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.

REMARK : The quotations and the page numbers are from the Big Book fourth edition.

STEP SEVEN: "HUMBLY ASKED HIM TO REMOVE OUR SHORTCOMINGS"

ASSIGNMENT 1: Read the Big book page 76 second paragraph. This is the seventh step prayer. You may write it in your own words as long as you express the idea of the prayer . Reflect on the difference between this prayer and the third step prayer on page 63. Share with us. The Big book says that by saying this prayer we complete step seven. Do we? Reflect and share with us.

ASSIGNMENT 2: Read the chapter on step seven in the AA12&12 pages 70-76. Read also page 187 the two last paragraphs from "These experiences taught us ..." to the end of the page. Copy the sentences that speak to you. Copy the definitions of humility. Copy the sentences that connect anonymity to humility. Copy the sentences that give you new information. Reflect and share with us.

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 synonyms 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.

So why does the Big Book say that by saying the seventh step prayer we complete the seventh step (page 76)? This can be very confusing to some people. Someone who has been in OA for more than 9 years, asked me to sponsor him. I asked him if he did the steps. He answered that he did steps 1-7. Then I asked him how long he was in step seven and he answered 5 years. I asked, and why didn't you continue to step 8? His answer was that he said the seventh step prayer that was written in the Big Book and waited for God to remove his character defects. Since they were not removed, he felt he had to wait till they are removed. The fact is that prayers don't replace actions on our part they are just a prelude to our actions. As it says in the Big Book " faith without works is dead" page 88. Those who don't understand this miss the whole point of the steps. In my shares on step four I explained how when we deal according to the Big Book with resentments and fears we actually also do steps six and seven We don't just pray. We act. And this is what I explain later in this share.

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 (Big Book page 566 ).

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 humbly 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 I asked you to write a table containing your personal defects and to write the harm and damage caused you ,and the benefits and usefulness you feel 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 what we feel are 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. See the attachment. 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 explain a bit more about unmanagability and vulnerabilities. Unmanagability 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.

Working step seven is simple but not necessarily easy. We ask God to remove our defect. Then we practice the asset that should replace that defect.

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. 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. and to avoid retaliation and argument.

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 actions. I am worth some self- appreciation for taking action to act according to my assets.

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 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.

Sometime people confuse between self-criticism and guilt. So 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.

ADDITIONAL ASSIGNMENTS

1. Write down a three 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. 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, and add more to it If you remember assets that you have that are not on the list. Doing 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. Choose three of your 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.

Send questions and comments to my e-mail: 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






Introduction
Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Step Four-part one
Step Four-part two
Step Four-part three
Step Four-part four
Step Four-part five
Step Five
Step Six
Step Seven


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