"(WE) Admitted that we were powerless over the effects of Trauma... that our lives had become unhealthy/unmanageable."
Many of us think our Trauma is the problem. When we say to the newcomer that the Trauma is only a symptom of a much deeper problem (directly related to emotions), it is hard for a newcomer to understand.
In order to better understand Trauma, we must look at the behavioral concept of Trauma. From this point of view, PTSD is rooted in Fear, Insecurity, and Low Self-Esteem. The main ingredients of PTSD are Obsession and Compulsion. Obsession - is a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an idea or feeling: an emotion or idea causing a preoccupation intensely or abnormally. Compulsion - Caused by or subject to Psychological Compulsion. We are completely in the grip of a destructive power greater than ourselves; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Looking at PTSD from this point of view, we see how past Trauma is only a symptom making our lives unhealthy/unmanageable. At this point, we must surrender and accept how powerless we are over our Trauma. When we do this, a very strange thing happens; we begin to gain power through the (WE) part of the program and working the next Eleven Steps. It has often been said that "the First Step is our past and the things of our past that are with us today, and the next Eleven Steps are our future".
Now that we have a better understanding, let us look at some ways we can apply the First Step in our daily lives. The most obvious fact is that we can't live in the past, or our lives will remain unhealthy/unmanageable. We must accept and surrender to this JUST FOR TODAY, JUST FOR THIS HOUR, or JUST FOR THIS MINUTE.
Examples to Ponder
We tend to resist the act of surrendering and using the Step's on every day problems; making our lives unmanageable.
You must be able to apply the Step's to this situation. Accept and surrender that the car cannot be fixed immediately and then you then gain the power to find alternate transportation.
Or you can refuse to surrender and apply the Step's. The choice is yours. The bottom line is that
our behaviors are but a symptom of past Trauma(s) We get relief from our PTSD by working
the Steps. The Step's can and must be applied to in all area's of our life. It is a new and exciting
experience that will bring many changes into our lives. This is called Living the Steps.
The following questions you are to write about on a separate sheet of paper and return to your Sponsor/Therapist.
One last thing that must be pointed out is the
WE portion of this Step and all our Steps. All our Steps begin with
WE, except the 12th, which has the word WE in the center. This makes us different from any other 12 Step program. We are a
WE program not a me program. Part of our strength and power comes from the
WE of our program. Together we can; I can't,
WE can. This is why we need meetings. This is why we need daily contact with other recovering
"(We) Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to a healthy pattern of living."
The healthy pattern referred to in this step is not the pattern of past behaviors. We will be restored to a healthy pattern of living by surrendering to Step 1, we now find ourselves in recovery and our lives are still unhealthy/unmanageable in many areas.
Much of that unhealthiness/un-manageability comes from doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results each time. Of course, the results are always the same, unhealthy patterns in our lives/un-manageability.. But what is there to do? Go on the best we can, or begin to change with the Second Step as our guide through recovery?
The next question we begin to ask is: What is that power that is greater than ourselves?
An ultimate power greater than ourselves, whatever our concept of a Higher Power is. Then best way to explain this is that a power greater than ourselves can change from situation to situation. A power greater than ourselves can be the Program, the Group, a Sponsor, another Person, Pain or something we read, etc. It is anything that makes us aware of the unhealthy pattern of living we act out.
Now having an understanding of the Second Step, let's look at some of the ways we can apply the Second Step into our lives.
You can now see a Power greater than ourselves can change from situation to situation. The important thing is to be aware of how to apply this principle in your life, so that unhealthy living and un-manageability does not take hold. The principle of the step can be a Power greater than ourselves.
The following questions, you are to write about on a separate paper and return to your
"(We) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of our Higher Power as we understood It to be."
This has often been referred to as a stumbling block of recovery.
Many of us get stuck here and can't seem to move on. The reason for this, as Trauma survivors, we take something simple and complicate it. It doesn't have to be that way if we become willing and open minded. Now with that in mind let's look at this step, beginning with the word decision.
A decision is an action word; it is a beginning, a starting point, or looking at it from a point of recovery, it is the time we let go of our old attitudes and let the Steps begin to build new attitudes in our lives and we make mistakes and grow in spiritual principles. As you can now see, being willing and open minded is very important as far as the decision and the Third Step are concerned. Simply put, a decision is accepting this step into our lives.
The next part of the step we must look at is "To turn our will and our lives." We must ask ourselves, what does the Step mean by our will and our lives? Our will is our way of doing things. We always want to fix things to the way we want them. We are now beginning to build Spirituality in our lives, which we get a realization of its strength and power in the Eleventh Step. Our lives simply mean our day-to-day affairs. Our problems, our worries and our pain.
