The Twelve Steps are a formula for integrating the Spiritual into the physical so that powerlessness can lead to True empowerment.

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"Someone in the meeting talked about how there were three steps that mentioned power. The first tells me that I don't have it; the second tells me where to find it; and the eleventh tells me how to access it - through prayer and meditation."

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"There are two points of powerlessness with Codependence.

The first is intellectual - when we first realize that there is something that's not working and that maybe we have to change, to learn a different way.

The second comes after we have intellectually learned what boundaries and healthy behavior are but we cannot stop acting out the old patterns in our closest relationships - we watch ourselves saying things we don't want to say, and doing things we don't want to do.

This is when it is necessary to do the emotional healing."


Welcome to a page of Joy to You and Me

the Web Site of Robert Burney and Joy to You and Me Enterprises.

Robert Burney is a codependency therapist, Spiritual teacher, and the author of the Joyously inspirational book

Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls.

This page is about the Twelve Step Recovery Process.
Quotations in maroon are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney (Copyright 1995). Quotations from columns & articles (Copyright 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999) written by Mr. Burney are noted and in blue text. Blue text material that is not in quotes is from Robert's upcoming book Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light (Copyright 1998) unless otherwise noted. There are several authors quoted in excerpts from The Dance of Wounded Souls, those are noted with copyright acknowledgment at the end of the applicable page.

Twelve Step Recovery 

"The Twelve Step program of AA provides a practical program for accessing Spiritual power in dealing with day-to-day human life. A formula for integrating the Spiritual into the physical. Even though some of the steps, as originally written, contain shaming and abusive wording, the Twelve Step process and the ancient Spiritual principles underlining it are invaluable tools in helping the individual being start down, and stay on, a path aligned with Truth. 

It is out of the Twelve Step Recovery movement that our understanding of the dysfunctional nature of civilization has evolved. It is out of the Alcoholic Recovery movement that the term "Codependent" has emerged."

(All quotes in this color are quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney)

Powerlessness & Empowerment

By Robert Burney M.A.
"The Twelve Step Recovery process is so successful because it provides a formula for integrating different levels. It is by recognizing that we are powerless to control our life experiences out of ego-self that we can access the power out of True Self, Spiritual Self. By surrendering the illusion of ego control we can reconnect with our Higher Selves. Selfishness out of ego-self is destroying the planet. Selfishness out of Spiritual Self is what will save the planet."
Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls


 One of the many things which confused me in early recovery were some seemingly contradictory statements that I would hear at meetings and from other Recovering people. There were several areas where this came up but the one which I remember puzzled me the most had to do with the concept of "selfishness." I would read or hear how negative self-seeking, self-pity, and self-will were, and how selfishness and self-centeredness were the root of my problem. But then I would also hear, in a positive context that this was a selfish program and "to thine own self be true." 

Luckily, it wasn't important for me to figure out this paradox in order to stay sober. I was in my fifth year of recovery when something that I heard in a meeting reminded me of my puzzlement and started me thinking about this paradox again. Someone in the meeting talked about how there were three steps that mentioned power. The first tells me that I don't have it; the second tells me where to find it; and the eleventh tells me how to access it - through prayer and meditation. 

So the steps tell me that I am powerless and then tell me how to access power. Were these two different kinds of power? I was real clear that the moment I accepted my powerlessness to stop drinking and using I somehow got the power to do exactly that. How did this work? How can powerlessness lead to empowerment? 

It was while writing a book (not the one that has been published but the next on to be published) about Spirituality that I started to see why there was paradox in life. I started to understand that there were different levels of reality. These different levels were the reason that what seemed to me to be tragedy (quitting drinking) could in the larger perspective, on a higher level, actually be a great gift. It helped me start understanding why there is always a "silver lining" - there is always more than one level of reality at play in any life experience. 

