Step Seven

1997

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

Step Seven Contents:

Part 1 and Questions for journaling
Part 2 and Questions for journaling
Part 3 and Questions for journaling
Part 4 and Questions for journaling
Transition and Questions for journaling

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Step Seven ~ Part 1

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

Hi, everybody. I'm Vivian a compulsive overeater.

First, I apologize for posting this so late. I had the great good fortune to participate in the World Service Convention in New York City. I had the best intentions of preparing my first post before I left, but I wasn't able to.

So, here I am admitting a mistake - something I was loathe to do before this program. It is one of the ways I can practice humility today - I can admit when I'm wrong, and the other side of the coin is that I don't have to tell someone when I'm right and they are not. What a relief that was - not to have to keep score anymore.

It is difficult at first to understand the difference between being humble and being humiliated. Most of us have had lots of experience with humiliation. Well-meaning people gave us lots of advice about what we should do to control our weight and our eating. Many times we were made fun of, as children and/or adults. Add to that the shame and self loathing that I carried around when practicing my disease. No one could treat me as badly as I treated myself. No one could think worse of me than I thought of myself.

The first step requires humility. It is confusing, at first, and sometimes we resist it for a long time. We cannot imagine admitting that we are powerless over food. Yet, the relief and the hope that accompanies this admission makes that act of humility worthwhile.

So, now that we have worked the first 6 steps, we have become more familiar with humility. The OA 12 & 12 sums it up as follows: "We have admitted our need for help to live our lives, have begun to let go of self-will, have become willing to acknowledge our true selves - defects and all -- and have become willing to have our self-defeating attitudes and traits changed."

I experienced a change I consider miraculous the first time I worked the steps. I was an angry, bitter and resentful person before OA. I kept score of everything. I yelled at clerks, salespeople, operators. I tried to bend everyone to MY will. I often felt hurt and insulted when people didn't treat me the way I thought they should. I frequently got into disagreements with friends and family.

When I got to this point, anger as a driving force in my life was lifted. That's not to say I never get angry; it's just that I'm not controlled by my anger. It kept me working the steps, and I continue to experience positive changes in my life.


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Step Seven ~ Part 1: Questions

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

  1. What is YOUR definition of humility?

  2. How is humility different from humiliation?

  3. What are the shortcomings you want removed?

  4. Which shortcomings would you like to hold on to?

  5. Describe the person God/your higher power intends you to be.

I am very grateful for this opportunity to work this step with you.

In loving service,
Vivian M.
San Diego

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Step Seven ~ Part 2

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

Often people gloss over steps 6 and 7, figuring that there really isn't much work to do here. Actually, there's a lot to do here. It's mental and spiritual work, but work nevertheless. These are considered part of the "action steps", steps 4-9.

So, what action do we take in Step 7. For a number of years when I was in program, we did not have our own 12 & 12. I was in a committed step study, and looked at a number of 12 step books for help. One of them made a suggestion that I still use, and that I often suggest for those I sponsor.

The premise is that each of our defects is a coping mechanism that worked for us in the past. The problem is that it is no longer the appropriate response today. Yet, before we are ready to let go of that behavior, there is a process we can go through.

Look at the "old belief" and see what purpose it served. For example, I often lied to my parents, because anything I said was used against me. It was important not to appear vulnerable, so I learned not to trust them. That behavior didn't work as an adult with my friends or my other close relationships.

So I wrote down the "old belief", the purpose it served, and then I wrote down the new belief that would work for me today, the belief I could replace that with. At first that behavior was uncomfortable, but writing it down kept the old and the new in my conscious thoughts and made it easier to make a change.

Another example, for me, was when I lost the baby. I was in my 22nd week of pregnancy, and I was devastated. Yet, I found I was afraid to cry. After writing and thinking, I realized that the message I had gotten throughout my childhood and adolescense was that "It is not okay to cry". I wrote down that belief, and then I wrote the new belief: "I can cry in front of safe people - they will still love me."

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Step Seven ~ Part 2: Questions

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

  1. What are the old beliefs that are holding you back?

  2. What would you like to replace them with?

  3. How can God help?

  4. "...our goal...is simply to draw closer to being the people God intends us to be." What does God intend for you?

Thanks for all the wonderful responses thus far.