Now let's look at the words "over to the care of a Higher Power as we understood that Higher Power." Many of us couldn't or wouldn't relate that word, Higher Power. By the time we reach Trauma Anonymous, many of us are Atheist or Agnostic and some of us had a concept of a God who was vengeful. Here again, this is where we need to be willing and open minded and honest. The type of honesty we are talking about here is self- honesty. We must be honest enough to admit that there is a Power that is higher than ourselves. It doesn't matter what this Power is. The program tells us of a Higher Power as we understood that Higher Power to be. It doesn't have to be a Higher Power of someone else's belief, but a Higher Power of your belief. This is where much confusion comes in the program. The important thing to remember is that it is a Higher Power of your understanding. It could be the God of your childhood or a force, nature, some kind of intelligence or just a rock in the backyard. It is a Higher Power you and you alone can have Faith in. You relate and Pray to your Higher Power according to the way you understand it.
The Higher Power you have today may change during ongoing recovery and that's OK, it's your Higher Power.
Now let's talk about "over to the care of." One mistake we make when we don't understand this step is that we say "turn it over to your Higher Power." We leave out the word care. Without the word care, we change the entire meaning of the step.
Example to ponder:
It's Saturday night and you and your spouse/significant other are going out for the night and you have a child, you don't turn your child over to a babysitter, but you turn your child over to the care of a babysitter to watch and guide the child.
When we turn our will and life over to the care of a Higher Power as we understand it to be, we
do this not to become robots or carbon copies of each other, but to have a Higher Power of our
understanding watch and guide our will and lives.
The question has been asked many times, "what is my Higher Power's will for me?" The answer
is simple, your Higher Power's will for us is to act mature and responsible to the best of our
ability, at whatever point of our recovery we are at. Our Higher Power's will for us grows as we
grow. If we act mature and responsibly to the best of our ability, the outcome of our situation
will be as healthy as it can be at that point of recovery.
Now, when we turn our lives over to the care of a Higher Power as we understood that Higher Power to be, one of two things will happen.
Let's look at what these things are:
For Most of us when we first came into the program of Trauma Anonymous, we felt physically, mentally, and spiritually bankrupt.
We must maintain vigilance over these three aspects of the symptoms of Trauma. The first to go
will be the spiritual, the second is the mental/emotional. The third and final will be the physical.
That is why it is so important to live these Steps in our lives, it is the maintenance of our recovery.
If you have no Higher Power try GOD.......... Good Orderly Direction.
One last thing we will talk about is the relationship of the Serenity Prayer to the first three steps.
Once we realize the connection between the two, the Serenity Prayer becomes a powerful tool in
our lives. Let's take a look at it.
The courage to change the things I can. The second step doing things differently to change the outcome from unhealthy pattern of living.
And the results to know the difference. This is the Third Step living mature and responsibly for a
healthy pattern of life.
Write about the following on a separate paper and return so we can go over it.
"(We) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."
Sit down and get quiet.
Ask your Higher Power to give you the courage to be fearless and thorough and help you put your life in order (a healthy pattern of living).
Make a list of people, organizations, institutions and principles with whom you were angry.
For each resentment briefly describe the cause of the resentment (what did the person do to you).
Make a list of all your personal relationships.
Make a list of fears.
Write about the things that I have done that I do not want anyone to know.
Make a list of thing that I feel guilty about.
Write at least a paragraph on each of the following assets:
"(We) Admitted to our Higher Power, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature
of our trauma."
The purpose of this worksheet is to prepare you to do your Fifth Step.
Once your Fourth Step is done, don't look at it. Put it away until you sit down with your
Sponsor/Therapist. Many of us put off doing the Fifth Step after we finished our Fourth Step
because of Fear. This feeling of Fear is with us because we don't really understand the Fifth Step.
The reason we are doing a Fifth Step is to have someone help us know ourselves and give us
direction based on their experience in working a program of recovery. As a Trauma survivor it
is quite normal to want to isolate and try to do it alone, and each time we do that we continue the
cycle of an unhealthy pattern of living. Remember the Second Step tells us we must do things
differently if we want a different outcome. We must reach out for trust to be delivered from the
unhealthy pattern of living.
The purpose of sharing your Fourth Step with another person and your Higher Power is not to
judge you but to help you know yourself and guide you in areas that you need help. Two of
the most important qualities you will get from doing a Fifth Step are open mindedness and
willingness. A spiritual awakening you will receive is that you are not unique and different. You
find that by sharing your inventory with another Trauma survivor that they have experienced
everything you have, either physically, emotionally or mentally. Many of the people, places,
events and circumstances may be different, but the feelings are the same. After doing this Step
you will have a much better understanding of the "WE" of the program. Now is the time to go
forward, Pray to the Higher Power of your understanding and set a time to sit with your
Sponsor/Therapist to do your Fifth Step.
