I wanted to start off by explaining a few facts you need to understand before we begin our journey together. I am not a psychologist nor am I a philosopher. I do not hold a college degree of any kind. I am not a teacher, a mentor, or a role model and make no claims to be such. I am not a preacher, a pastor, an elder, deacon, bishop or any other religious entity by title. I am simply a person who made a lot of mistakes with his life, and through trial and error, changed his life for the better.
I have been where most of you are right now in your life, only for me, in the past; my life may have been a little worse off.
I truly admit my old faults to you so you understand who I was then, and who I am now. In my past life I was a liar, and adulterer, a slanderer, my life was full of pride and greed. I thought about my own interests above all others. I was judgmental as well as selfish. I boasted of my own deeds and looked down on others. I was a con man living high on life, and had no idea what life really was. And this is only a small description of the person I once was.
I struggled to change my life for the better. It was not an easy process for

someone like me to change, just like the process will not be easy for you, but I did it. And you can too. No matter where you are in life, you can change who you are and become a better person. (There will be more about me later)
Changing your life for the better is not as easy a task as one may think. I should know because I have tried to make changes in my life for many, many, years and have failed in the attempt each time in the past. Changing your life, for the better, is hard work. And as we all know, sometimes things we try to accomplish in life, that are things which require a degree of hardship to obtain, usually are not attempted wholeheartedly. Change is hard to accomplish, because it requires creating a new thinking process by which we live our lives. It requires changing what I call your "Life Pattern". A "Life Pattern" is the pattern you use in your daily life, which dictates how you will react to a certain situation.
A person who has become addicted to drugs will convert to using those drugs when they face a certain situation in life. A person will cheat on their spouse when faced with another situation. Certain people will lie each time they face yet a different type situation. This is the pattern of their lives, or as I described it their "Life Pattern".
Let me try to explain this further. In Football (the American version) a team will study film footages of the opposing team they are supposed to play at a later date. The team does this prior to playing the other team. Watching how the opposing team reacts to certain situations will usually give a precise clue as to what that team will do if faced with the same situation again. This is because the opposing team will usually always react in the same way, in each circumstance, because that is how they have trained themselves to react.
Throughout life we have trained ourselves to react to certain circumstances in the same manner, whether this manner is good or bad. It is very hard to go against our own training because how we react to situations has become sort of an "addiction" in our mental thinking. We actually crave to use those reactions in everyday life, regardless if our reactions are good or bad for us.
As an example, when you think of addictions many think of drug use. The use of drugs by many addicts, but not all, is something each person wishes they had not begun. Many want to stop using drugs, they know they should not use drugs, but they still do so anyway. This is a simple definition of what actual addiction is:
Doing something, you know you should not do, not wanting to do that something, but doing it anyway.

I had a friend that used to deal in illegal drugs. He came to a point in his life where he tried desperately to stop selling those drugs and direct his life to being a better person. He was desperate in his attempt at change and worked very hard at conquering his addiction to sell drugs (notice he was not using drugs).
Later my friend started to crave the old life style he once led. He missed the money and the respect he received (or what he perceived as respect) from other people because he was that drug dealer. My friend did not want to be a drug dealer, my friend knew that dealing drugs was wrong, but he still went back to dealing drugs anyway...why? Because being a drug dealer became an addiction in his life. Always remember that an addiction in life is not just drugs and alcohol.
An addiction is anything we know we should not do; things we do not want to do, but do them anyway. The addictions we have form a "Life Pattern" that most people can clearly see and use to determine how we will react to any given situation. This is why it is so hard for other people to believe in our efforts to change because they already have a preconceived idea how we will react when certain situations in life come our way. They have this preconceived idea because they have seen our same reactions throughout our
life time to those situations. They have seen our game films.

