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Step #2 “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”


By asking this infamous question that Dr Phil McGraw is known for, anyone who has ever struggled with mental health issues, addiction, or dysfunction can quickly and clearly understand the purpose behind the 2nd of the 12 Steps. This step comes after an admission of powerlessness, a recognition of unmanageability, and the gift of desperation that opens the doors to a new life of recovery. At times, the door is cracked open only enough to let a glimmer of light in, while other times, it is barged into, allowing the promise of hope that is within reach to be grasped. Those who boldly cross this threshold, do so with a realization: the sanity and serenity that was oncepresent is gone, and only with the help of a greater power will it ever return. Stated in simpler terms: Recovery is not accomplished alone.

   A person who enters the rooms of a 12 Step recovery group may find the idea of acknowledging a “higher power” difficult, and therefore it becomes inconceivable that this “higher power” could save his sanity, and possibly his life. The “god of his understanding” has been judgmental, harsh, and rules with a heavy hand. This Step is

not asking for belief in this kind of a god. The 2nd Step only requires that a person puts faith in some being or entity that is loving, caring, and greater or more powerful than himself. For those struggling with the concept of God, it is suggested that the support group itself serve as the higher power, because the group can guide, support, and love, and it is a tangible example of hope and recovery. For those who have a healthy concept of God, leaning into His comfort, compassion, strength, and wisdom becomes a source of rest, as addiction, mental illness and multitude of hangups and problems are given to Him to resolve. Even with the best of intentions, a person can fail at attempts to get clean, or enter and stay in recovery, and thus never discover his best life. After much struggling and denial, it becomes apparent that SELF is not the answer. Releasing the tight grasp that is held on the current way of life, loosening the reigns on one’s OWN way, and being open to the guidance a higher power, as Step 2 suggests, promises to rescue a person from the control that addiction and destructive behaviors have had, and release him back to serenity.

   Resisting belief in a Higher Power is common in the beginning of recovery, and is also a clear example of how thinking can become distorted. According to Britannica Dictionary, anyone or thing that “can affect the nature and lives of the people” is a higher power. Life is filled with them; teachers, bosses, and elected officials are examples. For those in addiction, judges, police,and parole officers have often have had a significant effect on lives. The negative power thatdrugs, alcohol, and mental illness have on both the nature and quality of life of its victims is overwhelming. Why, then, can it be so difficult to believe that an unseen power, or God, can have a positive effect on life? Perhaps working Step 2 means admitting powerlessness over one’s own life. Possibly these other “higher powers” have interjected themselves into life without choice, and aren’t truly seen for the controlling factors they have been . To “come to believe” in a higher power requires a willingness to yield and surrender. Making a conscious choice to believe in a loving and higher power that has the ability to break addictions and restore sanity and serenity is what Step 2 is all about. Replacing the negative power that has controlled life for so long, with a positive “power greater that ourselves” can begin the journey of a life of hope and joy.


    To thoroughly obtain the “sanity” that is promised in Step 2, several things are requiredincluding humility, faith, and hope. The desire to ask a higher power for help is essential, as is the willingness to believe that help is available and that serenity could be possible. Letting go of control is an exercise in trust. What faith in a higher power does in return is amazing; burdens are lifted, and the blurred vision that has been a plague for so long disappears. Soundness of mind and the ability to make rational choices, clear thinking, stability, and balance slowly returns. Working the Steps of Recovery is not easy, not always linear, and often has hurdles along the way, but the rewards are countless.

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