Restoring Sanity, by guest blogger David Saffold

The following is my second entry in a series about the 12-step spiritual program of recovery.

Step 2:  “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

In step 1, discussed previously, we discovered that we were hopelessly powerless to stop using a substance that was destructive to our lives.  We were strangely “insane” in that we couldn't or wouldn't stop using a substance that was poisoning our physical and emotional health and ruining all that we held dear in life.

Step 2 is our introduction to the way out - the spiritual solution.  Step 2 is actually found in chapter 4 (We Agnostics), page 47, 2nd paragraph; “We needed to ask ourselves but one short question, ‘Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a power greater than myself’.“  Chapter 4 goes to great lengths to explain what is required in step 2.  Review the reading starting at the bottom of page 34 through page 42 which describes the ‘insanity’ that precedes a relapse.

To understand what step 2 means we need to specifically define what is meant by “ourselves (myself)” and “spiritual solution”.  In the reading relating to step 1 we are told that our problem centers in our mind.  It is within us, in our thinking, thoughts, and beliefs, not outside of us.  If the problem is within, then that is where we need to go to address the problem.  Going within is what “spiritual” means.

Let’s look more closely at what happens when an ‘alcoholic’ decides to drink again after drinking has proved so dangerous and destructive.  Try to remember the thoughts of justification to which you succumbed.  Maybe they were as trivial as “this time it will be ok, you can handle it”.  Maybe they were filled with anger and self-righteousness, “screw them, I can do what I want”.  Maybe hopelessness, “I am doomed so why not”.  The key is that something told you something that you believed and used to justify returning to your destructive addiction.  Think of this voice as your consultant or advisor which you consult to make decisions about your life.  Now let’s review this advisor’s performance.  Are you being given advice that is constructive or destructive to your life?  How many times has your advisor said it’s ok to drink again and it turned out worse than before?  How many times has your advisor justified lying, cheating, or stealing?  You will have to admit that your advisor’s performance is dismal.  Furthermore, if you challenge this advisor’s decisions it can get enraged and threatening.  If you could be objective you would see that your advisor is a consummate liar, totally disloyal, deceptive, abusive, and cares only for itself.  This is the “Ourselves (or myself)” that is being talked about in step 2.

You may be skeptical about my advisor analogy but you can test for yourself.  Sit still, close your eyes, and monitor your thoughts and feelings for a couple of minutes.  Just by reading this blog, your wicked advisor feels very threatened and is probably is in an uproar.  Maybe you feel tense and scared.  What are your thoughts saying?  Is there much confusion and anarchy?  Is the voice telling you this blog is foolish and ridiculous and not to believe a word of it?  Also, while you are here, who is feeling the feelings and hearing the thoughts?  There is someone else there that is hearing the thoughts and feeling the feelings.  Explore this as objectively as possible because it is very important!

So, you need to find a power greater than this wicked advisor that you have entrusted with your life.  You need to hire a new advisor that you can trust to make good decisions for your life and has the power you need to dispose of the wicked one.  If you regretfully hired a wicked advisor then it is perfectly logical and reasonable that you can hire a great advisor!  Don’t businesses do this all the time?  If you can find a horrible one within you to run your life then why can’t you find a great one within as well?  Actually, you have this powerful and wise advisor already within you.  You have been so enslaved and consumed by the wicked one for so long that you have forgotten all about the other one.  Can you, at least, be willing to look and find out?  Is not this reasonable?  Why not, at least, call for an interview and start discovering what it can do for you.

How do I know if I did step 2?

If you are, at least, willing to believe that there is a power greater than yourself that will give you the power you need, then you are ready to move on to Step 3.  Even if you can’t say you believe but are willing to discover if it’s really true by doing the rest of the steps to the best of your ability then you are ready to move on to step 3.

How should I feel after doing step 2?

Again, it varies with the individual.  You may feel relieved and hopeful because you have a true solution.  One may also feel fearful and skeptical because one doesn’t put much faith in a spiritual anything - despite the fact that one has been putting all their faith and belief in a “terrible advisor”!

Will step 2 keep me from drinking?

Not in and of itself.  None of the steps, individually, will keep someone from returning to addiction.  They build upon themselves and so combine into a powerful process that creates the vital changes necessary to cure addictions.

Next time we will do Step 3.


David Saffold is a Professional Life Coach and student at the Estuary.  He has been helping people use the 12 step spiritual program to recover from alcohol and drug addiction for over 25 years.