proactive 12 steps for mindful recovery The Proactive 12 Steps

Proactive 12 steps online workbook: List of the steps & commentary

Below, on this page, is the Beta version of the 4th edition of the Proactive 12 Steps. Compared to earlier versions of the Proactive 12 Steps, there are substantial differences in the wording of the steps, and especially in the commentary.

Beta version means that user comments will be taken into consideration to finalize the wording of the steps and the commentary. Your comments on each specific step and on the approach as a whole are welcome. Please share your comments.

If you'd like to be notified when new commentary is posted, please subscribe to the newsletter.

You can go directly to the list of Steps, or first read the following suggestions on how to work this workbook.

I am inviting you to see the "proactive 12 steps" as a process of self exploration. I suggest you read each step as an invitation to a dialogue, as opposed to a directive that is carved in stone. Take a moment to see what comes up for you as you read each step. Not just logical thought: Let yourself be curious about the felt sense of it. In other words, be prepared that much of what comes up may be murky. It's not a problem, it's actually great: "Murky" is an invitation to explore further, as opposed to "case closed".

This process is about gaining wisdom. The goal is not to memorize the 12 steps as they are written here. It is to use these steps to develop your ability to bring a mindful quality to your life. Mindfulness is not a mysterious, mystical quality. It is just the opposite of mindlessness. It means you are engaged with what happens in your life. You are connected to your feelings, you reflect on what happens, and you learn from that.

Reflecting on each step is not just a way to better understand the step. It is a way to practice a reflective, mindful orientation toward felt experience. This is what you cultivate in order to be more present in your life, which means: You experience each situation with an ability to feel and think, to notice that there may be ways of reacting to it differently from your habitual knee-jerk reactions, and to grow from that experience.

It is good to be open to whatever may come up. It may also be helpful to prompt your curiosity by asking yourself a few questions, for instance:
- If I close my eyes, and try to remember the gist of the step, what comes up?
- Does this make sense to me?
- If it makes sense to me, what is it specifically that make sense?
- If it doesn't make sense to me, what is it that doesn't?
- What situations does it remind me of?
- What is it that I might do differently in these situations, based on my reactions to the step?
- How would it feel inside to act this way?

Step 1:

There is a big split between who I want to be, and what I do. Willpower is not working, and I am stuck in what I do.

Original wording (AA): We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable.

Commentary (video & transcript)

Step 2:

Willpower does not work because my stuck behaviors come from fear and pressure. Instead of putting more pressure on myself, I need to live more mindfully.

Original wording (AA): Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Commentary (video & transcript)

Step 3:

I resolve to be more mindful of how I relate to people and situations. Pausing is how I do this, moment by moment.

Original wording (AA): Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Commentary (video & transcript)

Step 4:

I look at my life systematically, to see patterns in how I have been relating to people and situations.

Original wording (AA): Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Commentary (video & transcript)

Step 5:

I dig deeper into these patterns. I take the time to understand the emotional logic that is behind them.

Original wording (AA): Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Commentary (video & transcript)

Step 6:

I understand how these patterns have been ways of dealing with my fears. I see the possibility of facing my fears more effectively.

Original wording (AA): Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Commentary (video & transcript)

Step 7:

Moment by moment, I notice how vulnerable it feels to be mindful in difficult situations, and learn to accept the vulnerability.

Original wording (AA): Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Commentary (video & transcript)

Step 8:

As I become more aware of the impact of my actions, I explore alternative behaviors, and rehearse them in safe settings.

Original wording (AA): Made a list of all the people we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Commentary (video & transcript)

Step 9:

I practice these new mindful behaviors in real life.

Original wording (AA): Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Commentary (video & transcript)

Step 10:

I live mindfully, paying attention to the motives and effects of my actions.

Original wording (AA): Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Commentary (video & transcript)

Step 11:

I stay in touch with a broader sense of who I really am, and a deeper sense of what I really want.

Original wording (AA): 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.

Commentary (video & transcript)

Step 12:

A growing sense of wholeness and contentment motivates me to keep at it, and to share this process with others who need it.

Original wording (AA): 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.

Commentary (video & transcript)

Similarities & differences between the Proactive 12 Steps and the traditional 12 Steps

Commentary: Higher Power as Inner Power: How to achieve lasting change from inside out (video & transcript)

Also: Printable PDF of the Proactive 12 Steps

See all steps: Proactive 12 Steps Online Workbook

See also:
- About the Proactive 12 Steps / Key Ideas & FAQ
- Proactive 12 Steps on facebook

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Demystifying mindfulness - Mindful pause - Mindfulness & spirituality - From mindless to mindful - Mindful pause as defining moment - One-minute mindful pause - Mindful listening - Relational mindfulness - Relational mindfulness in psychotherapy - Bodyfulness - Relational mindfulness in everyday life - Existential mindfulness - Proactive mindfulness quotes & thoughts - Mindful pause exercises - Secular alternative 12 steps