What the Seventh Step Can Teach About Humility

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The Seventh Step of AA, “Humbly ask your higher power to remove your shortcomings,” gives a lesson in humility. Learning how to ask humbly requires the acknowledgment that you are not the center of the universe. You are not more, and you are not less important than any other person. This lesson in humility can become an important step in recovery, giving you the perspective you need to heal.

The Seventh Step: The Beginning of Action

In AA, NA, and other 12-Step programs, Steps 1-6 set you up to address your addiction head-on. They ask you to confront the things that could get in the way of sobriety, like ego, denial, and a need to be entirely in control of your life. Now that you have broken down the layers that keep you from addressing core issues, you can take the actions needed to begin the process of becoming a sober, healthy person. You are taking ownership of your life choices and building something better for yourself from this moment forward.

Not Greater or Less Than

When you humbly ask a higher power to remove your shortcomings, the keyword is “humbly.” This word is important for a few reasons. During the first Six Steps, you have gone through a transformation. At first, you might have centered yourself and your experience. You might have felt entitled to a better life, or put yourself and your suffering first.

On the flip side, you could have put yourself last or thought of yourself as less worthy. The work you have done thus far has hopefully shifted your perspective. You are not smaller or larger than others. You are, as what many in the AA community call “right-sized,” meaning you are just as important as everyone else.

Many might look at humility from the perspective of shrinking yourself down or knowing your place. This process is about having the correct view of your place in the world. This mindset might mean effectively deflating your ego when you have grandiose impressions of yourself. It may also mean heightening the way you see yourself when your self-esteem has plummeted. Asking your higher power to remove your shortcomings could mean letting go of feelings of self-entitlement, but it can also mean letting go of feelings of shame and unworthiness.

Accepting Life on Its Terms

You have undoubtedly heard the saying, “Life isn’t fair.” You might have even said it aloud a few times. Unfortunately, there are many things in life that you do not have control over. Humility teaches you to accept the good with the bad, including the good and the bad within yourself. You accept things for what they are and do not try to change what cannot be changed. You begin focusing instead on what you can change.

Humility Is Not Groveling

Many have an incorrect view of humility, as they may view it as someone standing before a higher power and begging for its’ favor. Instead, humility encapsulates feeling peaceful and serene about life. When you are humble, you see life for what it is. This change in thinking is not something that comes easily, especially if mental health and past trauma have impacted your perspective. Humility is something that takes practice, which is the case with every Step.

Beyond the Seventh Step

The remaining Steps focus primarily on taking action in your life to fix the problems addiction has caused. Addiction can rip apart families and destroy lives, like a tornado whirling through a small town. Countless things will need to be repaired in your life, especially interpersonal relationships. Having an accurate perspective of your place in the world will help you make amends with the people you have harmed and allow you to see things outside of your individual lens.

Applying the Seventh Step in Recovery

A considerable perspective shift will occur in treatment. After you leave treatment and enter the “real world,” your perspective will continue to shift as you learn more about yourself and how addiction affects your life. You should constantly be questioning your attitude and checking for biases. Ask yourself, “Is my sense of reality accurate?” “Do I have a reasonable perspective?”

It can prove challenging to be self-critical, especially if you have been hard on yourself before, but asking yourself these honest questions can help you continue to stay humble during your recovery journey. This practice does not mean you should always doubt yourself, but it is good to check in every once in a while.

It takes time to learn how to be humble. It is common to have an egocentric perspective on life, but viewing yourself as the front and center character of this journey called life can lead to your downfall. Learning humility can save you from viewing your place in the world as less than or more than what reality reflects. The 12-Step process has given you the tools to get to this point. Now you are prepared to go before a higher power and humbly ask them to remove your shortcomings so that you can continue the next part of your journey. Once you’ve completed this Step, you can begin making amends and repairing your life.

Jaywalker continues the bonds we have with our alumni long after they’ve completed our treatment program. If you are interested in learning more about the Seventh Step or would like guidance, call us today at (866) 529-9255. We look forward to hearing from you.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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