While the fundamentals of the Sixteen Principles I present in this book have their origins in the AA/Al-Anon 12-step model, they are unique. I have developed this Sixteen-Step philosophy from my own experiences—my own life lessons. And please believe me when I say, my life lessons have been harsh and debilitating, often soul-destroying and even at times almost fatal. That’s not drama. That is fact. I have learned the hard way that our negative thoughts and behaviours will repeat themselves again and again throughout our lives if they are not challenged and changed. Holding onto negative energy is like renting headspace to a terrorist.
By welcoming these Sixteen Principles into your life, you will open a ‘pipeline’ to the unlimited positive power that resides within you. Simply by turning on the switch to any one Principle, you will release the power of that Principle. That power lies dormant until you connect yourself to the source, just as a lamp will not shine its light until someone turns it on.
Following these Principles will teach you not to waste energy crashing blindly through the obstacles that confront you. Principles show you how to accept those obstacles and learn what is truly important. You will acquire the ability to develop a vision for your life.
Understanding and practicing the Principles of thought and behaviour set out in Sixteen Steps has been for me a physical, mental and emotional transformation. By integrating these Sixteen Steps into my daily affairs, one step, one day at a time, I gradually replaced my negative thoughts and compulsive behaviours and cleared my path to a gentler, kinder way of living. It has changed my life.
More importantly, though, Sixteen Steps is a book that can change YOUR life.
You will come to understand what motivates your own thoughts and actions. Over time, you will be able to replace obsessive thinking about yesterday or tomorrow with living in the moment. Today. By practicing and learning to live these Sixteen Principles each day, you will become comfortable in your own skin and you will learn how to like—and love— yourself. Just as I did.
This study of Principles provides the infrastructure to develop a vision for yourself; a vision that includes a plan and goals to enable your full participation in your own life. It makes good practical sense to have a plan. Your vision and goals will continually change and evolve while practicing these Principles, and because you work the plan yourself and lead the way, you are managing your own life.
Take ‘one step at a time’ for the best results. Begin with the first step and work your way through all Sixteen Steps in succession. A thousand-mile journey begins with the first step. Keep in mind: never hurry, never worry. Take as much time as you feel necessary to work through each step of this book. Don’t compare yourself or your progress with others. Comparisons always mean that someone will lose, and that benefits no one.
Take what you like from this book and leave the rest. Don’t get stuck on any one Principle, or any one point of instruction. There is little to gain in doing this. It isn’t necessary to completely understand, embrace or love every aspect of every Principle. Moving forward promotes your growth and frees you to revisit any part of the book whenever you choose.
No one Principle on its own will produce a happy, joyous and free life. Each Principle, although meaningful in itself, is inextricably linked to all the others. Gradually these Principles will illuminate the source of your pain and suffering, and will eventually lead you toward solutions.
These Principles work as most anything in life. Just as you receive a university degree when all the appropriate studies and exams are completed, so will you achieve a sound foundation for a happy, joyous and free life when you’ve worked through these Principles.
In the beginning, it takes time to understand and believe in the power of these Principles. However, you will come to realize slowly that pain and suffering and unsettled conflicts can be resolved. Remaining stuck in negativity simply expands the pain, suffering and conflicts. Principles offer you a path to believing you will find your way, revealing the dreams and solutions you intuitively understand have always existed, deep inside yourself. It is inevitable that you will at times be overwhelmed while making your way along this Principles journey. Remember you are not alone with such feelings. Everyone travelling this path experiences such temporary discouraging emotions. Certainly I did!
When you focus on any one of these Sixteen Principles, your thinking switches from the problem to the solution, allowing you to tap into possibilities for positive change. It is the ‘solutions mode’ and not ‘problems mode’ that will allow you to embrace the concepts of Acceptance, Hope, Belief, Honesty, Humility and all of the other Principles. Think problem and you remain stuck in the problem; think Principles and you always discover solutions.
Keep mindful of how you will benefit from actually trusting the Principles-solution concept. Turning your thinking over to Principles is a ‘letting go’ process. It is letting go of anxiety, worry and doubt. It is letting go of self-will and chaos. It is letting go of judging, analyzing and criticizing. Principles allow you to focus on and examine these emotions and behaviours to discover what is keeping you stuck in these many forms of negativity. You accomplish this by working through, at your own pace, each of the Principles and using them as building blocks to construct your new joyous and peaceful reality.
Sixteen Steps is organized in such a way that it allows for maximum understanding and benefit. Each of the Sixteen Principles has its own chapter that is divided into FOUR segments.
- The first segment is a general discussion of the Principal, setting forth what it means and why it is important. The second segment is more or less autobiographical, revealing to the reader my own personal experiences, the lessons I have learned and how this Principle has influenced my thinking and made positive changes in my own life.
- The third segment of each chapter then sets forth how each Principle can work in YOUR life.
- The fourth segment, which is at the end of each chapter, is a Workbook Session that deals with the practical application (personal inventories, exercises, notes, etc.) for that chapter’s Principle. As you make your way through the Workbook Sessions, it is important that you DO NOT cast any blame upon yourself or anyone else for the circumstances of your life. Remember the personal searching inventories are not about perfection; they are simply fact-finding missions, for your eyes only, should you choose that.
I strongly suggest that, in addition to completing the Workbook Sessions, you maintain a daily written journal in which you record your thoughts, reflections, questions and progress.