“Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery.”

~Bill W.


12 Steps for Normies


Who hasn’t been to a meeting somewhere along the way where someone says, “If everyone would work The Steps at least once in their life, the world would be a better place.”

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a group of Normies about the 12 Steps. The phrase “12-Step Program” is so ingrained in our culture now, but beyond the phrase itself, therein lies a mystery. Many people don’t realize that there really are 12 Steps and that they are a step-by-step process for self-awareness, self-discovery, and self-improvement. Many may not know that each step is affiliated with a universal principle.

Normie people don’t have to be uncomfortable around people in recovery, but they sometimes are. Based on the anonymity factor, many Normies may not even realize they’re with one of us. But they may well sense they’re in good company if they do find themselves with someone actively, consciously, and successfully working a program.

So I got to explain that “working the steps” is a beautiful process of unfolding and evolving, usually with a sponsor or step guide over a period of many months, even a year or more.

And statistically as the odds are that most everyone knows someone who is, will be, or let’s face it should be in a 12 step program, it’s good to have an overview. So I broke it down into 4 groups of 3:

Wake Up. Open Up. Clear Up. Show Up.

Wake up – 1 – 3: This is when you first have the cold hard realization that there is a problem here. That dark night of the soul when it becomes crystal clear that what we’re dealing with is beyond our human capability to handle – our most willful willpower and wishing, or punishment and pleading from others has not worked. We open to the concept of a Higher Power – and many are relieved to know it’s not about religion necessarily. Could be nature, music … We get to define and develop this concept so we can begin to cultivate our relationship to the Infinite, to God as we understand It. We’re encouraged to deepen this relationship throughout our life.

Open up – 4 – 6: This one is where some bolt for the door. It requires some deep soul searching and honesty with yourself and another. It’s referred to as Taking Personal Inventory – it’s a look at “what’s my part in this?” Instead of always blaming our parents, our spouse, our kids, our boss, the economy, the politics and things “out there” – maybe we need to look in the mirror too. And then we start to see some patterns in play, some of which are very deep seeded. We actually begin to let the walls down and talk about this to our sponsor and get it out. We write things down on paper and we get help putting things in perspective. We are amazed to find it’s quite a release and a cleansing, empowering experience.

Clear up – 7 – 9: In a move so boldly life changing and one which seemed impossible up until our recently attained level of evolution, we “make amends” to people in our lives… face to face if possible we acknowledge our mistakes and missteps. And though we cannot change the past, we accept it and know we would not act the same way if faced with the same circumstances today. It’s a humbling process but again, empowering. It can be very emotional and beautiful. And if it’s not, it’s ok too because we have built a foundation of inner strength, trusted community, and Higher Power wisdom and we’re OK. We can only keep our side of the street clean – we cannot control how other react. What a friggin’ relief.

Show Up – 10 – 12: These are the steps that keep us going – a chance to live a happy joyous and free life. We reflect daily about whether we need to make an amends or clear something up. If so, then we do it right away. We stay engaged and in conscious contact with our Higher Power through “prayer and meditation,” or mindfulness and awareness of some kind. And we practice these principles in all of our affairs, in service to others.

So simple. So profound.



In gratitude, harmony, and support,



12 Steps for Normies

5 thoughts on “12 Steps for Normies

  • October 24, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    That is a great breakdown. I find it understanding and through. Thank you.

  • October 27, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    You did a great job with that speech. It was given in a way that made it easy for everyone to understand the Steps. Rockstar!!

  • August 28, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    As a “normie”, I really wish there was a 12 Step Program and a Sponsor out there for me to work with because, I do agree, that everyone should work The Steps at least once in their lives. I would really like to do that for myself.

    • August 28, 2019 at 8:44 pm

      That’s an interesting concept – I’m sure there are life coaches or therapists that use the model to help their clients… (free tip to coaches or therapists – the principles are timeless and boundless…) with the key I think being the part about “What is my part in this?” to soften the blame, victim energy of life’s experiences… well that is one key – and so much more…..

      • January 29, 2020 at 11:57 am


        You sure hit that nail on the head. Maybe this is more like a homer that hasn’t landed yet…

        Keep up the good work,

        John B.


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