Society sees the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as the Bible for anyone looking to recover from an addiction. The program has an estimated success rate of between 8% and 12% according to addiction specialists, and AA has approximately 2 million members worldwide. Nonetheless, regardless of your thoughts on the program there are valuable lessons we can learn from their text. Above all, each step offers a different gift to an addict. In this series we take a subjective look explaining the benefit each step brings.
The Gift of Humility
Step Seven: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. Like was mentioned previously Steps Four and Five make us aware of our shortcomings, and in Step Six we become aware and willing to let our past character defects behind us. Step Six prepares us to deal with the negativity in our character while Step Seven is the action behind Step Six. In Step Seven we act, humbly asking our Higher Power to remove these defects in their character.
Getting past an addiction is a major change, earth shattering right? In the Seventh Step we take an active role in letting go of our shortcomings, the feelings that hold us back. This isn’t something you can do through words alone, asking for your shortcomings to be removed doesn’t take them away. It requires a tremendous amount of action. The first six steps are about breaking us down, breaking down years of adverse character traits and conditioned habits that devoured our soul when we were in the depths of our disease. Step Seven begins the shift into where we start building ourselves back up.
What this Teaches
As you might guess the most important word in this step is “humbly”. What comes to mind when you hear the term humility? Webster’s dictionary defines humility as, “a modest or low view of one’s own importance”. In other words humility equals humbleness. However humility is more than this. It is understanding how you fit into the world, it’s recognizing the piece you make up in the puzzle that is existence. Humility allows us to keep things in perspective. Active addiction is exhaustingly polarizing. In it we feel entitled and have a grandiose sense of self one moment, and unworthy or shameful the next.
The truth is we’ve already begun working on humility in Step One by admitting we’re powerless and that our lives our unmanageable. Setting healthy boundaries is part of what practicing this Step looks like in action. Developing the courage to say no when a friend or family member attempts to guilt trip you into a yes is an example of this.
Why This is Important
Humility is the enemy of pride, and pride is the demise for a number of suffering addicts. The problem with being overly prideful is you don’t seek out help when this is your state. For any of this stuff to work we must have humility. How are you supposed to accept help from a Higher Power, something greater than yourself, if you’re not humble? In my opinion recognizing, or acknowledging, a Higher Power is itself a humbling experience.
Action requires work, but this isn’t work in the same sense as mindlessly slaving away at a less than ideal dead end job. This is constructive work done in the name of self betterment with the objective of sobriety. It takes work to become the type of person we want to be, remaining patient and handling the growing pains of our new life. The ability to recognize our shortcomings and rewiring our responses require time and work. The more you become cognizant of your shortcomings, the easier they are to notice.