout the day. Simply whispering, “Thy will be done,” is sufficient or anything that connects you to God or a Higher Power of your understanding. Step 3 is about getting right and accepting we aren’t ultimate authorities. There is only one who has all power; we must stop attempting to play God. Once we quit trying to control people, places, and things and

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Step 3

acknowledge our limited roles in the grand scheme, we feel peace and contentment. Our best chance for a truly beautiful life, one beyond our wildest dreams, lies in taking the path God lays before us. That’s how we become who He created us to be. It is how we reach our full potentials. Self-seeking is narrow-minded and futile, satisfying only our own immediate needs, and self-will leads us on senseless, often painful and always time consuming detours. We struggle like fish swimming upstream. Life’s not supposed to be that hard. Our past behavior catches most of us by surprise. We were fooling ourselves, entirely unaware we were acting selfishly, with no idea how self-serving our motives were. Our self-centeredness was cleverly disguised as benevolence. Once we take Step 3, our priorities shift. Our self-centered viewpoints broaden and we find ourselves concerned with the greater good. We are less selfish and more interested in others. Our days are about how we can contribute to life instead of what we can get

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out of it. Our purpose is to be of utmost service to God and our fellows. As we’ll see in Step 6, this is the key reason that He removes our Life Liabilities. They interfere with our usefulness. It’s a paradox. The more we give, the more we have to give. The more selfless we are the better things get. We quit being primarily concerned with what we want, and God gives us more than we ever dreamed possible. Step 3, for me, is about living my life fearlessly. I trust God has everything under control. I’m secure in the knowledge all is as it should be. This frees me entirely to enjoy every moment. I have no worries, no anxiety, no concerns that I can’t turn over to God’s care. Yes, life gets challenging, but there is enormous relief in letting go and letting God. We seek guidance and then do what is in front of us. Come what may, we can handle it. We do the best we can and leave the rest to God. It is that simple. God leads us in this dance of life. There will be missteps. Sometimes it is hard to align our will with His. We may not like a turn of

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Step 3

events, problems arise, things don’t go our way, and our faith wavers. Breakdowns occur - mental, emotional and physical - but we recover. There is no trial too great with God as our partner. Our prayers may go unanswered, but we continue to have faith and often find our unanswered prayers are blessings in disguise. Our plans may go awry and leave us disillusioned. Then, in hindsight, we discover this divergence was the best thing that could have happened. We may not always know what is best for us, but He does. We have to believe God knows what He’s doing. I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. God has something better than we could ever imagine planned for each of us. The more we trust life is unfolding perfectly, the less stress we put on ourselves and the happier we are. The happier we are, the more grateful we are. A grateful state of mind attracts more for which to be grateful. It’s the Law of Attraction and I believe it has merit. If we are continuously sending good vibes into the

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Universe, the Universe will respond in kind. It’s a selffulfilling prophecy that keeps building on itself. The opposite is also true. A negative state of mind invites negativity. If all life is dynamic, good will beckons goodness and ill will draws illness. According to Albert Einstein, “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is Physics!” Our goal is happiness and it is achieved when we let go and roll with the tide. Sometimes the seas are rough and tumultuous and other times it is smooth sailing, but as long as we rely on our Higher Power we can rest assured we’ll make it to port. Winds blow, currents shift. We’re powerless over every aspect except how we react. So let us be positive and thankful and enjoy the ride. “When you realize how perfect everything is, you tilt your head back and laugh at the sky” (Buddha).

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Step 4 “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves” Step 4 is where the real work begins. Many of us, unfortunately, balk at this Step, fearing a serious look at our pasts will be too uncomfortable. It likely will be difficult, especially since we must be rigorously honest and thorough if we want the rewards. Step 4 requires conscientious soul searching. It’s personal house cleaning from attic to cellar, leaving no box unopened and no niche undusted. We throw back the drapes and let some light shine in so we can see what we’re working with. We survey our resources, good and bad; keep what’s useful and discard the rest. We do a forthright inventory of ourselves much like 29


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any successful enterprise does. We take stock, itemize and scrutinize, paying particular attention to what and why, we keep feeding our Monkey Minds. What harms have we inflicted on others or suffered ourselves? These significantly contribute to our misery. Once addressed, we release harms and experience peace and deeper happiness than we ever thought possible. Step 4 is a thorough, painstaking endeavor. We cannot omit anything. This takes scrupulous introspection. Many of us are hoarders of emotional baggage, thus we index things we’ve stuffed and stowed over the years. These negative feelings are like cancer threatening to devour us. We must excise every cancerous cell so there’s no chance of them resurfacing and we can free ourselves. Bygones and ill will only serve to weigh us down; we have been burdened long enough. We are done carrying around age-old grudges, painful memories, and myriad resentments. These things, AA members discovered, were at the core of their drinking and drugging, and cut them off from the Spirit of Light and happiness.

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It’s time for a serious mental overhaul so we can en- joy life with a clear conscience and complete acceptance o f ourselves and our past. We will know ourselves like never before, often surprised by who we are. Life Liabilities, for example, almost invariably stem from misdirected survival instincts: when we merely survive, we live our lives in fear. Fear consistently interferes with happiness. Fear leads us in over-zealous pursuits, underlies most detrimental habits, and forces our most damaging mistakes. Fear is at the heart of most of our problems and usually a form of selfcentered fear is at the root of all of our resentments. Resentments are the first offenders in disturbing our peace of mind. They are often at the core of our disease. We harbor these feelings because we feel threatened. We are either afraid of having something taken from us or afraid of not getting something we think we deserve. Fear manifests itself in physiological pain and suffering which detracts from our chances for happiness. So how do we illuminate fear? We start by making

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peace with our past. We don’t want history repeating itself or coming back to haunt us. In this Step, we identify our mistakes and learn from them. We see patterns in our behavior manifesting from childhood and can recognize why we act. When we are burdened by yesterday, we are crippled from creating the futures we desire and deserve today. We clear the slate by taking Step 4. We begin by identifying the trials in our lives we need to reconsider and reevaluate. We list every slight issue, imagined or otherwise, causing us discomfort. We document all ill will, misgivings, and confusion we cling to. It matters. We list our regrets, embarrassing and shameful memories, people we are angry with, and things we’ve never forgiven or gotten over. Notate every life event that stirs an emotional response so we can take a closer look. It helps to see things in black and white. The Big Book suggests we make a three column list: the first column is of whom or what we are resentful toward, the second is why, and the third is how it

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Step 4

has and perhaps still affects us. It’s imperative to be thorough. The third component, how our resentments affect us, holds the key to self-revelation. Our most painful resentments are often those that threaten core elements of our being, situations that strike deep seated fears within us, fears we may not even be aware of – yet. We may notice many of our resentments stem from unmet expectations, the words and actions of others, and things we can’t possibly control. We consider our lists, noting whether our emotional, personal or financial security was threatened. We see many of our resentments are founded on some basic threat to our self-esteem, and pride or security. Fear is the common denominator. Life Liabilities lead us to believe our well-being or survival is at risk. We feel threatened, certain we aren’t getting enough, or our share. We suspect we are being duped, taken advantage of, or for granted. Our egos interfere with our rationale and make us irate. They can’t do this to me! Don’t they know who I am? The list of insanities that torments and imprisons us is endless.

