Spiritual Awakening

The main purpose of going through every step of the 12 step programs is to achieve a spiritual awakening. Thus, it’s worth mentioning that the main goal of the 12 steps is to change the attitude toward the spiritual matters in order to get and maintain a sober living.

Fortunately, this process is a gradual one and it progresses slowly throughout the steps. Uncomfortable or obsolete spiritual beliefs can be discarded in the process. Many addicts at first do not trust the idea of God as we perceive Him, Higher Power, and the whole spiritual awakening idea can be perceived negatively by the addicts at the early days. However, as they go through the steps, they realize that the defenses of their ego are the only ones creating a disbelief; those are the same ego defenses that prolong their active addiction and make them destroy themselves in order to stay “in control”.

At the beginning of the recovery process, some of the addicts must be able to admit that they perceived their addiction as the Higher Power. They were repeatedly forced by the situation to act against their own instincts and personal understanding of right and wrong.  Drug rehabs have many addicts telling stories of how they broke their relationships, stole from the people the loved the most and acted in such ways that were completely different from what their personal ethical views dictate. Some others might be actually aware of their feelings towards the rules of society, the religious rules, or other rules dictated to them by outside sources. Those can remain unaware of spiritual awakening or spiritual principles.

One of earlier phrases that can be heard at a 12-step meeting can be something like: “Recovery means that I do what I think is the right thing to do, even when nobody is observing me.” This phrase speaks about the spiritual awakening. If a recovering addict can finally be honest with himself or herself, then they can understand that they had the sense of right and wrong inside themselves all along; a sense that was not imposed on them by other people. Following this rule of making decisions on their own on a daily basis is the core of a very strong spiritual awakening. What is right in our eyes might not be true for other people, yet we know in our hearts that it is the right thing.

It is not hard to recognize the first signs of our spiritual awakening; the moments when we tell the truth in a situation in which we would have lied in the past, when we return the extra change that was given to us in the store by mistake, when we borrow something and then return it right on time, and when we come to a meeting because we promised, even though it was much harder to achieve that we thought it would. These are the relationship developing steps that are based entirely on honesty and truth. Our word and our behavior become honorable and valid. We understand that we couldn’t do all those things before the Spirit of the 12 steps has shown us how.


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