12 steps to self care

12-step programs, like spirituality, are a paradox. Giving up the ego and unconditionally helping others can often be the best self care there is.

3 minutes read time

Twelve-step programs promote self-care by encouraging individuals to cultivate a spiritual experience, which often involves seeking a higher power or connection to a greater purpose, and unconditional care for others, providing a source of inner strength and emotional well-being that supports healthier choices and self-care practices in addiction recovery.

Similarities with Stoicism

Twelve-step programs and Stoicism share similarities in their emphasis on personal responsibility, self-examination, and the pursuit of inner strength and virtue as the means to overcome challenges, whether related to addiction in twelve-step programs or life’s adversities in Stoicism. The serenity prayer asks for peace by accepting things that cannot be changed which has key similarities to the Stoic idea of living in accordance with nature.

What are the 12 steps to self care, peace and serenity?

The Twelve Steps are a set of guiding principles and spiritual actions that form the foundation of various Twelve-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and others. These programs are designed to help individuals recover from addiction and maintain sobriety. While the exact wording of the steps may vary slightly between different programs, the core principles generally remain the same.

What are the actual steps?

Here are the traditional Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


It’s important to note that while the Twelve Steps have a spiritual component, they are not tied to any specific religious belief. The concept of a “Higher Power” or “God as we understood Him” is meant to be broadly inclusive and adaptable to an individual’s personal spiritual or philosophical beliefs. Your idea of a higher power can be almost anything, such as a thought of the mountains, or an inspirational figure. These 12 steps to self care are a structured framework for self-examination, personal growth, and building a support network that can be highly effective in addiction recovery.

Are the 12 steps for everyone?

While twelve-step programs have helped countless individuals, it’s important to acknowledge that they may not be the right fit for everyone. People have diverse needs and preferences when it comes to addiction recovery. Some individuals may benefit from alternative approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, or holistic healing practices. The key is finding a recovery approach that resonates with the individual and supports their journey to sobriety and well-being.

Further reading

Twelve-step programs have been instrumental in helping many individuals overcome addiction and achieve lasting sobriety. These organisations have links to meetings and lots of further reading available on their websites: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).