What does it mean to “work” the steps?

The topic of our next episode, number 79, is What does it mean to “work” the steps? Please share your experience, strength, and hope about this question by sending email to feedback@therecoveryshow.com, by calling our voice mail number 734-707-8795, or by using the voicemail button at the right.

Here are some thought questions that you can use as prompts for your sharing:

  • When you first heard the phrase “work the steps”, what did you think it meant?
  • Have you worked the steps once? More than once?
    • If more than once, how did your understanding of “working the steps” change?
    • How did you work the steps? From a book? With a sponsor? As part of a group?
  • Some steps have clear actions in them (“took an inventory”, “made a list”), and some do not (“came to believe”, “became entirely ready”).
    • Would you say that some steps are “action steps” and some are not?
    • Or, do you believe that all the steps have actions in them?
  • If you are a sponsor, how do you guide your sponsees in working the steps?


1 comment on “What does it mean to “work” the steps?

  1. Fran says:

    I recently asked a woman if she would be my sponsor, to which she agreed. At our first meeting she explained how she conducts her meetings and how she works the Steps with her sponsees. She has been in Al Anon about 20 years and is still married to her alcholic husband.

    Among other things, she explained she does not take phone calls or texts from her sponsees between meetings with her. She feels a sponsee can work things out on their own and she isn’t a therapist. It sounded harsh, but I respected her boundaries and decided to give it a try.

    Three weeks later at our second meeting, she asked a couple of questions about my medical conditions and about some problems my husband and I are having in the community where we live.

    Without knowing much about me, or the details of either situation, she began to cross examine me with the sharp edge of an accomplished trial attorney (she is a court reporter and had just come from a deposition). For 30 minutes she grilled me, making judgmental and harsh statements. Among other things, she told me, “You have to be instigating these problems. … What in your history are you bringing which is causing these people to single you out? … Why are you the victim? … Do you think anyone would bully me? … I’m on my HOA Board, and your story doesn’t make any sense. … ”

    After she berated me for almost half an hour, she snapped using her officious and offensive tone of voice, “This isn’t going anywhere, let’s start reading.” I simply shook my head in utter disbelief, and gathered my wallet, phone, and what little self confidence I managed to hold on to, and left. As I walked away, she slammed out these words, “Good luck finding a sponsor”.

    In HOPE FOR TODAY, page 42, February 11 there is a wonderfully written account of one person’s experience with their sponsor. It is 180 out from my very limited and detrimental experience.

    Realizing Al Anon is a self-paced and member based program, I still find myself asking one question: “Where does one turn when another member does them harm?”

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