Step Twelve

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to other codependents, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Step Twelve Outlined

"Let's examine the components of this Step: carrying the message, practicing these principles in all our affairs, and spiritual awakenings as a result of working these Steps."


"The Twelfth Step says that after we have had our spiritual awakening from working these Steps, we try to carry this message to others. What is our message? One of hope, love, comfort, and health. Better relationships and a better way of life, one that works."

"It is a message of self-love, self-nurturing, paying attention to our own issues, and taking responsibility for ourselves, whether that means addressing our own behaviors or owning our power to take care of ourselves. It is also a message that we can allow others to have their own issues and take responsibility for themselves."

"We are free now to be done with shame and self-hatred. We can love others and allow them to love us, giving in ways that are helpful and allowing ourselves to receive."

"We are free now, at last, to feel, to think, to make our own choices, and to take responsibility for those decisions. We are even free to change our minds. We now understand that we will be controlled by our pasts until we do our historical work and release old feelings and beliefs."

"Often, when we being recovery - and sometimes well into recovery - we want to share our discoveries about recovery with family members. We want them to find the same health, hope, freedom, and good feelings that we're discovering."

"We want to share what we've learned about caretaking, victimization, controlling, dealing with feelings, doing our family-of-origin work, and caring for ourselves. We want to share our new discoveries about relationships and how we are learning to participate differently in them. We want to talk about how certain behaviors are predictably self-defeating and how we've felt justified about them all, only to learn that this is something called codependency. We want to explain that when we changed, our relationships often did too."

"We want to tell people about setting boundaries and owning power. We want to share with those we love all the ideas that are bringing us freedom and healing. We want to bring them with us on this journey."

"Calm yourself. Be patient. Temper your enthusiasm to help your family see the light. Ask for guidance and wisdom in approaching family members. When you talk, talk about yourself and what you're learning, not about them and what they need to be learning. The most powerful and positive impact we can have on our family is to lead a healthy, happy life."


"Another part of the Twelfth Step refers to "practicing these principles in all our affairs." What that means to many of us is learning to practice our recovery behaviors and the principles of the steps in all areas of our lives."

"That means we surrender to and accept healing in all parts of our lives. We turn in lives and relationships that don't work and allow these principles to give us, in return, lives and relationships that do work."

"Some of us begin recover to deal with our own addictions. Many of us enter recovery thinking it is really about our spouses and the effects of their problems on us. Or we may enter recovery thinking our problem centers around our families. We may be experiencing unmanageability in some or all areas of our lives, but it is often a serious problem in one focused area that gets our attention enough to move us into recovery. Initially, then, we limit our recovery task to meeting the challenge in that one area - either with the one person causing problems in our lives or with the one problem in our lives that is creating pain. At some time, the bliss of this shortsightedness disappears. We begin to see that we're seeking a solution for all aspects of our lives."

"These Steps work in all areas of our lives, however we choose to compartmentalize these areas. They will restore manageability to all areas of our lives. They will bring healing, peace, love, and freedom to all areas of our lives."

"We can practice these principles and receive their benefits in all our affairs - our home lives, our businesses, our finances, our love relationships, our relationships with relatives and friends. We can practice recovery behaviors in all parts of our lives because those are the same places we practiced our codependency behaviors. At some point, we will wake up and know our new way of life has really become a new life."


"Often, when we begin recovering from codependency our vision of what recovery means is narrow. We attend meetings, work the Steps, and begin taking care of ourselves primarily to ease the pain we believe has been caused by another person and his or her behavior. Our hopes for ourselves are that we can stop obsessing about others and stop feeling guilty or ashamed about other people's problems."

"Those are good reasons to begin recovery, but they are only starters."

"There comes a time to expand our vision and look for more from recovery. The time comes when our recovery - this program and our place in it - is no longer about other people but is truly about ourselves and our journey."

"We need to go to meetings long enough to learn that the other person's problem isn't our fault. We need to go long enough to learn it's a "selfish" program of taking care of ourselves. But those two ideas are not the end; they are only the beginning."

"If we stop working our program there, we have stopped at the starting gate."

"Each one of us is on a spiritual journey. The journey is gradual, progressive, and healing. As we heal, we achieve higher levels of love for ourselves and others. We discover a life of our own and new ways of living that work. We discover the flow and choose a path for our lives. We begin to see the importance of that path. We learn to live life on a spiritual plane, a life that then becomes reflected on the physical plane."

