Trauma-Informed SMART Universalist” Interpretation of the 12 Steps

By Holly Hartman, Alcoholism/Addiction Recovery Ministry, Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, PA

1. We admitted we [had abandoned ourSelves and our Life Source and looked instead to _______ (addictive substance/behavior) for relief from our emotional and psychological pain. After doing that repeatedly, we became habituated to __________ to the extent that we felt we] were powerless over ______________ - that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. [That Power is a part of each one of us - it is our Life Source. It is our Love, our heart, our spirit, our connectedness with all beings in the Universe. It is that eternal part of us that we abandoned and disowned while we sought to obtain something outside ourselves that we thought would give us safety, contentment, love and happiness.]

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. [The experience of life we are having now is the evidence of our Power. By our separate and self-serving thoughts, feelings and actions, we have unconsciously created it. Therefore, by mindfully choosing different thoughts, feelings and actions in communion and cooperation with our Life Source, we CAN create something new - something Life-affirming, - something joyful and beautiful.]

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. [Carefully and consciously examined our beliefs about ourselves, other people and life, to identify those that were not aligned with our true Self and with the Oneness of Life.]

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. [Admitted that many of our thoughts were irrational (not true) and self-defeating and that some of our behaviors were, in fact, harmful to ourselves and others.]

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. [Made the commitment to be continuously and consciously mindful of our thoughts - to dispute those that were irrational (not true) and replace them with more Life-affirming and Self-affirming thoughts.]

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our short-comings. [Let go of our guilt and shame - recognized and accepted our innocence and guiltlessness. Realized that our irrational beliefs resulted from drawing invalid conclusions about ourselves, others and about life based on our earlier life experiences. Understood that it was reasonable for us to draw those conclusions at the time given what we were experiencing, our level of knowledge and our level of psychological and emotional development. Viewed ourselves with compassion - understanding that we drew those conclusions in an effort to protect ourselves and to have life make some kind of sense, and that was neither bad nor wrong. It is just what human children do. Saw ourselves as empowered to change - we are not a children anymore. We have grown and changed. We have more knowledge and information now, and we can draw different conclusions that result in more empowering beliefs now.]

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. [Realized that our belief that we were separate and alone had caused us to view others as being in competition with us for Life's goodness. This belief caused us to behave in competitive, self-protecting and self-enhancing ways that resulted in harm to ourSelves and others. We realized that our relationships and our connectedness were our most prized assets - that they were, in fact, our Life Source. ]

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. [Made apologies and took corrective actions when appropriate. Communicated to others that we had been mistaken in our perceptions and that we intended to view life differently and thus, behave differently - with preservation of relationship and connection being our highest value.]

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. [Continued to be alert to our irrational beliefs as life experiences caused them to surface into our consciousness. Disputed them and replaced them with more Self-affirming and Life-affirming beliefs.]

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. [Made a conscious effort to see and understand the oneness of all things in our daily lives - to see ourSelves as an interconnected part of the web of Life, to see the Love and Life in all things, and to see the goodness in oureselves and all people (underneath behaviors) - to be an open channel for the giving and receiving - the circulation - of Life's Love.]
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principals in all our affairs. [Having connected with the Life Source and having been transformed and revitalized by it, we tried to share our new perspective, vision and experience with others who were still suffering and to live in harmony (in flow) with Life, such that our thoughts and actions benefit the Whole rather than ourselves alone.]