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Once we are aware of our doubts, we can often look back prior to the incidents on our lists and see where self-centered fear contributed or led to the situations we are resentful over. These self-defeating prophecies wherein negativity breeds negativity once again give merit to the law of attraction. It works both ways, which is why it is so important to clear away ill will and focus on positive affirmations. We want this cyclic phenomenon working in our favor. Coming to terms with our pasts also helps tame our Monkey Minds. We have the power to stop the incessant madness and get out of survival mode; to stop attracting more of the same. We can quit replaying painful memories and embarrassing scenes over and over in our heads, thereby lulling the monkeys. We want to live for enjoyment’s sake, not survival’s sake. We don’t need to dwell in fear, anger, envy, insecurity or doubt. We don’t have to worry or stress over what might go wrong. These negative thoughts keep us insane and prevent us from being at peace and truly happy.

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Step 4

We begin the process of stripping away fear when we acknowledge its prevalent role in our lives. Much like we had to admit insanity to be restored to sanity, we need to recognize fear to abolish it. We notice a change in ourselves. We handle things differently and our lives improve. It’s difficult, but I promise it can be accomplished. Remember, our minds are our greatest assets and also our greatest enemies. We must learn to control our minds or our minds will control us. If we can change the way we view our pasts we can change our futures. Forgiving ourselves and others is imperative for true happiness and we have the power to do it, along with anything else, if we set our minds to it. Master our minds and we master our lives. Everything is possible, including a state of perpetual happiness, when we control our thoughts. In The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama proposes simply being happy is life’s true objective. This objective is attainable through the power of positive thinking, compassion and forgiveness.

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Many of us have emotional scars. We’ve experienced traumatic events that can act as anchors around our hearts and minds if we allow it. We don’t have to let past abuse stifle our future happiness. We have the capacity to let go of emotional baggage and be free from painful memories. Images that haunt us don’t have to imprison us any longer. I base this on personal experience. I know it to be true because I am living proof we don’t have to let traumatic events from the past define us or our futures. Our experiences may even help others, as I hope mine do here. There are several I would like to share. First, during my childhood, my father physically abused my brother and me, once throwing me head first into my grandmother’s chair. We often hid in closets or under beds trying to escape him, only to find ourselves begging for mercy. The emotional damage was devastating, arguably leaving a greater scar than the physicality. My dad abandoned us when Child Services was called by my grandmother. I’m living proof we can overcome childhood trau-

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ma, and although we were victims then we are no longer victims now. Secondly, and also when I was young I was subjected to the perversions of a child molester, a baby sitter entrusted with my care. He insisted I jump naked on my bed so he could play with himself while he watched. He didn’t touch or force me to touch him, but the incident was disturbing enough to follow me for years. I felt shame that was not mine to feel, shame significant enough to have an injurious impact on my life for some time. Thirdly, and a more recent example, I was defrauded out of a significant amount of money, enough to warrant a great deal of resentment. I did what it was in my power to do and cooperated with the FBI. The culprits were apprehended and sent to prison, but my money was never recovered. Fretting over the loss would be senseless. I understand justified anger. I was a child victimized by adults I trusted, my safety and psyche in their merciless hands. Betrayal of this magnitude doesn’t

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fade away. Then, after years of diligent work, in spite of a crippling past, I was deceived and cheated out of my hard earned money. It was disheartening, to say the least. Am I still angry? Do I hold any grudges? Harbor any ill will? I could certainly justify if I did. But what purpose would it serve? Anger is futile. It’s forgiveness that sets us free. Anger and resentment cannot simultaneously coexist with peace and happiness. My intent is to always be happy, so my only option is to let those resentments go. I have forgiven my father, my babysitter and the criminals who stole from me. I strive to forgive those who trespass against me because that is the most substantial thing within my power to do. I know others who have suffered far more damaging experiences and still found the strength to forgive. It is possible for us all. I feel compassion for my dad. He did the best he could. I’m not bitter. Instead I rise above it, resolving to never do the same with my three boys. I’m a better father because of my dad’s weaknesses. I also have compassion for the babysitter who was a sick man. He

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undoubtedly has paid for his soul sickness in ways I’ll never know. Finally, the conmen who defrauded me are behind bars. I’ll most likely never see that money again, but clinging to the loss only hurts me. Any thought I give it is time and energy wasted, thereby costing me more. I need to focus on the future, not lament the past. I have to let it go and move on. Resentments are toxic to the person with the resentment. The people we are resentful toward aren’t fazed in the least. Having resentments is senseless - it’s like ingesting poison and expecting the people we resent to get sick. We pay the price, they don’t. Alcoholics Anonymous suggests we pray for the well-being of those we feel animosity toward. We should pray they receive everything in this life that we ourselves want. It’s not easy to pray for those who have harmed us, but it works and we are the ones who benefit. Forgiving and forgetting, however, are not one and the same. We practice forgiveness and acceptance so

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that we may have peace of mind and happiness. This does not mean we allow people to take advantage of us. It means we care more about being happy than right. Acceptance is imperative, simply because we can’t change history. We can, however, learn from it. We forgive, but that does not mean we forget as if nothing happened. If we burn our hand on a hot flame, we forgive our accident and remember not to do it again. The same truth holds with toxic people. Forgiviness them doesn’t mean continuing a relationship with them. Forgive, let go and move on. Some things are more difficult to pardon than others, however we must embrace forgiveness and accept to find true happiness. It has worked well for me to suppose people do their best. Our perspectives and opinions are entirely our own. We shouldn’t judge or try to determine who is right or wrong, but recognize we are all God’s children. My intent with what follows is to open hearts and minds, not to anger, but I was initially angry when I first read, ‘God loved Hitler,’ in the book, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue by Neale Donald

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Walsch. This statement so infuriated me that I slammed the book shut and threw it to the floor. How could Walsch write such an outrageous statement? I will never forget my immediate indignation. I was on a surfing trip on a small island in Fiji at the time. I had finished reading all the books I had brought with me, and there was no television to occupy my time. Reluctantly, I picked up Walsch’s book again. I’m glad now that I did because that book altered my perspective. My concept of love broadened, and much to my surprise, I came to believe God did, in fact, love Hitler. My world view, compassion and tolerance for others also expanded. Consider this question: ‘Are terrorists wrong?’ My heart and mind affirm they are. I find terrorists disgusting, but in their minds, I am the one who is abominable. Whose values are right, mine or theirs? I can easily defend my assertion that my values are right and the terrorists’ are wrong and I’m certain millions worldwide would agree with me. However, that is my perspective and opinion. As many of us do, I believe God is Love

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and He created us all in His image. This prompts us to wonder about the people in the world we consider ‘bad’ people. If the aforementioned is true, then why would God create a wrong version of Himself? God gave us free will and that is the extent of it. He creates life with purpose but He does not create anything to be good or bad, right or wrong. These are merely labels we give people, places, and things because of how they make us feel. Our negative emotions are essential because they allow us to appreciate the good feelings. Contrasting emotions contribute to the richness of our experience. God created life. We interpret it uniquely. Nature itself best illustrates this theory. The rattlesnake, shark and black widow, for example, are not bad just because they are dangerous. Personally, I avoid them entirely, but that does not mean they are wrong. Their survival instincts are different. They sting, bite and kill; like some people – people whose inclinations are not like my own. We can enjoy life at a higher level of conscious-

