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Old 04-06-2013, 04:48 AM   #1 (permalink)
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*NEW* Guide to Working the 12-Steps for Codependents

This Step Study Guide is based on information from Codependent's Guide to the 12 Steps by Melody Beattie. That book has always been helpful to me to work through the steps each year. Hope this helps you too. It is often used by CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) members for step study purposes. CoDA was my home group for 10 years.

Please Note re Copyright: Several years ago I was approached by Melody Beattie's administrative assistant who offered thanks for sharing her writings here (and clarified what were and were not copyright issues). There are many excerpts from the book here and this is reprinted here for the recovery use of anyone who wants it. Reprinting it for your own recovery use is allowed. Reprinting it for any commercial or other purpose is protected by copyright


We admitted we were powerless over others - that our lives had become unmanageable.

In the book "Codependents' Guide to the Twelve Steps", the author Melody Beattie, begins by telling how she reacted to this step. She didn't understand. "Powerless over others? My life - unmanageable?" She thought she had complete control over herself and others and handled everything through her willpower. It was her job.

Until she took a closer look at herself. "I found the undercurrent of fear, anger, pain, loneliness, emptiness and unmet needs that had controlled me most of my life."

She quoted Mary who states, "Being a victim and being in control was how I was in power. If I was powerless, then someone else was in control."

Hopefully through these steps we are going to learn how to own our power and be able to see the truth about ourselves and our relationships.

"We are powerless over others. When we try to exert power where we have none, our lives at some level may become unmanageable."

She goes on to tell her story and gives examples of ways that others have been affected by codependency. It doesn't have to be severe. It doesn't have to be to the point of taking over your life to be ready for a change. She tells stories of people who are codependent with siblings and intimate relationships. Examples of where people let others control them, tried to control, and gave too much.

Our Lives Had Become Unmanageable

In discussing unmanageability Melody states that we do not necessarily have to be involved with or affected by someone's drinking or addiction to be codependent. She simply states that for us, caretaking and controlling others doesn't work. It makes our life unmanageable. We often don't even see it. It is an instinct, a first reaction for us with anyone and/or everyone we meet affecting any or all parts of our life.

"We may deprive ourselves so badly our martyrdom and self sacrifice create ongoing feelings of victimization. We may allow others to victimize us; we may victimize ourselves. We may subject ourselves unnecessarily to other people and their inappropriate, abusive, or out-of-control behaviors. We may feel victimized by our inability to set the boundaries we need to set."

Codependency can be seen in so many different ways. It may be our feelings that are affected - depression, fear, anger, sadness. Or we may be so consumed by someone else that we ignore our feelings completely. We may stay in abusive relationships or isolate to avoid further disappointment and pain. It can happen at any time, even in recovery, when we try to control things we can't or let others control us.

"Unmanageability occurs when we stop owning our power and start believing that we do not have choices about how we want to act, regardless of what another person is or isn't doing."

We neglect ourselves and now it is time to learn to take care of ourselves.

The Roots of Control

But where does the need to control come from? Melody sites several cases that show many of us learn controlling behavior in childhood. She gives examples of children being put in the position of caretaker for their parents - controlling or taking care of out of control and/or irresponsible parents. Sometimes is it more subtle, parents who are not emotionally available for their children nor let their children experience or express their own emotions. Then those who have suffered these situations state how they realize after starting recovery their need to control was based on fear or anger. It was the undercurrent of everything they did.

Step 1 gives us permission to take care of ourselves. To relax and stop controlling others. If we are focused on controlling others, we are not controlling ourselves and leave ourselves open for others to do just that ... control us.

"When we love others too much, when we so desperately want and need what they have - whether that is acceptance, approval, love or friendship - we forfeit our ability to take care of ourselves with them, out of fear that we may not get what we need. We may hope that if we hold things in place by willpower, we will finally be safe and get what we need.

We won't."

Accepting Powerlessness

Some are ready to accept this step when the enter the program, they are tired and ready to give up. Others fight this step, not willing to let go of the control and surrender, overcome by fear. She explains how it can be uncomfortable for her to give up control, admit she is powerless over much of her life, sometimes even herself. When she tries to control herself, repressing her feelings, she looses a part of herself.