That was when I started to understand that there were two very different levels of "self." There is my ego-self which was traumatized and programmed in early childhood. The ego-self got the message that I wasn't lovable or worthy because my parents believed that they weren't lovable or worthy. In very early childhood my ego-self got the message that there was something shameful about my "being" - about being me. So the ego tries to defend me against the pain of not being good enough by trying to keep me separate from other human beings so they won't find out about my defective nature. My ego built up huge walls to defend me and keep me separate. The only ones allowed through those walls were the people that felt familiar - in other words the very ones who were wounded in such a way that they would recreate the messages I received in childhood. 

So the very defenses that the ego adapted to protect me actually kept me replaying the old patterns. This is why Codependence is a dysfunctional defense system it doesn't work to defend me. 

What the Twelve Steps did for me was to help me start letting go of the ego-self's faulty programming. When I surrendered trying to control things out of ego-self and started looking to a Higher Power is when I started to access my Spiritual Self. My Spiritual Self is the part of me that knows that I am a Spiritual Being who is related to everyone and everything - that we are all ONE. Through my Spiritual Self I have access to all the power in the Universe. 

So when I started praying and meditating I started to access the power to change my life. And it was very important for me personally to realize that prayer and meditation did not just mean formal prayer and formal meditation. What I came to realize is that prayer is "talking to" my Higher Power and other Recovering people, while meditation is "listening to" my Higher Power and other Recovering people. I learned to talk to and listen to my Higher Power all day long - to keep the energy flowing between the physical level and the Spiritual level - between my self and my Self.
 
 



(This is a column by Robert Burney)


The Twelve Steps are a formula for integrating the Spiritual into the physical so that powerlessness can lead to True empowerment.

Twelve Step Principles & tools include:

Self-Honesty, willingness, Acceptance, letting go, surrender, 
Faith, trust, honesty, Humility, Patience, openness, Courage, 
Responsibility, action, Forgiveness, compassion, Love.

There are two points of powerlessness with Codependence. 

The first is intellectual - when we first realize that there is something that's not working and that maybe we have to change, to learn a different way. 

The second comes after we have intellectually learned what boundaries and healthy behavior are but we cannot stop acting out the old patterns in our closest relationships - we watch ourselves saying things we don't want to say, and doing things we don't want to do. 

This is when it is necessary to do the emotional healing. 

Here is my version of the initial steps from these two different levels.

Intellectual Steps

Step 1. I acknowledge and accept that I am powerless out of ego-self to control my human life experience, and that the delusion that I should be in control has caused pain and suffering in my life.

Step 2. Came to remember that I am a Spiritual Being who is part of the ONENESS that is the Unconditionally Loving, ALL-Powerful Universal Force, and that believing in that Force can help to bring balance, harmony, and sanity to my life.

Step 3. Made a decision to ask the Force to help me align my will, my actions, and my life with the Universal Power.
 
 

Emotional Steps

Step 1. Admitted that I am powerless to substantially change the learned behavioral defenses and dysfunctional attitudes from childhood until I deal with the emotional wounds of my childhood experience.

Step 2. Came to remember that I am a Spiritual Being who is part of the ONENESS that is the Unconditionally Loving, ALL-Powerful Universal Force, and that believing in that Force can help to bring balance, harmony, and sanity to my life.

Step 3. Made a decision to ask the Force to help me face the terror of healing my emotional wounds.



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Copyright Material belonging to Robert Burney  PO Box 977 Cambria, CA 93428
(The Article "Powerlessness & Empowerment" by Robert Burney originally appeared in Recovery Today a monthly newsletter of the LCDC training School which are distributed throughout the state of Texas.)
Although my book and articles make reference to Alcoholics Anonymous, the principles and Twelve Step program of A.A., this does not mean that A.A. has reviewed or approved the contents of these writings, nor that A.A. agrees with the views expressed herein. A.A. is a program of recovery from alcoholism only - use of this material in connection with programs and activities which are patterned after A.A., but address other problems, or in any other non-A.A. context, does not imply otherwise.