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ness if we are willing to look beyond good and bad; we must stretch our minds outside the conventional way of thinking most of us have been taught. I realize this is radical thinking, but I have found this theory soothes the pain when bad things happen and helps eliminate confusion over why people do bad things. Our perspectives change, quite literally, when we view people and events in this new manner. Our new vantage point makes it easier to accept life and everything in it exactly as it is. This is especially true where challenging people are concerned. Sadly, some people are operating out of fear and hate. The only way they know to survive is to take advantage of others. I have compassion for them instead of contempt. I would not want to live my life that way and I’m extremely grateful I don’t have to anymore. None of us do. We can learn from others. It is entirely possible we attract people and encounter situations for the very purpose of teaching us lessons. I believe we do. On a deeper level of awareness, we recognize and accept this. We accept people and events for whom and

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what they are; we forgive and let go. We grow spiritually and our capacity for peace and true happiness deepens. This enlightened perspective allows us to view people who have harmed us as teachers. In her book, The Power, Rhonda Byrne labels these people Emotional Trainers. They are like physical trainers, but rather than conditioning our bodies, they push us to become stronger emotionally and spiritually. According to a friend of mine, these people are ‘the flames that forged our blades.’ We would not be who we are today without them. They challenged us in the past and sometimes still do; my ex-wives and inlaws strike my emotional chords and therefore I am reminded I can continue to grow spiritually. Many of these people in our lives are likely responsible for our strength of character, so oddly enough, we have them to thank. Hopefully, upon completing Step 4, we can be grateful for all the people and experiences in our lives. We can enjoy life with a clear conscience and complete acceptance of ourselves and our past. We can

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move forward with a new ease and understanding of all the gifts life offers. I am including two prayers here, the Serenity Prayer and the Prayer of St. Francis, both are well known in recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. It is helpful to recite these prayers while working Step 4. If we truly allow the words to sink into our souls, these prayers will help us make peace with all aspects of the past – a lasting peace we can keep with us always.

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The Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference. Prayer of Saint Francis: Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy. Grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled as to console, To be understood as to understand, To be love as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; It is pardoning that we are pardoned; It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

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Step 5 “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs� It is easy for most people to grasp the concept of Step 5 because it is similar to traditional religious practices of confession, but while comparable, the results are even more profound. We find reassurance in the comrade and togetherness; we are not alone. Our weaknesses and secrets aren’t as unique as we imagine. This rapport with other human beings liberates us. Religious confession has been a cornerstone of faith and healing for centuries because of its many benefits. Step 5 offers similar advantages, like knowing oneself better, overcoming vices, improving behavior 47


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and character, strengthening one’s will and mind, and finding peace. It is a curious phenomenon that talking matters over with another person provides relief. It’s interesting how much things change once they are released. It’s as if voicing our thoughts diminishes their power over us. Our problems are overwhelmingly ours alone until we share them: once we vocalize them, we can no longer deny them. Verbally expressing and exploring our troubles validates their existence and makes finding a solution possible. We can’t resolve what we don’t confront. Our natural inclination is to avoid disclosing our deepest, darkest secrets. Instead, we remain in our comfort zones, denying our failings and burying our resentments. Hiding from our concerns is like hiding under our bed covers. Taking Step 5 is like having our covers pulled off; we’re exposed. At first, it’s awkward, but revelation is therapeutic. In the 1880s Austrian physician, Josef Breuer, called this “the talking cure,” meaning discus-

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sion eases our burden and provides comfort. Disclosure irrefutably works. Soon we’ll find ourselves content and at ease. Step 4 was a courageous undertaking. Our desire for peaceful, happy lives prompted us to do the work. The hardest part is behind us. We are now prepared with an inventory of people and events to review and discuss in Step 5. In order for us to truly benefit from our efforts thus far, we must share what we’ve learned about ourselves with a trusted companion. Certainly, some life events, whether tragic or traumatic, will be difficult to share, so it is imperative to be thoughtful when choosing with whom to take Step 5. There is strict confidentiality with confession, which makes it safe. We want the same assurance with Step 5. It is essential to find a trustworthy person capable of honoring our confidentiality; advisably, someone who is unaffected by what will be revealed - an unbiased, uninvolved third party. We naturally desire the compassion and understanding of a close friend, but may want to choose someone

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outside our immediate circle of family and friends for security. We don’t want to disclose our deepest secrets to a person who could unintentionally reveal something that generates gossip or causes harm. Sometimes, our best course of action is to meet with a qualified therapist or psychologist to support us through Step 5. That way, we protect others as well as ourselves. We don’t want to hurt anyone with mutual secrets. Our past then remains with the therapist or chosen confidante. Taking Step 5 doesn’t mean our past is now an open book. It means we’ve examined the past and shared its significance with another person. The founders of The Twelve Steps specified we tell one other person, aside from God and ourselves. Our willingness to admit and openly discuss our intimacies with one other person brings enormous relief. Furthermore, Step 5 should be taken in a private, quiet place with plenty of time set aside to allow for a thorough, lengthy discussion. We want to complete Step 5 in one sitting for our emotional well-being. It is

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not easy to open up and share part of our past only to be interrupted and forced to hold off on divulging the rest. We don’t want to wallow in vulnerability, suffering needlessly emotionally while waiting to disclose our remaining inventory. We risk never revealing the untold portion and missing the release, relief and benefit. Step 5 helps us to see and accept ourselves as we are. We may know, and God knows, but until we reveal ourselves to another person, we can hide from the truth. Everything we hope to accomplish from our inventory is merely theoretical until we take Step 5. The process of Step 5 may be uncomfortable, the inner work exhaustive, but the rewards are indescribably wonderful. We will know a new freedom and lightness from having our weights taken from our shoulders and the heaviness lifted from our minds. We lessen our burdens by sharing them. Our qualified confidante shows us patterns in our behavior that we didn’t see ourselves. We should now be clear on exactly what our character defects are and how they affect us. We can’t correct our faults until we

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clearly see them. This awareness begins the process of conquering them. Upon completion of Step 5, we have released years of damned up emotions. Our pain subsides. Guilt and remorse disappear. Anger and resentment are things of the past. We forgive ourselves and others; peace and tranquility satisfy us. We are free to experience life from a new perspective. We are new, better versions of ourselves with room in our hearts and minds ready for growth. The past is at rest. The future is ours. Life will be better than ever before. The possibilities are endless.

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Step 6 “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character� Step 6 is about developing a positive attitude toward self- improvement. If we can admit we are entirely ready to have our defects removed, our mere willingness promotes a significant difference in our thoughts and behavior. Our instincts are God-given and His intent is for us to use them, yet problems arise when we blindly allow temptation and desire to dominate our lives. Then, when we become aware the balances have shifted and decide we are ready to change, we can turn to God and humbly ask Him to remove our flaws. People often balk at Step 6 because of their lack of faith in a Higher Power or their skepticism that God

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will in fact remove their character defects. I understand it is difficult to believe in something that is not tangible. Our minds interfere with faith, and logic tricks us. However there are many things in life we accept because of faith. Gravity, for example, is an invisible truth. Although we can’t see it, we know it is working in our lives at all times. Consider the Universe. Think of all the planets and stars systematically and perfectly rotating in space; most of us cannot fathom the vastness of it all. We ponder mystical questions surrounding the beginning of time: when, how and why did the Universe begin? Some of us believe in Creation, others the Big Bang Theory, and others still evolution. Regardless though, there is a multitude of unanswered questions, but we find resolution in the simple fact of existence. We must extend this same level of faith to the existence of God or a Higher Power. If we exist, He exists. He is there, but we wonder if God will focus his attention on removing our character flaws. Does He bother with such trivialities? We have evidence that He

