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 biding.
My name is Shlomo
I am a food addict and compulsive overeater, and leader of this workshop.
Those of you who have missed my previous shares and assignments can read them on the website: http://www.therecoverygroup.org/wts/2006 From now on I will call character defects, LIABILITIES. The meaning is the same but the word liabilities is less prone to all kinds of different interpretations that may be confusing.
When we are willing to have God remove all the things which we have admitted are objectionable, we are ready for step seven. "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings"
The Big Book deals with this step on page 76. At first sight it seems that the Big Book makes short work of step seven. It seems to consist only of the seventh step prayer with which we began this share and then it says: We have then completed STEP SEVEN. But this is an action program and in this program prayer is always a prelude to action and not all the action. I think the reason is simple. We were given quite detailed instructions on the actions we have to take when we dealt with the inventory, with particular emphasis on fears and resentments. Those were really the action instructions for step seven implemented in the working of our inventory.
I will deal with those actions and their expansion to other liabilities later in this share. Just now I want to have a closer look at the seventh step prayer The prayer begins with our willingness that God should have all of us good and bad. If by bad we mean our liabilities than by good we mean our assets. We dwelled on the things that block us from God till now, but now is the time to have a look and admit that we have some assets too. That is called being aware of the whole picture. So the first thing I have to do before saying the prayer is to write down a PERSONAL ASSET LIST.
What do we include in such a list? We write down what we feel are our Talents, Strengths, Abilities, and Positive qualities. There are two major groups of assets: 1) Hard talents, Strengths & Abilities. Examples: vocational talents, mechanical abilities, mathematical capabilities, psychic ability, manual dexterity, artistic abilities, etc…
2) Soft Abilities (Qualities): Examples: sense of humor, warmth, sensitivity, caring, openness, willingness to share, etc…
Be as specific as possible i.e., expand "artistic ability" to specifics such as sculpting, design sketching, etc…
Make as complete a list as possible. Remember, the list contains assets that you have. Their degree does not matter. If you sketch you don't have to be the best sketcher in the world etc… The list does not contain assets that you don't have and just wish you have.
Now let us write the third step prayer and the seventh step prayer, and see how we progressed by working the steps.
THIRD STEP PRAYER:
God, I Offer myself to Thee-to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always
SEVENTH 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 biding. Amen.
In the third step prayer I am still not aware of my liabilities and how they affect my life. That is why I ask God to RELIEVE me of the bondage of self in general
In the seventh step prayer I am already aware of my liabilities, and can ask specifically to REMOVE them.
Being aware of the specific objectionable things that block me from God and being willing to have them removed is a lot of progress on our way from step three to step seven.
Another thing that may have caught you attention is that the word AMEN appears at the end of the seventh step prayer but it does not appear at the end of the third step prayer.
The word AMEN is used to close a prayer. We can look at those two prayers as two parts of one prayer. The first part is said at the beginning of the process when we are not yet completely aware of what we are asking and the second part completes the process of turning to God since now we have done some work and are more aware of what to ask for.
After dealing with the prayers Let us look at the words of step seven:
"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings"
Our shortcomings are of course our liabilities. Let us take a look at the word HUMBLY, and see what the Big Book means by Humbleness or Humility.
First let us see what it is NOT. Page 83: We should be sensible, tactful, considerate and humble without being servile or scraping. " As God's people we stand on our own feet; we don't crawl before anyone."
So humble DOESN'T mean being a doormat for others to step on. It does not mean making myself less than I am or degrading myself.
So what does it mean? It means not pretending to be something I am not. It means being honest with myself and others as in step five. It means as in the seventh step prayer, and in the words of Bill W. the AA cofounder: "A clear recognition of what and who we really are (the good and the bad), followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be" It means a desire to seek and do God's will as is manifested in the prayer. It means that we have to place principles before personalities as in the twelfth tradition (page 568, third edition; page 566 fourth edition).
