Step 7

“Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.”

Step Seven Summarized

In Step Seven we humbly ask our Higher Power to relieve us of our defects of character so that we can be more useful to others. This might seem easy — who doesn’t want to be free of their defects? Who wouldn’t ask for them to be removed? But we are attached to some of our defects — they serve us, selfishly, in some way. For instance, perhaps our defect of self-righteous anger gives us a sense of superiority and importance. Or our defect of procrastination allows us to avoid the hard tasks and enjoy immediate gratification rather than work. Giving up these defects might be a difficult sacrifice. In Step Six, we get entirely ready and willing to let these defects go. In Step Seven, we humbly ask our higher power to remove them. 

Into the Steps is a series of articles that dives deep into the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Into the Steps

Into the Steps is a series of articles that dives deep into each of the 12 Steps. While Guardian Recovery Network is not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous, we have been utilizing the 12-Step process in a treatment setting for more than 15 years. We have found that the steps, especially in combination with our clinical therapy offerings, are a powerful tool for  helping individuals transform their lives and find lasting freedom from addiction. 

 It is highly encouraged that you do not attempt to take these steps alone, but rather with a trusted guide called a sponsor who can walk you through them and be your support. Or, you can come work them at a Guardian Recovery Network treatment program. Unlike many other treatment centers, we don’t just teach individuals about the steps, we actively work them. Find a facility here.

Steps Recap 4-6

In Step Four we made a searching and fearless inventory of our lives. We reviewed all the people and situations in our lives that caused us resentment, fear, pain and remorse. We analyzed them carefully and saw our part in each scenario. In Step Five, we shared this inventory with a trusted friend who listened to us, supported us and helped us see new perspectives. In going through this process, we gained a new level of clarity on how our choices, beliefs and character traits contributed to our troubles. In Step Six, we utilized this knowledge to make a list of all of our defects of character. These could include things like arrogance, self-righteousness, procrastination, laziness, unrealistic expectations of others, an aversion to confrontation, self-centeredness, etc. We become entirely ready and willing to have our Higher Power remove these defects of character. When we are ready, we move on to Step Seven.

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Step Seven Explained

In the previous steps we discovered that it was not just alcohol that had ruined our lives. Alcohol was “but a symptom” of a much greater ailment — which was that we were trying to run our own lives on self will. We were driven by unbalanced instincts. We chased after prestige, companionship, sex, power, love and importance. In attempting to be the captains of our own lives, we ended up destroying them. We lacked all humility.

“In all of these strivings, many of them well intentioned, our crippling handicap had been our lack of humility,” the Twelve & Twelve reads. “We had lacked the perspective to see that character-building and spiritual values had to come first, and that material satisfactions were not the purpose of living.”

Before we get to Step Seven, we should have already come to the realization that if we want to be happy, joyous and free, we have to give up control of our lives to a Higher Power (however we define it). In Step Three, we turned our will and our lives — our thoughts and our actions — over to the care and direction of our Higher Power. This was a huge act of humility. But we have to go further in Step Seven.

The importance of this Step is made clear in the Twelve & Twelve, which says that “without some degree of humility, no alcoholic can stay sober at all,” and that “unless they develop more of this precious quality than may be required just for sobriety, they still haven’t much chance of becoming truly happy. Without it, they cannot live to much useful purpose, or, in adversity, be able to summon the faith that can meet any emergency.”

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So how does it work? In Step Six we turn to the list of our character defects. We pay particular attention to the character defects we still enjoy or that have a payoff for us. We ask ourselves if we are really ready and willing to give up all our defects. Some of them we will have to struggle with for awhile. For example, we may have a habit of trying to manipulate our spouse into getting what we want. Or we may enjoy procrastinating our work so that we can do more enjoyable activities. Or we may have trouble letting go of our urge to control our kids. Not all our defects will be traits we are easily able to part with. The truth is many of our character defects serve us selfishly. But they stand in the way of our ability to be of maximum service to other human beings. And they stand in the way of our ability to form meaningful, selfless relationships. By having our defects removed, we are better able to help and love others. This is the ultimate goal of our sobriety — to be helpful and loving to others.

In order to let our character defects go — in particular those ones that we are still attached to for the payoff they give us — we will have to use the same technique we used when we could not overcome our addiction. When we couldn’t overcome our addiction, we had to admit we had no power over it, we had to pray for willingness to be sober, we had to surrender our addiction to our Higher Power, and we had to ask for help. This is exact same method we will use to overcome our character defects. We will admit we cannot remove our defects with our own willpower, we will become ready and willing to let them go (Step Six), and we will ask to have them removed by our Higher Power (Step Seven).

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Step Seven is not necessarily something we only do only once. We will continually need to surrender our character defects to our Higher Power as they crop up. However, when we complete our Seventh Step for the first time, we are instructed to say a prayer. In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the Seventh Step Prayer is as follows:

“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 strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding”

The wording of this prayer can be entirely your own. But the idea is that we pray from our hearts that we are now willing to have our character defects removed so that we can be a better, more useful and selfless human being. Once we have said this prayer wholeheartedly, we move on to Step Eight.

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    Guardian Recovery Network & the Seventh Step

    At Guardian Recovery Network, while in residential inpatient or partial hospitalization, our clients are paired with a 12-Step Contact who is essentially a professional sponsor. These individuals know how to listen compassionately, without judgement and with warmth. They know how to help shed light on new perspectives and help individuals to see their character defects. In addition to working with a 12-Step Contact, our clients are paired with a primary therapist for the duration of their stay. By working this difficult step while in a supportive environment with professional help, many individuals who were previously unsuccessful working their steps in the world-at-large have found success in our programs. If you or someone you love might benefit by working the Steps in a serene, supportive, treatment environment, contact us today. Our team of Treatment Advisors are available 24/7 to help you craft a plan for long-term recovery.

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