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How to Work Step 7 [of the Twelve Steps]

If you’re working your way through the 12-Step Program, you’ve likely found that no single step is particularly easy. The same goes for Step 7. In previous steps, you’ve admitted your powerlessness over drugs and alcohol, handed your will over to your Greater Power, and looked inward to identify defects of character that have contributed to your addiction.

Step 7 is yet another test of humility. It requires that you ask your higher power to remove your defects of character that have been revealed due to your work in Steps one through six. Through previous step work, you’ve developed an awareness and a readiness to deal with your shortcomings. But with Step 7, you must take action.

If you’re ready to start working Step 7 but you don’t know where to start, here’s an overview of its meaning and purpose. We’ve also included some tips to help you get started.

What Are the 12 Steps?

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

What Is Step 7 of the 12-Step Program?

Step 7 of the 12-Step Program is: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

What Is the Purpose of the Seventh Step in the 12-Step Program?

The purpose of Step 7 is to put your recovery work into action by practicing humility, accepting and expressing your emotions, and making changes to the way you think.

It takes physical work to maintain your recovery. But what do we mean by “work” exactly? For example:

  • When you do accept that new behaviors are emotionally uncomfortable, you’re working your recovery program.

  • When you say “no” to a friend who is trying to pressure you into drinking or using, you’re working your program.

  • When you intentionally choose not to interact with people or places that make you want to drink or use drugs again, you’re working your program.

As you can see, a big part of working Step 7 is changing the way you understand and express your emotions. By learning to accept yourself (the good and the bad), you’ll gradually develop a balanced life as you practice living new skills and make positive choices that contribute to your recovery as well as your mental health and wellbeing.

When you work Step 7 and take action in recovery, you’re exercising your freedom from addiction. As a result, you’ll make new choices, work past your defects, and develop your assets. It’s a very slow process. But in the end, you’ll experience deep and lasting change.

Common Misconceptions About Step 7

  • Humility isn’t a necessary part of this step. Contrary to this belief, humility is essential to recovery. How else will you take a step back to look at your shortcomings? If you didn’t practice humility, your pride and ego would get in the way of progress. By practicing humility, you can overcome your defects.

  • Once you take action, your life will change right away. Real, lasting change takes time. However, with each conscious decision to humble yourself and ask your Higher Power for guidance, you’re making progress toward becoming the person you’d like to be.

How to Work Step 7: 3 Tips

1. Prioritize character-building over comfort.

It’s important to recognize and accept that emotional discomfort and pain are a part of the process. Changing your life isn’t easy and you will be uncomfortable. However, feeling the emotional pain that you masked with drugs or alcohol is a necessary step toward recovery. Spiritual wellbeing doesn’t just happen. On the contrary, it’s a result of conscious effort and work.

2. Focus on being humble and selfless instead of self-centered.

Humility is a necessary part of developing a sober and fulfilling life. Without humility, you won’t be able to see yourself as you are and accept your shortcomings. Being humble is what allows you to change your perspective to make healthy choices each day. As you welcome a change of attitude, you will establish a new and happy life.

3. Be patient.

Change doesn’t happen overnight (as much as we wish it would). If you want to change your life, you must be willing to be patient. Over time, you’ll see your defects disappear as you develop more self-awareness and address them one at a time. In fact, many people in recovery achieve very happy and fulfilled lives by simply taking one day at a time.

Get Help to Work Step 7

If you need help to work Step 7, help is available. You can seek personal help through your AA sponsor, treatment professionals at a rehab center, or your sober peers in your community support group. Getting the support you need is an important aspect of establishing and maintaining long-term sobriety, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it!

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