How to Work Step 2 [of the Twelve Steps]



The second step of the 12-Step Program is a challenging one because it is often mistakenly read as a religious directive. However, when you take a deeper look, this step is much more about what a higher power can do for us and less about who or what that higher power is.


What Are the 12 Steps?

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

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

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

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

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


What is Step 2 of the 12 Steps?

Step 2 of the 12-Step Program is: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”


What Is the Purpose of Step 2?

While working step one of the twelve steps, you admitted you had a problem and were powerless to drugs and alcohol. In a nutshell, the purpose of Step 2 is to help you develop the self-awareness and understanding that you cannot recover on your own. The truth is, you will need some help to achieve sobriety and Step 2 helps you internalize some of the spiritual principles that are necessary for the recovery process, such as:

  • Being humble

  • Being open and willing to ask for help

  • Receiving help graciously when it is given

  • Forgiving yourself and others

  • Having faith in your higher power

  • Trusting that you are not alone in this

Step two does not require that you blindly accept an organized religion or believe in someone else’s idea of God. Instead, it challenges you to trust that there is SOME power out there that is greater than you that can help you make it through the journey of sobriety.


For example, if you choose to believe that your higher power is the 12-Step fellowship itself, that’s great! Or maybe your higher power is your family, nature, or music. All of those things have the power to create genuine, lasting change in your life as you strive to become the best version of yourself.


The Big Book itself also notes that any type of religious prejudice can really get in the way of progress. Despite what you may or may not believe, the Big Book asks you to set aside any prejudice you may have and simply give the program a chance. After all, what’s there to lose?


Coming to terms with your higher power and trusting it to carry you through all the highs and lows of recovery is a process that will take time. For some people, truly internalizing Step two of the 12-Step Program can take weeks, months, or longer. Try not to rush the process and remember that it’s different for everyone.


How to Work Step 2

Step two is the realization that you can’t get sober on your own. Accepting this may be more difficult than you think, but ultimately, the simplest way to work this step is to begin accepting help and get some accountability.


For some people, this means diving headfirst into a 12-Step Fellowship and committing themselves fully to the process. For others, this also means going to therapy, rehab, family support groups, making sober friends, enrolling in a sober living program, and/or getting a sponsor.


Asking yourself certain questions and keeping a written journal of answers may also help you learn how to understand the concept of restoring sanity in your life, accepting outside help and exploring the idea of having a higher power. Here are a few ideas of questions you may want to write down and answer for yourself:

  • How was my behavior out of control when I was addicted?

  • What kind of negative consequences resulted from this behavior?

  • Did I try to stop the “insanity” but fail and continue doing what I always had?

  • In what ways could a higher power help restore the sanity in my life?

  • What do I want to get from my higher power(s)?

  • How can I learn to trust a higher power?

  • How can I demonstrate open-mindedness in my life right now?

  • Are there any fears that are getting in the way of accepting help? If so, how can I get help to let go of them?

  • Is there any evidence that a higher power is currently working in my life?

  • In what ways can I go about seeking help? And if I already am, what progress am I seeing in my personal life?

Asking yourself these questions, discussing them with your 12-Step fellowship, and taking the time to write down your answers in a recovery journal may help you learn how to accept help and become more open to the idea of recognizing a higher power in your life.


Step two can be a challenging one, but once you learn to accept the fact that you need help to get sober and that your higher power can help you achieve genuine lasting change, the sobriety process will become much easier.

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