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can and has. Every alcoholic and addict in recovery is proof of Godly interference. We know God helps those who help themselves. We start by working on our own defects and trust God will help us in His time after we’ve demonstrated earnest will for improvement. As evident in New Age mysticism, we have more power than we realize. New Age thinking unlocks other levels of possibilities. Physicists are tapping into myriad opportunities, revealing numerous theories we can believe. So what is our dilemma with Step 6? It’s a fact that countless people have turned their lives around in a positive way because of these Steps. God – traditional or otherwise, Higher Power, the Universe, or force – can and will remove our defects of character. If we are entirely ready and can humbly ask Him for help, we must focus on diligently and honestly ridding ourselves of these defects, persistently striving to be better human beings. I assure you, God can and will honor our pleas. Sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, but we will

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notice an improvement. We simply need faith and a sincere desire to grow within spiritual guidelines. We will not be dismayed if we don’t perceive immediate results. We can’t expect God to suddenly intervene because we are ready. Although we believe He can help, the purpose is for us to improve with His help. Our awareness and efforts to do better are the essential components to successfully completing this Step. We should be content with steady improvement. One of the key aspects of Step 6 is being honest about our true level of readiness to part with some of our character traits. Many of them serve us well. We often enjoy the very characteristics we need to modify. We all want to be rid of our most glaring and destructive handicaps, but are we genuinely ready to give up our milder defects entirely? Truth be told, we relish in some of our vices. Who doesn’t occasionally enjoy over indulging in comfort foods or lustful behavior? Sometimes self-righteous indignation feels empowering, but greed and envy can be hard to deny. Living angelically is not exciting.

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The best we hope for in Step 6 is the honest desire, and willingness to work toward our goals. The Steps are ideals. We hope to achieve a life grounded in the principles provided by The Steps. We are not and never will be saints. The Steps are about progress, not perfection. We do our best each day and turn it over to our Higher Power after that. We aim to consistently better ourselves. We strive for maximum willingness to have our flaws removed so in Step 7 we are sincere when we humbly ask God to remove our defects of character.

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“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” - Dr. Wayne Dyer

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Step 7 “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings” “Ask and it shall be given.” Mathew 7:7 Can we simply ask God to remove our vices and character flaws so we can become the best versions of ourselves? Spiritual literature, including The Holy Bible, tells us we can. If God can create a magical Universe, He can remove some simple shortcomings. We embrace Step 7 because we choose to believe God can and will help us overcome the negative thoughts and traits deterring us from reaching our full potential, thus living our lives as He intended. After taking Step 6, we are entirely ready for God to remove our character defects, and Step 7 summons

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that readiness. We invite God to rearrange us. If we are humble and sincere, we learn to request assistance instead of expecting results. Humility is often challenging because the concept is widely misunderstood. Having humility equates to simply having an honest desire to seek and do God’s will; humility implies reliance on a Higher Power and leads to true freedom for the human spirit. Having reached Step 7, we have obtained some degree of humility. We humbly ask God to remove any hindrances on our path to carefree living. Our primary objective is to live joyful, happy lives, content with ourselves and at peace with others. We have learned that character defects born of self-serving fear are obstacles preventing us from achieving these objectives. Fear is the underlying instigator of many of our problems. For many, fear tops their lists of afflictions. Fear can be all encompassing and take many forms: financial insecurity, emotional insecurity, and innumerable phobias. There are fears of abandonment, failure, and loss. Whatever our fear, God can and will

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remove it if we ask Him to. In the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, we often hear, “God could and would if He were sought,” meaning He is capable of doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Obviously, God is not going to make us perfect. We can’t expect Him to free us from what makes us human. Character building is a process, and the benefits lie in recognizing our imperfections and our willingness to improve. “Progress, not perfection,” is another popular sentiment in Alcoholics Anonymous. Our awareness signifies headway. We’ll have moments our character defects, including fear, selfishness, greed, and arrogance, arise, but we turn to God and ask He removes these stubborn traits. Our perseverance serves us well. The Law of Attraction suggests we control what we attract through our feelings. The same is true for what we strive to release from our lives. If we maintain a positive attitude, entertain joyful thoughts and remain grateful, the energy we send to the universe

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vibrates on a peaceful, happy frequency, generating more of the same. Our good vibrations echo back to us. Our lightheartedness attracts carefree, untroubled vibes without space for anything transmitted on a negative frequency. We attract more of what we desire in life and dismiss what we don’t. “In your joy, you create something, then you maintain your vibrational harmony with it and the universe must find a way to bring it about. That is the Promise of Law of Attraction” (Abraham Hicks). Perhaps this is how God removes our defects of character. Our sincere attempts to recognize and change our thoughts and behavior in addition to our humble appeals for assistance changes our energy. We step onto a new playing field by taking these Steps with a new way of thinking, a new way of feeling and a new opinion of ourselves. We are freeing ourselves from worry, fear, resentments, envy and negativity. We no longer expend energy on a negative frequency, therefore abandoning skepticism, adversity, fear or any other unfavorable defects. We are systemat-

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ically freeing ourselves from injurious faults and emotions. Instead we are free to focus on what is worthwhile and beneficial, cultivating more constructive qualities in our lives. We reap the rewards by gaining what is desirous. The theory that God created us in His image is widely known; I believe this is true. It follows that we are also God, or partly God, and therefore we have a lot of power, much more power than we ever conceived possible. The concept of each of us as God is compelling. Dr. Wayne Dyer, an acclaimed self-help author, offers a thought provoking metaphor in his writings and speeches that aptly embodies the notion: If we take a bucket of water out of the ocean, is the water in the bucket still part of the ocean? Dyer says yes. God is the entire body of the ocean and we are the water in the bucket. Therefore, we are God. We have untapped powers beyond our conditioning. The implications are staggering. We were not raised to think this way, and it was previously unimaginable.

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But if we believe this, accept this and act accordingly, we could be on our way to a New Age revolution. Perhaps, this new conceptualization will change us, those around us, and eventually the world. The concept isn’t that far-fetched. Think of all the powers we already possess: natural powers like eyesight, hearing, physical movement and all the wonders of the body. Then, there are cognitive powers, some beyond comprehension, such as dreams, telepathy, etc. How about the powers of faith, hope and love? We have all witnessed miracles brought by these powers. Love, according to the Bible, is the greatest power of all. Love can conquer all and it is available for our use. As I’ve stated before, I believe God’s desire for us is to simply be happy. It makes sense that He wants to help with our Life Liabilities. Step 7 is about acknowledging God’s power to help us help ourselves. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, so why not give Him the opportunity to help us enrich our lives. Of course, He then, of course, can remove our measly, pesky short-

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comings. Sometimes He does, and other times we must demonstrate a sincere desire and conscientiously work toward that goal before He relieves us of our vice. Often, we enjoy a reprieve but then our flaws reemerge. Step 7 is our willingness to practice our continued efforts to be better people. It is our awareness that we can’t remove our shortcomings without God’s help. We are nothing without Him in much the same way that without the ocean, there would be no water in the bucket. The goal of Step 7 is to adopt some measure of humility and view life from a more humble perspective regardless of whether or not God removes our character defects. The good news is God has removed stumbling blocks and Life Liabilities for countless people who have taken this Step, people who are enjoying better versions of themselves today. He will remove our character flaws and bad habits, too, if we sincerely ask Him to, so that we may enjoy a deeper level of peace and happiness than ever before. Step 7 can be done with our confidants or alone,

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and like Step 5, should be done in a quiet, private place with ample time for reflection. Step 7 is not intended as a challenge to God, nor should we approach Him with any shred of arrogance. Quite the contrary, for as leery as we may be, the point is we are choosing to believe that our defects can and will be removed. It is a paradox that the more humble and dependent on God we are, the more powerful we become. “Ask and it is given.� God works within us, through us and for us as we are able to achieve great things unlike never before. We have strength and courage from Him. We enjoy a new perspective and outlook on life. We grasp and manifest humility. We lead spiritual lives wherein we have access to immeasurable power. We overcome our character flaws and vices and resolve the problems we have created that are the obstacles to joyful, serene, lives. We progress towards achieving all our dreams and aspirations. Happiness abounds. God and we alike want the best for us, and by eliminating our defects of character, God brings us closer to lives filled with joy,

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peace and prosperity, lives we are meant to live. We become our best selves, reach our full potential and succeed beyond our wildest dreams. It is that simple.

