Step Six: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
~ Finish the earlier reading if you haven't as yet
~ Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book) - Chapter 6 "Into Action," one paragraph only - page 76, second paragraph beginning with "When ready, we say something like this:..." to the end of the paragraph.
~ The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous - Step Seven
~ Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (Alcoholics Anonymous) - Step Seven
Let it out.
Connect with Higher Power.
Good for us, Friends, we are still here, and now half way through the study. We have "kept coming back" for seven weeks! I am getting so much from reading your shares. Thank you for being here and sharing.
Here we are with the shortest step in the program - at least in number of words; coincidentally, this step contains seven words.
ASKING The action of ASKING my Higher Power to remove my shortcomings puts me in the right position to receive the help I need. Instead of standing on top of my world looking down at my mess, trying to figure out how to control it, I'm on my knees, looking up, or out, or in, asking this other, greater power than "me, myself and my willpower," to remove my defective ways that cause my messes. I spent so much of my life not asking for help, trying to do things on my own. Self-sufficiency was my highest value, but I was messing up and falling short and couldn't fix myself or my life. By being my own guiding light I was unable to see beyond myself. By trying to live under my own willpower alone, I played god, yet I knew I wasn't capable of being God, so I was fearful and insecure. My inner compass was set on me, myself and my issues and I followed it into a wilderness of compulsive eating, fear, anxiety, depression, and trying to control others and the world around me, at which I was spectacularly unsuccessful. Now in this step I reverse the poles of my inner compass. North is not me. North is my Higher Power. And I'm checking my compass constantly to keep oriented, so I don't lose my way. As I continually practice this re-orientation, it makes way for my Higher Power to rewire and re-pattern my body, mind, emotions, spirit, attitudes, actions.
HUMILITY - THE FOUNDATION PRINCIPLE OF ALL 12 STEPS The AA 12 & 12 says "...attainment of greater humility is the foundation principle of each of AA's 12 steps. For without some degree of humility, no alcoholic can stay sober at all. Nearly all AA's have found, too, that unless they develop much more of this precious quality than may be required just for sobriety, they still haven't much of a chance of becoming truly happy." In our hyperdrive to satisfy our primary instincts, we made fulfillment of our desires our main goal in life and this generated a number of defects. In steps four and five we have seen that these defects have become obstacles to eating healthfully, and living peacefully and effectively. "The chief activator of our defects has been self-centered fear - primarily fear we would lose something we already possessed or would fail to get something we demanded. Living upon a basis of unsatisfied demands, we were in a state of continual disturbance and frustration. Therefore, no peace was to be had unless we could find a means of reducing these demands." Self-centeredness is at the root of our defects. "Never was there enough of what we thought we wanted." AA 12 & 12.
Yet we haven't been able to remove these defects on our own. We need help!
PEACE OF MIND Since we can't remove our defects on our own and we need a higher power to work in us, humility is a necessity in order to recover. But as we work this step we find that humility is not just something we "must" do. It's an amazing gift that keeps on giving. It is freeing us from compulsive eating and defects that made our lives miserable. Humility now "...begins to mean the nourishing ingredient which can give us serenity."
HEALER OF PAIN "Until now, our lives had been largely devoted to running from pain and problems." And this caused greater problems. But as we see the practice of humility making us stronger, "...we begin to fear pain less, and desire humility more than ever." AA 12 & 12.
24-7-365 This step changes how we live, every day. This is not just an emergency call. We don't wait until we're in crisis to apply this step. This is a practice that continually reorients me off of "I want" and towards "How would you have me be?" The more I practice it, the more I see its power. "A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than as something we must have." AA 12 & 12.
SELF-ESTEEM AND HUMILITY I think the discussion in the OA 12 & 12 on this is really pithy and revealing. "...we could see how compulsive eating had caused us to be obsessed with ourselves and our status. Humiliated by our inability to control our intake of food and by the devastating consequences of compulsive eating, we fought for self-esteem with all our might. As our disease progressed and our compulsive eating worsened, our self-esteem fell progressive lower, and we fought ever harder to bolster it by gaining whatever mastery we could over our fellow beings. In our self-absorption, we became status-seekers in one way or another. Primarily concerned with getting our own way and the recognition we craved, we tried openly or secretly to place ourselves above other people, hoping to disprove our own feelings of inadequacy. In OA we have discovered that humility is 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. Humility, as we encounter it in our OA Fellowship, places us neither above not 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."
TAKING STEP SEVEN The AA Big Book makes quick work of this step - how do we do it? We simply pray - we ask for our Higher Power to remove these shortcomings. The OA 12 & 12 suggests that we take our list of defects from step four and five, and go through the defects one by one - for each one, we say that we are letting go of it, that we are willing to have it removed, and for each one, we ask God/Higher Power to remove it from us.
REHEARSE AND VISUALIZE HOW WE WILL BE Besides praying and asking for our Higher Power to remove our shortcomings, what else can we do? The OA 12 & 12 suggests we rehearse and visualize how we will be when we aren't acting out this defect. How will we think? How will we act?
WHEN DEFECTS RETURN, OR NEW ONES ARE DISCOVERED "Sometimes we'll be caught off guard and fall back into defective patterns, but if we persist in visualizing and practicing better ways of life, they will, with our Higher Power's help, eventually become second nature. When we make a mistake, we acknowledge that fact without claiming that we ourselves are that mistake." "Humility means that we will no longer be shocked and horrified when we realize we have yet another defect." OA 12 & 12. This is part of the process.
PARTNERSHIP WITH HIGHER POWER "Repeated practice of step seven enables us to form a working partnership with our Higher Power through which we are relieved of defects which have blocked our effectiveness in the world." I really like this image. I do feel like this is what is happening in me. I'm learning how to turn to my Higher Power for relief, guidance, comfort, encouragement, reassurance. That still, small voice that I used to ignore because I followed the "I want," is becoming stronger. I'm eager to turn to it, to listen for it, to wait when I have an impulse and check for guidance from it. I'm enjoying this partnership because I feel so much better, and my life works so much better. In the morning I pray and meditate, and read 12 some step literature. I pray and meditate at meals, and at bedtime. I try to turn to my Higher Power for guidance and help when I'm fearful, upset, confused, angry, resentful, frustrated. These are efforts I make that over time are changing me, making me more productive and more helpful to others, as well as relieving me of the obsession with food, weight, my body and myself, and relieving me of compulsive eating.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION AND COMMENT:
1. What concerns, difficulties or obstacles do you have as you work step seven?
2. What actions have you taken to work step seven?
3. How have you experienced a defect being removed?
4. How have you experienced a defect returning?
5. How have you experienced a working partnership with your Higher Power?
6. Any other thoughts or reactions to the reading or step seven?
The Twelve Steps