How 12 Step Slogans Work

How 12 Step Slogans Work

You've probably heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, the daddy of all 12 step programs. It started in 1935 by two alcoholics desperate to find lasting sobriety. Years later, the program has multiplied into several programs helping millions recover from other addictions and harmful behaviors. 

12 step slogans are little sayings and acronyms that explain how the program works. Their purpose is to support sobriety and emotional health. Sayings like Easy Does It and One Day at A Time became the program's basic principles. In fact, these became so popular that even if you're not in recovery you've probably heard of them.

How Does 12 Step Recovery Work?

The slogans are an intricate part of the program's success. A member's recovery includes:

  • Working the 12 steps to heal the wreckage of the past
  • Following the 12 traditions to the keep the meetings safe
  • Using 12 step slogans to keep your attitudes in check
  • Working with a sponsor that guides you through the program
  • Doing service at meetings in order to work with others and give back

The History of 12 Step Slogans 

The slogans were created when some of the original members got into a heated discussion about using the word GOD. Someone suggested that they "Keep it simple" by adding little sayings to make the program easier to understand. It worked!

The slogans interrupt negative or fearful thoughts that lead to relapse. So when a crisis hits or you want to use again, the slogans serve as a reminder to stay in the moment and not get into fear. Because they're simple and easy to remember, the slogans grew in popularity.

How to Use the 12 Step Slogans

There are no rules in 12 step programs. A common slogan is "Take what you like and leave the rest" means that if you disagree with something, no big deal, it's not meant for you.

List of Popular 12 Step Slogans

  • One day at a time
  • This too shall pass
  • First things first
  • How important is it?
  • Keep it simple
  • Live and let live
  • Principles before personalities
  • Progress not perfection
  • Easy does it
  • Let go and let God
  • Act as if
  • Do the next right thing
  • More will be revealed 
  • Keep coming back
  • It works if you work it
  • Turn it over
  • Take what you like and leave the rest
  • Recovery is a journey not a destination
  • Think, think, think
  • Stick with the winners
  • Don't quit 5 minutes before the miracle

When Slogans Really Matter

Sometimes, a particular slogan might not mean much until something  bad happens. For instance, "This too shall pass" doesn't really matter when things are going well but when you lose your job this saying can be a real comfort. 

12 step slogans and acronyms help by: 

  • Giving comfort in times of stress
  • Encouraging a more positive perspective 
  • Changing negative self-talk
  • Keeping you focused on the present moment
  • Helping you mind your own business

12 Step Acronyms 

GOD - Good Orderly Direction

Keeps you focused on God's will verse trying to control it yourself

EGO - Edging God Out

Thinking that you know best and forgetting about your Higher Power

FEAR- False Evidence Appearing Real

What you fear rarely happens, so don't assume that it will

KISS - Keep It Simple Sweetie

Don't complicate things by making stuff up

HOPE - Hear Other People's Experiences

Hearing each other's experiences makes you feel less alone

FINE - Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional

Instead of pretending everything's "fine" you admit what's really going on

These sayings can be applied to a variety of situations which is why they are so helpful! Choose which ones speak to you for a quick pick me up!

A List of 12 Step Programs 

Have you ever wondered if 12 step programs could help you? Unfortunately, the misconceptions often prevent people from seeking help. Click here to read about what's true and what's myth 12 Step Myths.

12 step programs support people recovering from:

  • Substance abuse including alcohol, pills or other drugs
  • People pleasing, and other codependent behaviors
  • Compulsive behaviors like sex, overeating, and gambling
  • Relationship issues stemming from childhood abuse or neglect

Here's a list of 12 step recovery programs in Wikipedia. Some are worldwide and most are throughout the US. The great thing is that they are free! If you need support or can't afford professional help, this is a great option!

Carrying the Message

There is often an excitement in early recovery when the program starts to work. You feel supported for the first time in your life. So... you decide to share your excitement by trying to convince others to get into recovery.

Though you have good intentions, another slogan says "Recovery is for people who want it, not for those that need it." No one can be pushed into the program. Usually people have to hit a bottom emotionally or physically before being willing to go. That's just how it is, but you can be the example.

Each slogan offers a message of hope and encouragement.  It helps you focus on what's important and let go of what isn't. Next time, you get stressed, try one out! They work if you work it!

I’ve created a private resource library including 20 Ways to Detach When You Need A Break and 15 Steps to Setting Healthy Boundaries plus lots more relationship tips! 

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