Step Seven

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.






Leader's Share and Step Questions


It used to be we would take a big trip, take pictures, get the film developed into slides and have a slide show for our families. If we were happy if they would not get too bored. Nowadays, we take digital pictures, create a blog and give our family and friends a daily journal of our adventures. In Step Seven I am giving you a slide show/blog about how I worked through some of my character defects in Step Seven. I hope you find it interesting and helpful.

Step Seven

Every time I read this step I think – was somebody watching me all those years ago when I was so messed up emotionally? How did they know exactly how I used to behave?

Many of you know me. You have shown me great respect and acceptance even complimented me. You ask me questions. You even seek my wisdom. It has been a joyful experience to be treated so kindly.

It was not always that way. I was self-absorbed for many years. I was a status seeker too. Many of you remember my story of how I got so messed up. In this state my every thought was about ME!!! Here is something I wrote – it described me pretty well.

Self-Absorption

I need this…
I need that…
Do this…
Do that…
What do you mean???
I don't understand..
You want me to do what...
Give you what….
I need this now…
I want that now…
The Angels throw out a net in hopes they can catch these self-absorbed souls.
To give them what they really need -- their spirit back.

I was in the downward spiral that they talk about in Step Seven. I had no confidence in myself and my fears kept me pushing to look good around others. I was desperate for respect and acceptance.

I was actually living in a fantasy world. I believed I would write a best seller book and everyone would be so impressed they would worship my every thought. I was crushed if someone disagreed with me

You wonder why it never worked for me??? Well, it was because I lost who I really was. In my neediness and desperation for something to bring balance into my life I had gone in the wrong direction. And, I had a hard time figuring out what was wrong let alone how to change it.

It took years of counseling and OA and finding my HP to bring those changes into my life. I finally found a framework of values and priorities and boundaries and personal limits that let me accept who I was – a caring, compassionate and understanding woman. That is what filled the emptiness of my spirit and gave me the balance and respect I had so wanted.

Humility

The two things Step Seven talks about are humility and change. On Page 60 of the OA 12 x 12 it describes humility as “...simply an awareness of who we really are today and a willingness to become all that we can be. Genuine humility brings an end to the feelings of inadequacy, the self-absorption, and the status-seeking.”

That is a promise that came true for me and it came true for me because I was willing to look at who I was, really was, and to make changes.

We are now at a place where we are ready to change and we are getting ready to ask our HP to help us. One of the first things we have to deal with is our self-absorption and our low self-esteem. It helps to understand the difference between humility and humiliation. Most of us know the humiliation associated with being overweight and failing time after time to find a way to stop eating compulsively. Some of our pain may have been from the shame and humiliation of molestation, rape, emotional abuse and terrible circumstances and experiences in our childhood. It was a normal reaction to want to build ourselves up in any way our child’s mind could come up with. Our character defects gave us some relief. However, they left us unclear about who we really were.

The process that we started in Step Four is how we get to know ourselves – the good and the not so good. We stop pretending to be something we are not. We face our shortcomings and we learn that our character defects, though once a way to keep us safe, no longer serve us. This is humility.

How We Know We are Humble?

1. We accept each one of our character defects, painful or not, because it is a part of who we are.

2. We do not ask our HP to remove our shortcomings so that we can be better than other people. That would be going backwards.

3. We do not get upset when we are struggling to change our character defects and make mistakes.

4. We find great relief.

5. We see our freedom from the defect as a miracle.

6. We believe our miracles are evidence of the power of God’s healing love and we are honestly grateful.

7. We accept humility is a gift.

Change

Once we have found an attitude of humility the process of change can begin. My experience has been that when I really worked on one character defect I learned the process. It helped with other character defects. This was my process:

I found myself feeling an emotion – for example, impatience.

I saw myself wanting to eat compulsively.

I worked some of the OA tools and steps to change that emotion and craving to recovery thinking.

I talked to my sponsor and OA friends to help me get to know my impatience inside and out and ways I could learn to manage it.

I came to understand where my impatience came from.

I forgave myself for using impatience in the past to deal with my deeper struggles.

I found I could now recognize impatience when it would start up.

I knew what could happen if I did not deal with it then and there. I could very easily slip back into compulsive eating.

The next time I felt impatience I stopped what I was doing and this stopped the character defect in its tracks.