With love,
Vivian M.
San Diego

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Step Seven ~ Part 3

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

Hi, I'm Vivian, a compulsive eater in San Diego. I'd like to thank everyone who's posted on this step so far - your shares have meant a lot to me. It's so interesting that when I focus on a certain step, much of my life relates to what I'm working on.

There was a very sad story in the newspaper today. A 13-year old girl in California died of congestive heart failure. She weighed 680 pounds. Her body was surrounded by fast food wrappers and her own waste. They are planning to charge the mother with child abuse.

I always knew that there was a thin person inside of me. Today, I also know that there is a 680 pound person inside of me as well, that left to my own devices, if I allow the disease to take over my life I would kill myself with food.

This is one place where humility plays a major role. Our meeting rooms are filled with intelligent men and women. I cannot imagine a group of people more sophisticated about diets, nutrition, exercise, fat grams, calories, ingredients, etc. If knowledge were the key, any and all of us would not have been powerless over food. The truth is that knowing about nutrition doesn't stave away the disease, nor does exploring "why" - why we ate, why we purged, why, why, why????

I'm not saying that it's inappropriate to explore those issues. My own experience, however, is that I have been humiliated every time I tried to take control. When I rely solely on my will, my intellect and my efforts, I insure myself miserable results.

The AA 12 & 12 says, "...whenever we had to choose between character and comfort, the character building was lost in the dust of our chase after what we thought was happiness." More than anything, I ate for comfort. Some days I am still convinced that certain foods will 'make me feel better'. The expression 'comfort food' is not accidental.

The AA 12 & 12 also says, "In every case, pain had been the price of admission into a new life. But this admission price had purchased more than we expected. It brought a measure of humility, which we soon discovered to be a healer of pain."

One more quote from AA's 12 & 12 [in case you haven't guessed, I read the step in that book this week!]: "As long as we placed self-reliance first, a genuine reliance upon a Higher Power was out of the question. That basic ingredient of all humility, a desire to seek and do God's will, was missing."

There are so many expressions we hear in meetings. One that has been occurring to me while I right this is "ego" stands for "easing God out". When I'm full of myself, when I am least humble, there is no room for God.

Here's the 7th step prayer, for those who don't know it:

My Creator, I am now ready 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.


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Step Seven ~ Part 3: Questions

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

  1. In what areas of your life and in what ways do you seek comfort?

  2. How can working on your humility improve your relationship with God?

  3. How does self-centered fear operate in your life today?

  4. How does self reliance interfere with your recovery?

Thanks for all the wonderful responses thus far.

With love,
Vivian M.
San Diego

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Step Seven ~ Part 4

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

Hi, I'm Vivian, a compulsive overeater.

I just got back from the Region 2 convention. There were close to 600 people, and I feel so grateful for the fellowship and recovery I experienced there. As a newcomer, I couldn't imagine WHAT people meant when they said they were grateful to be a compulsive overeater. Today I do understand. The theme of the Convention was "A Design for Living" - that's what I have in the 12 steps of OA.

STEP 7: HUMBLY ASKED HIM TO REMOVE OUR SHORTCOMINGS.

The OA 12 & 12 says: "...we've found that our willingness to act is an important factor in our healing. It indicates our sincerity."

As we know, "willingness is the key". I had to learn that being willing to do something was not the same as wanting to do it. If I had waited until I wanted to abstain, I could be dead by now. To my way of thinking, willingness is doing something whether we want to or not.

For example, I do a written 10th step every night. I do it whether I want to or not. Usually I write several paragraphs, most often a page or two. Sometimes I can only manage a few words.

One of the things I do is write down what I ate that day. This keeps me honest. Dishonesty has been one of my shortcomings. I've lied so often that I don't know whether or not some of the stories I've told are true - by now they sound so familiar I think that they actually happened. I write down my food so that I don't have any secrets about it. Sometimes I'm greedy, and want to eat more than I need, but I don't want to write it down so I don't have it.

Being willing to write down my food helps me to eat moderately. I share what I've eaten with God, and in doing so I find that a defect is no longer a problem.

The 12 & 12 continues: "Are we willing to make an investment of time and energy to change our attitudes and actions? To what lengths are we willing to go in order to be rid of these shortcomings?"

When something is troubling me, when I know action would help, I pray for the willingness to take that action. My sponsor told me that if I couldn't do that, all I needed to do was ask for the willingness to be willing. It works, over and over again.