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“Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life.” - Joel Osteen

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Step 8 “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all” We may feel overwhelmed and disheartened by the mere thought of what Step 8 asks us to do, but don’t fret. Step 8 is about preparation and willingness. We don’t have to take action yet. In Step 8, we become willing to make reparations wherever necessary. First, we make a list of all the people we have hurt emotionally, financially or otherwise. We get ready to come clean about everything, to be transparent about who we are and what we’ve done. We have already laid the groundwork for Step 8 by completing our Step 4 inventories. Many of the people we were resentful towards are the very ones we now

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owe amends to. Step 5 offered us the opportunity to practice showing humility when we revealed our darkest secrets to another person. Now, we take this process one step further. We go before the very individuals we have harmed and offer restitution. While this seems like a daunting task but we have already done the necessary work to prepare us for what is to come. We’ve painstakingly surveyed the wreckage of the past and determined where we were at fault. Here, we are not concerned with what others have done; we deal only with our part. It may not be a fun process, but we face it courageously like the previous Steps have prepared us to do. It’s not as difficult as we may think and it gives us another opportunity to face and overcome our fears. After all, we want to live our lives in faith, not in fear. We have come a long way already. We’ve humbled ourselves, examined our flaws, reviewed our mistakes, shared our transgressions, and forgiven those who have trespassed against us. We have been strengthening our character every step of the way. We are better prepared

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for this next stage of character building than we realize. Step 8 boosts our integrity and brings us closer to God. This Step is necessary if we wish to experience life as Go d intends, with peace and happiness. We have seen in the previous Steps that half measures avail us nothing, and the same is true for Step 8. We have to be thorough, omitting no one. If questions arise as to whether or not someone should be on our list, they belong on the list. If we wonder whether or not we owe someone an apology, chances are we do. It may be beneficial for us to go over our lists with a trusted companion prior to approaching people on our own. A third party’s perspective can be helpful, just as in Step 5, where our confidante was able to perceive patterns in our behavior we were blind to. Our natural inclination is to justify our behavior by casting blame on others, defeating the purpose of Step 8. It is helpful to remember we all struggle with challenges. In addition to discussing who we owe amends to, we may want to determine how best to approach each person and what should be said.

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It is a good idea to prepare for any outcome. We can never know how someone might react and we don’t want become defensive. We should remember we are powerless over everyone and everything beyond ourselves. Step 8 is meant to help us be better equipped to enjoy healthy personal relationships. We will have a better understanding of ourselves, of others, and of how our interactions affect each other. Our goal is to learn to live harmoniously with all men and women. The more thorough our list, the clearer our conscience, and the more comfortable we are with ourselves. This comfort will extend itself to others and allow an ease of kinship unlike any we have known before.

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Step 9 “Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others” Having arrived at Step 9, we are clear about with whom, why, and how we need to make amends. We have reflected on our lives, carefully considered the incidents which continue to cause us grief and examined the roles we’ve played in each of these events. We focus entirely on our own actions and let go of what others have done. We know we are powerless over what people think, feel, do and say. We can only control how we react. In AA, we call this cleaning up our side of the street. In Step 9, we look at where our actions and reactions were not ideal and strive to set things right.

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We become accountable for our words and behavior, carefully understanding that owning up to an incident doesn’t equate with breaking another’s confidence. We don’t want to betray another’s trust or divulge hurtful information; we simply want to rectify things. We can’t unburden ourselves at the expense of others. Some matters are better left at rest. Step 9 provides immense relief, but we should not attempt to remedy situations wherein putting ourselves at ease will jeopardize another person’s peace of mind or well-being. We should not approach any amends lightly, no matter how trivial it may seem. We have no way of knowing in advance how upset the person we’ve wronged still is. What didn’t seem important to us may be all consuming to them. They may be harboring an intense grudge, one that has manifested instead of lessened over time. The reverse is often true as well. We may think something is astronomical and be filled with trepidation at the prospect of addressing the situation, only to find the recipient has forgotten all about it. Point being, we should be prepared to allow and

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accept whatever reaction we receive. We can’t have any expectations when making amends. We humbly take what we get. We are making reparations, not seeking forgiveness. The two should not be confused. We accept responsibility for what we’ve done and offer restitution. Forgiveness may be a byproduct of our amends but we are not seeking absolution, just acknowledging our past behavior was inappropriate. We’ve likely said we were sorry before. The word may have lost all meaning, but the point is to demonstrate we are changing. We are different human beings today. We may receive forgiveness, we may not; we don’t have any control over that aspect unless we are talking about forgiving ourselves. Many of us named ourselves on our lists of people we have harmed, and we certainly can and should forgive ourselves. Self-forgiveness is imperative if we want to let go of the past and live freely today. Step 9 is not about how we are received, but is instead about our willingness to face the consequences of our past actions, regardless of the cost. Step 9 means offering

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restitution wherever possible. Financial compensation may be in order, payable to an individual or institution, and we need to repay the debt. In fact, we insist upon it. This is important because often times the person receiving our amends is so taken aback by our apology they decline the offer of repayment in the moment, later realizing reimbursement would be both helpful and satisfying. We should explain the money will be repaid, if not to them, then to a charity. This encourages them to hold us accountable for our damages. Restitution owed to a business is tricky because disclosure may jeopardize our employment or our freedom if what we are admitting was illegal. In such cases, we should consult with our trusted confidante and all persons who will be directly or indirectly affected by the possible consequences of our admission. There are many scenarios wherein making amends is precarious, especially when multiple parties are involved. An amends owed because of an extramarital affair, for example, is particularly delicate. The parties

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involved in the affair may both have spouses, families and friends to consider. We may be prepared to be rigorously honest about the errors of our ways but we can’t assume others will share our enthusiasm for rehashing the past and setting things right. There are countless considerations when determining whether or not to broach this subject at all. We do not want to hurt anyone unnecessarily. How do we make amends for committing adultery without wounding our spouse or involving the person with whom we had the affair? This is a tough one. We can assume our spouses will want to know who we had the affair with but we can’t rightly name the person without risking them further harm done. We want to avoid causing additional heartache wherever possible because it contradicts our intentions. We can’t ease our consciences at the expense of others. These and similar situations may warrant counsel from a therapist, spiritual advisor, or trusted friend. We often need guidance where sensitive matters of the heart are concerned. Sometimes we are too close to a

