Working the Steps

“Working the Steps” is an integral part of the Nar-Anon 12 Step recovery program.  In its’ simplest form, it is a step-by-step guide to living a more fulfilling, authentic and spiritually oriented life.  Living with addiction left most of us alone, struggling and in desperate need of answers.  Our personalities changed to a level where we did not trust our thoughts, our words, our actions or reactions.  If we are honest, we find we have “lost ourselves” and our way in life’s journey.  We came to Nar-Anon for answers, even when we did not know the questions.  Some of the most powerful answers are found when we work the steps.

We enter the rooms of Nar-Anon because of our addicted loved ones and our unmanageable lives.  After some time in our Home Group, we may find ourselves “wanting more.”  We have learned a new language.  We are learning new ways to live.  Now, we want more joy, peace and serenity in our lives.  We are no longer willing to stand in the shadows as a backdrop to someone else’s life story.  We are giving ourselves permission to stand in the light, to direct our own life story and find our happy ever after.



Steps 1-3              Your relationship with your Higher Power                             Giving up

Steps 4-7              Your relationship with your inner self                                      Owning up

Steps 8-9              Your relationship with others                                                     Making up

Steps 10-12         Maintaining all these relationships                                 Growing up / Showing up



  1. We admitted we were powerless over the addict – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood

The steps progress in a necessary order for our personal growth.  Steps 1-3 introduce many new concepts with completely different ways to think.  For instance, changing the way you interact from a position of control, to a position of surrender.  Learning to rely not on your self-will, but on your Higher Power’s will for you.  Moving from believing you can affect change in your addict, to accepting that you are powerless over another person’s choices.  These are big lessons that require time to internalize, come to grips with and eventually accept.


  1. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  2. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  3. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  4. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 4 is a challenging step.  It asks us to list our positive and negative traits.  It is not uncommon for people engaged in step study to drop out at Step 4, for a number of reasons, primarily centered on fear.  Addressing those fears openly and honestly reinforces that we are not alone in facing our inner selves, including our human defects.  As always, members share what they choose to share and this step is no different from our regular meetings.  Having Step 4 written down gives you a tool to work with in the future, as your thought processes and behaviors change, your characteristics and defects will follow suit.

Step 5 is about sharing your inner secrets and step 6 leads us from Owning up to Making up through forgiveness.  Step 7 prepares you for making amends by introducing the concepts of willingness and humility.

We want to change our relationships, with ourselves and with other people.  Change calls for hard work and we encourage each other to be gentle with ourselves and each other.  We are all struggling as hurt people.  With our Higher Power’s help, we humbly and deeply realize we want the healing and restoration from this program.  We work for Progress, Not Perfection!  If we want the cycle of hurt to stop, it has to begin with us – “let it begin with me.”


  1. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  2. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

We focus on amends first and foremost to ourselves.  It is time to stop punishing ourselves. Then we focus on those we have harmed and to whom we owe amends.  As we start anew, we can focus on “living” amends.

STEPS 10-12

  1. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  2. 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.
  3. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Steps 10-12 are often called the “maintenance steps.”  We are finally ready to start growing up within the program.  We take responsibility for our own lives, keep close our relationship with our Higher Power, practice self- care and living in awareness.  During Step 12 we encourage an outreach project as a way to “carry the message to others” by sharing our experience, strength and hope.



Working the steps is a “seeking” process.  We seek a spiritual power greater than ourselves for wisdom and guidance.  We seek the experience, strength and hope from others that have walked this path before.  We revisit the steps over and over.  When chaos reigns and we have lost our way, we know we can never fall below step 1 again.  Powerlessness is where we begin and where we return to time after time.