Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Principle behind step six is HUMILITY.
LEADER'S SHARE AND STEP QUESTIONS
Hopefully if you’ve survived this journey so far, by the time you get to this step you’re probably beginning to believe that it’s really not up to us, and that our Higher Power is there to help us, not only with the food but with just about everything in our lives. That of course includes those character defects that mess up our lives and our relationships. As for humility which of course is the principle behind this step, I really struggled with that concept at first, and like many people before me I thought it meant humiliation or being less than, and I certainly didn’t need to feel more less than, than I already did.
It took me a long time to actually grasp the concept of humility and when I finally got it, it was only because of the feelings I got in my OA meetings where despite what I’d done or hadn’t done, I was still like everyone else – just another bozo on the bus. It was then that I realised that having humility means that we are neither above nor below anyone on some imagined ladder of worth. I know many of my character defects were ways I’d behaved in the past in an attempt to make me feel better than others like being judgmental or critical, whereas some had the exact opposite effect, namely self pity which made me feel like a victim. As it says in the OA 12&12 on p.60:
“Humility as we encounter it in our OA Fellowship, places us neither above nor below other people on some imagined ladder of worth. It places us exactly where we belong, on an equal footing with our fellow beings and in harmony with God.”
In meetings, I always identify myself as a compulsive overeater because it was there that I learned that I was exactly the same as others, namely a compulsive overeater who was looking for recovery. In the past I would rather identify myself by my accomplishments such as the person who was accomplished in many areas and who had a couple of degrees, one even cum laude, because those made me feel better than others. But what I learned in meetings was that the people I met there who either had less education than I did or who came from totally different cultural, ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds were exactly the same as me, in that they were also compulsive overeaters looking for recovery. That for me is what humility is all about in that it right sized me and made me just the same as others, a human being struggling to cope in an often difficult world.
I know for me I struggled with the whole idea of just humbly asking God to remove my shortcomings. I mean how could I just list the character defects and then seemingly do nothing? But in actual fact if we’ve gotten this far, we are already putting in the action and are hopefully more aware of when we act out on those defects, and I know that certainly was a start for me. As it says in the OA 12 & 12 on p.61:
“Real humility about our character defects carries with it acceptance…”
I’m now also aware when I’m being critical or I’m people pleasing and I can ask my Higher Power for help with that. In fact some defects are really just misapplied instincts and I’ve been able to turn some of them around. For example my stubbornness has been what has helped me to persevere in the program. So I have just kept coming back even when I’ve been struggling with food and that has helped my recovery enormously, as I keep learning all the time. As for self pity, I’ve realised that gratitude is the exact antidote for that defect so when I do sometimes catch myself wallowing in self pity which does happen from time to time seeing I also suffer from depression, I try not to wallow too long and instead try to remember all the things I’m grateful for and that always helps. Of course we’re not aiming to be perfect or be free from our character defects 100% of the time, but Bill W has a saying:
“Through failure, we learn a lesson in humility which is probably needed, painful though it is.”
And I guess that just sums it up.
ASSIGNMENT AND QUESTIONS ON STEP SEVEN
Read step seven in the OA 12 &12 or p.76 in the Big Book and answer the following questions.
- What is your definition of humility and how does it differ from humiliation?
- Why do you want to have your shortcomings removed?
- Have you made a list of your shortcomings? If so please share about one of them and any insights you have about it
- What positive trait would you like to develop or substitute for that shortcoming?
- Which of your character defects do you think helped you survive in the past?
- How willing are you to make changes and what can you do to show your willingness?
- How do you think that becoming ‘right-sized’ would help you in navigating your way through life?
- Can you visualise yourself without the character defects you found? How will you think, act and feel?
Then say the following 7th step prayer from the AA Big Book every day for one week.
SEVENTH STEP PRAYER: My Creator, I am now willing that You 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. (Seventh Step Prayer - Page 76 of the Big Book)
The Twelve Steps