Write out the following questions and answers on a separate paper and return to your
"(We) Were entirely ready to have our Higher Power remove all these symptoms of PTSD"
Entirely ready are key words in this Step.
The very act of living Steps One thru Five make us entirely ready, we just need to recognize this and know our defects can be removed. A question that is always asked is, how does God remove all these defects of character?
The answer can be found in the Third Step. Before we can use the Third Step in relation to the Sixth Step, we must do some footwork. Our Higher Power will always work through us and other recovering survivors, as long as we are willing to provide the footwork, our Higher Power will provide the motivation.
One way we do the footwork is to make a list of all our symptoms.
On one side of a piece of paper list defects of character, draw a line down the center of the paper.
Across from each defect on the other side of the line we list the opposite of each defect such as:
After we have completed this list to the best of our ability, we can now focus on assets we wish to have. This becomes a goal.
Remember the Sixth Step says: "We were entirely ready to have our Higher Power remove all these symptoms of PTSD" and this is what we did, became entirely ready.
During the Fourth Step we came in touch with our innermost feelings and ourselves.
During our Fifth Step we came in touch with our Higher Power, ourselves and another human being.
During the Sixth Step we used the information from the Fourth and Fifth Steps to see our defects of character and patterns. We looked at them and went through the work of listing them on paper.
All of this adds up to being entirely ready.
Write on a separate piece of paper and return to your Sponsor/Therapist:
"(We) Humbly asked our Higher Power to remove our symptoms."
Let's talk about symptoms of Trauma before we get into this Step .One symptom of Trauma is Impatience which leads to Frustration which leads to Anger.
Example to ponder: You are waiting to pick somebody up for a meeting. You are doing them a favor and going out of your way. At 7:00 P.M. you arrive on time. It's now 7:20 P.M. and they are not ready yet and you might be late for the meeting.
In the Sixth Step we become entirely ready to have our Higher Power remove our symptoms of Trauma.
In the Seventh Step you will see how your Higher Power does this when you humbly ask your Higher Power to remove your symptoms. Before we actually learn how to apply this Step, let's look at what the Seventh Step says.
It starts out by saying, " humbly asked our Higher Power to remove our symptoms." When we recognize the fact that we are responsible for our actions even though we are not responsible for our trauma, we are becoming humble. In the First Step we learned we were not responsible for being the victim, and therefore, it will be a part of us. But our reactions can be arrested, that is how our symptoms of Trauma are removed.
Now understanding the symptoms of Trauma, and the reacting is our responsibility. We become humble when we accept this.
What we did was just apply the First Step to our symptoms.
Next we see the unhealthy patterns in our behaviors. We decide to turn our lives and our behaviors over to the care of our Higher Power of our understanding. This will give us the strength and the courage to act mature and responsibly. We have just applied the Third Step to our symptoms.
The solution of all our problems can be found in the Steps. The first Three Steps become the foundation of our solutions and the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Steps are the way we keep our solutions working.
For most of us this is a lifetime process, our Trauma and memories will always with us, waiting
for us to let our Spiritual guard down in order to strike at us. This is why we go to meetings and
stay in touch and/or close to other Survivors, so that we continue with "a healthy pattern of
Write on a separate piece of paper the questions and answers to the following:
"(We) Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all."
Many survivors have become overwhelmed when they start this Step. Most of us don't understand why we have to deal with this part of our past. We feel we dealt as best we could with these things when we did the Fourth and Fifth Steps and therefore, we are not very willing to make a list.
The thing we must remember is that this Step does not say is willing and make a list, it simply says make a list of all people we had harmed, and THEN became willing.
We can now see this is a two-part step.
The first two names that should be put on our list are your Higher Power and then yourself. Many times we get stuck here, did we really harm this person? If there is any doubt at all, list them. Many times during our Trauma there were many faceless people in our memory that we harmed. Never really knowing many of them and some we just can't remember their names. Make one entry on your list called Faceless People. In your Ninth Step you will be told what to do with them.
This part of the Step can be very difficult for some of us if we approach it with the wrong attitude. We must accept the fact that Trauma Anonymous states we must live all the Steps in our lives if we are to have a program of recovery
Remember the First Step was our past and the symptoms of Trauma that are with us today.
The next eleven steps were to be our future.
If we are to have any future that is productive and manageable, we must take the responsibility to be willing. The way we do this is first to accept we are powerless and surrender, we must do this. First Step and apply it to the Eighth Step.
We must realize we can not afford to be unwilling. We must act mature and responsibly and make our amends.
We have just applied the Third Step to the Eighth Step. Throughout these worksheets we talk
about the first Three Steps in relation to the other Steps. By now you must realize how those
Steps must be lived and applied to every area of our lives. Without the Steps we are living dead.
On a separate piece of paper write on the following:
"(We) Made direct amends to people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."
