The 12-Step program has proven to be an important resource for many people in maintaining their sobriety and finding support on their recovery journey. For those who are new to the 12-Step program and philosophy, you may notice the term “Higher Power,” the theme of spirituality, and mentions of God pop up frequently. So what exactly is a Higher Power?
Defining Your Higher Power
When you think of a higher power, you may immediately think of God and the Christian understanding of God. The 12-Step program and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) were indeed built on the foundation of Christian principles, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be a Christian for the program to work to your benefit. You aren’t required to believe in one philosophy or to belong to one particular faith to benefit from the 12-Steps program. The purpose of a higher power is to help you surrender your need for control and to accept help with your sobriety and recovery journey.
During the beginning of your sobriety journey, you may think that you need to do it on your own, that you are still in control of your addiction, even though what has happened is that your addiction has been controlling you. Finding a higher power that you can turn to, whatever that higher power may be for you, will help you accept that you need more than just willpower to face your addiction. Finding your higher power will also help you find motivation and hope in your recovery journey because you will be reminded that you are not alone. Hope and motivation are crucial to your sobriety, as we all know that you will face challenges, doubt, and temptations along the way.
Being Open to Spirituality
If you do not belong to a religion or identify as an atheist, the idea of spirituality may still be hard to fully accept in your recovery journey. No one is expecting you to change your beliefs or ideals to fit into the traditional 12-Step program. Rather, you have the freedom to adapt the 12-Step philosophies and message to your personal beliefs and journey. So what can spirituality look like in your life?
- Nature: If you do not believe in what you cannot see, then why not turn to what you can see? Spending alone time in nature is not only a great self-care exercise, it can be an authentic spiritual experience. For some, being a part of nature can help us realize that we are not alone and that we are part of something greater than ourselves, just as God represents for others.
- Music: Including your passions in your quest for finding your personal higher power can be a great way to make it more impactful. Music can be a form of self-care, a coping mechanism, and a tool to help you practice personal reflection. You can turn to music when you’re sad, lacking motivation, or want to feel connected to others who have used music to share their own stories of struggle.
- Community: Support within the recovery community is a significant part of the 12-Step program and focusing on your community and how you can give back to others can help you feel like you are part of something bigger. The community around you can help you feel less alone and overwhelmed as you continue on your recovery journey. Eventually giving back to a community that helped you can help motivate you in your sobriety and find a new purpose.
Believing in Yourself and Your Recovery
Finding your higher power and your understanding of spirituality may be an ongoing journey that involves reflection, stepping out of your comfort zone, and even learning something new about yourself. If this task still feels confusing or overwhelming, don’t hesitate to turn to the 12-Steps and your recovery community. How do your peers define higher power and spirituality in their recovery? How about your sponsor or even your family or friends? You may be surprised about what you’ll learn from being open and listening to others share their stories and motivations.
The most important thing to remember about spirituality in 12-Step programs is that it is a tool for you to utilize in your recovery. Accepting that you are not in control or that willpower alone will not save you can be difficult, but it’s all about understanding that you are not alone. The 12-Step community and your higher power, whatever that may be, will be there for you every step of the way.
Finding your higher power may be difficult but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. The 12-Step community is built on the ideals of support, hope, and accepting that you do not have to do it all on your own. At Sober Life Treatment Center, our caring staff is here to help you utilize the 12-Steps in your sobriety and define spirituality in your life. We help those struggling with substance use disorders and mental health issues develop an individualized treatment plan that will make sobriety and recovery significant in their own lives. Located in sunny San Diego, California, we offer outpatient programs, partial hospitalization programs, and outpatient programs for adolescents. Call us today at (619) 542-9542 to learn more about how we can help you navigate treatment options and find the best treatment for your individual needs. We are here for you to help you start your sobriety journey and every step along the way.