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Living the Twelve Steps

After you’ve worked the Steps and you’ve been in the Overeaters Anonymous (OA) program for a while, the tools become ingrained in how you encounter the daily challenges of living. Here are a few examples of how to use specific steps on a daily basis.

Do you have a go-to for “Twelve-Stepping” a problem? Let us know!

The Fourth Step is a detailed inventory of our past and present behaviors. It can also be used as an ongoing tool in the form of a spot-check inventory. I use this tool, frequently, when I get into a tangle about some situation and I feel confused, uncertain, lacking in clarity, overwhelmed, and/or generally not in alignment with the universe. When I was going through the Fourth Step I looked at many different forms of doing the inventory, and I even did the inventory using several formats. Then I realized that it didn’t matter what form it takes, as long as I do it and keep “fearless and searching” at the forefront of my mind when doing so.

So! Here are the questions that I answer in my spot-check Fourth Step inventory, with explanation, and then an example from my own life.

What’s going on? 
This is the first pass, what’s at the top of my mind that needs to come out. Sometimes it’s one word, sometimes it’s five pages. 

I feel sad. I feel stomach/belly discomfort. At lunchtime I ate a scone even though I wasn’t hungry and didn’t want to eat it. I remember to say to myself in these moments, “You’re welcome to have this, all of it, as much as you want. Is this what you really want right now?” My sponsor once sent me a voicemail that when her food gets squirrelly, she invites love to the table. She invites love in.

So what’s really going on? 
I often will replace this question with Why?, but the gist of the question is asking, What’s underneath? This is the second pass at what’s going on, where I start to get at patterns, deeper feelings, and more. 

I feel sad. And afraid. And vulnerable. And I think I might also have a stomach bug that is causing bloating and discomfort.

This one asks me to look at where this situation or my feelings are coming from, and as this example shows, sometimes it’s not so clear, which is okay too. 

I don’t know.

What aspect of self does this affect? 
This question gets me to look at where I’m being challenged. Is it self-centeredness, self-esteem, perfectionism, honesty, judgment, need for rest, need to be seen, or something else? 

Basic bottom line: feeling unsafe.

What’s my role in creating, contributing to, or maintaining this situation? 
This question asks for personal responsibility for the role we play in our own tangles and misery. This is often the question where I start to soften and where acceptance comes in. 

I’m having a lack of acceptance and honesty today. I don’t want to bring any issue near. I just want it all to be resolved.

What would the love of the universe have me do? 
I’ve replaced Higher Power with the love of the universe, but I’ve also seen it replaced with a higher purpose, a sponsor, or a trusted loved one. Find something that works for you. And don’t worry if it changes. Mine has!

Take it easy. You probably have a stomach bug. What a gift to deepen your program compassion and awareness. Stay with it. Don’t run away.

So that’s how I do it. Sometimes the inventories are all about food, sometimes relationships, or feelings that there’s too much to do. There is no right way; it’s just an invitation for reflection and guidance. Use this as a seed for you to grow your own practice of inventory and spot-checking situations. As with everything in this program, take what you like and leave the rest. 

In grateful recovery and service, 

—Stacie L, Berkeley, CA USA

Writing a daily, or even occasional, Tenth Step can help keep your side of the street clean. Here’s a collection of several formats.

OA Twelve Stepping a Problem Worksheet (pdf)

This is quite God-heavy, but you can rewrite the questions to work for you. It’s a good format to use when you’re feeling out of control about a particular person or issue in your life.

"Life Is Prickly Sometimes." Collage by Anonymous