She explains how Step 1 is not about irresponsibility, in fact it is the opposite. It is about claiming responsibility for ourselves and letting others be responsible for their own lives. It is about facing our own fears, meeting our own needs, setting our own boundaries to protect ourselves. It is about not being a victim.

"When we accept powerlessness, we will become empowered to take care of ourselves. When we begin taking care of ourselves, we will begin living our lives, and all that is meant to come to us will be ours. When we stop controlling others, we can allow and trust them to live their lives."

The Detachment Step

Step 1 lets us start learning to detach and become aware of our willpower. We start to identify boundaries, limits, and what is our responsibility and what is not. This step is often met with fear, becoming aware of those things we can not control, but we need to accept it and move forward. We will surrender when we are ready, when we are tired of fighting battles we can not win.

"We are powerless over others, and our lives have become unmanageable. And for now, that's all we need to be. That's who we are, and it's good enough."

We start our recovery by taking this step and can return to it at any time, whenever we feel our codependent behaviors returning. The steps starts with the word we and that helps us remember we are not alone. We are not the only ones who feel this way and we can find the solution together. She explains how her controlling behaviors, in all their different forms, is like a dark place and this step brings it out into the light.


1. Have you been trying to exert power or influence where you may, in reality, have none? Have you been trying to control someone or something, trying harder and harder with less and less beneficial results?

2. Who or what in your life is making you feel crazy and causing you stress? Whom do you feel victimized by? Who do you feel is now controlling you, your emotions, or some other area of your life? What situations, feelings, or realities have you been running from, denying, or avoiding?

3. What would you have to face in your own life if you stopped trying to control someone or something? What might happen if you stopped allowing someone or something to control you?

4. What are some areas in your life that may reflect unmanageability? What is your current condition in these areas: emotions, finances, spirituality, physical health, career? What are you doing for fun, pleasure, and enjoyment?

5. What is the current state of your relationships with these people: family, friends, co-workers. Do you have any relationships, or are you feeling alone and isolated?

6. Does your mind feel clear and consistent? Who are you holding responsible for your emotions, finances, and health? Who are you holding responsible for the state of your relationships?

7. What are you doing in your life that you feel resentful about? What do you feel you have to do but don't want to? In what areas of your life do you feel you have no choices, no options? Who or what is trapping you? Whom do you most want to say something to? Why do you feel you can't say it?

8. What is the particular incident that propelled you to begin attending a Twelve Step group? If attending for a time, what is the issue that has been plaguing you most recently? Who or what are you most Worried about? When was the last time you did something loving and nurturing for yourself? Is there someone in your life that you feel is causing you misery? Do you feel that if he or she behaved differently, you would be happy?


Came to Believe that a power great than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

In this chapter the author starts by telling how much she loves about Step 2. She talks about how crazy her life was, how crazy she was. Then she discusses how she surrender to the first step and then received the hope contained in the second step. "I go back to the First Step to get my bearings and remember who I am. Then I go on to the Second Step to become all I'm capable of becoming."

Restored to Sanity

Several stories are told showing different people and their versions of insanity and the effects Codependency had on them. It starts with a woman who enters recovery through OA then spins off to drugs, alcohol, and sex addiction. It tells of toxic relationship and her part in it. Then it goes on to share her changes in recovery. She learned that at the base of everything was Codependency - it was there before everything else was. She is becoming happier and her relationships are getting better. "I know I am enough."

More stories are told of children of alcoholics and a pastor who has anger issues and needs to set boundaries with his congregation. Each has had success in improving their problems with the 12 steps focusing on their codependent behaviors. The author is trying to illustrate that we all may suffer in different ways - but the 12 steps as a guide can offer hope.

Came to Believe

It doesn't just start out this way, the believing. You work up to it. You come to believe. This is done by going to meetings, seeing others who have similar experiences and seeing how the process of recovery has helped them. Seeing is believing.

