Step 7 of Alcoholics Anonymous states as follows:
“[We] Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
This step of AA’s Twelve Step program is about reducing character defects by embracing humility and spirituality. Working through step 7 requires a constant commitment to being brave, honest, and humble.
During steps 4 and 5, members were asked to identify their assets and shortcomings. Then, during step 6, we sought to become equipped to cope with these so that we were ready to take action in step 7.
Stopping alcohol or drug use is a huge transition. Moving on to step 7 requires letting go of one’s defects, behaviors, and feelings holding one back. This transformation requires an enormous amount of effort and courage.
It’s essential to remember that asking to be released from one’s flaws does not automatically make them disappear. It is up to the person to be conscientious and make better decisions. However, many people in recovery believe that their higher power can help them remove their shortcomings when asked.
Working on the previous steps requires us to dismantle deep layers of denial, egotism, and other toxic qualities that dominated a our life when they were active in addiction. Arriving at step 7 suggests we are being prepared to stop thinking about ourselves and what we will receive and, instead, begin looking at how we can help other people. Simply put, a higher power can help an individual replace their addiction with something better.
Step 7 and Humility
When working on step 7, the idea of humility comes down to having a realistic perspective of oneself. Humility is about being honest about one’s life and place in the world. Moreover, this is the art of being “right-sized.”
When an individual apologetically asks their Higher Power to remove their flaws, they recognize that they are neither too great or too small. Ego, self-entitlement, regrets, and shame are all gone.
By admitting one’s powerlessness over intoxicating substances, one has already begun embracing humility. During this step, recovering alcoholics often realize that submission is not a state of despair but instead a state of serenity and acceptance of life, despite whatever comes to pass. Thus, it is a continuing opportunity for an individual to welcome humility as a central element of remaining abstinent.
Wishing It Does Not Make It True
Taking action and making progress requires work. In AA, working the steps means using one’s strength to be disciplined and dedicated to striving for long-term recovery. In addition, it takes effort to stand up for oneself, be patient, and endure some emotional discomfort in one’s new behaviors.
Recognizing when we respond adversely to our shortcomings, and altering these responses, does not come easy. However, the more familiar an individual is with their defects, the more likely they are to stop and pay attention to what is going on in their mind, body, and spirit. Thus, by practicing humility in step 7, one can regain a sense of their own humanity and their ability to be compassionate not only for others but also for themselves.
We can evaluate progress in recovery by remembering who we were while using rather than measuring ourselves against others. We can recognize our assets and wield them with humility, looking for an honest way of living in a reality free from the use of drugs and alcohol.
Significant and enduring change happens slowly, and almost no one can let go of their defects all at once. Our shortcomings will continue to gradually disappear as we become conscious of them and take action, one day at a time. Recovery is about progress, not necessarily perfection. It’s about patience and the willingness to explore new ways of dealing with the overwhelming urge to choose the path of least resistance and return to our prior, dysfunctional ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
Support groups such as AA work best when used in combination with a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment program. Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer treatment in both partial hospitalization and residential formats. In addition to group support, our programs include the following:
- Individual counseling
- Family counseling
- Substance abuse education
- Art and music therapy
- Health and wellness education
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni events
For many, comprehensive, professional treatment that includes these essential services is the first step toward long-lasting sobriety and a more fruitful life. It only takes the motivation to change for the better and accept that they are healthier means of coping with stress than to turn to alcohol and drugs for misguided support.