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situation to appraise it accurately. Suggestions from a confidante can be invaluable in providing the necessary shift in perspective to handle the amends appropriately. It is immeasurably advantageous to take these matters to God. Prayer and meditation are often our finest means of direction, reassurance and strength. Talk the matter over with God and sit quietly listening for an answer. Soon, we intuit the right thing to do. The Big Book promises us, “We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us,” as a result of working these Steps. I have found this to be true. The Steps bring us closer to God and we learn to trust our instincts as God’s guidance. Sometimes, instead of fully disclosing harms done, our best recourse is to make a living amends. A living amends takes many forms and serves many purposes. Essentially, it is a means of righting our wrongs by our actions going forward. We can make living amends to our families by changing our priorities and behaviors. We are available, present and accountable to them hence forth, thereby atoning for past mistakes. A liv-

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ing amends can be as simple as being more loving and kind in the future. The same can be true for our employers when our work habits change. We zealously apply ourselves, performing well enough to reconcile slacking off in the past. A living amends may be our most suitable option with regard to infidelity if, after careful deliberation, we determine a revelation of this magnitude will do more harm than good. It should not be our choice for convenience sake. Living amends are not intended as an easy way out. If we make the wrong choice for selfish reasons we are cheating ourselves. The truth almost inevitably comes out in the long run. If there’s any possibility it will, it is better to face the consequences now. Owning our mistakes puts us on higher ground; living with a secret defeats the purpose of taking The Steps and robs us genuine peace of mind. The choice to withhold information should be for the benefit of the injured party at our own expense. We can also make a living amends by being of service to a surrogate person or company if the party

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we’ve wronged is unavailable. We may have borrowed money from someone we failed to repay and have since lost touch, or perhaps, we’ve shoplifted from a store that has since gone out of business. We make reparations by giving the equivalent amount of money to someone in need or making a charitable donation. We counteract our mistakes with good deeds, essentially balancing our karmic energy. Step 9 denotes a marked change in our psyche. We hold our heads higher, easily making eye contact with everyone we meet. We don’t worry about meeting someone from the past because our slate is clean. We don’t have remorse or regrets we haven’t addressed. No one can claim power over us because we don’t have secrets. We are accountable for our own path. It’s made us who we are, brought us here, and we have nothing to be ashamed of. It feels good. We realize how courageous we have been when facing our ghosts and demons and settling old debts. The scales are balanced. We no longer have guilt or shame interfering with today’s joy.

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Let us consider the Law of Attraction again now that we have completed Step 9. We are free from the negative undercurrent that undermined our positive actions and attributes for so long. There is nothing impeding today’s affirmative energy. Our clear conscience allows us to radiate goodness without a veiled anchor curbing our dynamic; we’re unburdened. Life is unconstrained and uncomplicated – free and easy. Step 9 sparks a desire to be considerate, to look out for the needs and feelings of others. We don’t want to make any more amends. We live justly, attracting justness. At this point, we have shed our egos and aligned our will with God’s. We rely on Him and trust ourselves. We do the next right thing and our best each day. We know joy and serenity. We generate and attract more of the same. Now, we want to maintain our happiness and our peace of mind, which is why there is Step 10. The program of Alcoholics Anonymous promises wonderful things will transpire for us at some point after completing the first 9 Steps.

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The Promises: “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and new happiness. We will not forget the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle things which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us sometimes quickly, sometimes, slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.�

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Step 10 “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it� We have worked hard thus far to complete the first 9 Steps, and if we have been thorough and diligent then we have seen change in our lives. It is now time to begin practicing our new way of daily life. We are living well balanced lives today and paying close attention to our assets and Life Liabilities. We are emotionally, spiritually and physically fit, assuming we have our character defects in check. We are honest, trustworthy and compassionate. Today, we live with integrity. Our homes, so to speak, are in order thanks to the thorough housecleaning we did in Steps 4 through 9. Now, Step 10 is a matter of daily

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maintenance or housekeeping. This Step is designed to keep us current so we can enjoy serenity in the present moment. We can’t let things build up. We don’t want to be bound to yesterday by the heavy chains of past mistakes. We want to live free of resentments and mental obsessions. These subjective preoccupations are continuous threats to our peace of mind. Step 10 is about our desire to grow along spiritual lines, treat others fairly, and behave in a righteous manner despite circumstances. It is simple to be pleasant and do the next right thing when life is good; but can we adhere to our new higher standard of living when things get tough? In trying times, we quickly revert to our former modus operandi. Our character defects flare and our ineffective coping skills dominate our thought processes. We slink back into old habits, lash out and say things we regret. It’s hard to change our ingrained reactions after years of relying on them. The point of Step 10 is to recognize when our thoughts and actions are substandard so we can imme-

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diately make reparations. Like everything worthwhile in life, it takes practice. We have identified our shortcomings and we persistently strive for improvement. Now that we are aware of our defects, we are sensitive to the negative emotions that accompany them. Stumbling into our old vices hurts. We don’t like the feelings associated with shameful behavior. Offensive passions and conduct – anger, envy, gluttony and sloth – take a mental and physical toll on us. We are no longer comfortable with transgressions. We also become aware of our true motives and try to avoid self- righteous and self-serving behavior no matter how subtle it may be. We are wary of rationalization and justification; neither serves us well. Step 10 suggests we apologize for any wrongdoing immediately upon recognizing it. We may not be capable of making on the spot amends at first. It takes time and growth to reach this level of justness. We begin with a daily inventory wherein we reflect on each day as it passes. We tally up where our words and actions missed the mark and we make a mental note to

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handle situations better the next day. We may want to mention our failings to whomever was involved, or we may not. We can simply try to make things right. Whatever the case may be, we correct our wrongs in a timely and ongoing manner. We honestly do our best each day, recognizing that some days will be better than others. We must also give ourselves credit where credit is due. There are innumerable things we do well. Let’s be sure to note our improvements and successes. Commending ourselves bolsters our self-esteem and leads us to perform more estimable acts. My friend, a revered life coach, suggests conducting ourselves as if we had a camera on our shoulders recording our words and actions. Imagine reviewing the day’s film with an audience and strive for a production of which to be proud. Essentially this is taking a nightly inventory. What would we like to edit out? Exercise self-restraint when unkind responses spring to mind and when temptations arise. Practice adherence to moral principles. We no longer react spitefully or dishonestly to the situations that

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used to create problems for us. We’re on a new path and Step 10 helps us stay the course with integrity. Step 10 involves character building and integrity is essential to good character. Author Dr. Stephen Covey shares the novel concept of an Integrity Account with us in his books. The idea is meant to help us become moral, principled people. The Integrity Account works like a savings account. We are accumulating a valuable, honorable commodity. We invest and spend from our Integrity Account much like we make deposits and withdrawals from our bank accounts. Every time we make and keep a commitment, we make a deposit into our Integrity Account. Each time we break a promise, we make a withdrawal. For example, if I commit to an early gym workout and I follow through, I contribute to my Integrity Account. If I oversleep and skip the gym, I withdraw from my integrity account. The more I deposit, the larger my Integrity Account becomes. I began practicing this application in early sobriety. My Integrity Account compounded exponentially with

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the length of time I stayed sober. I quickly learned the value of integrity. I commenced conducting myself in an honest, sincere manner and making the right choices and decisions. The resulting clear conscience has freed me from the desire to change the way I feel with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or any other vice. Since I feel good about myself and my conduct, I do not need to mask feelings of guilt and shame with anger or deflect my own shortcomings by blaming others. It’s a far healthier way of life. Emotional hangovers are exhausting and debilitating. They are a waste of time and energy. I am accountable for my words and actions. I honor my commitments and agreements. I believe these character traits are essential to having peace of mind and happiness. I no longer make unreasonable demands of others, and instead adopted the following: we are all doing the best we can. Step 10 helps us develop compassion for others. Our goal is to live harmoniously with our fellows and be vigilant about our treatment of others; we naturally

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become more considerate. Our intent is to act with kindness, courteousness, justice and love. One of the most interesting things Step 10 brings to our attention is the spiritual principle that whenever someone is bothering us it is because something is wrong with us. It is not the other person. It’s us. Knowing this, we look within and our tolerance for others increases. We become proficient at self-appraisal. We practice Step 10 until self-searching becomes a regular habit and doing the right thing is second nature. We are rewarded for our perseverance with a clear conscience and harmonious, good living. Our vigilance helps us recognize when our character flaws are dictating our behavior so we can rein them in. We sincerely regret hurting others, however unintentional, and promptly make amends. When needed, we maintain our willingness to learn and grow, and genuinely appreciate our good fortune and new way of life.

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“Stop looking outside for scraps of pleasure for fulfillment, validation, security or love – you have a treasure within that is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.” - Eckhart Tolle

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Step 11 “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� Step 11 introduced me to meditation and I have enjoyed immeasurable benefits ever since. The transformative powers of prayer and meditation have brought wonders to my life and I am profoundly grateful. I was told the difference between prayer and meditation is prayer is talking to God while meditation is listening to God. This description has worked well for me. Personally, I meditate more often than I pray, but I do talk to the God of my understanding regularly. For me, prayer is often as simple as an internal dialogue.

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My thoughts, dreams and desires always involve God. I remain in constant contact with the God of my understanding, whether I’m noticing sunsets or listening to my sons’ laughter. I’m especially aware of His presence when I am surfing. I meditate to quiet my mind and listen for direction. I think most of us who meditate agree this is the primary purpose of meditation. The benefits we receive from sitting in the stillness and seeking guidance from a Higher Power are innumerable – far more than we can conceive until we begin practicing ourselves. We get in touch with our innermost selves, God and the universe when we are able to quiet our minds. This is the path of true happiness and bliss. The process of going through The Steps has given us a God of our understanding and convinced us life is better if He is in charge. Meditation then is our way of receiving His direction. We must quiet our minds to hear His voice. The mind is fascinating and peculiar when we consider the ceaselessness and randomness of thought. Incessant chatter drones on even when we are rest-

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ing and often we are awake. The mind’s ability to distract us, redirect our focus onto unrelated tangents, tenaciously latch onto past resentments, or create reasons to fear the future is unfathomable. Eckhart Tolle, the author of The Power of Now, refers to this chatter simply as noise – the noise in our heads. Meditation helps us stop the noise if only for brief moments. These short reprieves from the noise bring us to know peace and slowly, over time, our brief moments of peace stretch longer. Deepak Chopra refers to these instances of quiet as spaces between thoughts. He describes meditation as a means of slipping into these gaps. I notice many people struggle with prayer and meditation, not necessarily the concept, but the practicality. I believe the reason for this lies in the exorbitant amount of pressure people put on themselves to meditate correctly when there truly is no right or wrong way to meditate. It is wholly individual. There are no hard and fast rules for meditation. It is not necessary to sit in lotus position with palms up or in prayer. We don’t have to hum or chant. There

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is no appropriate hour of the day, any right place or specific time limit. The most important thing is to be comfortable. Practice whenever and wherever it is convenient for any length of time. Simply taking three long breaths and slowing down our thoughts in the midst of whatever we are doing constitutes meditation. “There may be better ways of meditating, but there is no wrong way,� according to Lama Surya Das in his book Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World. Our spirits need the same time and attention our bodies do. Consider the way we work out our physical bodies with exercise and weights by going to a gym on a regular basis, or running or swimming, then imagine translating this routine into something equally beneficial to your mind. Prayer and meditation are to the spirit what cardiovascular exercise and strength training are to the body. There is no singular way to meditate any more so than there is only one form of physical exercise. We start slow and build endurance and ability

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in both areas. It takes time to build muscle and it takes time to quiet the mind. It’s not something that instantly happens. The more we meditate the more we benefit just like with exercise. It may be a struggle in the beginning, but if we stick to it, keep trying and going through the motions, then we will begin to notice improvements in our lives. We first achieve a calmer demeanor. Then we realize we are more intuitive. Eventually we find ourselves awed by life itself, totally present in each moment, living in absolute acceptance, full of joy, compassion and peace. This is enlightenment. Meditation is a riveting and rewarding experience. It has enriched my life beyond measure. I urge skeptics to try it. Make a commitment to give it a fair chance and incorporate it into your daily life. You will reap the rewards. I have had some incredible experiences while meditating. I have been so deep in meditation that I’ve lost all sense of time and place and being. I’ve come out of transitive states to discover what I thought had been five minutes had been more than an hour. I’ve

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returned with tears of joy in my eyes, laughing and crying simultaneously. I’ve experienced a depth and range of emotions while meditating that has not been available to me at any other time. Meditation opens channels for insights and revelations we retain, unlike in dreams which we often forget. This is a priceless gift. I once came out of a very memorable introspective state with the unwavering belief that my wife and I journeyed together through countless past lives to be reunited in this one. I’m steadfast in this conviction which still brings unparalleled joy and satisfaction. Tara witnessed my trance on that occasion and later told me I was rocking back and forth, and from side to side. She watched, intrigued, as I laughed and cried, clearly reveling in my inwardness. It was a magical experience that has stayed with me in a profound way. I am certain she and I are kindred spirits. I can’t describe what it is to know that depth of love – centuries of it – and I was able to feel it because I took the time to meditate.

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I make the effort to practice daily because nothing else opens me up to such profound possibilities. I’ve shared some of my personal experiences with meditation, but I have to say I don’t believe meditation can be fully explained. It is something each of us must experience for ourselves. Nothing is comparable. I could try to describe how it feels to float in water but I couldn’t do it justice with words. Meditation is even more complex. The exercise and the results are indescribably wonderful and something best experienced for you. A sense of belonging, wellbeing and purpose are among the gifts of Step 11. We still our minds and become centered and present in each moment. We no longer expend energy on futile attempts to change the past or control the future. We live in acceptance and peace. Maintaining conscious contact with our Higher Power assures us we are an integral part of a grander plan and keeps us on the right path. We get spiritually fit which transcends all else. Go within to live without. Practice evolves over time. The point is to begin.

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“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.� - Winston Churchill

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Step 12 “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs” Many of us have found that being of service to others is a rewarding experience. So for our purposes here, we simply omit the word “alcoholics” from the wording of Step 12. We aim to share our experiences from the previous Steps as well as our healthier, enlightened perspective and way of life with others so they too may live peaceful, joyous lives. There is something magical about the feelings generated when we help others or devote our time to a worthy cause or institution. Step 12 is about being of service to others. We have been working on ourselves, thus far, with our focus

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on internal struggles and issues. We’ve tremendously improved our mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing and are filled with gratitude. In Step 12, we turn our focus outward to our fellows in an effort to share our good fortune. “To keep it, we must give it away,” is often heard in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have found this to be true not just for recovering addicts, but in many respects. There is as much joy in giving as in only receiving. For members of Alcoholics Anonymous, the purpose of Step 12 is to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers, which is often a matter of life or death. Step 12, however, is all encompassing. It is about a new attitude, one of brotherly love and service. Many AA members take Step 12 beyond the confines of the program and make it a practice to be of service to others, period. That is what I am suggesting here. We should be willing to be of service whenever, wherever and to whomever is in need. Step 12 does not require drastic measures. I am not proposing we spend every waking hour seeking out

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those in need and providing assistance at the expense of our families and livelihoods. I am simply suggesting we strive to be better people, that we live by the Golden Rule and treat others like we would like to be treated ourselves. We have invested our time and energy in these 12 Simple Steps and we are now happier, healthier people. In turn, it is my hope that we want to see others happy also. We want to share this joyful, peaceful, loving way of life. So we help others, and by doing this we create more joy and happiness for ourselves as well as well. The rewards for extending a helping hand are indescribable. We generate more of the joy and love we are offering. The more we give, the more we have; the more we love, the more love we have. In the simplest terms, it feels good to be of service. The beauty of this is how the Law of Attraction comes into play in the midst of all our good deeds. We feel good about ourselves because we are being altruistic and our positive energy attracts more of the same. Helping others can be as simple as taking someone

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through the 12 Simple Steps or simply recommending this book or any other helpful method. We benefit also. Any charitable action is rewarded. We see miracles happen around us and for us when we make it our practice to extend a helping hand. Now that we are becoming the best versions of ourselves, we can demonstrate the benefits of living a higher purpose to those around us. We have a newfound knowledge and acceptance of ourselves and our place in the world as a result of doing these 12 Simple Steps. We are free from the confines we once knew. We enjoy an enlightened perspective and deeper understanding of what matters most in life. We relate better to others, displaying more compassion and tolerance. We are willing to grow along spiritual lines, seek guidance from our Higher Power and practice honesty, integrity, justice and brotherly love. We have peace of mind and an abundance of joy and love in our lives. We have the power to spread love, goodwill and happiness. It is like the sentiment author Gabrielle Bernstein shares in her book Miracles Now

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“Be the lighthouse. When we share our light and our love with the world, we enjoy the light and love of the world shining back at us.� This is the gift of Step 12.

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“You are now at a crossroads. Forget your past. Who are you now? Who have you decided you really are now? Don’t think about who you have been. Who are you now? Who have you decided to become? Make this decision consciously. Make it carefully. Make it powerfully. Then act upon it.” - Anthony Robbins

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Keep It Simple Now, having completed the 12 Simple Steps to Loving Life we can enjoy peace of mind and happiness. We are free from regret, because we addressed the past and made reparations wherever necessary. We are free from worry, because we rely on our Higher Power. We are working steadily and consistently to quash our character defects and we do our best each day. We aim to be of service to God and our fellows whenever possible. We don’t compromise our morals or act in self-serving ways. We maintain an attitude of gratitude. We apply the basic principles behind The Steps in our daily lives, keeping our side of the street clean, so we feel good about ourselves. This self-love, gratitude and positive energy attracts a wealth of joy and abundance into our lives.

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If we stay on this path, stay in conscious contact with our Higher Power, and strive to do the next right thing, we will continue to see improvements in our lives. My own case seems extreme, but I am by no means exceptional. We can all enjoy phenomenal advances. I am an example of the miracles that happen as a result of applying these 12 Simple Steps. I was a wayward teen who dabbled in demonic worship. I have been exposed to many religious beliefs and conceptions of God, but I found a loving God of my own understanding through taking The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I reveal my shameful infatuation with Satan because of the message I hope it sends: no matter what we have done, or for how long we have shunned God, God never turns His back on us. God’s love is unconditional. I know this is true because of the daily communication I have with God and because of the love I feel in my own spiritual practice. It is my hope these 12 Simple Steps help us develop and enrich our relation-

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ships with our Higher Powers, regardless of religious affiliations. I was a hopeless, homeless, teenage drug addict when I encountered The Steps. I found the willingness to take suggestions and do the work, as a result, I have an entirely new life today. My full story is chronicled in my memoir, 180 Degrees (www.180book.com) so titled because of the about-face I took in life as a result of The Steps. I have seen many people from all walks of life – both believers and non-believers – achieve the miracle of sobriety. I believe God favors us all and does not discriminate. Today, my life exceeds all dreams I had for myself as a young man, even after I achieved sobriety. I could not have imagined the abundance of wealth and happiness I now have because I took The Steps and changed my life. I hope the 12 Simple Steps to Loving Life sparks a metamorphosis for everyone who takes them. The Steps may not be the only way to achieve a happy and peaceful life, but for me The Steps were absolutely the best way to free myself from drug abuse

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and get my life together. The guidance I received from the book Alcoholics Anonymous was ultimately what saved my life. Everything that I am and have is a result of The Twelve Step program and its suggested reading material. This book is only my experience. I am not an authority, spokesperson, or representative of the program. It is not my intention to promote AA, but rather to endorse The Twelve Steps. Additionally, I am forever grateful to the fellowship of men and women who have loved and supported me, shared their experience, strength and hope, and have helped me become the man I am today. The Twelve Steps of AA, the fellowship of AA and finding a God of my understanding has allowed me to live a life filled with love, security, friends, health, fun, peace and an amazingly wealthy lifestyle. I have learned the meaning of true happiness, serenity, and purpose. I was also able to turn my life around financially. I was able to attract wealth and prosperity because I was in a blissful state of mind and these things

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mattered to me. I am not stating The Steps lead to financial wealth, but I am suggesting The Steps will align us harmoniously with the vibrational frequency that will attract everything we want in life I wish this for everyone and I strongly believe that by applying The Steps we can all succeed. We can achieve lifestyles better than we ever thought originally possible. If I can do it as well as countless of others, anyone can. We can all benefit from The Steps and live the lives of our dreams. The countless alcoholics and drug addicts who are sober, productive, loving and contributing members of society are proof of the miracles that happen as a result of this process. This is what I believe is God’s intention: for all of us to live a happy life. Simply believe, visualize, feel, and internalize peace, joy, success and abundance. Allow the possibilities. Get excited for life and the manifestation of your dreams! They are waiting for you to enjoy!

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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not in some of us, it is in everyone. As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear our presence actually liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson

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About the Author Robert attributes his successes as husband, father and businessman to his decision to take The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. His application of The Steps has brought wealth, prosperity, and stability to all of his affairs. He was a homeless teenage addict who struggled with sobriety for six years before finally succeeding on March 11, 1991. Robert’s journey through The 12 Steps miraculously changed his life. He was able to turn his circumstances around 180 Degrees, developing from a destitute addict at to a self-made millionaire by age 30. His poignant rags-to-riches story is available in its entirety in his memoir, 180 Degrees. Robert is forever grateful to all who have played a part in his remarkable transformation and therefore

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felt compelled to reach out to others through his two books: 180 Degrees and 12 Simple Steps to Loving Life. He hopes his work will inspire others to find their own success. He continues to be of service as a philanthropist and active community member. He shares his fascinating story on panels, in high schools, juvenile detention centers and throughout The Twelve Step community. Robert is the father of 3 boys and happily resides with his wife, Tara, in Malibu, California.

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“12 Simple Steps to Loving Life” Can be purchased on-line at: 12simplesteps.com “180 Degrees” Can be purchased on-line at: 180book.com …or both on Amazon.com

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“The story you share of struggling with drug addiction is captivating and disturbing, but most importantly, the success you have found after achieving sobriety is awesome and inspiring for anyone wishing the same.” - Tea Leoni, Actress “Rob is truly a fighter! One of the toughest opponents you could ever face in drugs and alcohol! We have all been knocked down in life and if you are looking for a way to get back up. 180 Degrees is the perfect trainer.” - Sugar Ray Leonard, 6 Times World Boxing Champion, 1976 Olympic Gold Medalist 114


www.robertradcliffe.com

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