"Perhaps the greatest offering of this Step is that no matter what we want and need done in our lives, we do not have to do it by ourselves. We don't have to use our will to change ourselves. For once, we don't have to try so hard. We can turn it over to a Power greater than ourselves"

A Power Greater than Ourselves

We don't have to have all the answers about a Power greater than ourselves. You don't have to have any answers at all. This step is simply about believing that the insanity can be removed - even if just for a moment. It is referred to as a "Power greater than ourselves" so that anyone of any religion or denomination can use the 12 steps. It is a spiritual process, not a religious one. "Great care must be taken to allow individuals the freedom to explore and determine their own spiritual beliefs."

Working the steps has a natural progression and as you change and grow, you help others, and then they help others. "This is the most exciting part of recovery for me. It's also a part I need to remember. I don't have to force or control my recovery. I can do my best to work the Steps and peacefully allow change to happen."

The Hope Step

When starting recovery for her codependency, the 2nd step felt like hope and light to Melody. "I had lived with and around crazy people so long I had become one of them." She goes onto explain how this step took no effort, it is the people that carry the message of step 2. Watching people with similar experiences who are happy, joyous and free. It is possible. Then she discusses all the ways that she returns to this step and how it helps her.

"By believing we create the sapce for that to happen. We stop empowering the problem and begin to empower the solution, one that will be given to us." This step can be easy. It is important that we don't confuse the pain and grief we may carry into recovery as insanity or unmanageability. The grief and pain are real and need to be worked through not something else to judge ourselves about.

The purposed of this program is to take better care of ourselves in any situation.


1. What are the activities that bring you hope and help you believe things are OK and will be OK? Going to meetings? Talking with recovering people? Reading recovery literature? Name those who have helped you to believe the most in your future.

2. How have your ideas changed about what it means to be restored to sanity? Have your expectations about recovery changed? What do you expect from recovery now that is different from what you expected when you first began recovering?

3. For now, how do you define a Power greater than yourself? Do you believe that Power cares about you?

4. What is a reasonable plan of self-care for you to help you continue to believe that recovery can, and will, work for you? Look again at your ideas in question 1 above.

5. What has been done for others in recovery that you would like to happen for yourself? Do you believe it is possible?

6. Make a list of areas in your life where you would like to be restored. Your goals will be more effective if they center around restoring your own life rather than someone else’s.

Step 3

(Using the Codependents' Guide to the 12 Steps by Melody Beattie)

Made a decision to turn out will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

This chapter begins with the author telling her ideas of "God's will" before and after recovery. She explains how she used to think that every bad thing that happened in her life was "God's will". Now she is learning that much of what she experienced was actually due to how she treated herself. She had difficulty, as many do with this step, in letting go for fear of losing herself. Once she did, she found she did not lose herself, she found freedom.

Turning Over Our Lives and Wills

Before this step, Melody did not believe that her life had any purpose, that is was a mistake. This step helped her see this was untrue. In step 2 we acknowledge a Power Greater than ourselves and in step 3 we take the action of turning our lives over to God. Then we take responsibility for ourselves and let others do the same.

To the Care of God

Many of us struggle with this step, wondering how God could have let the things that have happened to us take place. She quotes a woman who states, "I get into trouble when I think I'm the power". The author believes that God can be our power, our hope and inspiration. We can go to him for guidance and it is a safe and trusting relationship.

As We Understood God

This step lets us choose the God of Our Understanding, regardless of our religion or lack thereof. We get to choose our higher power. She goes on to state that the God she believes in is not a trickster, is not malicious, and is letting us learn the lessons we need to learn - that we can trust him. "God can help us bring out the healer in ourselves."

Turning It Over

Many codependents push their way through their lives by force and find they have not gotten where they want to be. Melody includes where a woman named Claire explains how in recovery she had to learn how to trust God and her sponsor and learn to trust herself. We don't have to have the sense of urgency and use our will, we can become quiet, trusting God and listening. "It is surrendering to the present moment that we reach the next moment in our lives."

