Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

Not buying into step 1 of the 12 steps

 No offense to anyone, but I don't don't think step 1 of the 12 steps is very self-serving. To say one is powerless over anything is already saying (at least in my mind) that you can't overcome it.  No one is powerless over their problem with procrastination, in my humble opinion.  I generally understand the rest of the steps and agree with most of them.  I guess what strikes me with step 1 is that it's saying we are powerless and only by a higher power can we overcome procrastination (or any other addiction).  What about the folks who don't believe in a higher power?  I am NOT an atheist, I am a believer of God. I'm just saying.  It just seems to me step 1 encourages learned helplessness-can't do anything about it UNLESS......  Does this make sense?   

a non-theist's experience of the Steps

I have no wish to argue with anyone on this subject and I hope I'm not making a mistake by speaking up, but in the spirit of the 12th Step I thought I'd relate a couple things I've learned through personal experience.

First, bonafides: I don't even call myself an atheist because that would imply feeling strongly enough about it to have a belief that there's no "God." I just never got the whole God thing; never spent two minutes thinking about it until I started going to 12 Step meetings in my mid-30s. I grew up among hippies, punks, marxists, and liberals in the Northeast; far as I know I never had a single friend who attended church or thought about god, my parents weren't interested, I was never close to ANYONE who was interested. I didn't think about god and religion as anything other than an interesting object for anthropological study — "I mean, obviously it's myth; do people really think there's a Supreme Being or Man in the Sky or any sort of sentient, self-aware, organizing and omnipotent intelligence up there? That's just so bizarre to me." That's the kind of thought I would have. (And still have, though usually without the judgmental edge.)

Nevertheless, the 12 Steps are at the center of my life today, and have been for years.

Before I started going to meetings, I was genuinely prejudiced against religions and religious people. (Today I still see a lot of bad energies at work in organized religion, but I also see a lot of good that I had no understanding of back then.) In the summer of 2001 someone I trust bluntly and forcefully showed me that I needed help and convinced me that I'd find it in 12 Step fellowships. But it was six months before I actually mustered the courage to walk into a room for a meeting. I was afraid of the people, afraid I'd find myself sitting with people who'd want to brainwash me and turn me into a cult member.

When I finally DID go, out of desperation, I doubt I would have stuck with it had I not been attending meetings in New York City — in every meeting, there were LOTS of atheists, and Jews, and Sikhs and Buddhists and witches and, yes, Catholics and Protestants and Muslims. All races, ages, businessmen, drag queens, punks, erudite academics. All kinds. It was just pretty much self-evident that you didn't have to change stripes. I wasn't going to become unrecognizable to myself and everyone who knew me. I wasn't going to be coerced; in fact, no one ever gave me so much as a sales pitch. I could just come and sit there and I'd be tolerated even if I never said a peep (which I didn't, for a couple months) or I said I thought something I read in the book was bullshit (which I did, frequently). People were friendly, but nobody ever grilled me — in fact I had to go out of my way to get advice; I'd say, "I'm really struggling with X, I just don't know what to do, etc" and whoever I was talking to would then say "well, keep coming back" or maybe "would you like some feedback? And it's fine if you're not comfortable with that..." I was going to be allowed to find my own way. Or not. I'd have to decide, day after day, whether or not I wanted what the Steps and the fellowships had to offer.

The answer is Yes, for me.

I love a pithy phrase or aphorism, and the most concise expression of the spirit of the 12 Steps I know of comes from a Harvard-trained historian named Ernest Kurtz. Not an alcoholic himself, he nonetheless chose Alcoholics Anonymous as the subject of his doctoral dissertation; it was published under the title Not-God. That's the foundational insight of the 12 Steps. Anyone who's experienced addiction knows those moments where the dust settles for at least a few minutes (or seconds, even), and you can see crystal-clear that what you're doing is making you desperately unhappy, is ruining your life and wreaking havoc all around you, and you have no fucking clue how to stop doing it. That you're not going to "figure it out." That you've run into something that's bigger, smarter, and much stronger than you — and that wants to sabotage every dream, rob you of every last joy, and, eventually, kill you. That would rather you not exist at all than leave it behind. "Not-God" means limited, not omniscient, not omnipotent. And definitely without enough self-propelled power to overcome the addiction. I've had way too many experiences of these "bottoms" — experiences of utter desolation and hopelessness and self-hate where I can only say "Well, I'm fucked. I have no idea what to do. I'm probably just going to go back to chasing my compulsion because at least it obscures the pain for a little while, but it's all downhill from here."

