The Path of Least Resistance

The Path of Least Resistance

The Path of Least Resistance

If you Google the phrase, “the path of least resistance,” you will likely find this:

“The path of least resistance is the physical or metaphorical pathway that provides the least resistance to forward motion by a given object or entity, among a set of alternative paths.”

In A.A., we have another way of saying that… “the easier, softer way.” On page 58 of the 4th Edition of the big book, (Chapter 5 How It Works), it says this:

“Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it—then you are ready to take certain steps. At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.”

The key words there (at least for this conversation) are, “we thought.”  Once you’ve amassed any amount of time working A.A’s program of action, you’ll learn one of the fundamental ideas found in our program which is that our thinking is broken.  Our thinking that tells us things like, “I can drink like a normal person,” or “This time it will be different,” or “I’ll be ok if I just don’t drink and go to meetings” – for after all, our book tells us that the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind.  None of the thoughts listed above are true – AND – they highlight the path of least resistance or the easier softer way.

I continue to be grateful for good and effective sponsorship that’s helped me learn the truth about myself.  I’m grateful that through them teaching me how to take the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I’ve learned some fundamental ideas that will help me remain obedient to spiritual principles.  One of the main things I’ve learned is that in each and every one of our 12 Steps, there’ll be something I’ll need to surrender if I’m going to be able to get, keep, and give away this precious gift of recovery.  Being willing to let go of the causes and conditions of my failure; being willing to surrender those thoughts, beliefs, and ideas that no longer serve me is a vital part of me getting that life beyond my wildest dreams.


Each of the 12 Steps calls on the person taking them to become willing to surrender something. While this is not an exhaustive list, it represents a really great place to start. (Use this as a litmus test for yourself to gauge the quality of your own spiritual condition)

In Step 1, I will surrender…
1.) The delusion that in and of myself I have power, and
2.) The belief that alcohol was/is my problem

In Step 2, I will surrender…
1.) My desire to control everything myself, and
2.) My belief that I am responsible for the outcome of my life

In Step 3, I will surrender…
The person I was before coming to A.A. and taking these Steps

In Step 4, I will surrender…
1.) Fear of looking at who I was, and
2.) Any desire to regret the past

In Step 5, I will surrender…
Fear of sharing my inventory with another human being

In Step 6, I will surrender…
The desire to hold onto my defects of character no matter how familiar or comfortable they are

In Step 7, I will surrender…
The belief that I can become less of my character defects on my own or remove them myself

In Step 8, I will surrender…
1.) Fear of telling the truth, and
2.) My need to point out “their” part, and
3.) Fear of the outcome

In Step 9, I will surrender…
1.) My hesitation to take action, and
2.) Fear they won’t accept my amends, and
3.) Again, fear of the outcome

In Step 10, I will surrender…
My belief that I don’t need to continue the inventory process each and every day to identify “defects du jour” (defects of the day)

In Step 11, I will surrender…
1.) My desire to tell God what to do
2.) My belief that meditation is hard and only for those more spiritual than myself

In Step 12, I will surrender…
1.) Fear that I don’t have anything to give, and
2.) Laziness in practicing these principles in all my affairs

Having said all of that, I must also say that the actual word “surrender” is not found in the first 164 pages of our big book.  The idea and concept of it is there, but the actual word isn’t found on the pages.  But don’t use that as a way out to not do the work.  It’s been my experience since November 1987 that if I’m willing to let go of and surrender all of the things found above, I will, in fact, actualize that “personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism.”  But I need to also say, that is just MY experience.  I don’t speak for A.A. as a whole, but I certainly do speak for myself and that taking these actions have given me a recovery (not sobriety) that has produced a life of peace and happiness.

So… is the path of least resistance REALLY the easier softer way?  Are you looking for the easier softer way today?  Is cutting corners going to produce the kind of results you had hoped for when you started taking the 12 Steps?  I can’t answer that for you – but if you look at the results you’re are getting – my guess is that you can likely answer the question “will the easier softer way really work for me?…” with a resounding NO!

God bless!


Leave Your Comment