"This journey will take us places we never planned or expected to go. Experiences will come to us, experiences that help us resolve important issues. We will find ourselves experiencing a range of emotions, from joy to despair, along the way. We will be drawn to the people and circumstances we need in order to help us learn and help the other person, too. Many of the experiences that come to us will not be what we asked for or wanted, but eventually we'll learn that each holds an important lesson, one that was critical to molding and shaping who we are and who we will become."

"When we learn to surrender to our present circumstances, we also learn to trust that whatever will come will work out in our best interests. Ultimately, we will see good things being worked out in our lives, better than we could have planned or imagined. This good does not always come easily or without struggle."

"But it will come."

"Self-defeating behaviors that we have relied on most of our lives will be taken from us and replaced by new, more effective, behaviors. We will be done with self-pity, except for momentary lapses that will take us forward to healing."

"The need to be perfect will be replaced by a sense of accepting and cherishing ourselves. The fears that have haunted us will be replaced by peace and trust - in ourselves, our lives, our Higher Power, and eventually in others. Despair will be replaced by joy and hope. Martyrdom will be replaced by a desire to be good to ourselves."

"The guilt that has saturated us will be taken from us."

"We will learn to recognize when we are dancing the dark dance of death in a relationship, and we will learn how to get ourselves out." We will learn to recognize the "codependent switch" in relationships - that moment in time when things change from what we expected and we start to feel crazy because reality has shifted."

"We will also know when it is safe to open our hearts to love."

"We will learn what it means to take care of ourselves."

"We will know we are not alone. That sense of being disconnected will be replaced by a strong sense of connection - to ourselves, to others, and to our Higher Power. We will know we are being led and guided by a loving Power greater than ourselves."

"We will learn that we can take care of ourselves, for the tools we need will be provided to us."

"We will begin to trust and rely on instinct and intuition, instead of will, control, and rules. The need to control others, circumstances, and ourselves will gradually be lifted from us."

"We will see our past relationships in a new light and become grateful for all of them, even the most troublesome and painful, as we see the good worked out in us from each."

"Our most troublesome character defects will become illuminated in a new light. Many will be transformed into assets. The others will come to accept as a demonstration of our humanities and uniqueness."

"Some of us will discover other addictions, other problems of our own that we need to address on our journey. We will become aware of them and deal with them when the time is right."

"Shame and self-hatred will be replaced by self-acceptance and self-love. That love of self will become real and will transform our relationships with ourselves and others. We will find ourselves giving and receiving love in the highest sense, and our relationships will begin to work."

"We will become healed from the impact of abuse. After going through a range of emotions, including denial, rage, and sadness, we will achieve forgiveness for others. We will learn to forgive ourselves."

"Our emotions and hearts will become healed and open."

"We will be done with both inferiority and superiority. We will begin relating to people as equals and with compassion and understanding for them and for ourselves."

"Our tolerance for being victimized will decrease."

"We will learn to express anger constructively, set boundaries, say no, and walk away from abuse and from that which is not good for us. We will develop an accurate sense of our responsibilities and other people's responsibilities. The desire to take care of others will be replaced by a desire to allow each person to be responsible for himself or herself."

"We will embrace our issues and allow others to have theirs."

"We will learn to nurture ourselves and others without caretaking."

"We will begin addressing and feeling our emotions, taking responsibility for them ourselves. We will stop letting our feelings catapult us into controlling gestures that damage our relationships with others."

"We will begin to deal directly and honestly with people, without manipulation and hidden agendas."

"We will no longer think or behave as victims. That deep sense of begin victimized by life will disappear, and we will know what it means to own our power. We will accept our powerlessness, find our Higher Power, become empowered, and learn to share the power by participating in relationships as equals."

"Our lives will begin to make sense and have value and meaning. Our needs will begin to get met."

"Laughter and fun will become part of our lives. We will learn to lighten up."

"We will become fully alive."

"Along the way, bitterness and remorse will be replaced by gratitude."

"And for once in our lives, we don't have to do it ourselves. We aren't doing it ourselves. Above all else, this program of recovery, this path opening up to us through the Twelve Steps, is a spiritual process."

The Source for this Step Twelve outline: Melody Beattie's: "Codependents Guide To The Twelve Steps"

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