Step one- is it too easy

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.

Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby ezdzit247 » Tue Aug 16, 2016 11:49 am

I am working on Step one.


This is an action program....Steps one, two and three are not action steps.


A heads up on what actions take place in the human brain during thought processing from the MIT website:

The human brain is composed of about 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) interconnected by trillions of connections, called synapses. On average, each connection transmits about one signal per second. Some specialized connections send up to 1,000 signals per second. “Somehow… that’s producing thought,” says Charles Jennings, director of neurotechnology at the MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

Given the physical complexity of what’s happening inside your head, it’s not easy to trace a thought from beginning to end. “That’s a little like asking where the forest begins. Is it with the first leaf, or the tip of the first root?” says Jennings. Simpler, then to start by considering perceptions—“thoughts” that are directly triggered by external stimuli—a feather brushes your skin, you see these words on the computer screen, you hear a phone ring. Each of these events triggers a series of signals in the brain.

When you read these words, for example, the photons associated with the patterns of the letters hit your retina, and their energy triggers an electrical signal in the light-detecting cells there. That electrical signal propagates like a wave along the long threads called axons that are part of the connections between neurons. When the signal reaches the end of an axon, it causes the release of chemical neurotransmitters into the synapse, a chemical junction between the axon tip and target neurons. A target neuron responds with its own electrical signal, which, in turn, spreads to other neurons. Within a few hundred milliseconds, the signal has spread to billions of neurons in several dozen interconnected areas of your brain and you have perceived these words. (All that and you probably didn’t even break a sweat.)

The fact that you are then able to convert the perception of these shapes into symbols, language, and meaning is a whole other story—and a good indication of the complexity of neuroscience. Trying to imagine how trillions of connections and billions of simultaneous transmissions coalesce inside your brain to form a thought is a little like trying to look at the leaves, roots, snakes, birds, ticks, deer—and everything else in a forest—at the same moment.....


What this means is just because we can't perceive the actions which are occurring in the brain with our limited eyesight doesn't mean there are no actions occurring. Acceptance of powerlessness over alcohol and the unmanageability of our lives requires exhaustive action inside our brains involving trillions of trillions of synaptic connections and billions of billions of simultaneous neuro transmissions, sometimes over a long period of time, before all of these necessary actions finally coalesce inside an alcoholic's brain to form the thought that makes it possible to actually work Step 1 effectively. The same actions are required for all the other Steps as well.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby Stepchild » Tue Aug 16, 2016 12:00 pm

Maybe they should change the wording in the book.
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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby PaigeB » Tue Aug 16, 2016 12:20 pm

I haven't been around AA too long, but whenever anybody talks about changing the wording in the book it is provocatory...

Let us have NONE of that shall we? No baiting and no biting... standard human good behavior please.
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby ezdzit247 » Tue Aug 16, 2016 1:28 pm

Maybe they should change the wording in the book.


I don't agree that it's necessary to change any wording in the BB.

From Chapter 6, "Into Action"

... This thought brings us to ...Step Ten... which suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.


The BB tells me that after I have entered the world of the Spirit, my next function as a member of AA is "to grow in understanding and effectiveness" utilizing "love and tolerance of others" as my code so that I can help other alcoholics who are still suffering. My ESH is that in order to grow in understanding and effectiveness, I have to take the appropriate action to grow and learn and can't practice sloth, especially mental sloth.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby Stepchild » Tue Aug 16, 2016 2:21 pm

The author's of the book tell us clearly this is a simple program....I try and pass that on to someone new.

Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning,

To take the above line and try and prove it untrue with an MIT brain research essay....Is beyond comprehension. What are we trying to accomplish here?
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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby PuppyEars » Tue Aug 16, 2016 4:18 pm

What are we trying to accomplish here?

I'll take completely water down aa so there's nothing left but Keep Coming Back, Alex.

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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby ezdzit247 » Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:15 am

Star001 wrote:I am working on Step one. I find this to be very easy for me and that almost makes me worry that I'm not doing something right. Admitting I was powerless is what brought me to AA. Finding all the reasons that I am powerless and things are unmanageable comes very easy to me. Did anyone else feel the day way?

It took me years to admit but now I feel like I can jump in wih both feet and I feel so free once I told people I was powerless. Before I ever admitted that and came back to AA I felt alone and fearful. I'm glad that feeing is gone, I just don't want to rush my way through things.


Good topic. The Big Book devotes 51 pages, almost 1/3 of the first 164 pages, to the first part of Step 1, "powerless over alcohol".

My ESH is that working Step 1 was the most important and most difficult Step of all the Steps for me. I knew and could concede to myself on an intellectual level that I had a drinking problem by age 26, but it took me several more years and "countless vain attempts" at trying to drink like a normal person before I was finally able to grasp the concept of being "powerless over alcohol".

I really identified with this poster's comment:

I finally understand why "keep coming back" is so important, because if I didn't keep coming back each time I stumbled within the program, I wouldn't have finally gotten to a point to embrace the very thing that is saving my life. But I was hard headed. It's a simple program, but it takes a lot of work and a lot of self searching and a true admittance that I can never, ever, ever, drink again without complete and utter devastation occurring. It happens every time.

Some people just "get it" right away... I was not one of them.

Also, Step 1, in my eyes, is a step that I have to do every day of my life.


