The Twelve Traditions as Inventory Questions

The Twelve Traditions as Inventory Questions

In my sponsorship lineage, we work the Traditions after the Steps. Based on what others have taught me and what I have experienced, I put together the following handout in which I try to boil down each Tradition to a word for phrase that best expresses the principle it represents followed by inventory questions to guide my application of the Tradition. As an addict, I need clear instructions or I am capable of not being able to discern the difference between “I thought about it” and “I took action.”

The Traditions are a guide I have for relating to others in the program, including sponsors, sponsees, other members, and the program as a whole. If I get good at relationships in the program, I can apply this to other relationships. In other words, the Traditions can also guide me in my personal relationships, as I widen my application of the 36 principles from program to family and even work, religious affiliation, and other groups with whom I have relationships. I can prayerfully use the following questions as routine or spot-check inventories for such relationships. It has been very helpful to me, among others when working with professionals.

  1. Unity. Is what I am doing and saying helping unite the group (or my relationship) or not? Do I feel and express gratitude for the many ways others make my recovery and my life possible? Do I understand that I could not have the blessings I have without others?

  2. Authority and Consensus. In my group or relationship am I or is someone given too much authority? Is the leadership by example, as it should be? Are we praying and inventorying before making decisions that affect others? Can I happily accept the group decision even when it is not my preference? Do I know how to set up a formal group conscience vote?

  3. Membership. Are we practicing acceptance of each other based on our shared problem and shared goals? Am I letting political, national, ethnic, social, professional or some other prejudice affect my view of others, my relationships, or my work in the group? Am I doing my part to welcome newcomers? Am I able to let go of judgment when members “go back out” and welcome them back when they “come back in”?

  4. Autonomy. Do I let others have their own way to do things so long as it doesn’t negatively influence our primary purpose? Do I step forward and offer solutions when HP gives them to me, even if it’s a new idea? Do I accept the mistakes of others without trying to “fix” them?

  5. Primary Purpose. Do our group activities carry the message of hope and recovery with integrity? In personal relationships, do I have a clear sense of what the purpose of my relationship is?

  6. Money, Property, Prestige. Do I avoid making commitments that affect others without their consent? Do I keep my spiritual work free of ego problems caused by money, property, and prestige? Do I realize that my solution is only for those who want it? Are my relationships focused on the spiritual and not physical or social, etc.?

  7. Self-Support. Am I contributing financially to the program a responsible amount? Do I balance doing what I can do for myself and getting help when I need it? Do I let others take care of themselves and help only when it’s needed? Do I put in the time and effort in recovery and service and let go of the results?

  8. No Organization. Do I step up when service is needed? Do I step aside when I have been doing the service and let other people benefit from service? Am I willing to change as change is needed? Am I willing to stop pigeon-holing people (as good or bad, putting them on a pedestal, seeing them as the permanent group chair or treasurer, etc.) and focus instead on taking the actions of recovery?

  9. Non-Professional. Do I do 12th step work without conditions or expectations? Is my motive moving away from saving myself and toward a love of doing good? Am I developing a sense of unconditional love, working without any expectation for reward or compensation simply because it’s right? Do I remember that my professional and personal accolades or lack thereof neither qualify nor disqualify me from my primary spiritual aim of being of maximum service to God and others?

  10. Outside Issues. Do we maintain unity and consensus by avoiding topics, problems, and issues which are beyond our primary purpose? Do I check my opinions at the door when in groups or relationships and instead focus on doing only what God directs me to do, on saying only what is loving, kind, pure, and true? Is recovery my personal primary purpose? Am I willing to dialogue without debate without resentment or controversy for the good of everyone?

  11. Attraction Rather Than Promotion. Am I leading by example and not by demand or pride? Do I keep the good reputation of the program safe by not associating my personal recovery with the program as a whole? Do I remember that my experiences are just that—my experiences, and that others have a right to their own?

  12. Anonymity. Do I ask permission before I share another’s story within the program? Do I refrain from identifying program members or sharing their stories to outsiders? Do I keep my own anonymity when possible, knowing that full disclosure and honesty are not always the same? Am I inventorying, praying, sharing about spiritual pride (my length of sobriety, and other “accomplishments” in recovery)? Can I do good without taking credit in the program or in life when appropriate? When I feel disappointed by people in the program, am I able to rely on principles instead? Am I developing a faith in and trust in principles as a way to connect with my higher power? Am I keeping my groups, my friends, my family safe from me? Safe from my ego?


Mike M., Taipei, Taiwan

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