quick post on the “12 Steps”

The 12 Steps, like anything else outside ourselves, including alcohol, food, etc. are just a tool that can be used in a productive way or misused. I have seen my patients who are open to receiving the wisdom from them have breakthgoughs in their recovery and really feel they have a community of equals who are supportive. 

One quote I always remember and use with lots of things is, “take what you like and leave the rest, in other word, if you like going to the meetings and listening to others but you don’t like all the steps, you can still benefit from meeting.

The big stumbling block for a lot of people is the whole “god/higher power”. I think the concept of a higher power was developped to help people with alcohol addiction to understand that there might exist a power outside themselves that could be more powerful than the most powerful thing in their life — their drink of choice-. It is about surrendering. Anyway your higher power could be the pizza parlor down the street or your own desire to heal and stop self destructive behavior. Basically we all have limited power in our lives, which we observe and learn everyday. (Life is what happens when you’re making other plans. John Lennon)

I found this great version of the twelve steps that doesn’t mention god or even a higher power and uses the journal, and thought it was worth sharing:

The Twelve Step Journal

 

These are the 12 steps as outlined in the book The Twelve Step Journal, by Claudette Wassil-Grimm, M.Ed..

  1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction/compulsion – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that, like all human beings, our power was limited and we needed to learn to let go and learn from others.
  3. We made a decision to let go of control, assume a spirit of goodwill, seek the wisdom of responsible others, and discover our true “voice within”.
  4. We made a searching and fearless inventory of our strengths and weaknesses.
  5. We admitted to our journal, ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to listen to wise counsel and seek that still small voice within to guide us to change our behaviors which have been harmful to ourselves and others.
  7. Humbly began the process of deep change so we could overcome our weakness.
  8. Made a list of all persons we have harmed, became willing to make amends to them all, and to forgive those against whom we have held grudges.
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so whould injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Through meditation and journaling we continually seek to clarify and improve our own judgment and to consider the best direction and purpose our lives can take.
  12. Having developed deeper wisdom and an appreciation of the spiritual as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
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Great Website: The Broken Light Collective

I don’t know if I’ve talked about them before on my blog, but I’ve been very excited about the “Broken Light Collective” blog website and what they are doing for people affected by mental illness, and in addition as an added bonus, as a way to educate the public about mental illness. This is a really impressive endeavor as it is much more than a blog. It is very moving and somehow allows people to be vulnerable and feel safe as well as able to express their own unique voice…

This is a WordPress blog started by people who wanted to post daily photos by people with mental illness. I’m not sure what got them focused on photography as the medium of choice, but it works extremely well on the internet, and nowadays with phone cameras etc., non professionals can express themselves skillfully through the art of photography and manipulating photos to create an image. There are so many options: just a snapshot caught at the right moment, a photo reworked in Photoshop to heighten it in some way, even photo collages… The only thing any of the photos all have in common is a search for the Truth about Life, as experienced by the photographer/individual.

Broken LIght Collective is a beautiful name for this simple idea. Follow the blog. and every day you will see a new image, completely unique, made by someone struggling with a mental illness or less often, someone very affected in his/her life by a loved one’s struggles with mental illness, and of course, many people fit both of these descriptions. If you are interested in studying mental illness, this is a great blog to follow to learn from the people who are struggling with it every day of their lives. They have a lot of wisdom and battle scars, not to mention the courage of putting themselves out there and showing a part of themselves through their photography.

This is to me, in a sense, art therapy at its best — a form of community art therapy or photo therapy or whatever you feel like calling it. It is an example of healing through creativity and sharing, which I think is a very important component of this original and thoughtful and sensitive blog/website. I believe strongly that creative acts and sharing of one’s creations coupled together promote the most healing as connecting with others who are sensitive to one’s struggles and/or struggling with similar issues is most healing of all. This is not to elevate or promote the idea of connecting as being social. This website is great for people with “social anxiety” which I am starting to doubt is a real “Disorder”. Anyway it is a great form of therapy through community combined with individuality, something very rare to find in the “physical world out there” in our daily lives, but perfect for the internet. In the case of the “Broken Light Collective”, the therapeutic healing aspect of this endeavor is accomplished through as a supportive community which gets formed through the people’s efforts, much like the AA model, however without any philosophy or approach to recovery. Just an interest in telling people’s stories through words and pictures. Thus the strong community of sensitive people does not require a therapist to be present, although some of the interesting “profiles” are of psychotherapists and healers of one kind or another sharing their own struggles with mental illness.

So please go check out the blog and follow it!

Inspired by the Broken Light Collective, I would like to do something similar with art in all other media excluding photography and post a picture a day of art work with the person’s story. I’m thinking of calling it the Shadow Brush Group and would model it on the philosophy of Broken Light. It would just be a place where people instead of sharing photos, share photos of paintings, drawings, mixed media, sculpture, crafts, fiber arts, environmental art, even short poems.

Note: For the Broken Light Collective people can choose to post on there with their real names and also are able to post with a pseudonym to keep their privacy… There is no judgment either way, just an invitation.