I had someone I care for very deeply who has an issue with selfishness. In every relationship they have had in their life once the other person no longer can do anything for them financially, at the time they need it done, this person simply left the relationship to find someone new. This became a "Life Pattern" for this person.
This person, one day, found themselves in a relationship, which everything seemed to be going well. Then one day their new partner had a problem and they were no longer able to provide for the person in the way they wanted to be cared for. Instead of staying in the relationship, they did exactly as I predicted... they left the relationship to look for another person.
You see I knew ahead of time that this person would leave the relationship as soon as a problem occurred based of how they reacted each time the same circumstance happened previously in their lives. I knew what their reaction was going to be based on the "Life Pattern" of the individual person.
This is also why you hear the terms, "Once a cheater, always a cheater" or "Once a liar always a liar". It is because people have seen a cheaters "Life Pattern", or a liars "Life Pattern", and have made judgments on them as to how they will react in certain situations.
This gives us a clear reasoning to understand why changing our lives is so difficult. Because changing our lives means changing our "Life Patterns" and in order to change our "Life Patterns" we must overcome the addictions we have in our lives. Conquering an addiction is not an easy task.
Like I stated before, I have tried to change my life several times and failed in all those attempts. So why did I fail? Why do any of us fail to make changes in our lives if we truly want to change our addictions to become a better person? I believe the reason is

I once was traveling down a country road with a friend of mine. We had decided to take a drive in the country just to enjoy the changes of the season and the fall foliage. When several yards in front of my moving car, I spotted a very young squirrel that was attempting to cross the road and scamper up a tree located on the other side of the road.
My friend instantly told me to slow the car down. I looked at my friend confused and inquired as to why I had slowed the car down. He simply smiled at me and told me to watch what the squirrel was about to do.
As if anticipating his remark, and because the animal had spotted the approach of my oncoming car, the squirrel froze in mid motion to crossing the road, the little squirrel looked towards the direction it wanted to travel, and then towards the direction the animal had just come. Suddenly the little squirrel ran back to the side of the road it had come from and jumped into a patch of weeds in an attempt to hide from my car.
I was amazed at the actions of the squirrel. I also noticed that the squirrel was only inches away from its intended destination, but chose instead to take the longer route back to the side of the road the squirrel had just come from. My friend inquired of me why I thought the squirrel had acted in such a manner.
The answer for me was an easy one to supply, because I had grown up in a relatively country setting. The squirrel perceived my car as a danger and made the decision to go back to the place it had last felt safe, this happened to be the side of the road the squirrel had originally started from.
In life, as we try to cross our roads to change, we encounter obstacles to those changes. Because we may perceive those encounters as dangerous to the way we are used to feeling and living our lives, we then go back to the place which made us feel safe. We go back to the place which enabled us to feel safe from such an encounter. We go back
to the very addictions we were trying to change in our lives.

