Step Seven

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings..

Leader's Share and Step Questions

Phyllis here; chunkie, drunkie, junkie...clean, sober, abstinent since May 20, 1972

Seventh Step Prayer
      My creator, I am 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.

  Step seven: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

It doesn't take too long to read this step in the AA 12x12 when you will make the discovery that this step is all about humility. In the Big Book (AA), there is not a lot written about Step seven. In the OA 12x12, ""all we have to do is say a prayer requesting that G-d take our shortcomings from us. There is a qualification. As we say the prayer, step seven calls for us to adopt an attitude of humility.

Many of us confuse the humility with humiliation. As compulsive eaters, we have suffered enough humiliation, so I didn't want to become more humble. Humility, for me, means to be teachable. "Poor self image keeps us in bondage to self and thus makes it impossible for us to find true humility".OA 12x12. 40 years of practicing my addictive behavior has proven how self-involved I was. I focuses on my shortcomings in private and,in the world around me, I had an air of self-sufficientcy. I would never allow my weakness to become public knowledge.

The diseases pull us down as such a rapid rate that we hardly notice how little self esteem we have. I would try to show my capabilities by: joining the right groups (which I hated and did not stay long). Here I come, there I go!; by taking a stern and ineffective lead of my family (that didn't work too well); I would get great jobs and within 6 months, I was bored and did not like any of my co-workers ( I always went on to get better jobs--I don't how I did that except that I was a very good actor/director; I always dressed well feeling that if I was in "style", they will not notice how little self-esteem I have. I really did have a "place" in this world.

So, you Program people are telling me "this" will help me find out who I am. I was not very sure I want that information. I was just "trying to better myself", and admit that I very often offended or hurt people. It was my way or the highway. To allow myself to move into a society that places me exactly where I belong, was the reason for my "fighting" to get out of where I thought I belonged. I grew up in a poor family, living in a tenement in New York City. I wore hand-me-down clothes that were better suited to members of my family who were 20 years older, but the same size. I educated myself because I was told,"girls do not have to go to college'. I worked hard and went to school at night.

If we get this far, working 6 steps, we are already changing to this new attitude of humility. Well, I am here, right? I was not a quick study. I sat in the back of the rooms and judged everyone. "They were all loosely wrapped". They prayed and held hands and hugged each other. And, in time, admitted I needed help. I was powerless over food, my life was unmanageable, and I cried a lot. Imagine my embarassment when I cried in public. Not a sign of strength.

I am not asking G-d to make me better than other people. (not what I wanted). My self righteousness was a cover for my insecurity. Having done the work up to now, I knew that I was different than before. I was "in" the Program and my family was getting better. In trying to develop the Program, I had made great strides that I was not, at that time, aware of. I was becoming more tolerant, more loving, more agreeable, etc. This was a new person...not the one I knew for 40 years. It didn't happen all at once. It took time, but I never realized how long it took because life was different. I was handling life with ease and my fears were not gone, but those situations, whatever, they were, worked out better. I also might mentioned that I had contact with a Higher Power.

There is another word in the Program that we hear very often. "Acceptance"! I don't have to approve of it, but I have to accept..... Only with the help of my HP could I accomplish this. Very often, I did not immediately notice that a defect was no longer part of my life. There was a feeling of peace that I never knew. My HP was taking care of this problem without any coaching from me. Whenever the difficulty appeared, G-d would relieve me of the burden of it, at that time. Having experienced this peace, made me thank my HP for the relief. However, this is not a permanent situation. I need to practice my humility with all my character defects on a daily basis. I will never be "cured", but I can recover one day at a time.

I have said often, the defects don't go away, they come back in different costumes, but I can recognize them more easily and I chuckle and think, okay another opportunity to clean my side of the street. I accept my shortcomings, but also welcome my new found ability to live life in a wonderful new way. If G-d can remove my powerlessness over my addictions, why won't he help with my defects? It becomes second nature. When I am willing, G-d never makes me work harder than I can. I also became useful for others in their healing process. A miracle! Allowing G-d into my life opened a daily amazement of what I feel.Another aspect of this step for me was the word, Humbly. I never did anything humbly. Asking for a defect to be removed, but holding on to it, even ever so slightly, won't remove by some magic action. Pouf!

The goal of knowing yourself is self-improvement. If you do not know yourself, you will not know what to look for and watch. Being aware of your virtues will encourage you to change. Being aware of your faults will keep you from giving in to your negative behavior. So, the Program is really about self-knowledge. If you try to excel in certain areas for you which you have talent, your self-image improves. It's a double face coin, good stuff on one side, negatives on the other...and the coin is thin!

Some questions for you.
If you have the sincere wish to improve and change, there is no doubt that you will be successful. Nothing stands in your way. If you truly want to change, you will find a way. Do I really want to change?

Are you ready to change? Can you bury the cliche,"This is just the way I am." You can overcome your bad habits and stop doing negative actions. You can learn positive actions by repetition. I believe this is very important. I learned arithmetic by repetition. I learned spelling by repetition. I read lots of books to learn things and spoke to people who were in that knowledgeable. We cannot and do not have to do it alone. The Program is full of repetitions. We read the same handouts at meetings. We read the same books over and over. We talk about the Program with others all the time. Even when we think we don't want it, if we keep coming back, the desire to change grows.

The way to improve my character traits is from doing/saying good deeds and staying away from.........Fill in this space. Have you ever said to yourself, "I am too old to change, it's easier my way". Of course, there is another way out. Just don't get into situations that demand you change. I don't want that. It is easier to stand up, take whatever is out there, and then be happy that I handled a situation differently. The good part about that is that "change" has taken effect. I see it in others. If I didn't already have it, I would never recognize it in others. But change can take a long time. I am still a "work in progress". Other people my age just sit....and watch TV. I have a purpose now. Are you ready to seek the inspiration to change? Are you ready to open dialogue with a Higher Power? Do you have a Higher Power"? This would be a good time to write: Who/what is my HP? Do I feel weak relying on HP? Do I want to set up "the" connection?" How would greater humility help you become more accepting?

What have been your accomplishments? What are you most happy about in your life? This is not to be a "bucket" list. You have to work one day at a time, one situation at a time, one character defect at a time.

Earlier I said something like this, "Self-centeredness was the chief activater of fear". I repeat the 4 fears: of inadequacy, failure, rejection, loss of control. These are the blocks that helped me build the walls instead of bridges., and go from self-centered to a centered self! The defining point of this step is HUMILITY.

OA 12x12, page 65:Repeated practice of step seven enables us to form a working partnership with our HP through which we are relieved of the defects which have blocked our effectiveness in the world. As we gain a new humility and ever greater freedom from our character defects,G-d's power flows more surely and freely through us bringing healing to others, and drawing to us all the things we once fought to attain: self-esteem, a feeling of usefulness, joy, strength to surmount difficulties, fellowship and love....and we find G-d does for us what we could never do for ourselves.

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