12 Step Principles

The Principles of the 12 Steps are Spiritual Principles

What are these spiritual principles of the 12 Steps and where did they come from?

Over the years a list of the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps that correspond to each of the Twelve Steps has been printed in local area AA newsletters and on pocket cards. The origin of some of those lists are unknown.

The original list below was posted in a topic in the forum at Step12.com .

Principles of the 12 Steps

~ These were written by Bill Pittman, an AA Historian, 1947-2007

In recovery, we try to take the opposite of our character defects/shortcomings and turn them into principles. For example, we work to change fear into faith, hate into love, egoism into humility, anxiety and worry into serenity, complacency into action, denial into acceptance, jealousy into trust, fantasizing into reality, selfishness into service, resentment into forgiveness, judgmentalism into tolerance, despair into hope, self-hate into self-respect, and loneliness into fellowship. Through this work we learn to understand the principles of our program.

Such work may look like an overwhelming goal to an outsider, but those of us in AA know that our true goal is progress, not perfection.” As the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous tells us, we are not destined for sainthood and we should not be discouraged when we cannot “Maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. The point is that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles are guides to progress.

The Spiritual Principles of  The 12 Steps

(The 12 STEPS are printed on pages 59-60 of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous.)

STEP ONE PRINCIPLE: SURRENDER. (Capitulation to hopelessness.)

STEP 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol– that our lives had become unmanageable.

STEP TWO PRINCIPLE: HOPE. (Step 2 is the mirror image or opposite of step 1. In step 1 we admit that alcohol is our higher power, and that our lives are unmanageable. In step 2, we find a different Higher Power who we hope will bring about a return to sanity in management of our lives.)

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

STEP THREE PRINCIPLE: COMMITMENT. (The key word in step 3 is decision.)

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

STEP FOUR PRINCIPLE: HONESTY. (An inventory of self.)

STEP 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

STEP FIVE PRINCIPLE: TRUTH. (Candid confession to God and another human being.)

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

STEP SIX PRINCIPLE: WILLINGNESS. (Choosing to abandon defects of character.)

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

STEP SEVEN PRINCIPLE: HUMILITY. (Standing naked before God, with nothing to hide, and asking that our flaws in His eyes be removed.)

STEP 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

STEP EIGHT PRINCIPLE: REFLECTION. (Who have we harmed? Are we ready to amend?)

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

STEP NINE PRINCIPLE: AMENDMENT. (Making direct amends/restitution/correction, etc…)

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

STEP TEN PRINCIPLE: VIGILANCE. (Exercising self-discovery, honesty, abandonment, humility, reflection and amendment on a momentary, daily, and periodic basis.)

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

STEP ELEVEN PRINCIPLE: ATTUNEMENT. (Becoming as one with our Father.)

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 TWELVE PRINCIPLE: SERVICE. (Awakening into sober usefulness.)

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.


NOTE:  If you need help now and you are searching for help with an alcohol problem, addiction, or alcoholism — please go to www.step12.com