I didn't "get it" right away either. It took me several years to finally wrap my head around the meaning of "surrender" and become willing to concede to my innermost self, not just my intellect, that I was indeed powerless over alcohol. After I was finally able to do that, I knew that I had a rock solid foundation for building a new sober life and the rest of the Steps were easy.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby Brock » Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:39 am

My ESH is that working Step 1 was the most important and most difficult Step of all the Steps for me...I didn't "get it" right away either. It took me several years to finally wrap my head around the meaning...

It seems some people are talking about different things, work or fooling around while you make up your mind. The OP said “if I didn't keep coming back each time I stumbled within the program, I wouldn't have finally gotten to a point to embrace the very thing that is saving my life.” That is a similar experience to EZ as quoted, the question is whether we are going to consider the time spent, making up our minds that we were in fact alcoholics of the hopeless variety, as time spent “working” step one, as EZ seems inclined to do.

I don't consider it working anything except my right hand raising the glass, until circumstances got bad enough that I was willing to put it down for good. Then coming back to AA completely defeated I accepted the program, step one done no work required.
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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby Lali » Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:14 am

Surely everyone understands Stepchild was being facetious when he said maybe the wording in the BB should be changed.

We have to remember to keep things simple and not overanalyze every little thing and I'm thinking that is the thought process of Stepchild's remark.
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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby beginningagain7 » Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:26 pm

Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.

Alcoholic Anonymous, More About Alcoholism, pg. 30. 4th Edition.

If you just read the first step it is easy. Heck I can admit that I am powerless over alcohol and my life is a mess. But the question hanging is what are you going to do about it? And that's why we have the Big Book. For there is just more to step one than just admitting.

When my sponsor got me started on the Steps he didn't start at step one. First he had me read this:

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation----some fact in my life----unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

Alcoholics Anonymous, Acceptance Was The Answer, 4th Edition, pg. 417

After we discussed this we then proceeded in the Steps. But he would start each step; saying and acceptance is the answer in doing these steps. For me when I read Chapter 3, More About Alcoholism it made more sense to me and I understood the stories they told on people that just had problems starting out. They admitted but they didn't accept until they learned again the dangers of that first drink.

In my 18 years of sobriety I have said doing the steps are easy. The hard part is the doing or the work that is involved in doing them. For me the work that I put in doing the steps saved me, when my 16 year old son died from cancer. If it wasn't for A.A. and the members of my f2f group I do not know if I would have the sobriety that I have today. For me Acceptance was my answer is dealing with the death of my son. And having the members reminding me that taking a drink would not solve or correct the situation of my son's death. And of course that pain would still be present. I still have that pain but it isn't as bad as it would be if I did not work and do the steps and keep applying each day.

People say it isn't the fall that kills you it is that sudden stop at the end. With an alcoholic it is that first drink.

Have a good day,
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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby Stepchild » Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:41 pm

Lali wrote:Surely everyone understands Stepchild was being facetious when he said maybe the wording in the BB should be changed.


You are correct....Everything you need to know about this program is in that book. It worked fine as is...Still does....They wrote it to carry the message of Alcoholics Anonymous to hopeless alcoholics that had no meetings available....No sponsors available....No solution available. It does bother me when I see people twist it create confusion...It really is a simple program.

The book does a wonderful job explaining this....From the beginning of chapter 4....

In the preceding chapters you have learned something of alcoholism. We hope we have made clear the distinction between the alcoholic and the nonalcoholic. If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.
Pg 44

If you fit that bill....They lay out clear cut directions to conquer it. They only ask us to be convinced of three things to move on to step 3....

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

Being convinced, we were at Step Three,

pg 60

If you are not convinced....I'd recommend reading up to page 60 again....Or trying some controlled drinking as they suggest....Or whatever it takes for you to be convinced....It really is as simple as that.
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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby avaneesh912 » Sun Aug 21, 2016 4:34 am

Yesterday at the 1step workshop at our home group, one of the guys asked "which alcoholic in the right mind wound call his/her sponsor before he/she picks up the drink". We told him, he got the powerlessness (mental) part right, encouraged him to look at the un-manageability part and move forward.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby Ron27 » Mon Sep 26, 2016 11:59 pm

Step one is

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable"

Are we powerless? Or do we have the power but 'choose' to ignore it?

Jesus is but one example of the power we all have, if we reach out for it.

AA was built upon one man's spirituality, it was his choice, he was not simply following others.

For me, step one is extremely difficult. Renouncing your individuality, refusing to take responsibility for your own actions etc, is surely contrary to nature.

It's not my fault, it's a disease! Perhaps murderers have a disease too!
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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby D'oh » Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:29 am

Step 1 is the Only Step that we can test. The Book describes the test quite clearly.

Try some Controlled Drinking. I almost slugged my Sponsor when he read that as we were going through the Big Book. He just laughed, said something like "Go to the Bar and order 2 drinks. Drink 1 of them and then leave."

That's Abandonment! I can still see the full one sitting on the Bar, Paid for. LOL What an xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Saint.
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Re: Step one- is it too easy

Postby avaneesh912 » Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:43 am

Try some Controlled Drinking. I almost slugged my Sponsor when he read that as we were going through the Big Book. He just laughed, said something like "Go to the Bar and order 2 drinks. Drink 1 of them and then leave."


This is to test the physical craving. The other proposal (stay away from alcohol for a year) is to test the "Peculiar mental twist".
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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