Acceptance and Gratitude

Gratitude can help us through bad times of any shape and size, whether internal or external. As Codependents we have a habit of focusing on the negative. "Gratitude empowers and increases what's right in our lives. It helps make things right." We learn to say thank you over and over, even with we don't mean it. "It can change the energy in us and our environment. Gratitude diminishes the power of the problem and empowers the solution." In the author's opinion, gratitude is essential to recovery, "Next to the Steps and detachment, gratitude is probably the most helpful recovery tool available."

The Freedom to Surrender

Step One was about being powerless and Step 3 is about gaining back that power through surrender. We gain our power through freedom, freedom from others controlling us or us trying to control others. Surrendering gives us the opportunity to turn our will over to a higher power and start taking care of ourselves.

The author explains how she uses this step when she gets stuck, when she can't figure "it" out, when she realizes she can't control whatever "it" is she is trying to control. This step lets her surrender. This step lets her gain some humility. She finally accepted that all those she had tried to control didn't change their behavior at all regardless of her efforts. This step helped her let go and focus on herself, see that she is the only thing she can change.

She explains how we often don't see the big picture, yet try to control the outcome, realizing later that we just need to trust and accept the way things are and let things happen as they should. This does not mean we don't feel our feelings or say no when we need to. We learn to trust our instincts and say no when appropriate.

She states how she feels turning her will over to God can be a natural process, requiring little effort. "God's love is immediate and powerful, yet gentle, healing, and nurturing. It takes into account what I want and need. God's will contains discipline, not deprivation. God isn't shame-based; people are. Yet, God holds me accountable for my actions."

She states her early fear of being brainwashed by the program, but found that life prior to the program was brainwashed, the program offers freedom.


1. To remember this Step, you may find it helpful to write it down in the form of an affirmation. For example; "I have turned my life and my will over to the care of God today. All is well."

2. If you knew that all was well and on schedule in your life today, how would you feel? If you knew that things were being managed by a power great than your self in a way that would work out to your best interests, how would you act differently?

3. If you knew you had no power to control events, outcomes, or a particular person, how would you behave differently? What would you say or do? What would you stp saying or doing? What would you do differently for yourself in order to enjoy your own life now, to live in the present moment?

4. If you weren't allowing someone else to control you, what would you be doing differently? What would you do today with your life? How would you feel?

5. If you weren't allowing a particular circumstance to control you, or if you weren't trying to control that circumstance - if you just let it be and accepted it as okay for the present moment - how would you feel? If you weren't fighting with or resisting this circumstance, what would you be doing? How would you be feeling?

6. Taking this step often puts you in touch with yourself. Listen to yourself. Write about what you feel, want, need, and think. Then pick up the phone and share who you are with someone safe, someone you trust. Talk in a way that reflects self-responsibility, not victimization. Don't ask them to rescue you. Ask them to listen and accept you as you are.

7. What is the most loving, most nurturing thing available to you right now that you can use to take care of yourself and enjoy life? What will you do with it?


Using the Codependents' Guide to the Twelve Steps by Melody Beattie

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

The author describes something many of us have probably experienced with the "Dreaded Fourth Step". Heading to a meeting and you find out that the topic is the fourth step and all of a sudden you are not so excited. Or you get there and no one has anything to say and the meeting ends early. Then there are those times that someone who has worked the fourth step shares and you are in awe. You feel bad because you haven't worked it yet, you have been procrastinating. There is something different about this person who worked the fourth step and you are a bit envious. Many of us can identify with the fear and dread of doing the fourth step and may have put it off for years.

Looking within Ourselves

"'Codependency hides under all my addictions,' said Carol. 'I avoid pain with something: relationships, substances, or work. I hid in a relationship so I didn't have to deal with me.' Many of us hide from our pain. Many of us hide from ourselves. Perhaps the last, safest, and strongest holdout from looking at ourselves is blaming our circumstances and condition on others."

Often we see people enter recovery just long enough to blame everyone else for their problems. This does not resolve our problems. We may find that we are repeating the same scenarios over and over and eventually need to look within to see why we keep ending up in the same place.

