12 Steps and Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intellgence (EQ) refers to self-control, zeal, persistence, the ability to motivate oneself, relating well to others, and knowing and controlling one’s emotions. It is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive and constructive ways. It’s about recognizing our own emotional state and the emotional states of others. EQ is also about engaging with others in ways that draw people to you.

There are very clear ways to increase your EQ. At the same time, EQ can be static or changeable. Generally, once EQ has been formed in adolescence, most people do not change although conscious efforts to increase EQ do result in EQ growth. Whether development occurs or not is based on the desire and willingness to change. In the program of Wild West Way!, there will exist this desire and the action steps to take which bring about clearer thinking, emotional balance, and increased EQ.

The requirement for membership into Wild West Way! is a desire for help and an admission of the first step:

Wild West Way! Step One:
I am powerless over _______________ (fill in the blank) and other people’s behavior and this messes up my life (or: really upsets me).

It is at this point of willingness that members will begin to take further steps which bring about personal transformation from feelings of powerlessness to EQ. This personality change develops over a long period of time.


HOW will this work? On a foundation of Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness. This open-mindedness grows into genuine innovativeness, creative thinking, and the ability to truly listen and ponder another person’s idea and viewpoint. These are assets to an emotionally intelligent leader.

The inventory process in the steps is illuminating; there are many payoffs. This is the first step the person takes in really getting to know themselves. It is the beginning of a lifetime of self-observance, being aware of feelings, actions, and the impact they have on other people. Steps Four and Five are the baby steps for a self-aware and emotionally mature person. The links between feelings and actions and the effect on others are brought into conscious awareness. Other developments are trustworthiness, reliability, and integrity. This is the start of being able to get along with people, even difficult ones. Conflict management is enhanced. Communication skills are increased as well.

A gem of EQ is “Thou shall apologize and make amends for your mistakes. Nothing will allow you to grow faster”. Steps Eight and Nine are about personal relations. As expressed so well in Bill Wilson’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions,

“First, we take a look backward and try to discover where we have been at fault; next we make a vigorous attempt to repair the damage we have done; and third, having thus cleaned away the debris of the past, we consider how, with our newfound knowledge of ourselves, we may develop the best possible relations with every human being we know.

“This is a very large order. It is a task which we may perform with increasing skill, but never really finish. Learning how to live in the greatest peace, partnership, and brotherhood with all men and women, of whatever description, is a moving and fascinating adventure.

“No field of investigation could yield more satisfying and valuable rewards than this one. Calm, thoughtful reflection upon personal relations can deepen our insight. We can go far beyond those things which were superficially wrong with us, to see those flaws which were basic, flaws which sometimes were responsible for the whole pattern of our lives.”

Self-assessment becomes a way of life in Wild West Way! Step Ten calls for continued inventory and to promptly admit it when wrong. This way of being helps reinforce thinking before speaking or doing. This is another component of a good leader and emotionally intelligent individual.

Step Eleven calls for prayer and meditation. Benefits of meditation are limitless: stress, fatigue, and tension are dissolved. This practice of meditation is probably the foundational key to EQ and being an effective leader and team member, whether it is the team at school or the family team at home. When our outer life is connected with our inner values, life is be rich and glorious. Whatever this mysterious thing called prayer, it works.

There is a direct linkage among self-examination, meditation, and prayer. Taken separately, these practices can bring much relief and benefit. But when they are logically related and interwoven, the result is an unshakable foundation for life. Optimism, enthusiasm, empathy, and appreciation are other powerful results of the Wild West Way! program. Helping others is vital. Step Twelve is two-fold: (1) to help others, especially by sharing personal experience, and (2) to practice the principles of the Twelve Steps in every aspect of life. The Steps are not worked through just once but become a way of living.

No one can make anyone do anything in Wild West Way! Everything is done willingly and voluntarily. Universal respect is key. In this kind of atmosphere, emotionally intelligence and self-confidence thrives. Wild West Way! is a “we” program. Working to learn and live the principles as outlined in the Twelve Steps in a group situation develops skills in collaboration and teamwork, competencies of EQ.

Self-control is learned from the start. It is taught to pause, when agitated or in doubt – to breathe deeply, often. “Acting as if” is a basic tool in Alcoholics Anonymous. To visualize the desired way of being, the ideal, and to “act as if” creates genuine integration over time. The behavior is no longer acting but an authentic way of being for the emotionally intelligent individual.

“Acting as if” is a basic tool in Wild West Way! To visualize the desired way of being, the ideal, and to “act as if” creates genuine integration over time. The behavior is no longer acting but an authentic way of being for the emotionally intelligent individual.

Attitudes of gratitude, enthusiasm, and optimism are developed and grown through practicing the principles of Wild West Way! Members begin their mornings with a few minutes of quiet mediation and a little list of “Things I Am Grateful For”.

Yes, working and living the twelve steps grows and sustains EQ.

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