This is quite simple when we approach this with an attitude of "positive" expectancy. This is the last of the cleansing and releasing step. Many doors in our recovery will begin to open for us after we complete this step. Our growth will astound us. Knowing this alone can give us an attitude of "positive" expectancy.
We do exactly as this step says, we make direct amends to such people wherever possible. But what about those people we no longer know where they are? Or those we never knew who they were? All those faceless people.
A question we may ask is how do we make amends to ourselves. We must realize we started to make amends to ourselves the day we walked into Trauma Anonymous. We continue to make amends to ourselves as we live the steps and carry the message of Trauma Anonymous to other Trauma survivors. We can never give away more than we have, because as soon as we give it away our Higher Power gives us twice as much as we gave.
We must remember sometime in trying to make amends, the amends themselves may injure the person you are trying to make amends to.
Example to ponder:
In verbally making the amends you may injure them by shocking them and causing them to have resentments. You may want to handle these amends through your Higher Power. Also, when the step refers to them and others, you are part of others. You must make sure the amends do not injure you too. That would be pure irresponsibility.
One last word on your Ninth Step; many Trauma survivors would like to justify why not to make amends. The step does not say others are to make amends to us. Not matter what they did to us, but this step tells us we are to make direct amends.
Write the answers on a separate piece of paper.
"(We) Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."
This is the first of the maintenance Steps.
It is a very important Step because it covers the Fourth and Fifth Steps on a daily basis. By taking a daily inventory we can eliminate the build up of many of the things we dealt with from the Fourth through the Ninth Steps.
We approach this Step in two parts.
Let's talk about the first personal inventory. Personal inventory is then divided into two parts.
Getting in touch with the way, we handled things throughout the day, good and bad.
After we do that, we go to the First Step and admit we did not handle them well because of our behavior.
We now go to the Second Step and see how we could have handled them differently.
And finally we go to the Third Step and make a decision to turn them over to the care of the Higher Power of our understanding to help us handle them in a mature and responsible way.
Again, we see the importance of the first three Steps in relation to the other Steps.
The second part of the Step deals with "when we are wrong, we promptly admitted it."
There is a lot of confusion about this part of the Step. Although apologies are a part of it, there is much more. "We promptly admitted it" applies to self-honesty which is very important when we take our personal inventory. When we are wrong we must promptly admit to ourselves if we are to do anything about it.
Sorry means nothing if we continue to keep doing the same thing over and over again (unhealthy pattern of living). We must use self-honesty to admit our wrong to ourselves so that we can apply the first three Steps to the situation. This takes practice, practice, and still more practice.
To learn to live the Steps, we must practice the Steps. We must not strive for perfection, but we
must strive to practice these Steps daily.
Answer the following questions on a separate piece of paper.
"(We) Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with our Higher Power as we understood this, praying only for knowledge of our Higher Power's will for us and the power to carry that out."
Here in the Eleventh Step, all the work we put into the Steps seems to all come together. As we learned to live the previous Ten Steps, we have been practicing prayer and meditation even though we may not be aware of it.
Our starting point here will be to consciously improve prayer and meditation to the Higher Power of our understanding.
The program of Trauma Anonymous is not about telling you how to pray and meditate. That is a technique that is developed by you in a relationship with your Higher Power and the way you feel comfortable.
However, many survivors ask how do I pray? How do I meditate? The following are some ways different Trauma survivors pray and meditate. These examples are here only to give you some place to start in developing and finding your own way. You will know which way is right for you by the way you feel. The feeling of serenity (no stress) will tell you that you have made a conscious contact with a Higher Power of your understanding.
Remember, it is a Higher Power of your understanding and a conscious contact you can relate to.
There is no set way. It is a personal decision between you and your Higher Power. Need an
example..."why"? If you had a friend who did all the talking all the time and never took time to
hear or listen to you, eventually that person would no longer be your friend. Prayer is the talking
and meditation is the listening.
As we practice these principles in our life, the core of our Trauma symptoms will become arrested and we will begin to act and live in a "healthy pattern".
We gain awareness through prayer and meditation. We discover our Higher Power's will for us
to practice these Steps in our lives and as a result of living these steps we are delivered to a
healthy pattern of living life.
On a separate piece of paper answer the following questions.
"(We) Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message
to other survivors, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."
"(We) Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to other survivors, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."
This Step gives us direction.
The Spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps is very simple. The awakening is that the Steps work and we must carry the message that they work to other Trauma survivors.
Very simply, this Step tells us to carry the message of the Steps, and live them in life.
Carry the message also means that I must give to the Trauma Anonymous program so it can be here to give the message of the Steps to other Trauma survivors.
If we are to live the Steps, we must get involved in the area of service in some way. We no longer have an excuse.
On a separate piece of paper answer the following questions.
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