That's Step 1. The rest of the Steps are about finding and channeling a solution to the problem Step 1 describes. Strangely enough, I need the awful reality of Step 1 — because without it, there's no way I'd follow the prescription. From AA's 12 Steps and 12 Traditions:

Why all this insistence that every A.A. must hit bottom first? The answer is that few people will sincerely try to practice the A.A. program unless they have hit bottom. For practicing A.A.'s remaining eleven Steps means the adoption of attitudes and actions that almost no alcoholic who is still drinking can dream of taking. Who wishes to be rigorously honest and tolerant? Who wants to confess his faults to another and make restitution for harms done? Who cares anything about a Higher Power, let alone meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry A.A.'s message to the next sufferer? No, the average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn't care for this prospect — unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive himself.

The 12 Steps are a Way, a Path, a Solution. 12 Step people call it a "program of spiritual action." For me, what makes it a spiritual program is that, when I look clearly at my experience of addiction — at how truly bankrupt I am within myself of the power to stop it — I see that I really might as well lay down all my defenses and razor-sharp opinions and ask, with a naked vulnerability heretofore unthinkable, for help from whoever and whatever can give it. All my life I've never really trusted in anything other than what I know and what I can touch. With Step 1, it begins to become possible for me to do trust falls into arms that I may not even actually see.

I don't have to believe that it's "God's" arms that will catch me. (I personally work with a Buddhist conception of higher power — not theistic at all.) But I do have to tip over backwards and take the fall. I have to practice trust and dependence on something outside myself.


12 Step Issues

The 12 step approach consists of a number of more or less arbritarily chosen techniques that have acquired the stature of holy scripture among a certain group of devotees. The 12 step approach has not been shown to be universally significantly more effective than a number of other approaches. Therapy, medication and mutual self-help groups have all been shown to work about as well as 12 step programs. For some people, they work much better.

Objection to the spiritual component of 12 step programs is one of the main reasons for people refusing to participate in them. The reason the 12 step community refers to the sizable body of procedure that has built up as the "traditions" of 12 step, as opposed to the scientifically proven superior methodologies, is that they are entirely and only that: traditions. Despite anyone's insistence that you must declare powerlessness, get a sponsor or do anything else or you will almost certainly slide back into whatever addiction or complex maladaptive behavior such as procrastination that is bothering you, it's not true. There are all sorts of ways to quit procrastinating or doing anything else. Orthodox, doctrinaire 12 step is just one of them, and it doesn't work very well for a sizable number of people.

My approach is to take what I like, which is very little, and leave the rest, which is almost all of it. That usually involves sustaining a considerable quantity of criticism, warnings, predictions of my imminent slide back into relapse, orders to silence myself and even threats if I don't stop uttering heresies and start saying the right things. 12 step really has assumed the status of a religion. The Big book has even been declared inerrant, just like the Christian Bible. That means nobody can move so much as a comma. 

Anyway, as I said before, I don't have any intention of convincing anyone of anything they don't want to believe.I am speaking solely to people who happen to feel like me,  to let them know that there's nothing wrong with them, that they are not alone, and it's fine to ignore whatever parts of 12 step you like, including all of it if it suits you.



I'm an atheist also and I'm sure there are alternatives to the twelve steps.

You don't have to follow the 12 steps . . .

to be a part of this wonderful fellowship.   There have been many great comments to this thread, so I won't repeat them.   The 12 steps are available here, but certainly not required.   I think that bookending tasks in the forums or chatbox is an excellent way to start changing your behavior.  Good luck!


Never have an ordinary day!  - Pepperidge Farm (lol)

Well said

I am with you more than I realize! The doctrinaire approach to anything is off-putting, but even as an atheist, I do understand and appreciate the value of traditions, and I can empathize with those that need them.