"But when we tire of spending energy discussing the details of the other person, whether that person is a parent, child, friend, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, co-worker, boss, or employee, we face the Fourth Step questions: What's going on with me? What am I doing? What am I not doing? Why did I need to go through these circumstances? What are these circumstances triggered within me? What are the old memories, the old fears, the old tapes, being replayed? What's my agenda? What's my lesson from this experience?"

This step is not about blaming ourselves, it is about discovering ourselves. It is about self-responsibility. We codependents tend to blame everyone else for how we feel. This step is about looking inward for those answers. We are responsible for our feelings. It is natural to fear this step, but it is not in our best interests. It is time to clean house and get things in order.

A Searching and Fearless Inventory

What are we searching for in this inventory? The good and bad in us, our good and bad behaviors, our guilt - earned and unearned. We look at our bad feelings of anger, fear, pain, rage and resentment. We are not looking to blame ourselves, but being honest and free from denial and fear. "We do this to hold ourselves accountable for our own healing and to achieve the highest level of self-responsibility and self-accountability possible."

Here are some waya to approach the steps as suggested in this chapter:

1. An Inventory of Codependent Characteristics

In this sections the authors suggests that we list our codependent behaviors, others who are involved, and our feelings about them. She goes on to list a fairly long list of behaviors.

2. A General Biographical Sketch

This is an easy way to do this step. Just write a biography about yourself. Start with where you were born and move on from there. You may need to do a 5th step after this, but you may find that you need to focus on some areas and expand on the story first. Who hurt you? Who did you hurt? How did you feel? This is NOT a time to be nice and appropriate, it is a time to be completely honest.

3. A Specific Biographical Sketch

Sometimes people need to focus on a specific area of their lives. This can be relationships, work, or family. It can be approached the same, starting at the beginning and telling the whole story. Being as thorough as possible is best. "The more we can write about ourselves, our feelings, and our beliefs, the more helpful this work is."

4. A Big-Book Fourth Step

Using the "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous, the fourth step is covered on pages 64-71. This is the original 4th step and very straight forward. The idea is to list all those things that we hold resentments against including people, institutions, or principles. We can cover all the problem areas of our lives, such as anger, fear, sex, money, and resentment.

5. Things We've Done Wrong

We can focus on those things that we feel guilt and shame around. Even those things that we should not feel guilty about but do anyway. Included in this is how we treat ourselves. Treating ourselves badly, not thinking we are worthy, and not taking care of ourselves is a moral issue and should be included in what we look at in our inventory.

6. Wrongs Others Have Done us

This is our opportunity to put down on paper how people have hurt us. It give us an opportunity to look at our part. Where are we not taking care of ourselves? We can get it all out and then move on and heal.

7. An Asset Inventory

As Codependents it is very easy for us to see what is wrong with us, in fact that may be all we do. This gives us the opportunity to list our strengths. "It may also be, as one woman said, the hardest Fourth Step we've ever done."

8. A list of Anger, Fear - and Shame

This is a chance to dump all the bad stuff. Write about anything that bothers you. When you do this write how you feel about that thing or person. If we are honest about how we feel, not taking blame, it will help us heal. It may help us see to the root of the problem. "If it is my belief that I'm stupid, if I learn that about myself, I can let go of the old belief and change it to a better one, such as 'I'm competent and capable. I'm intelligent. I can own my power with people.'" But until we identify these beliefs, through this step, we can not change them. It is a good idea to include your childhood, or family-of-origin issues. Often times there are feelings there that we need to feel to heal. Sometimes these unresolved issues cause problems we experience today. Acceptance is sometimes all that is needed.

Often times we carry the messages from our childhood into our adult lives. Messages such as "Don't feel", "Be perfect", "I am stupid". Codependent behaviors are often there to help us not feel. This step helps us feel those feelings, resolve the pain, and heal. Avoiding our feelings can make us very sick. Unresolved feelings can come out as other things, anger from our past may be affecting our relationships today. It is important, through this step, to face these feelings, feel them, and heal. It is important to learn how to live with your feelings and manage them in a healthy way.

