Step Twelve

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps,
we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters
and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Leader's Share and Step Questions

A Spiritual Awakening – The Truths

Step Twelve starts with these truths (OA 12 & 12, pages 99-100) -- I said we would be on an adventure. These 14 truths are the rewards of taking the journey to recovery.

1. We who have worked the first eleven steps of the OA program have had a spiritual awakening, and now have a message of hope to carry to other compulsive overeaters.

2. We who once suffered from complete powerlessness to control our eating and our lives have now discovered the saving strength of a Power greater than ourselves.

3. We have experienced the miracles of physical, emotional, and spiritual healing, just as we were promised when we began these steps.

4. For most of us, the central factor in this spiritual awakening has been our decision to trust a Higher Power with every aspect of our lives.

5. In acting on that decision one day at a time we have learned a whole new set of skills for living.

6. Those skills enable us to clear from our lives everything which might interfere with our trust in this Higher Power.

7. We know we don’t have to fear anything that comes to us.

8. Even when things happen to us which we don’t like, we know we have a way of facing each situation squarely and sanely.

9. We have seen that our Higher Power will reveal something of value with every experience as long as we continue practicing this new way of life.

10. We’re no longer afraid of food, either, because we are no longer controlled by it.

11. The glorious fact for most of us is that God has lifted the food obsession from us.

12. Freed of the obsession and restored to sanity, today we choose not to eat self-destructively.

13. We have new ways of coping with our problems now and new practices which making living a positive, joyful experience most of the time.

14. If we should again crave more food than we need, we know we will find relief in the steps instead of in compulsive eating.

Are We Going to Graduate?

Are you thinking you have reached the end of our journey? Even if we have reached our weight or health goals, worked all of the steps, even if we have had long recovery and have given service – we still have not “arrived.” We just keep growing and Step Twelve invites us to continue our journey – one day at a time – for the rest of our lives. “We need to keep moving forward in recovery, keep developing our spiritual consciousness, if we are to remain spiritually awake and fully alive. (OA 12 & 12, page 100)

The important truth for most of us that is pointed out in Step Twelve is that we will be unable to keep the recovery we have unless we share our experience, strength and hope with others. Step Twelve also guides us toward one of the greatest joys of recovery when we share our program with other compulsive overeaters by giving service. I know that is how it is for me.

Here are simple actions of service that can help others that Step Twelve talks about:

Hugs at meetings. Phone calls
Words of encouragement
Invite friends to OA
Concentrate on our experience not selling OA
Have no expectations about the outcome
Sharing our experience, strength and hope

I am a great believer of what goes around comes around. The times I have had difficulty in my recovery my simple actions have come back with the same simple actions from others. It always gives me the heart to keep on. No matter how small, your service can mean a lot to someone who is struggling and suffering.

Step Principles

Step Twelve talks about the principles that we learn in doing the twelve steps; principles that we can practice in all our affairs for the rest of our life. With all the hard work you have done, you can claim these principles as your own. You have earned it and most certainly deserve it.

Step One – Honesty

We admitted we were powerless over food and our lives had become unmanageable. This practice in all of our affairs, on a daily basis, will assure our continued recovery because we have stopped trying to control our lives and others. We have found the truth – we cannot do it alone. Once I accepted this my life started to turn around.

Step Two – Hope

We came to believe that a Power greater to ourselves could restore us to sanity. When we take this hope into all of our life circumstances we know we are not alone and have a way to find strength when we need it. Hope was not in my vocabulary before abstinence, it was just a far away dream. Today it is real. I have hope. Hope is a great motivator. All of the OA promises are there to be reached if we have hope that comes from doing the work.

Step Three – Faith

We made a decision to trust God, as we Understand God, with our will and our lives. Everyday can be so much brighter if we seek guidance and strength from our HP. I am a believer that whatever definition you have of your Higher Power, the power that comes from letting Him/Her/It guide me is far greater than I could ever create on my own. My HP’s guidance gets me through each day and opens doors I could not even think of before. It just took a leap of faith.

Step Four & Five – Courage and Integrity

We faced the truth about our defects of character. This truth freed us from the fear of admitting our mistakes. We can hold our heads up high and show the world our true selves and our humanness. We live more fully with courage and integrity to face our mistakes and grow in strength in the challenges of life. With my compulsive overeating I was weak and lied – especially to myself. It is so true that the truth will set me free. It has and I know for certain that courage is not something only a few of us possess. It is something that once I understood I had a choice – the dignity of choice – it makes the courage to do the right thing so much simpler – maybe not easy – but simpler.