On a nightly basis, I pray for the willingness to eat moderately and spend moderately. I also pray for the willingness to treat everyone with love, respect and kindness. Often my sarcasm and my taking offense has gotten me into trouble. This has been very powerful.

"Effort on our part will help us to appreciate the miracle we are about to receive, rather than take it for granted. Yet, when the miracle happens, we know for certain that we didn't simply 'clean up our act'. We took action under the guidance of our Higher Power, and God worked through us to remove our shortcomings."

God has done for me what I could never do for myself.


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Step Seven ~ Part 4: Questions

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

  1. What do you need to pray for willingness to do (or not do)?

  2. As I quoted above, "To what lengths are we willing to go in order to be rid of these shortcomings?"

  3. To paraphrase the OA 12 & 12, how can continuing practice of step seven enable you to form a working partnership with your Higher Power?"

  4. How can you be of more service to others?

Thank you very much for the gift of studying and working this step with you. I feel blessed.

Step Seven Prayer (from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 76)

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 yere, to do your bidding. Amen."

With much love,
Vivian M.
San Diego

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Step Seven ~ Transition

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

Dear Loopies,

My name is Sharon, and I will be your trusted servant through Step 8. I just started reading Chapter 6 in the Big Book, and flashed on a wonderful transition between the 7th and 8th steps. It starts with the 7th step prayer: Dear Loopies,

My name is Sharon, and I will be your trusted servant through Step 8. I just started reading Chapter 6 in the Big Book, and flashed on a wonderful transition between the 7th and 8th steps. It starts with the 7th step prayer:

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 the strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.

From there it goes on to say "Now we need more action, without which we find that ‘Faith without works is dead’."

As I work step 7 to the best of my ability, I am committed to an act of Faith, that in order for me to be useful to God, and in turn to others, I am certain that God has removed all my defects of character. By accepting this, I must then act on this faith and do my bit to allow God to remove these defects by following through with action.

When I looked at my shortcomings, I identified one as being my inability to express anger effectively. I used anger as a secondary emotion. It was used to cover up my emotions of insecurity, inadequacy, loneliness, sadness and sometimes even joy. I expressed anger to protect myself from anyone who tried to get close to me. Anger was a "comfort" thing to me, because it insulated me from having to feel any emotion that was uncomfortable to me to feel.

I have asked God, and have to do so on a daily basis, to remove this shortcoming from me. I must feel that anger serves a purpose for me because I still have to ask God daily to remove it from me, or at least to develop the ability to express anger effectively without secondary gains.

My act of faith is to know that God has removed my defect of character – anger. My action on the act of faith is to do my part in showing God that I truly have accepted His grace and forgiveness of my shortcomings. So far, we have dealt with God and me. The action, or the proof of the pudding, is to define my relation with others, where my shortcomings have come to involve others.

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 the strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.

From there it goes on to say "Now we need more action, without which we find that ‘Faith without works is dead’."

As I work step 7 to the best of my ability, I am committed to an act of Faith, that in order for me to be useful to God, and in turn to others, I am certain that God has removed all my defects of character. By accepting this, I must then act on this faith and do my bit to allow God to remove these defects by following through with action.

When I looked at my shortcomings, I identified one as being my inability to express anger effectively. I used anger as a secondary emotion. It was used to cover up my emotions of insecurity, inadequacy, loneliness, sadness and sometimes even joy. I expressed anger to protect myself from anyone who tried to get close to me. Anger was a "comfort" thing to me, because it insulated me from having to feel any emotion that was uncomfortable to me to feel.

I have asked God, and have to do so on a daily basis, to remove this shortcoming from me. I must feel that anger serves a purpose for me because I still have to ask God daily to remove it from me, or at least to develop the ability to express anger effectively without secondary gains.

My act of faith is to know that God has removed my defect of character – anger. My action on the act of faith is to do my part in showing God that I truly have accepted His grace and forgiveness of my shortcomings. So far, we have dealt with God and me. The action, or the proof of the pudding, is to define my relation with others, where my shortcomings have come to involve others.


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Step Seven ~ Transition Questions

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

  1. "Faith without works is dead." What is your definition of Faith?

  2. What is your idea of "works"? Give an example of action you can take in order to express your understanding of "works".

  3. What lengths are you willing to go for victory over compulsive overeating?


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