The best part of your post is "I am speaking solely to people who happen to feel like me,  to let them know that there's nothing wrong with them, that they are not alone..."  This is truly the best help we can derive from this community and others like it, that you are not alone in your percieved craziness, and I say this with reverence, not sarcasm.  Thanks for that.

You have to let go

Step 1, admitting you are powerless, for me means admitting that you need help.  We can go round and round trying to fix ourselves, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  When it doesn't, it is a major knock-down and can lead to a free-fall back into negative behaviours.  Admitting that no matter how smart I am, I can't fix this on my own, I need outside help and support, is truly the first step to get me started on the road to recovery.

A little more on this

Well, I'm an atheist, so the 12 steps is a non-starter for me from the git-go. The powerlessness declaration is just the same prostration before a deity that is the first step in every religious belief system I know of, and I honestly can't go there. I'm not a young kid, and I've heard all the arguments about how I can say the universe is my higher power and so on. It just doesn't wash. I have never been religious. I didn't pray when one of my kids was in the intensive care unit, and I doubt I'll ever be that scared again. It's unfortunate that it's so hard to be openly athetist tyese days. I don't know what it was like to be a Christian, for example, back in, say, 100 A.D., but today it you admit you're an atheist you will be treated like a leper, if you're lucky. If there's any politician, for instance, who admits to atheism, I'm not aware of any. I suppose I could easily pretend to be a believer in higher powers and all that. But the truth is, I can't ever see myself believing any of that. I find it difficult enough to accept that the vast majority of people, including a huge number who are far, far smarter and better-informed than I am, claim to believe it. It's weird, but it seems to be so. Anyway, I'm doing fine as an atheist and I have no need or desire to start believing in higher powers, or my own powerlessness. You guys feel free to believe whatever you want to, of course. This message is just to others of my own persuasion, to let them know that they are not alone.

I'm an atheist, but I still think the 12 steps can work

I, too, am an atheist and have been put-off by the need for a higher power.  I haven't truly begun to work the 12 steps, but I have tried to reason it out and this is what I've surmised.

For step 1 - Admitting that I am powerless.  I've had experience with addiction and codependency in my life, outside of my procrastination, and I understand why this step is important.  One reason an addiction can be difficult to overcome is because as intelligent people, we think we should be able to control it. If we just get our shit together, or if we put our mind to it, we can stop.  After several unsuccessful attempts, you have to admit to yourself that you CAN'T control it and you need help.  That for me is "Admitting that I am powerless."

For the higher power - This goes right along with admitting that you need help - looking to a higher power means you are seeking help, from somewhere.  Some atheistic/agnostic 12-steppers say that their "higher power" is the community that they are getting strength from, such as an AA group, or a PA website. :).  It makes sense because we are social creatures, we need "others" and it may be blasphemous for me to say, but I think those proclaiming god is helping them are actually getting help from their fellow community members who are proclaiming god is helping them.  It's about being part of something bigger than you.  That said, I haven’t' really found my higher power (maybe it's here?), because, being an atheist, I need something pretty tangible.  I can't pretend I have a higher power -- I have to attach to something. 

I'm willing to give the 12 steps a shot -- although I know it will be tough.  It will have to be on terms that I buy into, but at the same time, I know several people who have walked away from addiction treatment saying "I don't believe in god, so this is all crap" - my warning to them is "Don't let that be an excuse for not addressing the problem" and for at least a couple of guys I know, it is an excuse.

To my fellow atheists -- If you need help, whether it is procrastination or some other addiction, try to look at the 12 steps in a way you can get on board with.  Also, if you find a different program that works, please let me know about it.  

The 12-Steps work

The 12-Steps does work, even for atheists and agnostics.  As far as the Second and Third Steps, the community or the principles of the program can be a Higher Power.  As a former agnostic, the community and the principles were my Higher Power,.  As far as the Eleventh Step, I heard this philosophy that my actions are a prayer.  It makes a lot of sense.  Everything I do and even how I treat people is a prayer and what I get back is a meditation, and it leads to my own spiritual awakening that I carry the message to others and practice the principles in all my affairs.


Many ways to look at the same thing

The Simple Approach to the 12 Steps!


