Step 7 of AA: “We humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.”
This post continues our series on 12 step recovery help. In step six, we prepared ourselves to have God (or our higher power) remove all our defects of character. In step 7, we are asked to begin. Regardless of how you view your spirituality within the scope of the program, the ask is the same: we are asking our higher power to remove our faults. To do this, we need to be honest with ourselves and possess a good deal of humility.
By its very nature, step 7 of AA needs to be accompanied by a good dose of humility. Humility is the foundation of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. Without it, pride and selfishness can take over your life. Working step 7 gives you an opportunity to change this selfishness into modesty, a way of thinking and being that can help you find a happy life.
To complete this step, we are asked to admit our faults, our character defects, our shortcomings. We humble ourselves yet again, much as we did in step one of the program when we admitted that we were powerless—and again in steps three and four, when we turned our lives over to a higher power and completed our moral inventory. In fact, a common thread that runs through the 12 step program is the need for a great deal of humility. But step 7 brings it into sharper focus, asking us to specifically identify our character defects so that we may have a chance at eliminating them.
Don’t Try To Do It All on Your Own
Asking for help in removing your shortcomings is saying “I can’t do this by myself.” This is very difficult for some people, as they equate needing help with weakness. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, the very fact that you are working the 12 steps should be proof enough that you are far from weak. Keep in mind that one of the things many successful people have in common is that they ask for expert assistance when something is out of their realm of expertise. Think of it as outsourcing to a specialist.
What is Humility?
If you can be considered truly humble, you will possess the qualities of stability, steadiness, open-mindedness, calm, patience, moderation, and temperance. You will be non-judgmental as well as realistic—so the dictionary definition states. According to Bill W., the most important aspect of humility as it pertains to the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is simply “the desire to seek and do God’s will.” If the concept of humility is not suitably amplified in the scope of recovery, the most important element may be lost. All in all, it’s a pretty straightforward concept: humility in the scope of Alcoholics Anonymous is the honest desire to do God’s will, plain and simple.
Step 7 of AA: Doing the Work
Once we have accepted humility, it is time to work the step. This is one of the most difficult parts for some people because it’s about allowing ourselves to fail. It’s about accepting our shortcomings and admitting that we can’t continue as we had once done. It is about dealing with the emotional pain of accepting new ways and knowing that it’s going to be hard work to reach our goals.
We start by letting go of our shortcomings and character defects. Think of it as cutting your losses, clearing the slate so that humility can enter. We let go of old ways of thinking, old patterns that no longer serve us. We keep in mind that if something feels familiar, we better stop and reassess. Whenever we have a reaction that seems automatic, we take notice immediately and realize that it may be something we can change. With vigilance, our old habits can be exchanged for new behavior. Eventually, our thoughts will begin to go there naturally.
The important thing to remember is that no great change happens overnight. We will never eliminate all our shortcomings, but we can learn to recognize how they affect our lives and the lives of others. And we can learn how to work with them before they take control. Before long, we begin to change. We find we are not without defenses, we are not fragile, and we are not rigid in our thoughts. This is a place of humility from which real change can occur. The gift of this humility is the peace and freedom that can lead to true happiness.
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