I did something different. I was relieved. I felt victorious.

The next time impatience came up I knew I could stop.

I realized, additionally, I had a choice.

I chose to continue doing what I was doing and practice a new character trait – patience.

I accepted the dignity of choice as my sponsor calls it.

I know this may sound like a simple little checklist of how to change a character defect. It was a process that did not come easy and I had to dig deep for my change. It was personal and I had to explore areas in my life for explanation and understanding. I had to keep at it until I found some peace. I also had to acknowledge my HP’s guidance to this clarity and final removal. This is the miracle that came from my humility and my willingness to change.

Yet, it was so worth it.

A Footnote to This Experience

There is a footnote to this experience I have just shared that, for me, is as dangerous as practicing my character defect of impatience. I have shared before about how I used to be addicted to finding insights about my life. I get on a high when I learn something like I did in the letting go of my impatience. I did feel that high for about five or six days. Then I came down.

For awhile I thought maybe I had not changed after all. I felt strange about it. I was craving more than normal. Then doing this step study opened up my thinking. I came to understand –really understand how our character defects can be a complex web of reactions.

However, because I know when I am craving – for no physical reason – that I am in the throes of a character defect I know how to explore what had happened. That understanding set me free in ways I never imagined before.

I hope this sharing of my journey with one of my character defects has given you some insight into the process.

The Act of Humbly Asking – Completing Step Seven

In the OA 12 x 12 (Pages 62-63) it provides guidance to complete Step Seven:

“Quite simply, we take our written inventory or list of character defects in hand. (Some of us have found it helpful to assume a physical posture of humility as we pray.) With our list before us, we name each shortcoming individual and ask God to deal with it whenever and however God wants. We express our complete willingness to have each shortcoming removed from us. We express our desire to become more effective in serving and help others as our shortcomings are transformed into assets. Having said this prayer, we have taken step seven.”

However way you chose to do your seventh step, do it with an open heart and a clear mind about how important it is to your recovery.

The Healing Process

There is one more concept to look at – in Step Seven it gives us some more guidance in what I would consider the healing process of letting go of our character defects and replacing them with positive character traits. The OA 12 x 12 offers some wisdom about this phase in our recovery.
Our HP will reveal more to us as we are ready. We apply the principles of the OA program and move on through the process of healing yet another shortcoming.

The principles and process simply put are:

We will not be surprised when we discover yet another defect.
We acknowledge and accept the shortcoming as belonging to us.
We examine our motives and the effects it has on our life.
We become ready to let it go.
We acknowledge our powerlessness to remove the defect ourselves.
We humbly ask God to take it from us.
We let go and go on with life in a new frame of mind knowing God will indeed remove the shortcoming.
We will often be shown actions which we are to take as each defect is being removed such as visualizing our life without the shortcoming.
We may even rehearse what we’ll say and do when tempted to act in the old way.
When we make a mistake, we acknowledge the mistake without self-condemnation.
We affirm that we are becoming honest, caring, nurturing, wise and effective human beings as we work on our new behaviors each day.
Most important we are patient and persistent.
We learn that God’s powers have begun to flow more surely and freely through us, bringing healing to others as well as ourselves.

OA 12 x 12 (pages 63-66)

Final Thoughts

I want for each one of you to experience the peace that came with these changes in my life. Doing this study and these steps is my way of expressing that desire. You all deserve peace and freedom in your lives. You all deserve to be all you have the potential to be. I can say without hesitation if you work these steps as well as the OA tools it will happen. As they often say, if I can do it as messed up as I was you can too.

Questions

1. Have you come to understand the difference between humility and humiliation? Explain.

2. How willing are you to make changes? What are two or three things you can do to show your willingness?

3. What are two or three things you can do when you get discouraged or made a mistake and let your character defect come up again?

4. Have you made a list of your shortcomings? Please share some of them and any insights you might have about them.

5. Read through your list of shortcomings. Can you accept each and every one of them were designed to keep you safe in sickness but are no longer useful to you now? Share about one of them.

6. What positive trait do you want to develop or substitute for that shortcoming?

7. Do you know how to complete Step Seven? Express any problems, if any, you may have about the process. Or, share some of your experience with Step Seven and what happened.