  1. There's a power that will kill me.
  2. There's a power that wants me to live.
  3. Which do I want? (If you want to die, stop here. If you want to live, go on.)
  4. Using examples from your own life, understand that selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear control your actions.
  5. Tell all your private, embarrassing secrets to another person.
  6. Decide whether or not you want to live that way any more.
  7. If you want your life to change, ask a power greater than yourself to change it for you. (If you could have changed it yourself, you would have long ago.)
  8. Figure out how to make right all the things you did wrong.
  9. Fix what you can without causing more trouble in the process.
  10. Understand that making mistakes is part of being human (When you make a mistake, fix it, immediately if you can.)
  11. Ask for help to treat yourself and others the way you want your higher power to treat you.
  12. Don't stop doing 1 through 11, and Pass It On!!

--Author Unknown


What Step One ("powerlessness") means to me:

In my personal belief system, there are two aspects to my "self".

I have my "ordinary everyday self" that is caught up in addictive behavior patterns, and seems to be "stuck". No matter what this little self tries, she simply cannot seem to get beyond the problem behavior. She is stuck in her box, and her own best thinking doesn't seem to have any effect. Why? Because somehow, her natural healthy behavior got warped in some way, originally as a coping mechanism, and eventually as an addictive behavior pattern. In this sense, when I'm living as that aspect of my "self" ... I am powerless over my procrastination addiction.
But there is also the OTHER part of my "self". This is what might be referred to as "My Higher Self" or "Wiser Self". My higher/wiser self is the aspect of my self that is harmony with the universe. She has the power to reach out and live in a greater wiser way. When I get in touch with Her, I am empowered by the Universe .... because this is my TRUE self.

I believe that I am both of these selves. Or that they are one single self with two aspects.

Regarding the concept of "character defects" or "shortcomings":

Who I *truly* am might be referred to as:

  • my soul,
  • wiser self,
  • the part of me that is one with Creation,
  • the person I was meant to be,
  • the wondrous person of integrety that I am underneath all the layers of craziness, etc.

Due to unhelpful patterns .... I've fallen short of the 'character' or 'ideal' of who I *truly* am. This is how *I* see the phrase "character defect" or "shortcoming". For me, the concept of "character defect" or "shortcoming" that the 12step work refers to .... for me this is simply a terminology that refers to an *observation* of saying that I am a worthwhile person who has something broken and in need of repair.

It's not a value judgment or something to "shame" me with. I myself the human being am not "defective" or "bad". My true self is a child of the Universe, totally whole and worthwhile and worthy, despite my unhelpful behavior patterns.

Step Two says we can be "Restored to Sanity". For me, that implies that we are inherently sane, and that somehow, patterns of thinking/feeling/actions led us to fall away from living a sane lifestyle, ...., but we *CAN* be restored to being our truly wondrous selves.

A "power greater than ourselves", for me, is a "Greater Wisdom" that is outside our normal everyday patterns.  When we link with that greater wisdom, we empower our higher true selves to change the patterns of our ordinary "stuck" selves.

If you are uncomfortable with the word "God", you can substitute "Higher Power"

You could use the "Collective Wisdom of All Those Who Have Recovered From This Addiction" as your Higher Power.

From Chapter One of the Big Book of A.A. :

{begin quote} The word God still aroused a certain antipathy. When the thought was expressed that there might be a God personal to me this feeling was intensified. I didn't like the idea. I could go for such conceptions as Creative Intelligence, Universal Mind or Spirit of Nature but I resisted the thought of a Czar of the Heavens, however loving His sway might be. I have since talked with scores of men who felt the same way.

My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?"

That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last.

It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning. {end quote}

If you find anybody's references to religious clerics are not relevant to you, you could choose to substitute "philosopher/organizational-consultant/psychologist" or "wise mentor" -- for their "priest/minister/rabbi". Whatever works for you.

You can also choose to substitute the word "inspirational" for the word "spiritual".

Note: There are some atheists who practice the twelve steps use "G.O.D." as an acronym that stands for a "Good Orderly Direction" -- which is what they're seeking in their lives.

I am

'No one is powerless over their problem with procrastination'

I am

Yours in recovery Rexroth


Do you really feel powerless, or do you feel so far in over your head you can't see the light of day?  I feel so far in I can't see the light of day.  But I don't feel powerless.  I want to help myself and in so doing, came to this site. 