No matter how much an addiction in our lives hurts us, we still feel safe having those addictions in our life. We feel safe because those addictions enable us too not deal with certain conflicts in our lives. When these conflicts occur in our life, and the addictions we are attempting to change enable us to not deal with such conflict, we convert back to those addictions when the conflicts re-emerge themselves in our lives. We go back to the side of the road we began with in attempting to change our lives.
I was going to use an example of this through a story about another person whom I once knew. I instead find I have a conviction to use myself as an example, because I have encountered this same instance throughout my life. Admitting your faults to a possible large amount of readers is not an easy task, but what the heck; I do not do these things anymore!
In my past, I had a severe problem with confrontation. In order to avoid such confrontations with other people I would simply lie to avoid them. As an example, if I were to promise to pay a bill for someone and did not do it, and then I was asked by that individual if I had indeed paid the bill, I would simply lie and say I did. When I made an effort to stop telling a lie when facing similar confrontations, I always failed because telling such a lie "saved" me from something I perceived as danger... confrontation.
Danger is not always something that you can touch or causes physical harm to you. Danger can be an attack of your mental way of thinking as well. Somehow, this confrontation affected me mentally, causing me to feel endangered by the event. I had this perception of danger instilled in me through past events in my life. Such reactions could have been caused by one event, which occurred in my life, or a combination of
several events. But it was through these events that my mind perceived confrontation as a danger in the way that I lived my life.
I once knew a young woman who was abused mentally and physically by her husband throughout a long marriage. The couple divorced, but not before the mental, as well as physical damage, was done to this young woman. She had a deep seeded belief that she was worthless and that no man could love her again. She began to take drugs, and drink alcohol, to escape the feeling of being worthless and that no man would find her worthy of love.
In her life, each time this young woman would have a non-violent verbal confrontation with a man she dated, she would instantly revert to using drugs or drinking alcohol. The drugs and alcohol enabled her to escape the feeling she was having of being worthless, while also enabling her to not deal with what she mentally perceived as abuse. So each time she had tried to change this about herself she failed. She failed because she felt safe that the drugs and alcohol would remove her feelings of insecurity.
I wanted so desperately to help her change that about herself, but soon I realized that I could do nothing to help her. People all want to change things about their lives but they must first truly want to change. What I mean by that is if you are not ready to face your fears head on, then change will not be possible. Nobody has the ability to change anyone else if they do not truly want to change, if they do not truly want to face their fears head on.
In Kentucky, at the time of the writing of this book, the state had initiated a program called SAP. SAP simply stood for Substance Abuse Program. This program was enacted within the Kentucky Prison System to force those with drug or alcohol addictions to partake of the program before being released from prison, in the hopes of enabling those prisoners to overcome their addictions to drugs and alcohol. Though a majority of the prisoners were forced into the program, and even completed the program, they still had the same addictions to drugs and alcohol when they left the prisons...why?
Because those people were forced to enter into the SAP program and did so only as a means of going home, and not as a means of conquering their addictions. Those people may not have liked that they had an addiction to drugs and alcohol, they may not have liked their "Life Pattern", but they did not truly want to change those addictions with all their heart and therefore the program failed them.
People cannot change for other people. People can only conquer their addictions, and make changes to their "Life Patterns", because they want it done with all their heart. This is also why when people enter into a relationship, or partnership, hoping that they can change the other person’s life, those efforts is usually met with a disastrous result of failure. People only can make changes in their lives if they desire too, not because you want them too.
Here’s another little secret…change cannot be accomplished alone. In change we are rebuilding the very foundation of how we live our lives. If you want to rebuild something, but do not know how to build it yourself, you need an experienced construction person to guide you. The person you choose to help you build your new foundation of life is critical to your success, you need a Master Builder.
There are many people out there in the world, who have educated themselves in helping people change their lives for the better. These people perform an essential and important job in helping a person deal with past issues, which can lead in some help to conquering addictions in their lives. But none of these people, including myself, can be your Master Builder when you are conquering your addictions.
People, no matter their walks of life, do not have the qualifications to be the Master Builder to guide someone to repair the foundation of a person’s life. Some people may disagree, and argue, there are people who can be great builders and deserve to be so. I tell you that those people are wrong. People have something equal in all of us that dictate we cannot be the Master Builder for anyone else’s change in life; we are all addicted to something we cannot overcome and therefore all of our foundations of life have flaws.
There is not one person in the world that cannot find an addiction in their life they have completely overcome. So then, what qualifications does anyone else have to tell someone how to conquer an addiction in his or her life? If I have not completely overcome my own addictions then I do not have that right, nor do I deserve the right, to
be anyone else's Master Builder and guide them in repairing their foundation of life.

This is why when someone places their faith in people as Master Builders; they

are usually disappointed in their choice. All people have addictions, or faults, that may be hidden from you for the time, but will reveal their addiction later in your Master
Builder’s life.

