In this episode of AA Beyond Belief the Podcast, we meet Serge Prengel, author of The Proactive Twelve Steps for Mindful Recovery. Serge is a therapist and life coach with a practice in New York City who became interested in the 12 Steps as a process for change and personal growth.
His website proactive12steps.com features a new beta version of the 4th edition of the Proactive 12 Steps, a free pdf download of the 3rd edition, and an online workbook with videos and commentary. Serge encourages visitors to the site to share their comments on each of the specific 12 Steps. The videos are particularly well-done and help to further one’s understanding of the Proactive 12 Steps.
The Proactive Twelve Steps for Mindful Recovery provides a completely secular and practical interpretation of the 12 Steps, using clear language devoid of the spiritual terminology that is usually found in recovery literature.
As a person who is familiar with the 12 Steps through my experience in AA, I found this presentation of the process to be refreshing, interesting and inspiring. Anyone would benefit from this book regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs or lack of belief.
Serge isn’t part of the recovery community, but he believes the 12 Steps are an effective process for effecting change in human beings. He wrote the book to help anyone interested in making a change in their life whether they are recovering from an addiction or not.
What are the Proactive 12 Steps?
Serge urges readers to “see the Proactive 12 Steps as a process of self-exploration, and to use these steps to develop the ability to bring a mindful quality to one’s life.” Serge believes that mindfulness isn’t mystical and doesn’t require a great deal of effort. Mindfulness is simply the opposite of mindlessness.
In this book, Serge does an incredible job of simplifying and demystifying the process, which I think would be helpful for someone who is approaching the 12 Steps for the first time. The presentation is so compelling that even someone with years of familiarity with the 12 Steps will also benefit from reading this book.
As an atheist, I’ve learned to adapt the original 12 Steps by focusing on the action of the steps while deemphasizing the importance of belief, but The Proactive 12 Steps for Mindful Recovery helped me think about the process of the 12 Steps in an entirely new way.
Instead of purchasing the book, Serge suggests you download the free pdf version,which looks great on a tablet. I ordered the paperback version and after reading it, I realized that this is a terrific resource. I will order several more copies as an option for my home group to read from for Step discussion meetings.
The Proactive 12 Steps (4th edition beta):
- There is a big split between who I want to be, and what I do. I am stuck in what I do.
- To heal the split, I need to step out of the vicious cycle I am in, and get into a “virtuous cycle”.
- I resolve to be more mindful of how I relate to people and situations. Pausing is how I do this, moment by moment.
- I look at my life systematically to see patterns in how I have been relating to people and situations.
- I dig deeper into these patterns. I take the time to understand the emotional logic that is behind them.
- I see how these patterns have been ways of dealing with my fears. I see the possibility of facing my fears more effectively.
- Moment by moment, I notice how vulnerable it feels to be mindful in difficult situations, and learn to accept the vulnerability.
- I stop blaming and feeling blamed, with a willingness to heal the wounds.
- I swallow my pride, and sincerely apologize to people I have hurt, except when this would be counterproductive.
- I live mindfully, paying attention to the motives and effects of my actions.
- I stay in touch with a broader sense of who I really am, and a deeper sense of what I really want.
- A growing sense of wholeness and contentment motivates me to keep at it, and to share this process with others who are feeling stuck.