Step 1: Raising The White Flag


Step 1: Accept where you are.

In the 12 Step program, we ask God to give us a clear understanding of our current situation and of our past. We chose: reality or denial. We can choose denial. Many do. They cannot surrender their control and their pain to God, admitting that life without His power doesn’t work.

Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. ~ AA p 50.

But if we’re in enough pain, we start to look at the impossibility of controlling things and people in our lives. When we find ourselves face down and defeated, we are ready to give up. It seems everywhere we look, there are people who are out of control, things that don’t work, situations that will never have a happy ending and we can no longer hold it all together. The painful puddle that is our heart gives up. We raise the white flag.

All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals—usually brief– were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. ~ AA p 30.

When I first quit drinking, I had a friend in AA that would wish ‘pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization’ on his drinking buddies. I was shocked at first. It was later when I had been in the program long enough to see that no one raises the white flag without hitting bottom, that I understood his words. He was hoping that his buddies would give up the insanity of drinking and find the 12 Steps to living sanely.

Step 1 is difficult. Giving up goes against all our natural instinct for control.What are you trying to control? Is it making your life feel unmanageable?

Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over our ourselves – that our lives had become unmanageable ~ AA p 59

We are powerless over people: our friends, our co-workers, our families, and our neighbors. People are unique and they don’t like change. There is little we can ever do to make them change. Acceptance is the key to relating well to others.

We are powerless over things: cell phones, internet service, computers, homes, and cars. Those things we purchase for convenience causes us stress from time to time. Things break, malfunction and go bad despite all the care we take in making informed decisions. We are powerless over them and cannot avoid paying to keep them functioning.

We are also initially powerless over belief systems that we have adopted. They can ruin our lives, if not examined. They present themselves in thoughts that begin with I should. (ex: I should keep things calm and never be upset. I should be able to do anything that my family wants me to do. I should be able to take my Mother into our home and be her caretaker.)

To make this applicable, complete this exercise.

I am powerless over these people:
I am powerless over these things:
I am powerless over these beliefs:

Congratulations! You have started Step 1.