You may find this interesting:



yes i believe i am powerless. and that god himself has come into my life and given me power i NEVER would have had without him.

consider the timing: 25 years of addiction. then i accepted that i was powerless. now 3 years of recovery.


Compare this to what she said in the article:

It [the idea i am powerless] is self-fulfilling prophecy, and it hampers recovery.

it just does not jive with my own personal experience.

if it is a deception that heals me, then can we really consider it a deception? What, exactly, is Hope? Faith is being sure of what we hope for. I find such deep, penetrating truth in that statement.

I think it's because 'what is true' is unknowable. My 'choice' is to believe that i am powerful and god can help me.

ironic, all, isn't it.

that article...

her example is not applicable. the point is not "when my life and limb are threatened i can avoid my addiction." that is true. the point is only the threat of life and limb can prevent my addiction. her example actually confirms the powerlessness theory.

It seems clear that the author has never, herself, struggled with addiction. has never sat, brokenhearted at her own lack of will power to take care of herself, her family, her work.

And it seems she is missing the most obvious point of all, for many of us here admitting powerlessness IS recovery. she keeps saying it prevents recovery. but for many of us here, that's just not what happened.

the touch of the master's hand:

"fall down seven times, get up eight" - japanese proverb

Yes I really feel powerless

Yes I really feel powerless and no I am not in so far etc.

Have read the article thank you.

Do you agree with Satre that there is always choice even under the most severe torture?

I am not sure what you are

I am not sure what you are referring to.  But we always have choices.  Always. 

Is it really that easy?

So presumably we chose not to procrastinate and the problem is solved?

Is it really that easy? I have not found it so.


'Nuff said.


 To each his own.  I personally don't buy it and I am trying to be more positive in my life. I don't find self-hatred and powerlessness appealing, nor the guilt and shame.  It's like a vicious circle.  You get behind on something, so you berate yourself.  You then get further behind and further depressed.  Which leads to more self-hatred and berating..and it goes on and on.  That's how it's been for me at least.  Feeling like I can't do anything about it....that would drive me to insanity.  And honestly, listening to others say how powerless they are on these forums, helps me feel better about myself.  B/C I KNOW I am not powerless and it makes me want to try all the harder. 

powerlessness is not self-hatred

it's probably true that if a person does not in fact struggle with addiction, then addmitting powerlessness is probably self-hatred and causes guilt.

for me, the self-hatred and guilt where piling on for decades before i admitted my powerlessness.

and the great blessing of the universe is that the admission of powerlessness, with step 2&3 and the subjecting the will to god, finally allowed me to love myself and recover and love my family and co-workers and boss by being repsonsible at work.

the touch of the master's hand:

"fall down seven times, get up eight" - japanese proverb


I think it has to do with the extent of the problem.  It’s like the difference between the problem drinker and the true alcoholic.  If a person can control his or her procrastination, either at-will or when faced with negative consequences, then perhaps it is simply a bad habit or character defect.  A supportive group, time management methods, and accountability may be enough for this person to change the negative behaviors.   If that is all one needs, then what a wonderful situation it must be to find the resources to facilitate that positive change.  I applaud all those who are able to take responsibility for themselves and make such changes. 

On the other hand, someone who addictively or compulsively procrastinates cannot change or control his/her behavior.  Broken promises to self and others, failed attempts to change, a pattern of spiraling downward on the procrastination journey, all point to a person who may need additional help.   

I have tried the support group, time management, and accountability methods.  It is not enough.  I cannot force myself to be on time and complete tasks on time; my attempts have failed, and I have reached the point where I am ready to admit that I need help.  I have “hit bottom.”  I’ve started doing Step One because I accept that my life is unmanageable and out-of-control in this arena.  I know that the steps work because in another arena, I am a changed person.  So in this arena, I am willing to trust the 12 step process.  It’s not about giving up; it’s an acknowledgement that I absolutely cannot pick myself up by my own bootstraps, so I am willing to do what it takes to seek the help of a Higher Power.  This is how I can take responsibility for myself.  (The question about atheists is a different topic.)

