At step 7 of a 12-step program, we move from the admission of our problem and self-examination to changing our lives. Step 7 says that we
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
There is a worksheet for this too and though the worksheet is a very simple one, its importance cannot be overstated. This is the point in the program where we humble ourselves and ask our Higher Power as we see our Higher Power to be to remove all our defects of character.
In this post, we look at the worksheet, its purpose, and what follows.
Doing the Worksheet
The worksheet starts with the word of step 7 and a step 7 prayer as a reminder of what the purpose of this exercise is. The prayer is
My creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength as I go out from here to do your bidding. https://alcoholrehabhelp.org/treatment/alcoholics-anonymous/step-7/
As I noted earlier this is a very simple worksheet and contains only one thing to be done which is the list
Shortcoming/Defect of Character
Please Higher Power remove this
Look back over the previous steps where we reviewed our character flaws. Transfer every single defect of character from what you found (And we do have worksheets to help here too) to this list. Now the process is offering each one up to be removed. The worksheet is a tool for focusing on each thing we are renouncing.
We took a personal inventory of ourselves during step 4. With the guidance of a sponsor, it should have been as the 4th step calls it a “fearless moral inventory.” The way this worksheet provides focus is by requiring that all the negative feelings, all the shortcomings, and all the defects of character are listed so we release each one to the help of our Higher Power.
We write down the issue in the left column. In the middle we write a brief line of prayer such as “Lord, take this please” or “High Power, I hand this over.” I suggest making it different for each item. In that way, you avoid it simply becoming a meaningless repetition.
Finally, tick the yes column to affirm that you have released this aspect of yourself to the care of God. The tick is the amen to each prayer.
The Beginning of Spiritual Awakening
The first three steps of the steps of AA are about acknowledging our addiction and the second of the four quartets of steps is about examining our addictive behaviors. Here in this third trio of steps, the elements of acknowledgment and examination combine now to begin to engage the idea of spiritual principles.
Up to this point, we have done a lot of work. Now note the word humbly in this step. By turning to the God of our understanding and humbly asking that our flaws be dealt with we begin to experience the attainment of greater humility. Spiritual growth cannot take place in the presence of arrogance.
Addiction recovery is about a better life, not just for us but for those we come into contact be they family, friends, colleagues, or customers. Part of achieving this change is by developing a conscious contact with God and this is one of the main points of handing all the issues over to our Higher Power. The good news is that if the quality of humility is sufficient, changes will happen.
That may seem like a strange comment, but it is possible to pay lip service to being humble and that does not work. Consider whether there is any reason based on our own experience that we have to not be humbled at being given an ongoing opportunity to make new choices every day. By continuing to follow the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous the pursuit of humility becomes embedded in us.
A Brief Diversion
Some people misunderstand humility and equate it with humiliation. This is not the case. Humility is the state of being humble which Merriam-Webster defines as “not proud or haughty: not arrogant or assertive.”
Humiliation on the other hand is defined by Merriam-Webster as “to reduce (someone) to a lower position in one's own eyes or others' eyes: to make (someone) ashamed or embarrassed: mortify.” Understandably, people do not want to feel humiliated.
Think of it this way. The opposite of humiliation is arrogance, and the opposite of humility is false pride. There is nothing wrong with pride if it has a basis. Becoming sober is something to be very proud of; to think that makes us better than the still suffering alcoholic is arrogance.
Now the Handover is Done
In completing this step, we make a conscious decision to close the door on what we used to be like and move on to step 8 and the fearsome step 9. Step 8 is
Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
And step 9 is
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 7 adds a great deal to the accomplishment of these next two steps. It is difficult to make a list of people we had hurt if we believe that our actions were justified and even more difficult to make amends if we consider ourselves to have been right. Humility becomes an enabler of improvement and resolution.
At this point in the step work, you should start to become increasingly aware of the transformation you are undergoing. You have already stopped drinking, but the goal is not simply to give up our addiction but to empower us to stay liquor-free. At the end of the day though, we should develop a purpose in that as step 12 says
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
We cannot carry this message if we do not have changed views. Think about the other meaning of A.A. – Altered Attitudes. That term again brings us back to step 7 and the effect of letting go of our old attitudes toward ourselves, towards others, and towards life.
The most remarkable thing about the changes brought about by this program and in particular, this seventh step is that it places us in a position of becoming enablers. We spent so long disabling our lives and the life of others, but now as we become renewed, we can participate in the renewal of others and that is glorious.
In case you think that I have over-emphasized humility, let me assure you that I haven’t. The book 12 and 12, says on page 70,
the attainment of greater humility is the foundation principle of each of A.A.’s Twelve Steps. For without some degree of humility, no alcoholic can stay sober at all.
and also notes on the same page that this step “specifically concerns itself with humility.”
Think about that for a second. The founders of this program confidently assert that without humility, no alcoholic can remain dry. Not one. This is why I urge you as you complete the worksheet to consider what I wrote here about the quality of humility and with every part of you to be humble as you let your higher power remove your shortcomings.
Note: Except where specified all quotes are from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous