Importance of Working the Steps
1) What is meant by “working the Steps”?
me, working the Steps means studying them and applying them. I study
the Steps by reading different literature like the CoDA pamphlets or
other 12 Step literature, and attending Step meetings. By studying the
Steps I come to an understanding of what they mean to me. Then I
practice using them in my daily life. Working the Steps means I am
developing a new (effective) way to deal with old problems and that I
am becoming an active participant in my own life.
2) Why is working the Steps important?
the Steps is important because I have chosen to be in a 12 Step
program. If I don’t work the Steps, what’s the point? I spent about a
year not working the Steps when I first got in to CoDA. I didn’t know
what to do or how to find out. I listened to people share and that was
comforting but my life didn’t change; the group did not have that
power. I began reading all the 12 Step literature I could get my hands
on. I found a sponsor that I could relate to. I came to understand that
I have the power to change my life and I began to actually change when
I started doing the work and working the Steps.
3) Can I recover if I don’t work any Steps?
don’t know if you can, but I don’t think I can. Everyone has their own
path. The Steps are my path out of codependency. When I don’t work the
Steps then I practice old behavior instead. When I do what I used to do
I get what I used to get and that is craziness. I prefer recovery and
for me that involves working the Steps.
4) If I participate in a Step table, have I worked the Step?
that is required to work a Step is the willingness to try. I don’t even
know what a Step table is, but I believe that any means you find to
help you find personal meaning in the Steps means you have worked a
5) How do I know when I have worked a Step?
know I have worked a Step when I have found personal meaning in that
step. The Step becomes an understandable, relevant idea that I can use
in my daily life
6) Do I have to work all 12 Steps?
course not, but it’s a good idea. Taken together, the Steps are a
healthy, practical philosophy for being human. Each Step fits together
into a whole way of life. I chose to work all 12 Steps because I wanted
a whole new way of life, free from perpetual agony and self-hatred. I
got what I wanted.
7) Is there a time frame for working all 12 Steps?
The only time frame is yours and your higher power’s.
8) Do I have to do the Steps in order?
don’t have to but it works best that way the first time through. Each
Step serves as a foundation for later Steps. Developing a relationship
with a higher power in Steps 1-3 gave me the spiritual support I needed
to do a fearless moral inventory, and the trust that my HP would remove
any defects I was ready to let go of as I worked Steps 4-7. The
relationship I developed with myself in those steps helped prepare me
to develop a relationship with other people in Steps 8-10. At first I
thought I could start off with 8 and 9 then people who hated me would
like me and I would be OK. Not! By releasing much of my past baggage in
previous steps, I was freed to just practice being myself in Step 10
and to deepen my relationship with a power greater than myself in Step
11. As the result of working all the previous steps, I was ready both
to live my recovery and to share my recovery with others in step 12.
9) When I have worked all 12 Steps can I quit?
first thought is “why would you want to?” For me, working the Steps has
not been like following a recipe from start to finish, but more like
learning to play a musical instrument, starting with the basics and
then continuing to refine and practice. My first time through the Steps
I learned and I grew but it didn’t end there. Whenever I am faced with
the codependent crazies I can choose to work the Steps on that issue.
Each time I do that, I release a little more old behavior and find a
little more freedom and joy. The Steps are a way of living and a
progressive unfolding discovery for me. This is not something I want to
10) Is working the Steps in CODA the same as working the Steps in other 12 Step programs?
How is CODA different?
think that working the Steps in CoDA is a lot like working the Steps in
other programs. All 12 Step programs are about releasing our illusions
of control, developing a relationship with a higher power, and taking
responsibility for ourselves. Each program also has its unique focus as
does CoDA. I have found that working the following Steps can be
different in CoDA.
STEP1: “admitted we were powerless over others…”
also means that others are powerless over me. I believe this “flipside”
to Step 1 is unique to CoDA To me it emphasizes that no one make me do
or feel anything, and that I have a choice about how to experience my
STEP 4: “made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
a codependent I could never put my finger on just what it was that I
was “addicted” to so I didn’t have a clear direction for seeking out my
“wrongs,” or “shortcomings,” or “defects of character.” So I figured my
very existence was wrong and everything about me was a character
defect. Although these feelings are not unique to codependents, I think
they can be harder to sort out in this program. The Fourth Step is a
tool for self-disclosure that allows us ultimately to reclaim our
lives. I think it is very important to have some guidance doing a 4th
Step in CoDA so that the newcomer doesn’t waste too much time and pain
using the Fourth Step as a means of self-punishment rather than self
STEP 8: “made a list of all persons we had harmed…”
a rescuing, self-effacing, martyr type of codependent, this made my
brain hurt. How can a doormat harm anybody? What about what they did to
me? It was only by seeking guidance and by trusting in the program and
a power greater than myself that I was able to face my intense
confusion over this Step and to be transformed by it. My codependency
is harmful, to me especially, and to others also. This Step helped me
put the focus firmly on me and helped me uncover my participation in my
own distress. This Step can be a crucial turning point for codependents
who are martyrs.
STEP 9: “made direct amends… except when to do so would injure them or others.”
include myself in “others.” As a codependent who has traditionally
placed my own needs last, it is essential that I place my needs first
when working this Step. If I am afraid of how someone will react to my
amends, then I have given them the power to injure me and I am not
ready to make direct amends. I need to prepare further by working Steps
1-8 again and seeking guidance from my higher power, my sponsor, and my
STEP12: “…we carried the message to other codependents…”
as a codependent who wants to fix everything and make people feel
better, I think this Step can be a trigger for relapse if taken to soon
or out of context. Early in my pink cloud recovery I wanted to tell
everybody that they needed to be in CoDA. Now I can tell people that I
am in CoDA. If they would like to find out more, I can say “this is
where and when the meetings are,” and maybe share my story. I don’t
have to “convince” them anymore. I am drawn to service work now because
I enjoy participating. I want CoDA to continue to exist because it has
given me a new life. I want to help let people know that CoDA exists
too, not so that they will come, but so that they will have the option
to come if they choose. It’s easy to get frustrated when only a few
members participate in service work. When I begin feeling irritable
because I’m doing so much and they don’t understand or care or
appreciate me etc., it’s time to do a quick personal inventory. I am
not in control of my group or CoDA as a whole. I don’t have all the
answers. A power greater than me is in charge. Everything is as it
should be, and my only responsibility is to take care of me, pray for
knowledge of god’s will for me and the power to carry that out, and
allow others the same privilege.