Humility in this program means actions that express humility. Since this is an action program. In fact every step that we work expresses an act of humility on our part. The admission of powerlessness in step one is an act of humility. Believing that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity in step two is an act of humility. Deciding to turn our will and our life to the care of God in step three is an act of humility. Making an inventory in step four and admitting what blocks us from God is an act of humility. Sharing is step five is an act of humility. Being willing to have God remove our liabilities in step six is an act of humility. And turning to God to remove our shortcomings in step seven is an act of humility. All the 12 steps are acts of humility.
Now let us look at the words 'humbly asked' in the seventh step prayer. Those words mean that when we turn to God for help we don't demand and don't give God instructions. We offer ourselves to God as we are with our assets and liabilities, and have God decide when and how to remove our liabilities so that we can be more useful to God and to this world. We have to realize that the removal of liabilities is not something that happens overnight. At least not for all our liabilities. This is a process and not an event.
In our day to day dealings with life the liabilities may arise anew. That is why we have to work the steps on a daily basis after dealing with the wreckage of the past. Our recovery is dependent on our daily actions. This is a new life-long way of living in which we progress and develop all the time and it never ends.
Now let us deal with the actions that should accompany the seventh step prayer.
Let us remind ourselves how the Big Book directs us to deal with resentments. We write a resentment inventory. We share our inventory with our sponsor. We turn to God in prayer to remove our resentments and change our attitude towards the people we resent to an attitude of tolerance and patience and helpfulness. The actions we take after praying are to practice restraint. We avoid retaliation and argument.
There is another action that I found from personal experience to be very useful. It is not mentioned in the Big Book. I make an effort to discover and then I write down the positive characteristics and qualities of the person I resent. It is very rare not to find any positive quality in another person. Paying attention to those positive qualities makes it easier for me to change my attitude to that person, since it lets me have a look at a more complete picture of that person. The prayer and the actions after the prayer are the essence of step seven.
Now let us remind ourselves how the big book directs us to deal with our fears. We write a fear inventory. We pray to God to remove our fears and direct our attention to what He would have us be. Then we act to approach gradually to what God would have us be. The prayer and the action are the essence of step seven.
If the fear is a phobia like fear of closed places and it is very bothersome, then of course it is reasonable to assume that what God would have us be is free of this phobia. The action we can take in this case is get professional help.
The usual fears are generally fears of something that will happen in the future. We usually lack information and construct a frightening scenario based on assumptions and not on facts. So the logical actions we have to take are to get information from a reliable source like a professional person, or a person who had the same problem and solved it. Sometimes we get the information from inside by meditating and asking our Higher Power to guide us. When we get the information we have to understand that we cannot expect to solve now some future event or problem. What we can do is to commit to take a small step now that will get us a bit closer to the solution and leave the rest to God. After I take this step I take another one and so on and thus I approach the solution of the problem. I have to commit to live in the here and now and not take it on myself to solve now a problem that lies in the future.
An example: I get a letter from the IRS and they invite me to see them in two weeks about my previous year's taxes. I get scared imagining that they are after my hide. They will confiscate all my property and put me in jail since I probably did something wrong. This is an example of assumptions and projection of scenarios into the future.
Usually I used to worry and do nothing, and come unprepared. Then I got some large fines just to make some of my fears come true.
Now, working the program, I begin by praying to H.P. to remove my fears. Then I begin some positive actions. First I ask God for help and I determine not to deal with the whole problem now. Committing to live in the here and now, take responsibility only for my immediate small step, and leave the rest to God.
Remembering that my next step is evolved by my present step, and the present step is the only thing I can deal with, I ask myself what small step I can do now towards solving the problem.
Maybe it is just finding and organizing some of the papers I will need, receipts, reports and such. Maybe it will take a few days, so I determine what I can comfortably do today and turn the rest over to God. This way I can do a small step every day. Maybe I can get advice from an accountant, too. But I don't worry, since worrying is a paralyzing defect that gets me nowhere. I just pray to H.P. and do my footwork and you now what, on the day I have to visit the IRS, I come prepared. It even turns out that they owe me some money and I get a nice check for my troubles.
Now let us have a look at anxieties. If I am full of anxieties they may be a symptom of addiction to fear. This is really an adrenaline addiction similar to gambling addiction. Fear makes the body secrete adrenaline and gets me kind of excited. It is a feeling in the gut like there are butterflies flying around there. Usually this kind of excitement ends up by my feeling bad about myself, like the feeling after eating too much. There is a twelve step fellowship for those kinds of addictions. It is called adrenaline addicts anonymous. And it has a website: http://www.adrenalineaddicts.org Those who think they are addicted to fear or want to get more information can get it from this website.
Here I will suggest a simple action method that may help. This method became quite popular due to the popularity of a book called "The Artist's Way" By Julia Cameron who is a recovered alcoholic. The method is positive and fun and is an act of self love. Personally I recommend doing it even if we are not addicted to anything.
Write a list of all the pleasant/exciting activities that you like. It can be as simple as going to a movie or spending an hour with yourself, or reading a nice book or dancing, or listening to music, or watching the sunset, etc… Choose activities that are not dependent on the participation of others, though they can be activities in which others participate.
Choose a different activity from your list each week and decide to do it. Determine a date place and time and just do it. Don't find last minute excuses to postpone it. After a while you may choose two different activities a week, we don't want to indulge ourselves too much. What happens is that you get excited planning the activity, you are exited doing it and you get excited remembering it. Quite a nice bundle of excitements that replaces the fear excitement, with one big difference: it leaves you feeling good about yourself, since it was an act of self-care and self-love.
Now let us remind ourselves how the Big Book directs us to deal with harm done to others by our sexual conduct and by our general conduct. We write a sexual conduct inventory and a general conduct inventory. We write and ideal for our sexual conduct and for our general conduct. We pray to God to help us live up to our ideals. We act by helping others and take steps to gradually approach our ideal. The prayer and the actions after the prayer are the essence of step seven. Then we do steps eight and nine. We will deal with those steps in another share.
Now let us look at some specific examples of working step seven. We will deal with the following liabilities: Anger, self criticism, and guilt.
ANGER: Anger is a feeling that arises and dissipates whereas resentment is a feeling that remains with me. Dealing with anger is somewhat similar to dealing with resentment except for writing an inventory. We turn to God in prayer to remove our anger and change our attitude into an attitude of tolerance patience and helpfulness. The actions we take after praying are to practice restraint. We avoid retaliation and argument. There is another action that I found from personal experience to be very useful. It is not mentioned in the Big Book. I make an effort to discover and then I write down the positive characteristics and qualities of the person I am angry with. It is very rare not to find any positive quality in another person. Paying attention to those positive qualities makes it easier for me to change my attitude to that person, since it lets me have a look at a more complete picture of that person.
SELF-CRITICISM: The extent of this liability usually escapes our awareness. We don't even realize how many times we criticize ourselves during the day. So the first step is to become aware of it.
An efficient way to do it is to always carry a small notebook and pen with me. Whenever I realize that I am criticizing myself I should take out my notebook and write down that I criticize myself and what I criticize myself for. Then I turn to God and say the seventh step prayer for this self criticism or a shorter version like 'Please God remove this liability that blocks me from you'. This should be done in real time if possible.
Then I have to practice the asset which is evaluation and acceptance. When I criticize myself it means that I consider myself to be a mistake and get down on myself. When I evaluate the situation I accept myself as I am a slightly imperfect human being. This is fine since in this program we are asked for progress not perfection. Evaluation means recognizing that I made a mistake and taking necessary steps to correct it. And last but not least commend myself for taking those steps. I am worth some self- appreciation for taking action to correct mistakes.
Of course I share all this with my sponsor and plan my program of action with him. I commit to doing it and to report everyday even a few or a lot of times a day, till I finish the actions needed to correct the error or mistake. If it is a situation where the error can't be corrected I pray to God to help me let go and to avoid making the same error next time.
When I do something wrong my first reaction is usually to react with some of my liabilities, like remorse or anger or even self-criticism. Not necessarily guilt. Guilt is usually something that I feel when I do what is right for me, but I don't have enough self worth to accept that I have the right to do it, or that I am worth it or deserve it. It can be a feeling of guilt that I get when I take care of myself like buying something for myself, or doing something that benefits me and is not connected to others, or setting borders and not letting others walk all over me.
So how do I check what it is? Simple. I use the best friend criterion. Supposing my best friend was in the same situation would I advise him to do what I did? If the answer is yes, then I did the right thing and I feel guilty because of lack of self worth, which means that I feel that I don't deserve to be good to myself or to care for myself.
If this is the case then I should use my little notebook. I take it out preferably in real time and write down what I did and why it was the right thing to do. Use the best friend criterion to help you in writing it down. Then write down what are the customs and prejudices of other people that you took upon yourself that made you feel guilty. A simple example: You are a mother of a small child. You take a babysitter and go to see a movie with your husband or friends. Then you feel guilty because you think you should have stayed and taken care of your child. When using the best friend criterion you ask the following. If your best friend was in the same situation of working all day and needed some time to relax would you have told her to take a babysitter and go see a movie? If the answer is yes then your feeling of guilt is because of lack of self worth. You don't think you are important enough to take care of yourself. What are the prejudices of others that you have taken on yourself? That a good mother does not leave her small child with a babysitter even if she needs to relax. She always stays home with her child and cares for him herself.
Guilt and remorse because of harm done to others is dealt with by repairing the damage that we have done and we do this in step nine.
1. The words Humble, Humbly, Humbling and Humility appear in the following pages of the Big Book. 12, 13, 57, 59, 63, 72, 73, 83, 568(third edition), 566(fourth edition) Copy the paragraphs that contain those words. After reading the paragraphs carefully. Write what actions are implied by those words. Do you understand them now differently than you did before working the program? Share with us.
2. Write a personal assets list as explained in this share. If you find it difficult to find or recognize your assets ask some people who know you well to tell you what are the assets they see in you and add those to your list, if you are convinced that you have them. They should tell you only your assets and not your liabilities. Share what you can with us.
3. Read your liabilities list to your sponsor and then read the seventh step prayer aloud to him. That is the way to begin working step seven according to the Big Book.
4. Begin having some fun in life. You deserve it. Do the following: Write a list of all the pleasant/exciting activities that you like. It can be as simple as going to a movie or spending an hour with yourself, or reading a nice book or dancing, or listening to music, or watching the sunset, etc… Choose activities that are not dependent on the participation of others, though they can be activities in which others participate.
Choose a different activity from your list each week and decide to do it. Determine a date place and time and just do it. Don't find last minute excuses to postpone it. After a while you may choose two different activities a week, we don't want to indulge ourselves too much. What happens is that you get excited planning the activity, you are exited doing it and you get excited remembering it. Those activities will leave you feeling good about yourself, since they are acts of self-care and self-love.
5. Chose three of you most prominent liabilities and work step seven on them as explained in this share. Do it together with your sponsor. Share with us how you do this work.
I invite you to ask me questions. Anything that is not clear to you about my explanations, about the assignments, maybe you would like me to enlarge on some point, or to mention points that I have not dealt with. Anything at all that is connected to our 12 step workshop. There are no stupid or trivial questions. Every question is important to our understanding of what we do, in order to do it properly. I am aware that not everything I write is clear or sufficient, and the questions will enhance our understanding and therefore are very important. When you ask questions write them in a separate e-mail to the loop. In the subject space write QUESTIONS TO THE LEADER.
Wishing us all a life full of recovery
Food addict and compulsive overeater
Questions To The workshop Leader
I am having difficulty finding the line between self criticism and guilt.
Here are definitions:
The tool I use to deny my talents, strengths and abilities.
A condition which results from taking the appropriate action, but not feeling worthy of that action. I would find that action appropriate if another took it but not when I take it.
How do you define LOVE?
Love means action.
The Big Book repeats many time the sentence: 'Faith without works is dead' That is true for every Asset, including love.