Discovering What Having a Higher Power Means to You

One of the primary principles in the 12-step approach of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) community is the idea of having a higher power. What's interesting is that  one doesn’t have to believe in God necessarily, or even have any particular kind of God to participate in and receive the benefits of the 12-step model. For instance, surfers might see the ocean as their higher power, writers might see nature as their higher power, and younger adults might use love as their higher power. It seems that having a relationship with a power that is greater than oneself can facilitate accessing a kind of strength to get through challenging moments in life. In fact, some men and women in the AA community might even say that the spirituality of the 12-step model helps to build a defense against the disease of addiction.

Sometimes, you might begin attending 12-step meetings and hear about the benefits of having a higher power but not have one yourself. You might feel the desire inside to want to find some sort of spiritual essence that fills your definition of a higher power. Of course, you might not know what that is at first. Yet, you can begin to find that by perhaps including more spirituality into your life. And to do this, you don't have to necessarily attend church or practice meditation. You can try any of the following:

  • Being Grateful
  • Staying Present
  • Notice the Details Around You
  • Relax or Rest Deeply
  • Visualization
  • Have a Sense of Humor

The above suggestions are meant to cultivate spirituality in your life so that you can discover your own sense of higher power. As mentioned above, it can be a belief in God, such as one described in organized religions, or it can be something as simple as  nature. Nature can have various healing effects such as helping one get in touch with themselves, gain clarity, have insights, and experience a sense of calm and ease. Spending time near a river or at a calming beach can positively affect your emotional, psychological, and even physical health. At the same time, you might find that you don't have a need for spirituality at all. Many have gotten sober without prayer or meditation or any connection to a higher power.

However, there are also those who were once opposed to having a higher power and then found that through their addiction treatment spirituality became a significant part of their recovery. Recovery often includes discovering your relationship to spirituality. Whether you include a higher power or not, many recovering addicts find it helpful to have a source of inspiration and encouragement to help them through the challenging moments of life.

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