8. What are you grateful for at this point of your recovery?

Leader’s Share on the Questions

1. Have you come to understand the difference between humility and humiliation? Explain.

This step really clarified for me that all those years I was so troubled I was running from my fear of humiliation. I was not strong enough to take any further blows to my self-esteem. However, I realize now I was really running from my true self – good and not so good. It was only when I was willing to see myself in all ways – my strengths and my weaknesses, did I start to heal.

2. How willing are you to make changes? What are two or three things you can do to show your willingness?

One day at a time I am willing to do whatever it takes to maintain my abstinence. I am clear headed and feel my feelings. I am no longer numbing my feelings. With abstinence, I can feel my character defects coming up and can learn to substitute positive character traits with the dignity of choice. That is one way I can show I am willing to make changes.

Another way is I use the OA tools and steps not only to deal with my compulsive overeating, I use them in other parts of my life as well.

The most important way for me to show how willing I am to change is blunt honesty with myself. I listen to the feedback I get and take it to heart. I usually find truth in it. I do not resist listening to negative feedback. Some of my greatest growth has come from hearing some blistering comments. While I do not tolerate rudeness I still learn from from it.

3. What are two or three things you can do when you get discouraged or made a mistake and let your character defect come up again?

Remember the story about the hole in the road. I give myself the grace to know my character defects are very ingrained habits of coping. I will persevere working on it until a new character trait takes its place.

When I am discouraged, chances are I am in the middle of my rebellious, what-the-heck character defect. In my heart I know great hope is my true nature. Even in the worse times of my life I wanted hope and peace for myself and others. I find something – a book, some music, someone who cares about me to remind me of that true nature.

If I have said or done something that does not feel like I did the right thing I ask the person as soon as possible. If I am right I straightened it out, if not we are both happy because I cared enough to ask.

4. Have you made a list of your shortcomings? Please share some of them and any insights you might have about them.

Impatience when things do not move fast enough. It feels like a frenzy or tantrum in the making. In working with my sponsor I realized it comes from being overwhelmed as a child when I was responsible for my siblings because my parents were not present emotionally and sometimes physically.

High on learning a new insight. It feels good, like I have solved all the problems of the world and now my life will go smoothly. NOT!!!! When I come down I start thinking about food again. It is dangerous territory to be in. Now that I recognize that I can manage it better.

Confronting people when I think they have disrespected me. I used to tell people what they “needed” to do. You need to this… You need to do that… Then I would be irritated if they did not do it my way or agree with me. I would obsess about it. I finally reached a point where I understood I could set any boundary with anyone if I was respectful. It took practice, I even would have a script when I would call them. It started to work and I have never looked back at that character defect.

5. Read through your list of shortcomings. Can you accept each and every one of them were designed to keep you safe in sickness but are no longer useful to you now? Share about one of them.

Yes, I can now. One of my biggest character defects was arrogance – I thought what I knew was more than others or that I knew better than them. I have finally come to understand humility and I like living there. It is real. The arrogance was based on fear that people would really know how defective I felt. Humility is acceptance and forgiveness for Coralee.

6. What positive trait do you want to develop or substitute for that shortcoming?

What I learned to replace my arrogance was respect. I respect where people are and what they know. I respect they have struggles I could not even know about. In the process I found out I got the respect back – what I was wanting all along.

7. Do you know how to complete Step Seven? Express any problems, if any, you may have about the process. Or, share some of your experience with Step Seven and what happened.

I like the method described in the OA 12 x 12 (pages 63-66). It is a physical as well as an emotional and spiritual process. For me when I did Step Seven I felt relief, a letting go. I also felt a commitment that I would not go back to my old ways. It was a turning point in my life that took a while to practice and change, but I am so glad I did. I am free and happier, much happier these days.

8. What are you grateful for at this point of your recovery?

I am grateful for my abstinence which has allowed me to let go of 74 pounds. I am grateful for the respect and acceptance I have received here. I feel so much better about myself these days. I am also grateful for my HP who guides me into stronger recovery one day at a time. He brought me here to this study and I have been so happy I accepted the challenge.

Seventh Step Prayer (Page 76 - A. A. Big Book)

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. Amen

Slogans

Let go of old ideas.
Try to replace guilt with gratitude.
Spirituality is the ability to get our minds off ourselves.
We're responsible for the effort not the outcome.
Slogans are wisdom written in shorthand.


Coralee






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