My attempts to change have left me feeling like a failure.  Others have tried to tell me to change, "just do it," and the shame has driven me deeper into the problem.   Only someone else who is truly powerless can understand, and I am grateful for those people.  Please do not make assumptions about what others can and cannot do; each person has their individual experience in life.

Take what you like and leave the rest.  Each person decides what path to take.

character defect?

I must respectfully disagree that procrastination may be a character defect.  What does that imply?  That there is something wrong with you, which is why you procrastinate.  What does this lead to? Shame and guilt.  Like any of us need more shame and guilt. My character is just fine, I know I am a good person.  I just need to get a grip on my problem with procrastination.  Key word: "I".  I am responsible for this and I and only I can get myself out of this situation.  To throw my hands up and say, "well, I am powerless to do anything about it" would be giving up.  And I refuse to give up. 

I am not making assumptions as to what others can and cannot do, as you indicated.  I am simply saying that the word powerless implies there is nothing you can do about the situation.  How can that be a positive thing?  Why even bother, if you are powerless to do anything?  If I told myself I was powerless to change my situation, I'd be one severely despressed human being. 

I agree that some people are deeper in despair than others.  I just think telling yourself every day that you are powerless is only going to lead to more despair, not healing.   Positive affirmations, along with the support on here and prayer, will go alot further than telling myself every day that I am powerless.  If you tell yourself you are addicted, tell yourself you cannot change, tell yourself there is something wrong with will not change, you will remain "addicted" and you will continue to think there is something wrong with you. 

Article you may find interesting:

Again, just my opinion and how I feel. 

Too extreme

First I want to just say that Crazybug and ian_wnc below have stated very well a sane approach to the steps. 

Secondly, I have to take issue with you posting the above article: on Helplessness as part of this discussion.  Perhaps I am misunderstanding you, but the helplessness in this article does not equate to the "powerlessness" stated in Step 1.  The step reads "We admitted we were powerless over compulsive procrastination, that our lives had become unmanageable."  This means I am powerless over procrastination, not that I am powerless period.  The statement DOES NOT say "I am powerless to do anything about it" it says "I am powerless over it."  It is admitting we need help.  Perhaps it is better to say that it is difficult to control this thing, rather than completely unable to - per the example from the other article you posted: If someone is holding a gun to my head and telling me not to procrastinate . . .

I relate to Step 1 as saying we are not "normal" in this aspect of our lives.  Every year, the government holds a gun to our money and says you will file your taxes by April 15, or you will pay.  I would venture to guess that 60% or more of the people on these pages have missed that April 15th deadline, and probably more than once.  (My own count is around 8 or 9 times.)  I have full medical insurance coverage at work yet I am 50 years old and haven't been to a GYN in 13 years (the year my youngest was born, or else it would be longer), nor have I ever had a mammogram.  You can fairly say that I am using my addiction (chronic procrastination) as an excuse as to why I haven’t done these things. The thing is, if I walked around my office and admitted this to everyone in my office, 80% of the people I told would be shocked that anyone would do such a thing – they could not in any way relate.  That’s where Step 1, for me, comes into play.  I am admitting that I have a problem, which a majority of people cannot relate to.  And that I need help dealing with that problem. 

So, as they say, take what works for you and leave the rest.  If you can’t get your head around Step 1, fine.  But please let those of us who need it, have it. 

"powerlessness" vs. 'lack of proper tools'

I have not been a close follower of the 12 steps. Have read them, but not really internalized them as of yet.  However, my take on the 'powerlessness' word was more along the lines of saying 'I have tried to evaluate many ways to heal myself so far and have been unsuccessful, therefore I, personally, do not have the proper tools to solve this problem and need outside help'.  Obviously that's a lot more wordy than just the term 'powerlessness'. 

Just as a car is powerless with a non functioning engine, if we stop at the proper auto shop rather than at all of the other stores where we attempeted a fix (liquor store, book store, grocery store, etc.) and say 'hey, I'm powerless in this vehicle, can you help?'  In all likelyhood we will get a new engine or a meaningful repair or the tools to make the repair and the machine will once more run and we can begin a forward path.

