A Twelve Step self-help program for Co-Dependents
Click on a Step below to see the readings and exercises for that Step.
CoDependents Anonymous (CoDA) in New York City
This web site has been provided by NYC CoDA Intergroup
Working the 12 Steps of CoDependents Anonymous (CoDA)
© 2005 NYC CoDA Intergroup. All rights reserved.
The CoDA 12 Steps and 12 Promises are © Co-Dependents Anonymous, Inc.
The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions have been reprinted and adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt this material does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the content of this publication, nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. AA is a program of recovery from alcoholism only – use of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in connection with programs and activities which are patterned after AA, but which address other problems, does not imply otherwise.
Co-Dependents Anonymous Step 12:
“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other co-dependents, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
Co-Dependents Anonymous Promise 12:
“I gradually experience serenity, strength, and spiritual growth in my daily life.”
CoDA Blue Book pp. 74-81. Also see Chapter 4, “Service to Others,” pp. 83-93.
12 Step Handbook: Step 12 Chapter, pages 57-62.
“CoDA 12 Steps & 12 Traditions Workbook – Steps 10,11,12” : Step 12 is pages 18-19.
CoDA Booklet: “Carrying the Message: Living the Twelfth Step”
Sponsorship and the 12th Step
A “Sponsor” is someone who has worked through the Steps and can be a resource for others on their recovery journey.
Being a Sponsor can be an excellent way to “carry the message” and “practice these principles” as the 12th Step suggests. There are 2 pieces of CoDA literature on sponsorship available through Intergroup (also available at some meetings). Some people prefer a “co-sponsor” relationship; co-sponsors sponsor each other and work the Steps together. Whether being a sponsor or co-sponsor, there are many learning opportunities, chances to “practice these principles.” It helps to negotiate your boundaries: how often do you want to talk, when is okay to call, etc. Practice listening and empathizing without trying to fix or give advice. Consider using a time limit. Practice healthy detachment. And remember, you decide what (and who) works for you.
These exercises can help you work the 12th Step. Keep the task manageable; set safe boundaries for yourself. Consider “book-ending” with your Step work (i.e. telling someone, or your meeting, that you plan to do something, then telling them afterwards that you did it; this can help you show up for yourself). Finally, be gentle, and remember that reading and writing about a Step are important parts of working the Steps.
1. Without editing or over-analyzing, write about “what the 12th Step means to me.” Include in this what a “spiritual awakening” means to you, and how working the Steps has led to that awakening.
2. Review the questions on page 19 of the “CoDA 12 Steps & 12 Traditions Workbook – Steps 10,11,12”. Use any that feel right.
3. List different ways of “carrying the message” to other codependents. Now mark any that appeal to you. How does “carrying the message” connect to spirituality? How does it connect to the idea of “attraction rather than promotion”?
4. As a newcomer to CoDA, what inspired you most? What kept you coming back? How was the message “carried” to you?
5. Exercise – List several occasions where you “carried the message” just by living your recovery. Perhaps when you qualified, or behaved in a new way. Now list times when you tried to carry the message by giving advice, caretaking, or controlling? Use recent examples. How does each one feel?
6. How can you avoid “carrying the message” in codependent ways, focused on others’ reactions? How can you move into healthy ways of relating, moving toward inter-dependence? Can you know without trying? Can you grow without risking “mistakes”?
7. What does it mean to “practice these principles in all our affairs”? Are there areas of your life where you’d like to use the Steps? (e.g. at work, around money or food issues, with people who you find challenging, etc.) Are there areas where you’d like to avoid using the Steps, continuing to do it “your way”? Write about that. What feelings come up?
8. Exercise – pick some problem or dilemma in your life, big or small. (You may want to start with small things.) How could “practicing these principles” help you with this? Is there a specific Step or Steps that could help? Write about that. Then try it.
9. How are “carrying the message” and “practicing these principles” connected to doing service work in CoDA? What is the point of doing service? Who are you serving? Do you have a “selfish” reason for doing your service, so that you’ll be happy doing it, even if no one else joins you or acknowledges you? Write about your feelings and attitudes toward service, and how they might have changed over time.
10. List some healthy ways you can carry the message through service, things that you want to do and that will help your recovery. (For reference, see the CoDA book pp. 87-88 and the CoDA booklet “Carrying the Message: Living the Twelfth Step.”)
11. What is your attitude toward service work in CoDA? Do you avoid it because you are “not ready yet” or “still too codependent”? Do you do always volunteer for service work because “if I don’t do it, no one will”? How could you use service to work through your issues, e.g. letting go of perfectionism and/or resentments, trusting others, delegating… Can you enter service work with a spiritual attitude, willing to learn and grow? Is CoDA a safe place for you to practice the new principles you’re learning, rather than just thinking about them?
12. What is your motivation for doing service? Is it offered freely, or do you expect something in return? Do you tend toward control or compliance? Do you always volunteer for service and want things to go your way because you “know best,” or do you allow others to do the work, passively giving all your power away, because you “know nothing”? How do the Steps and Traditions guide you in finding another way? Are there service opportunities, no matter how small, that could help you practice “healthy and loving relationships”?
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For more CoDA info, go to www.codependentsnyc.org or call 646-289-9954
For more information on the program of CoDependents Anonymous, visit the CoDA World Fellowship web site at www.coda.org