cutting your nose off despite your faceIf there were only a workbook to help you figure out how to deal with the unmanageability in your life, then everything would be ok, right? This miraculous guide could give you ways to get your life back in order.

I’ve often heard people share in recovery meetings how they wish there were a 12-step program that their friends or family members could attend; enabling them to have the solutions we are blessed with. Actually, there are many 12-step recovery programs out there for many types of addictions or issues relating to relationships, incest, gambling, food, sex, drugs, debt, alcoholism, etc. Most can be located by “googling” whatever your particular issue is and “12-step fellowship.”

How I arrived at the First Step

I remember the first time I attended a 12-step recovery meeting. I was there to listen to one of my clients tell her story at a treatment center. This was many years before I ever came to realize that I myself needed to be a member of the same fellowship. I recall thinking how nice it was for all of these people to take time out of their day to bear witness to this woman recounting the horrors of her past and her substance abuse. Little did I know that years later I would be stuttering out my name in a packed 12-step meeting in Amsterdam in 2007. Meanwhile praying to God that no one would recognize me, and that I wouldn’t be found out and lose my job the next day.

I had truly become powerless over the choices I was making on my parallel roads to self-destruction and service to humanity. I was suffering from complex PTSD, overworking, destroying my marriage, and trying to anesthetize myself from the pain by filling myself with whatever I could put into my mouth. True words, as sick as they sound. I was a very sick person who had hit bottom and had the willingness to get better. For some people this willingness seems to come all at once. My story is different.

I’ve had to “grow-up out-loud” in the rooms of recovery. Every mistake I made before I became sober I’ve replayed and created sequels for while in recovery. I am stubborn and have always had to learn things the hard way. This road has been painful, embarrassing and oft times humiliating, but it has given me the greatest rewards and what I would consider a blessed life.

One day at a time vs Forever

I was furious when it was suggested to me that I attend 90 meetings in 90 days. I exclaimed in offended astonishment to those who had the audacity to make such suggestions: But don’t you know how important my job is? Do you know how far I have to travel to make it to a meeting and how much that costs?

Truth be told I couldn’t see myself abstaining for a week much less 90 days. When I first begin abstaining from a substance or destructive behaviour I can’t imagine doing it for more than a day. There have been times when I thought I would die without someone, or a drink, or certain foods. The hold that “things” have had over my life was totally debilitating and all consuming.

What I can’t stop doing forever, I can stop doing for right now.

I want to give you tools and a process to put your powerlessness and unmanageability under a microscope. Millions of people have found these tools for self-reflection helpful in coming to terms with the fact that with their unaided willpower they were unable to change their destructive behaviour. Your life is too sacred and too precious for you to live in the shadow of self sabotage.

stairway from darkness


Worksheet to Assess Your State of Powerlessness and Unmanageability

The First Step:  We admitted we were powerless over our behaviour, that our lives had become unmanageable.
Note: Make sure you acquire a large blank journal or notebook, to keep all of your answers and any insights you make in one place.

Step One Worksheet

Write Down or Answer the Following:

1. Look in the dictionary and write down the definition of Powerless.

2. Write down what Powerlessness means to you.

3. Write down in detail 3 different experiences where you were powerless over your behavior.

4. Look in the dictionary and write down the definition of Unmanageable.

5. Write down what Unmanageability means to you.

6. Write down in detail 3 different examples of how your life during your time of acting out has become unmanageable.

7. What pain or fear do you associate with stopping this destructive behaviour?

8. What pleasure do you get from your destructive behaviour?

9. What will it cost you if you do not stop acting out?

10. What are the benefits you could gain by stopping the destructive behaviour?

11. How has your destructive behaviour placed your important relationships in jeopardy?

12. Have you lost self-respect and/or reputation due to your behaviour, if yes how?

13. Has acting out made your home life unhappy, if yes how?

14. Has your behaviour caused any type of illness, if yes what?

15. Do you turn to the type of people that enable you to act out?

16. What aspects of your behaviour do your loved ones, friends, family or business associates object to the most?

17. What type of abuse has happened to you and/or others due to your destructive behaviour?

18. List examples of what you have done in the past to fix, control or change your acting out?

19. If this issue is such an important area in your life that needs to be changed, why haven’t you changed?

20. Are you now willing to do whatever it takes to have your acting out and life changed, healed, or transformed?

21. If your answer to number 20 is YES write down (not type) and say aloud the following: “I admit I am powerless over my destructive behaviour, that my life has become unmanageable. I cannot, with my unaided will and present understanding, manage my acting out.”


Please share some of your answers to these questions with the community in the comments section below.

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