This is not an opportunity to start blaming those who have hurt us, it is a time for us to heal. We may run into issues of abuse and this must be handled with caution and may require some additional professional help.

Learning to Love Ourselves

The 12 step program has been called a "selfish" program. From some aspects, this could be true. It is all about us and our behaviors. But it is also a self-esteem program. It enables us to accept, work through, and find a solution to the problems that are causing us pain, shame, and guilt. It lets us start changing our behaviors and make amends. It also helps us accept who we are and that we make mistakes, but they don't define us. We can learn to love ourselves, which is not selfish, but healthy. "We do this without being afraid of what we will find. We perform this task with love and compassion for ourselves. We allow ourselves to have all the feelings about others we need to feel along the way, but our goal is to perform this task with as much love and compassion for others as possible - as long as that love and compassion doesn't reinforce our denial of reality. We feel as angry, even rageful, as we need to feel at first, then we strive for forgiveness. We go back to the past long enough to be able to finally to put it behind us and set ourselves free."

There are many ways to work this step and if you have heard a suggestion that interests you, try it. You can also use alternate forms of healing to compliment the process, such as therapy, or massage. This step doesn't have to be done perfectly, but be as honest and open as possible. If you work it, it will work.

Opening our Hearts to Love

The author tells how before recovery she avoided self examination and her feelings at all costs through addiction, relationships etc. When she first did this step it was very rudimentary but that was all it took to propel her into recovery. It can be just the basics at first. Her second Fourth step was more detailed and over time she just kept digging, living the Fourth step, peeling away layers of pain. The process was painful, but it was a good pain, it was the pain of healing.

The author describes this process of pain and emotion as she experienced it and it lasted a while. During that time she was just hoping that it would pass and eventually she would simply return to how things were. Then she had a spiritual moment where she forgave everyone from her past, the hardest person on the list being herself. This freed her. This broke her from the steel encasement she had built to protect herself and left her open and free to love.

She hears people procrastinate about the Fourth Step and chuckles, because if they stick around long enough they will take this step whether they are ready or not, and they will be glad they did.

"We work these Steps to heal from our pain, fear, guilt, and limiting beliefs, but to do that, we must first recognize them. This is our task in this Fourth Step. Those who find the courage to look within are the people most comfortable with themselves, and recovery." . . . "Not facing our pain, not facing our fears, is often the great motivator to the behaviors we call codependency. Looking within is the key to releasing our pain and producing recovery and health in our lives."


1. Have you done any family-of-origin work yet? Have you identified any old beliefs or any feelings from the past?

2. Have you already done a Fourth Step? Do you feel up-to-date with feelings and issues?

3. Did any of the suggestions for doing this Step provoke your curiosity? You may want to set a reasonable goal for doing this Step. You can write your goal down and give yourself as much time as you want. For instance, "I want to do a Fourth Step in the next eighteen months." Or, "I want to do the Fourth Step in the next three weeks."

4. Do you feel blocked in any area of your life? Do you think it might be helpful to do a Fourth Step on that area?


Step 5: "Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

The author starts by explaining how honesty was not something she had known since the time she could talk. "I had no honesty training". Whether it be about who she was, what she felt, what she liked or didn't like - it was not available to her.

Working the steps "catapulted" her into a new way of life. She worked this step with a Clergy person and from there the idea of honesty started to spread in her life. Her goal in this chapter is to discuss the actual step, but also the concept of honesty and vulnerability in all areas of life.

Admitted to Another Human Being

Confession is a practice you see in many religions and they say it is good for the soul. For us Codependents, it heals the soul. There are many descriptions of Codependency, but many call it "soul-sickness". In recovery we focus on ourselves and healing our soul and improving our relationships, beginning with the relationship with ourselves.

It is imperative that we begin this process by unloading all the guilt, shame, fear and other bad things that are weighing us down. We need to reconnect to ourselves and our Higher Power and we do that by being honest. The fourth step enables us to identify these things about ourselves and as we are going through this step these things may begin to surface and weigh us down. It is important to move on to Step 5 as soon as possible.

It is important to chose someone who has experience in hearing a 5th step. We then get to be open, honest and take responsibility. This may be the first time we have done this in our lives. Sometimes this step is profound right when it is happening and others don't feel it's effects for some time. Some feel after completing the step, that it has done it's job and it is time to move forward. Others feel they need to go back to their fourth step and do a little more work and come back the this Step again. No matter what happens in this step, all we need to do is our best, the best we can do at the time. It can take multiple times working this step over years to continue to reveal, peel back the layers of ourselves. It is always important to chose a qualified person to listen to your 5th step.

She writes, "We learn that nobody is perfect and nobody needs to be. But when something bothers us, we need to get it out into the light to be healed from it." She continues by saying, "One guiding rule for all my Fifth Steps has been this: Whatever it is I most don't want to discuss is what I most need to talk honestly about. To be healed, whatever I am most afraid and ashamed to share is probably what I most need to share at the time."

Daily Honesty

Taking a 5th step is very difficult, but even more difficult is learning how to be open and honest with others about who we are. When we feel good it is easy to share. What we need to share is when we are feeling bad about ourselves. When we feel weak, frightened or needy. The author shares about her need to be perfect, to hide her feelings from others and herself. She had been denying her own needs and feelings and in recovery she had to learn to take these things to others.

"It is good for the soul to learn to reach out when we need to do that. We aren't a bother. We aren't a burden." She states that when she expresses her needs she actually becomes less needy because she takes responsibility and it stops controlling her.

I felt the next part of this chapter was so crucial for my codependency recovery I have quoted the entire thing hoping it will help others. "Not revealing myself in my relationships is turning out to be the ultimate way I try to control them. If I don't tell you how I feel, what I want, what I think, then maybe you'll like me. If I become who you want me to be, if I don't rock the boat, if I don't own my power, then you'll like me. Then I can control the course of the relationship. That is an illusion. When I don't reveal who I am, my relationships become superficial, and my real self will ultimately emerge, anyway. By the time it does, I will feel resentful, angry, and needy. It doesn't work to put our lives on hold for anyone."

Admitted to God and to Ourselves

We need to take who we are, what we want, what we need, everything about ourselves to God. That is what he wants. We also need to be honest about who we are with ourselves.

Setting Ourselves Free

The author talks about how, when in relationships, she can talk herself into bad behaviors. Not being honest, not reaching out, not being vulnerable and how she reasons her way into this and gets stuck. She also explains how she feels when she makes a mistake, how she hides from herself and others out of fear and guilt. Not accepting who she is. The answer to these problems is the same. Being honest, reaching out, sharing with someone else who is safe and trustworthy.

She tells about getting into this place recently and how much guilt she felt ... she writes recovery books! Should she hide? She fell back on her recovery and reached out, was honest, and made amends. She was set free.

The Cleansing Steps

Step 4 and 5 and often referred to together. It is important to go swiftly from the 4th to the 5th step. These are tools that help us a do our housecleaning. Without these tools it would be like removing a screw with your fingernails when a screwdriver would work so much better. It is our opportunity to take responsibility for and accept ourselves. God is trustworthy and we can choose safe and trustworthy people to talk to if we are open and listen. Learn how to be open regularly. This does not mean with everyone, we do not want to over do it. Yet emotional honesty needs to become a habit.


1. Have you taken a formal Fifth Step? What was the impact of that on your life and your feelings about yourself?

2. Are you in the habit of sharing yourself - who you are - with other people? When was the last time you called someone because you needed to talk about something? Do you talk to people about what you're going through when you're going through it, or do you wait until you've resolved the incident yourself, then report it after the fact?

3. Is there someone in your life now whom you need to talk to? Is there something goin on - a feeling, a need, or an issue - that you don't want to talk about, but need to? Is there someone you're avoiding because you have something difficult to say?

4. In the past week, have you treated yourself or another person badly? You may want to choose someone safe and trusted and tell that person what you have done. Then tell God.