I'm not much of a philosopher, so often have to think in analogies of what makes sense in my everyday life.  I too choose to believe that I have inherent power, but I need help.  I cannot do it alone and I'm willing to admit that.  I'm a bread baker and entomologist...not a mechanic.

Just a few cents worth.

@ gamecockgirl

I completely relate to the thoughts and feelings you're sharing. I went through a process of "interrogating" the language of the Steps that to me looks a lot like what you're going through.

All I can suggest is that, as my English teacher used to say about reading fiction, you try to "suspend your disbelief." If any part of what you find here is working, try to hold onto that — try to focus on what's working and what's not working, instead of on intellectual objections, opinions that arise, etc. These constantly arise for me, but I pretty much always do better if I either let go of them or hold them very loosely. 

Trust the process, and more will be revealed.


I also find the 12 steps not useful, starting with the first one. The only thing I use on this site is the daily checck-in. I find that the mutual self-help component of Procrastinators Anonymous is far more valuable than the steps, or any other aspect of the Alcoholics Anonymous-inspired approach. In fact, the whole powerless thing puts me off very much, as doess all the praying and gratitude and the rest of it. My attitude is that I'm in charge in my life, I am the exact opposite of powerless when it comes to my actions (within the rule of law, of course) and for me to pretend to believe anything else is extremely uncomfortable. Therefore, I have nothing whatsoever to do with the 12-step component of Procrastinators Anonymous. 

Having said that, I have found the mutual self-help aspect to be of tremendous benefit and I check-in almost every day. It's really helped me turn my life around to have a public forum in which to post my tasks for the day. I'm not sure why. It may be because I feel the peer pressure to get all of them done. It may be because I get a charge out of publicly accomplishing my task list. I don't know. But this aspect of Procrastinators Anonymous works for me, while therest doesn't. So that's how I use it. If that makes me powerless, well, that's an interesting interpretation of what it means to be powerless, but not one that I can currently subscribe to. 


one more thing

scribbler, so i would really be interested in your introspection about "what you get from being here" i think about this all the time in my life.

in particular, whatever it is that you get from being here, do you consider it "internal" or "external". I find it very hard to tell sometimes with myself, so it would be interesting to compare notes. I've concluded for myself that god is external and causing things i can't do myself, but i can't be sure, so given your approach it might help me to know how it is for you.

the touch of the master's hand:

"fall down seven times, get up eight" - japanese proverb

take what you like, leave the rest

AA (ironically) has a phrase that i think has great wisdom in it:

take what you like, leave the rest

i celebrate with you that you are benefiting from what works for you here. yea!

the touch of the master's hand:

"fall down seven times, get up eight" - japanese proverb


I do have other "addictions" and after coming to PA for over a year, for me, I right now, I believe the procratination is more of a shortcoming or defect, closely related, and part of the "addictive personality". That is why this site is so perfect, the 12 steps can be used even if this site is not set up autonomously. It still works.

I understand what you are

I understand what you are saying.  I think this site will help me and others tremendously.  It just strikes a nerve with me for anyone to say we are powerless over anything.  Especially in the 1st step!  Telling someone they "can't" do something is not encouraging to me.  I am not dissing the 12 steps at all; I've always felt this way about the 1st step.  I still think they are very effective, but I refuse to adopt step 1. 

Powerless on our own

I have never worked with the 12 steps and have not taken much interest until now. I do believe in a 'Higher Power' so maybe that helps.

I wonder if Step One could be interpreted as admitting we are powerless on our own. Whether we view support, guidance and the capacity to change for the better as coming from God, a new connection with our own higher selves, another Higher Power, this forum, another support group or something different again, maybe this would be an interpretation that would work for most of us - after all we are here because we admit we can't do it any more on our own.

Thank you movingalong for such an eloquent post - I agree and you said it so well.

well said

the touch of the master's hand:

"fall down seven times, get up eight" - japanese proverb


I feel the same way In the AA Big Book,p59 & 60  every step says some form of "we" there are no "I's"


We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.


We are too powerless to do something for ourselves but we can do for others. I pray for you and you pray for me.


I am honored, It may sound "pathetic" but in truth, "prayer" is the most powerful tool we can have, we tap in through prayer. Thanks. Sounds good to me.