Step Seven

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.





Leader's Share and Step Questions


Hi everyone
My name is Shlomo
I am a compulsive overeater, and leader of this workshop.
before I begin with step seven there are two questions that I have to answer:

QUESTION: I have many defects in my list – 60, including all my fears.
How do I work with so many?

ANSWER: First I deal with the resentments as a group.
I deal with them by prayer and actions as explained in my share on step four

Then I choose a few resentments , the strongest ones, and deal with each one separately on a daily basis,
After a while I deal with other resentments separately too. I do the same with fears

QUESTION:what do I do if most of the harm in my step 4 sex conduct is to myself?
like getting into an intimate relationship in order to get love,
or getting into noncommittal relationships just to get attention or feel validated,
or not choosing suitable partners like married men or others who are not interested in a committed relationships etc...

ANSWER: The big book doesn't deal with harm done to myself, as it does with harm I did to others. Harming myself results from my spiritual disease.
from defects like fears of being lonely, a need to be a victim, people pleasing, etc...
therefore the way to deal with the harm I do to myself is to deal with my defects by doing the step actions.
First I have to admit to my innermost self that I am powerless over those defects.
then I have to ask my H.P., to remove them and say the seventh step prayer for them. (page 76)
then I have to practice the assets which are the opposite of the defects. since I am interested in a serious relationship I will not get into a relationship with married men or other unsuitable men.

Now to step seven.
STEP SEVEN: "HUMBLY ASKED HIM TO REMOVE OUR SHORTCOMINGS"
In step six we were asked to be entirely ready to have God remove all our character defects.
In order to continue to step seven, it is enough to be ready to have God Remove some of our character defects, and pray for willingness to have the rest of them removed.
This is a program of progress not of perfection.
Therefore after committing to pray for willingness on a daily basis we move immediately to step seven.

Let us have a look at the words in step seven.
"Shortcomings" are a synonym for character defects and mean the same.
"Humbly" means that we don't give God instructions.and accept the fact that The removal of our defects is not our job but God's job.
"Asked" is a prayer. We now know that a prayer is just a prelude for actions on our part, and we will have to do those actions on a daily basis as long as we live.

Since step seven says that we humbly ask, let us look at some different aspects of humility.
A.A.12&12 page 58
"a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere Attempt to become what we could be."

A.A. 12&12. page 72
"a desire to seek and do God's will."

Big Book page 83, here it tells us what humility is not.
"We should be sensible,tactful, considerate and humble without being servile or scraping. As God's people we stand on our 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 co-founder:
"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.
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 in 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.
In fact all the 12 steps are acts of humility.

Now let us look again 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.

The Big Book tells us that we formally do step seven by saying the seventh step prayer.
We do it as we did in step three. We say it aloud to someone who understands

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." Big Book page 76

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.

Let us 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.
First let us dwell a bit more on our liabilities (character defects).
You probably remember that after step 4 and before step 5 you wrote a table containing your personal defects and wrote the harm and damage caused to you by each defect and the benefits and usefulness you got from some of them.

If you found defects that have benefits or usefulness you will have to examine them further separately.
Let us give them a different name.

Let us call those defects DEFENSIVE BEHAVIOURS.
Just to make it clearer let us take some specific examples.
For example: An abused child who lies all the time in order to avoid being beaten.
For this child lying is a survival tool.
It is useful and has it benefits.
After the child grows he may still feel vulnerable inside and use lying as a defensive behavior.
The benefit now may be imaginary but because of his feeling of vulnerability it is real to him, and he still uses it as a defensive behavior.

I will not let go of a defensive behavior as long as it defends an inside feeling of vulnerability,
and as long as I feel that it is useful and has its benefits.
So even if I say that I am willing to let God remove it, I will not let go of it.
What I have to be willing is to have God remove my feeling of vulnerability, and then there will be no need for the defense mechanism and it will cease to exist.

After identifying our defensive behaviors we will have a closer look at our vulnerabilities.
We do this by writing a three column table.
The heading of the first column will be "DEFENSIVE BEHAVIORS". In this column we list all the defects that we think are beneficial to us or are useful to us even if this benefit or usefulness may look imaginary to others.
The heading of the second column will be "THE BENEFITS".
In this column we will list the benefits and usefulness of those defensive behaviors.
The heading of the third column will be "VULNARABILITIES".
In this column we write what are the vulnerabilities or vulnerable parts in us that those behaviors defend.

