The Twelve Steps of Eating Disorders Anonymous
1. We admitted we were powerless over our eating disorders—that our lives had become unmanageable. We finally had to admit that what we were doing wasn’t working.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We started to believe that we could get better, and that there was a fundamental healing power upon which we could rely for recovery.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God. We decided to trust that, as we let go of rigidity, we would not fall. As we took (and continue to take) careful risks, our trust grew—in God, in ourselves, and in others.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. We looked at why we had gotten stuck, so we would be less likely to get stuck again. We looked at our fears and why we were afraid, our lies and why we had told them, our shame and guilt and why we had them. (This Step is the searchlight that reveals the blockages in our connection to God.)
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. We shared our shortcomings. We held ourselves accountable to others for our past thoughts and actions, and discussed what we ought to have thought and done instead. This established our authority as responsible people; we began to feel like we belonged to the human race. (This Step is the bulldozer that clears the blockages in our connection to God.)
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. We began to accept ourselves as we really were and take responsibility for our actions. We realized we couldn’t “fix” ourselves. We had to be patient and focus on our efforts instead of results. We realized that the results were not ours to control.
7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings. We asked God to help us accept our imperfect efforts. We made a conscious effort to take care of our own basic needs, so we could be of better service to God and those around us. Character-building exercises helped us build strength from weakness. We began to notice what we were doing right. As we did so, the “right” things began to increase.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. We made a list of people we had treated badly, no matter how they treated us. We accepted responsibility for our part and made an effort to forgive them for their part.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. After counsel with a sponsor, or an EDA (or other Twelve-Step group member who has worked the Twelve Steps), we went to the people we had injured and admitted our fault and regret. Our statements were simple, sincere, and without blame. We set right the wrongs as best we could and expected nothing in return. Accountability set us free.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. We continued (and continue) to listen to our conscience. When troubled, we get honest, make amends, and change our thinking or behavior. We continue to notice what we do right, and we are grateful when engaged in right thinking and positive action.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out. We earnestly and consciously seek to understand and to do whatever will best serve our God or higher purpose every day. When we take care of our basic needs and place ourselves in service to our Higher Power or higher purpose, we gain the peace and perspective needed for recovery.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening3 as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others with eating disorders, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. If we have been patient and persistent in working these Steps, we have experienced a transformation that enables us to live at peace with ourselves and the world around us. We consciously bring our new way of thinking into everything we do, for it is a pattern for living that works in all contexts. We readily share our experience, strength, and hope with those who suffer with eating disorders as we once did, glad that even our worst experiences can now serve some good purpose. Carrying the message of recovery reinforces gratitude, solidifies new habits of thought and action, and fills us with purpose and joy.