I knew a man one time that had a history of drug problems. He had spent several years in prison because he was unable to overcome his addiction and usually broke the law to obtain drugs, when he did not have available funds to purchase the drugs he needed.
Upon his release from prison, this man was determined to make a new life for himself. He attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings on a regular base and met a Sponsor during those meetings, which seemed to be the answer to his prayers.
This Sponsor seemed the perfect Master Builder, or so the man thought, and his new Master Builder had all the right answers and seemed to live the life the person I knew wanted to live. The Master Builder seemed to have conquered his own past addiction to drugs, and because he had done so, the man I knew hung on his new Master Builders every word.
It was some time later in life I had found out that the man I knew was back in prison yet again. He had broken into a house in a feeble attempt to rob the residents of a TV. I say feeble because the man was so high on drugs at the time he tried to rob the house that he had passed out in the window of the home as he was making his escape. He was literally asleep in the window when the police found him. His robbery attempt was
an absolute failure.

The rest of the story made me both chuckle and feel very sad at the same time. You see the man I knew had an accomplice in his robbery attempt. The accomplice was arrested because he was found passed out in the getaway car as a result of using too many drugs himself. The accomplice was the same man my friend had chosen as his Master Builder.
I wanted to pronounce judgment on both of them because of the silly actions they both had undertaken to try to change their addictions. But I soon came to realize another basic truth about myself. I was a very poor person to judge anyone at all.
It is a very immature notion to believe that any person can judge the actions of anyone else. I do not judge the actions of the man I knew, or the man he chose as his Master Builder. Each person has faults in their lives, and if I have faults in my own life, I have
no right to judge other people who have faults in their lives. A wise man once said, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brothers eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye." We are all equal in that we all have faults. But we can learn from the mistakes other people make.
The lesson in the actions of the man I realized; was to never...ever... take as a Master Builder another human being. They will always fail you in the end because they will always fail themselves as well. This is what people do, and it is neither a judgment on my behalf or a speculation, it is a fact of life.
People are so bad at messing their own lives up that we teach other people how to do the same bad things we do. Each and every bad addiction we have in our lives has been taught to us through the actions of others. For those of you who now smoke, would you smoke if there were no one else in the world smoking? Those who drink, did you not take your first drink, because you saw someone else do it first? Those who cheat on their spouses, was it not easier to do because other people were already doing it?
I came to realize this early in my daughter's life. I was working in an upstairs office one day and a package had arrived at the front door from a delivery company. My wife answered the door and was informed by the delivery driver that I needed to sign for the package the driver was delivering to me. My wife told my then 5-year-old daughter, to go upstairs and tell me there was a delivery and I needed to sign for the package.
My daughter climbed the stairs to my office and told me about the package. I guess I was involved in something, I believed to be a serious issue in my work, and snapped at my daughter to tell her mom just to sign for the package herself (sorry about that Little One). So my daughter went down stairs and delivered the message and my wife signed for the package.
A few months later I was working in my office downtown when a call from my wife had come to me. She informed me that my 5-year-old daughter was in trouble at school and that she forged my signature upon a paper her teacher had sent home to be signed. I was furious!
I immediately came home and took my daughter aside to scold her for her actions. I first looked at the paper I was supposed to sign and noticed she had no reason to fear letting me see the paper as it was graded with an "A". I was very confused by my daughter's action of forging my signature.
I looked at my daughter's teary eyes and asked her why she had forged my signature. She informed me she had come to me to have me sign the paper, but when she did I was working in the upstairs office. She saw that I was busy so she just signed the paper herself.
I was still confused by why she acted in that manner so I asked her why she thought she could sign the note for me. She looked at me with big tears in her eyes and simply said; "Because that is what you told mommy to do."
I instantly thought of the delivery driver and the time I told my daughter to have her mom sign for the package. My heart broke because I was about to scold my daughter for doing something I had taught her to do through my own actions. I had to hug her a little while after I heard her say that, and I doubt she even remembers the event today. But is it not true that the addictions we have in life all began from the actions we witnessed from other people?
A very wise man once said that if you live your life as a light in the darkness many people would be drawn to your deeds. You cannot hide a light in any darkness. I had visited a cave early in my life and was taken on a tour through this cave by an experienced tour guide. During the tour the guide wanted to show us how dark it actually was in a cave and how just a flicker of fire would illuminate enough light to see through the whole cave.
The guide flipped a little switch on a small control panel and the lights in the cave all turned off. It was so dark I could not even see my hands when I placed them in front
of my face. The best way to explain the experience would be to define it as nothingness.