Step Six – Willingness

We learned to become willing to let go of our shortcomings. Each day’s experiences are teaching us the difference between self-will and a simple willingness to cooperate with the guidance of our HP. When I feel overwhelmed, I remember all I have to do is become willing. For me, to become willing is saying to my Higher Power that I do not know what to do and I am open to guidance.

Step Seven – Humility

We are beginning to understand the true meaning of humility. It is different than the humiliation we have felt in the past. Every day we humbly trust God can remove all of our shortcomings. With the faith that my Higher Power will remove my character defects, I sincerely promised my HP and myself to change. I am always good with my promises. It has been a miraculous healing and I found not only did I feel good about it for myself, I loved to hear about it happening others. I learned how joyful it is to know others are receiving miracles too!

Step Eight & Nine – Self-Discipline and Love

We looked at the damage we have done to others. Now, in our day to day lives we have learned to stop ourselves when old behaviors start to surface. We see this self-discipline with a different view – a view toward continued recovery – and freedom from compulsive overeating. In this frame of mind we find our acceptance and love of others and ourselves has begun to establish new and better relationships at home, school, work and all other areas of our lives. I cannot change my life’s history. I can, however, when I practice all these principles, open the door to a better future. At 67 years old, it feels REAL good to know I will live out the rest of my life with dignity, healthy pride and fulfillment.

Step Ten – Perseverance

We learned that our stubbornness had value when turned it into healthy perseverance. We repeat those things that have brought us recovery knowing that in repeating our daily practices it will give us continued recovery. Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I had a dream, for my whole life, I had a dream that I would learn the meaning of love and how to express it. Today, as I finish up this program, I know God has blessed me with not only knowing the meaning of love, but the skills to express it. I am glad I did not give up. I have been greatly rewarded for my perseverance.

Step Eleven – Spiritual Awareness

We turned our focus on developing an even better relationship with our Higher Power using prayer and meditation. Now we use this effort in all of our affairs by continuing to nurture our spiritual sensitivity. To me spiritual awareness has brought wholeness – wholeness of my physical, emotional and spiritual parts of me. I did not know when I came back to OA that I would ever be able to say that. It feels real good to use the word “wholeness.”

Step Twelve – Service

Service now guides us both inside and outside our program. Where we once tried to control people we have discovered a great truth when we continue to let go of that need to control and simply let our Higher Power serve others through us. This brings us daily joy and strength. OA gives us the 12 Traditions to help us with our journey in sharing with others.

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon OA unity.
2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
3. The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.
4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or OA as a whole.
5. Each group has but one primary purpose — to carry its message to the compulsive overeater who still suffers.
6. An OA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the OA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
7. Every OA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
8. Overeaters Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
9. OA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
10. Overeaters Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the OA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television and other public media of communication.
12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all these Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

I have been blessed with unbelievable opportunities for service at The Recovery Group. Others saw in me something I was not aware I had. I have stretched and grown and the response to my efforts have been more than heartwarming; it has been a healing miracle. That respect I so wanted my whole life has happened. I hope I give even a small measure of it back.
(OA 12 & 12, pages 103 -106 & the OA Traditions on pages 107 – 207)

Final Thoughts

Service has been a wonderful addition to my program. I enjoy the time I spend in service. It has replaced the emptiness, the boredom and the doubts. Sometimes I hear people say recovery and service is a lot of work. I just think that all the time I spend in service and on my program is probably less time than what I spent on feelings of failure, guilt and shame about overeating and practicing my obsessive character defects.

Step Twelve helps us to begin our journey of spiritual growth into a new world – a world where the steps provide us a map to guide us on our way. So, dear ones, I look forward to sharing this journey with you.


1. How do you know you have had a spiritual awakening?

2. Which principle or principles guide you best in your program? Explain

3. How does not having a strong abstinence affect your giving service or does it?

4. Is service by carrying the message saving people? Explain.

5. You will hear this phrase repeated many times when you talk to others who are in Program: "We are the message." What does that mean to you?

6. What kind of message do you think you carry right now? What kind of message would you like to carry in the future?

7. Is there still something that needs to be cleaned out of your closet? Please share about it.

8. Were you and are you honest with yourself and your sponsor about your feelings and behavior with what you're eating? If not, what has stopped you.

9. How are you going to celebrate finishing the steps?

Leader’s Share on the Questions

1. How do you know you have had a spiritual awakening?

There has been a sense of what I call “connection” that I did not feel before I developed a relationship with my Higher Power. I use it as a guide during my day. It tells me if I am into myself or open to my HP’s guidance. I do so much better when I seek that “connection” before I do anything.

