Applying the Principles in All Our Affairs

Applying the Principles - 12 steps

Table of Contents

For those of us who are alcoholics or addicts and new to recovery, we may not be aware of the spiritual principles behind the 12-Steps. Hopefully, we have seen how effective the 12-Steps are for people just like us, and we know the life-saving value that they offer. For those of us who are familiar with recovery, we likely know how much the 12-Steps can do for us. But even then, we may not have familiarized ourselves with the underlying principles of spirituality that are embodied in each of the 12-Steps and the program of recovery as a whole. 

As we practice and work each of the 12-Steps with our sponsor, we are learning a new perspective, a new life skill, and adding a new tool to our spiritual toolbox — all of which better equips us to handle life with lovingness, serenity, and effectiveness. There are spiritual principles that underlie and bolster each of the 12-Steps (as well as the 12 Traditions and 12 Concepts). 

As you work the 12-Steps in order from 1 to 12, you will learn about and experience firsthand these spiritual principles (in order): Honesty, Hope, Faith, Courage, Integrity, Willingness, Humility, Love, Discipline, Perseverance, Awareness, and Service. These principles are the unseen currents that transform our lives and guide us on our journey in recovery.

Why We Practice the Principles

The 12th-Step itself reads, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Practice is the first keyword that we’re going to focus on. We aren’t ever going to be perfect — nobody is. So we would do well to be forgiving to ourselves and others. Practice involves making a lot of mistakes. But as long as we seek out the lessons in our mistakes and they are teaching us and helping us get better, then they’re not really mistakes. They’re just good practice. 

For most of us, our lives before recovery left us fairly unfamiliar with these spiritual principles at any real depth. So, of course, it’s going to take practice. All the program asks is that we “practice these principles in all our affairs.” That means we try, but it also means we try them all the time. There are no exemptions and no quitting if we hope to live long and happily in recovery. We practice the principles by working the 12-Steps on a consistent basis.

Defining “All”

We know that the 12th-Step asks us to practice these principles in all our affairs. Don’t we only need to do recovery stuff when we’re engaging with the recovery program? It might help to look at it this way — it’s unlikely there was any part of our lives that wasn’t negatively touched by our alcoholism and addiction. So it stands to reason that if our disease marked every part of our life, so should our solution. We aren’t only alcoholics or addicts when we’re in a meeting. We still have the disease whether we are visiting family, shopping at a grocery store, or going on a date. Likewise, we have a daily reprieve from this destructive disease that is contingent upon the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Aside from attending meetings and being of service, we maintain our spiritual condition by working the 12-Steps. Practicing these principles “in all our affairs” is literally part of working the 12-Steps.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous puts it this way: “We feel that elimination of our drinking is but a beginning. A much more important demonstration of our principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations, and affairs.” This essentially says that it’s great and necessary to practice the spiritual principles within recovery settings to maintain our recovery, but it is even more important to practice the spiritual principles outside of recovery environments. We demonstrate these principles by taking the lessons, insights, and tools that we acquire through working the 12-Steps into every single part of our internal world and everything we do in our daily lives. 

A Spiritual Foundation

When we are living out of alignment with the 12-Step program and our higher power, our sponsor and our recovery community can help us get back on the beam. But when we are at work or at home, it’s just us, our higher power, and the spiritual principles. Choosing to leave out the spiritual foundation of our recovery from our “private” life could have disastrous consequences. After all, it’s all our life. Like a fish in water, there really is no separating our disease and its solution from any part of our lives. So we should try our best to practice applying these principles in all our affairs — everywhere we go and with everyone we meet. 

Alcoholism and addiction are destructive in so many ways. Those of us who suffer from the disease often find ourselves missing out on learning the necessary skills and tools for life that we need to be the person we long to become. Our growth, development, and often our maturity in some areas get sidetracked by our all-consuming disease. Luckily, there is a solution, and it’s never too late to get on board. Any one of us can find ourselves restored to living, growing, and learning again. As we work the 12-Step program, we become subject to the necessary psychic change and vital spiritual experience that can help us find freedom and recovery. Once we have entered into a life of recovery, we are free and able to become the person we always wished we could be. At Jaywalker, we specialize in helping men who’ve had difficulty achieving and maintaining long-term sobriety. To learn more, call us now at (970) 533-8087.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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