Those may be some of the seven parts of self that we dealt with in our step four.
(link:
www.therecoverygroup.org/wts/2006/supportfiles/7partsofself.html). Or maybe some of the basic emotions like self trust, self love (self acceptance), self commitment, motivation, Integrity.

We may feel that those are vulnerable, weak, or lacking to some degree.
And this may cause some inner fears that make us feel we need protection by those defensive behaviors.

In order to make things even clearer, I hope, let me answer here a question to the leader.

QUESTION:
Would you please give me examples of unmanagability and vulnerabilities.

ANSWER:
Unmanageability is the second part of step one.
It is the spiritual illness that I discussed when we dealt with step one.
Vulnerability is the feeling that I can be hurt by something or someone
I can feel vulnerable in the presence of a hurricane or a poisonous snake or a violent person. Those are vulnerabilities based on current reality.
I can also feel vulnerable in different situations because of lack of self confidence or lack of self acceptance etc...
Feelings of vulnerability may have their basis in childhood
An adult who was an abused child may feel vulnerable because of lack of self confidence and self acceptance.
In order to deal with a vulnerability I build a defense.
If the vulnerability is something that was created in my childhood and remained with me, I usually try to defend myself by the same means I used as a child, which may be lying, stealing, manipulating etc... Those defenses may stay with me as an adult and cause me harm since they are now not really needed.
But I still use them unconsciously because I still feel vulnerable.

I will stop using these defenses when I will stop feeling vulnerable.
This will happen when my self confidence and my self acceptance increase.
When we will deal with step eleven I will give some practices that will help in those areas.

We dwelled on the things that block us from God till now.
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 for example 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 deal with the actions that should accompany the seventh step prayer,
As they are explained in the chapter How It Works when dealing with step 4.

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 mentioned in the Big Book in the story Acceptance Was The Answer page 418-419 fourth edition.
Doctor Alcoholic Addict page 450-451 third edition.
I make an effort to discover the good qualities of the person I resent.
And then I write them down.
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.
Another action that can help get rid of resentments is mentioned in the story Freedom From Bondage page 552
Pray for the person you resent and wish him all the good things you wish for yourself.
Do it on a daily basis even if you don't mean it.
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

It is reasonable to assume that what God would have us be is free of this phobia.
One of the possible 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 know what, on the day I have to visit the IRS, I come prepared.
It even may turn 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.

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 the next shares.

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. And do the other actions I mentioned above when dealing with resentment.

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.
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 tmes 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.

GUILT:
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 than 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.

Now some answers to questions to the workshop leader.

QUESTION:
I am having difficulty finding the line between self criticism and guilt.
ANSWER:
Here are definitions:

Self-Criticism:
The tool I use to deny my talents, strengths and abilities.

Guilt:
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.

QUESTION:
How do you define LOVE?

ANSWER:
Love means action.

The Big Book repeats many time the sentence: 'Faith without works is dead' That is true for every Asset, including love.


ASSIGNMENTS
1. Write down a column table for your defensive behaviors if you have any. Fill the table as explained above.
Share what you can 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.
Add those to your list, if you are convinced that you have them.
Those people should tell you only your assets and not your liabilities.
Share what you can with us.

3. Read all your lists to your sponsor including your liabilities list your personal assets list and your defensive behavior list.

4. Read the seventh step prayer aloud to your sponsor.
You may use your own words but keep the meaning.
That is the way to begin working step seven according to the Big Book.

5. Read your personal assets list aloud to yourself every day
This will be of some help with your vulnerabilities.

6. Step seven actions.
We begin with awareness of acting out a defect, we turn to God To remove it. And we practice the asset that should replace it.
For example: If the defect is lying, we practice saying the truth.
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 some examples on 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 have comments and questions send them in a separate e-mail to me at: 10.shaft@gmail.com
In the subject space write QUESTIONS TO THE LEADER.
Send your answers to the assignments to the loop at: wts@lists.therecoverygroup.org

Have a nice and fruitful day
Shlomo






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