5. Each morning for the next week, when you wake up, take a moment to notice what you're feeling. Often, we're at our most vulnerable in those quiet moments before we begin the activity of the day. Check in with yourself emotionally. Take a moment to tell God what you're feeling. Tell yourself. Within the next four hours, sooner if possible, tell someone else what you are feeling. You don't have to make a "feelings group" out of it; just disclose honestly what you are feeling. Do this same activity once more during the day - either at the end of the workday, after supper, or during a quiet time in the evening.

6. The next time a big feeling strikes - hurt, fear, anger, joy, blessedness, pleasure - call another person and talk about what you're feeling while you're feeling it.


Step Six: "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."

The chapter begins with a woman telling how she does not own her own power, how she feels like a disappointment to everyone, even God. The author suggested she try step 6 & 7 and the woman replied by saying she was working them, and the more she did the more she noticed what she was doing. The author replied by telling her that was good, it means they are working!

The steps seem to come in groups, 1 - 3, 4 & 5, and 6 & 7. Steps 6 & 7 are the steps that transform us.

Our Protective Devices

Many codependents "defects" are protective devices or survival skills we have learned to take care of ourselves. The only problem is that they have now begun to hurt us. What things are you willing to let go of?

Our tight grasp on people
Our need to control and manipulate
Our fears
Old feelings that may be clogging us up
Negative, limiting beliefs
The need to blame our pain on others
Waiting to be happy
Low self-esteem
Our self-neglect, and the belief that we aren't responsible for ourselves and cannot take care of ourselves
Our desire to have others take care of, or be responsible for, us
Lack of self-trust
Lack of trust in God, life, and the process of recovery
Our trust issues with people-inappropriately placed trust, and not trusting when it is appropriate
Our addictions
Shame-that pervading sense that who we are is not okay

The list goes on and is not limited to defects, it can be applied to feelings as well.

"A friend once asked me ow much we needed to let go of. 'Just about everything,' I told her. 'Even the good we want.'"

We are meant to travel lightly on this journey and letting go of hopes, dreams, people, relationships and more means we won't try to control them. "Letting go is the opposite of fear."

What is the use of working on and identifying all these things if we are going to just let them go? The purpose is to overcome, let go, and then receive.

Becoming Ready to Let Go

Becoming aware that behaviors that once protected us are now hurting us can be frustrating. Then we are aware of these behaviors and keep repeating them over and over. Suddenly it is time to change. Awareness, Acceptance, and Change. We don't have to worry or work ourselves to death over changing our behaviors, we can identify what we want to change, become ready to let it go, and then watch the change happen.

It can be difficult to let go of those behaviors we used to protect ourselves but don't worry, nothing will be removed that we need, and things that are removed will be replaced with something better.

The Letting Go Step

Sometimes as we navigate our pasts things come up that cause us to feel things we should have felt years ago. This fear and pain may trigger us to act out in codependent ways, to try to manipulate and control others. This is a perfect time for step 6. Becoming ready to have these painful feelings removed and ready for change and learning to trust in God, trust the process, and trust ourselves. "Lessons don't go away. They keep repeating themselves until we learn. In fact, when it's time to change, it becomes harder to stay the same than it does to change."

"This step give us permission to relax, trust, and become willing. It gives us permission to be who we are and let this process of change happen to us."


1. What are the hard-to-handle beliefs, behaviors, feelings, wants, or needs that you're struggling with right now? You may want to begin affirming that you are becoming ready to let go of these issues.

2. How would it make your life different if you believed that you could just relax and let this process called recovery happen to you?

3. Make a list of everything you would like changed about yourself. Include on it the things you would like to stop doing, things you would like to start doing, any family-of-origin work you'd like to accomplish, things you'd like to get and have. Put everything you can think of on the list, everything you'd like to be part of your future. Then put the list away and let go of everything on it.

4. Do you believe it's safe to trust God and this process called recovery?

Live your joy,
Go against the grain.
Don’t be made timid by worried rejection.
Let nature’s curious wisdom fill you.
Let the world’s mystical heritage guide you.
Paint your canvasses,
play your tunes.
~Thomas Moore

Last edited by Ann; 04-06-2013 at 06:51 PM.
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