The Twelfth Step states that we must, “practice these principles in all our affairs.” Although it is obvious we learn new principles in the Twelve-Step program, many people are not aware of what the principles really are.
Step One states, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” The principle we learn from this step is honesty. Rather than honesty with another being, this refers mostly to being honest with ourselves. Before we are able to make any changes, we must recognize the problem.
Honesty comes in the form of finally admitting that we have a problem. We must concede to our innermost self that we are alcoholic. It is not a matter of telling somebody else we are powerless, but truly believing it ourselves. When we are able to look at ourselves and recognize the issues, this is the first glimpse of honesty many of us have in years.
The honesty of admitting we are powerless is quite a powerful admission. It is powerful in that we are able to truly set aside our ego and find our own personal truth. It is from this basis that we are able to progress through the rest of the steps. If we are not able to be honest with ourselves, we will not ever be able to be honest with others.
When I took the first step, and continue to, I must practice honesty with myself. I am constantly having to remind myself that I must stick to my own personal truth, and strive toward being the man I wish to be.
Step One in Buddhism
In Buddhist teachings, the first of the Noble Eightfold Path is Right View. Right View is very similar to Step One for several reasons. First, seeing our powerlessness is finally seeing things clearly. Practicing Right View, we are able to see the true nature of our suffering. Seeing our powerlessness and how unmanageable our lives are is just one part of Right View.
The principle of honesty is also related to Right View. In Buddhism, when we practice Right View, it is essentially practicing honesty as well. Right View is the process of learning to drop our old perceptions, and see things in a more clear light. The principle of honesty is one in Buddhism that I struggle with sometimes, because I fear being honest with myself and taking a deep look.