2. Which principle or principles guide you best in your program? Explain

When I look at the various principles, I see that all of them are necessary for my recovery. However, the two that have brought the most healing to me is honesty and perseverance. Through all the messed up years of my life when truth stared me in the face I dealt with it honestly. Sometimes my denial and shortcomings caused me to hide from the truth, however, as I started to grow spiritually I knew my HP would put before me the truths I needed to understand and I would follow them. He rewarded me with a new measure of peace and wisdom. I suspect my HP knew those rewards would keep me coming back – and it did!!!

Those rewards helped me to persevere -- through severe depression, dealing with being molested and called a liar when I reported it, abusive husbands, self-loathing, poor relationship skills, obsessive character defects…and so much more. I persevered and now live a blessed life with my husband – the greatest man God could have given me – traveling around the US and Canada in our beautiful motorhome.

3. How does not having a strong abstinence affect you giving service or does it?

Before I was abstinent, I was a fraud. I gave advice that was meant to fix people so they could be there for me. Never worked. Plus, I am pretty sure I would not have recognized people being there for me if I even experienced it. I was into some unconscious rerun of my dysfunctional, abusive childhood. I was playing the role of savior. All it did was bring me more pain because it always ended up failing in one way or another.

I have come to understand that I could not truthfully explain how it felt to be healed and without the words that came from my heart they knew on some level I was shallow and living in the character defects. I never got the respect I was so desperately looking to find.

When I became abstinent, I started sharing from my heart. I was open and honest about possibility being wrong. I became even clearer I could not save anyone. Nor could anyone save me. I had to save myself. Abstinence and allowing myself to find the genuine Coralee was the only way I could save myself.

So, these days when I give service, you get all of me…the real me.

4. Is service by carrying the message saving people? Explain.

No, as I just shared I believe no one can save anyone else. It is only our GOMU that can do that. I credit my HP for “saving” me by leading to the people, places and things that would allow me to heal if I chose to do as I frequently say, “whatever it takes to recover.” When I would get puffed up about “saving” someone it was another character defect that got me on a temporary high. When I fell from that temporary high, I fell hard and was disappointed and disheartened. Today, I know I cannot do any more than share my experience, strength and hope that I worked so hard to find. People know when it comes from our heart and when it is an attempt to fix them.

5. You will hear this phrase repeated many times when you talk to others who are in Program: "We are the message." What does that mean to you?

You know the thought about “if you like what they have they are the ones we should seek out”? Being abstinent, finding freedom, joy and peace, knowing how the program works for us when we are willing to use it and sharing our experience, strength and hope are all the message, the real message. It is far more helpful than anything we could say in an attempt to help them. The message is living in recovery.

6. What kind of message do you think you carry right now? What kind of message would you like to carry in the future?

I carry the simple message that the OA program works if you work it honestly and the only agenda you have is your own recovery.

7. Is there still something that needs to be cleaned out of your closet? Please share about it.

I know I have missed developing many life skills by being in my character defects for so many years. I still have work to do better with my relationships. However, when I look back before abstinence and where I am today, I am light years ahead. That is real progress. And, that is what is my goal….progress.

8. Were you and are you honest with yourself and your sponsor about your feelings and behavior with what you're eating? If not, what has stopped you.

I had a difficult time sharing slips. When I got completely honest, even though it was emotional, my HP opened the door to my humanness. My denial and pressure to be perfect was the last of my personal dishonesty. Living in my humanness has turned out to be far healthier than trying to sustain that false idea I lived in perfection. Living in my humanness changed my life and gave me so much more compassion about all our humanness. I feel so much closer to others these days – wherever they are and whatever they struggle with. We are all in this together.

9. How are you going to celebrate finishing the steps?

Thanking all of you and my HP for my life and how it has all turned out.

Twelfth Step Prayer:

Dear God,
My spiritual awakening continues to unfold. The help I have received I shall pass on and give to others, both in and out of the fellowship. For this opportunity I am grateful. I pray most humbly to continue walking day by day on the road of spiritual progress. I pray for inner strength and wisdom to practice the principles of this way of life in all I do and say. I need You, my friends, and the Program every hour of every day. This is a better way to live.


Recovery is a journey, not a destination.
ODAT – One day at a time.
Practice an Attitude of Gratitude!
To keep it, you have to give it away.
A journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step.


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