STEP 12 To a Spiritual Awakening

Step 12 To a Spiritual Awakening

By Larry J. Smith CAS II

“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.”

Having a spiritual awakening is the accumulation of spiritual experiences as the result of practicing all of the steps.  The journey we are on provides a sense of emotional sobriety that only people who have experienced a quantum change in value shifts can truly understand.  These are the results of the life changing events listed below.

Quantum Change results in Value Shifts

 Quantum change as a result of:

-  Near death experience

-  Surviving an usually fatal disease or accident

-  Making a profound and authentic decision to change

-  Having a “spiritual experience or a spiritual awakening” as referred to in     Step 12 of the 12 Steps

A study reported on reported that men and women experience different values shifts, below are the differences:

Men’s Value Shifts

BEFORE                           AFTER

Wealth                            Spirituality

Adventure                      Personal Peace

Pleasure                          Family

Be respected                  God’s Will

Family                              Honesty

Self-esteem                     Growth

Freedom                          Humility

Attractiveness               Faithfulness to Others




Women’s Value Shifts


BEFORE                         AFTER

Family                            Growth

Independence              Self-esteem

Career                            Spirituality

Fitting In                       Happiness

Attractiveness             Generosity

Knowledge                   Personal Peace

Self-control                  Honesty

Be loved                        Forgiveness

Happiness                    Health

Wealth                           Creativity

 I found this research extremely interesting.  My conclusion is that by experiencing a spiritual awakening, we find purpose and meaning that was lacking in our lives prior to the experience.  My personal value shifts are exactly in line with the men’s shift indicated above.

In my lectures, I ask people to challenge every belief system they hold. This includes religious beliefs, political views, parenting rules, stereotypes, prejudices, general attitude and outlook on life and most importantly your belief concerning your own “self-worth.”

“If your belief system is not serving your new personal value structure – change your belief system.”

I then suggest reinventing how to live your life daily by practicing self-enhancing behaviors such as:

Prayer, Meditation, Spiritual Readings, 12-Step and Self-help Groups, Diet, Nutrition, Affirmations, Personal Boundaries, Exercise, Volunteer Work, Visualizations, Laws of Attraction, Forgiveness, Discipline, Frugality, Setting Goals, Journaling, Self-assessment, Belly laughing


Carrying the message…

Going forward in our daily lives, we reach out to others that suffer from addiction.  We walk through life with the strength of a Higher Power within us and the fellowship of a 12-Step program around us.  Therefore, we can handle anything that the world throws our way.  We must share the gifts we have received by practicing what we have learned in all areas of our lives.

When it comes to carrying the message the words “we tried” reminds us that we are in the “action” business and not the “result” business.   While working with others, I remind myself that “I don’t like being told what to do or even what I should do” therefore, I try to make suggestions based on my experiences, thus allowing the person I’m guiding figure out their own way.

Experiences in Meetings

 Early in my recovery I attended a speaker meeting where the young women sharing repetitively stated, “you know” at the end of every sentence.  I found myself not listening to her message and instead counting her “you knows.”

The next day I was talking to an old timer and complained about “my” experience noting that I got nothing out of the meeting.  He looked at me in a way that only a seasoned AAer could and replied, “Sometimes your only purpose is to be a set of eyes and ears for the person who is sharing.”

“Ouch” – his message came through loud and clear.  This AA thing isn’t all about me.  Over the next few years, I witnessed many acts of love, kindness and understand sitting in rooms of AA.


A year later, at a large meeting in Newport Beach a young man was asked to read “How it Works.”  He accepted the request, however he could barely read.  He literally struggled with every word with more than three letters.  The meeting leader stood quietly behind him and would whisper to him the words he simply could not interpret.  His courage to stand up there for what seemed like eternity, and muddle through the entire reading, was met with a standing ovation from everyone in the room.  Many of us had tears in our eyes as he left the podium.  I felt a wonderful sense of belonging that evening.  I knew then that I was part of something much bigger than myself.

My experience with the fellowship re-instills the old saying, “meeting makers make it.” Meetings are simply a place to share life’s challenges and solutions.

Page xxii in the Big Book says this about Bill W’s experience, simple and personal – “recovery begins when one alcoholic talks to another alcoholic, sharing experience, strength, and hope.”  Page xvi: Bob’s experience – “One alcoholic could affect another as no non-alcoholic could. It also indicated that strenuous work, one alcoholic with another, was vital to permanent recovery.”

Page 20:  Accumulated experience – “Our very lives as ex-problem drinkers depend upon our constant thought of others and how we might meet their needs.”

The Big Book goes on to refer to Step Twelve as the “…foundation stone of your recovery.  A kindly act once in a while isn’t enough.  You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be.”


Herb K in his book Twelve Steps to Spiritual Awakening states that “a sponsor is a person who has what you want and is willing to walk the path of recovery with you.  He should be available and really care about you, your life and your recovery.”

 I suggest that we recognize sponsorship is not a marriage.  One should seek a new sponsor if your sponsor doesn’t return calls and is not responsive to your needs.  Obviously, if your sponsor relapses and is often in relapse mode – it’s time to find another.  Remember that your primary need is to have guidance through the Twelve Steps.

I suggest reviewing all of the steps before diving into actually working the steps.  This should include the recognition that we have a goal in mind, “Achieving a Spiritual Awakening” as a result of working all of the Steps to the best of our ability.

Our ability to experience the intent of each step is based on our conscious awareness of the task at hand.  Please take the time to be thorough with every step, this is not a race – each step is truly a spiritual experience.  As a sponsor, it is our responsibility to dissect every word of the twelve steps to insure that our sponsees truly experiences each step – this is the essence of every 12-Step program.

It’s a We Program & It’s a We Experience

Many of us start down the path of recovery believing we are unique. We hold on to hopes of being able to drink or use drugs without negative consequences.  We had surrendered, made decisions and promises to ourselves only to have mental relapses.  After getting a glimpse of recovery we often had bouts of thinking that we were back in control.  We bounced between the sanity of the fellowship and the insanity of our egos.


We struggled, denied, kicked and fought at every turn.  Some of us totally surrendered to our powerlessness only to drink again because we have failed to be totally honest with ourselves or we simply did not place our recovery first.   Gradually we allowed our pain to be our teacher.  We not only made a decision to change, we took the action required to implement change.

The actions we took eventually paid off.   We experienced a profound spiritual awakening. We could have never imagined the joy we discovered in our new life as a sober person.  The promises of AA started to materialize and as long as we placed others before ourselves they continued to come true.


For the last 13 months I have been writing about the spiritual experience of connecting to the 12 Steps.  I have referenced many publications to include:

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Twelve Steps to Spiritual Awakening, by Herb K.

The Steps of Transformation, Father Meletios Webber

A Course in Miracles, authors do not want credit

You Are Not Your Brain, by Dr. Jeffrey Swartz, MD

The Social Animal, by Davis Brooks

Buddha’s Brain, by Rick Hanson

The Abundance Book, by John Randolf Price

The Crabby Angels Chronicles, by Jacob Glass

Many Videos from

Although I have discussed many topics, some of them in depth, it’s important to know that our principles are quite simple.  I picked these up from a presenter by the name of Jacob Glass and A Course in Miracles Conference just yesterday:

-       Be on time

-       Be prepared

-       Do what you said you were going to do

-       Show up with a good attitude

Keep it simple and I hope to meet some of you as we trudge the road of happy destiny.

 Love, Peace and Abundance

















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