Then the guide took a simple little lighter and flicked on a small flame. To my surprise that little flame from the lighter was enough to light the whole cave. It was as if someone had turned on a 1,000-watt light bulb, yet all that the guide held was a small lighter and a small flame. The same in life can be defined by the way we live.
People who live in darkness, who live with addictions, are blinded by those addictions. We each essentially are living in a form of darkness we wish to escape from. When someone turns a light on in our lives, no matter how small or if the light is good or bad, we see with the light the other person shines for us. Our eyes are open by the other person's light.
But what we need to understand is everyone's light that is shined in our lives may not to be a good light to live by. As an example I knew of a woman who led a very successful career. But even in her success, she was in darkness with her life. Soon she met a man and fell in love.
After the two were married she still had darkness in her life that caused her to not see things the way she needed too. She began to look at her new husband's life as an example of how to live by through the light he was shining in his own life that seemed to overcome the darkness in hers. Only his light was not a good light at all.
The woman began to use cocaine and other illegal drugs, because that is what her husband was using in his life. He was shining a light of drug and alcohol addiction into her life and she flocked to that light as a moth would to a flame, because it seemed to light her way in the darkness.
The woman lost her career and the respect of those who knew her. Soon the light her husband had shone in her life began to flicker and die away. One night they found this woman in a hotel room dead. She had taken an overdose of pain medication in the hopes of escaping her darkness and it had taken her life. By using her husband as her Master Builder, the source of light he gave that she thought brought her out of darkness, ended up being the end of that woman's life instead.
Using the light of any human being, to be your source of light when attempting to beat an addiction, will only result in failure. Each and every person you know right now lives in a darkness they wish to remove from their own lives. If that person can not
supply the right light needed to conquer their own darkness, they cannot be the lights, which enables you to conquer your own darkness.
Each of us are very influenced by the people we are around every day in the places we conduct our daily lives. If a person who is addicted to pornography, and wants to change that addiction in their life, but who continues to visit pornography sites on the Internet has a good chance of never conquering that addiction. A person who is trying to conquer alcoholism in their lives but works in a liquor store may not have a very good chance of conquering that addiction.
The people we deal with every day are also people we may have to turn away in our daily lives if change is what we truly seek. A person who is trying to conquer the addiction of infidelity cannot continue to associate with the person they are committing infidelity with. A person who is trying to conquer the addiction to drugs cannot associate with people who continue to use drugs. This is just like a person who is trying
desperately to save himself from drowning has no choice but to get out of the deep water.

Each one of us is like drowning men who refuse to get out of the water, if we do not take action against the things in our lives we hate. Why would anyone have a continued desire to cheat on their spouse, or have drugs be a leading factor in how they live their life? But each of us continue to do just those sorts of things and it is time to get those things out of your life!
I guess I have babbled on enough. I just wanted to tell you some things about me and give advance notice that what I explained is just some of the things you needed to know before your journey to change begins.

More of this subject can be read at www.thefirststepseries.com

Author's Bio: 

Since his release from prison the author has strived to live by the words of this book. He has accomplished the completion of this book, has become the host of a weekly radio program, is co-owner in a highly successful business and strives to be the father he always wanted to be. The author has also re-married a supportive and loving wife and has become an instant grandfather with the addition of three step children and 6 grandkids. The author currently resides in Kentucky with his wife, two children, 3 Timber Wolves, 2 Silver Labs, 1 Husky, 1 Mutt, 3 cats(one of which he is sure is a demon in disguise) and several ducks and chickens.

In the beginning the author had made plans to sell his book First Step on an open market. Later the decision was made (due to his success in other fields) that this book would be offered free to anyone who wanted to take the time to read these words. Donations would be accepted from those who can afford it and all proceeds would go to Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital.