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An oldtimer in 12-Step recovery who hosted a weekly meeting for seventeen years relates, “A fella asked me, ‘Les, when am I going to get happy in this here program?’ and I said, ‘Nothin’ to it. Just stop doin’ whatever’s making you unhappy. That’ll do the trick.’”

The “trick” in working Step Three is similar. When I turn my life and my will over to the care of a loving Higher Power, that’s the end of my part. Now I am free to do something else—plant some seeds in a cold-frame, organize a closet I have been meaning to get to for a while, pet the cat. I can shift my focus, let whatever I was worrying about go.

If I am a habitual worrier, that is not the easiest thing to do, but it is the preferred way to do Step Three if I want to realize the best results. It is easier to stop doing something if I substitute doing something else instead. In learning to make use of the Steps in my personal program I’m free to choose what I do instead of worrying.

A lot of what gets shared in recovery meetings isn’t big profound truths. No, my experience, strength, and hope is often these little tricks; how I found ways to make the Steps my personal ways to progress toward goals I have for how I actually experience my life from day to day. This isn’t therapy; it’s fellowship. 

There’s no substitute for the experience of being among people who are interested in “how we do it.” It feels friendly, safe, normal, at a level rooted in human biology. This is a unique feature of recovery in a fellowship of peers. My instincts are comforted—I feel peaceful—when I am among and can identify with those around me, people who are vulnerable, relaxed, and reaching out to one another just for fun and just because they care. This is a tangible experience of my recovery.

Kathleen S.


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