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What is Step 7 of AA?

“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

In this step, you ask your higher power or God to remove the character defects you’ve identified and accepted in the previous steps. As the defects are removed, you replace them with humility and spiritual principles. This step requires a commitment to honesty, humility, and courage. 

Step six of the twelve steps prepared you to deal with the defects you’ve identified. In this 7th step, you take action by asking that your higher power remove them.

What is the Seventh Step Prayer?

AA’s seventh step includes a prayer intended to help participants reach out to and grow closer to their higher power. It 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.”

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How Does the Seventh Step Work?

Sobriety is a major change. You must admit you have a problem with substance abuse and accept your powerlessness over it. Making this change is difficult, no matter how long you’ve been drinking. It’s especially tough when it’s a habit that has been a part of your life for many years. 

Step seven involves making this change and letting go of your shortcomings and negative feelings. Success in this step requires effort and action. 

The first part of step seven is asking for the removal of your defects of character, but that’s just the beginning. It doesn’t automatically happen. You must also be aware of what you’re doing and make different choices based on your moral inventory. You must put what you’ve learned into action.

Had you tried to make these different choices before moving through the previous steps it would have been tougher. Now, though, you’ve stripped away denial, self-centeredness, ego, and other defects. 

In step seven, you’re prepared to stop thinking about what you’ll get out of life, but instead, how you can contribute to others and the world around you. With the help of a power greater than yourself, you can move forward.

Step 7 of AA and Humility

Humility is a major component of addiction treatment and this step. Humility doesn’t mean people in this step feel humiliated. Ideally, they learned to manage negative feelings in the previous steps. This isn’t to say they will never have a negative feeling again. But it does mean they have the tools to better cope with those feelings.

That said, step seven is about having a reasonable perspective of yourself. It’s about embracing being humble. This began when you admitted you were powerless to your addiction and that AUD is unmanageable. 

Now you realize that humility brings peace and serenity. You’re finally able to accept life on its terms.

In this step, participants learn to see the truth of their life and understand their place in the world. AA calls this being “right-sized.”

In the previous steps, you identified and asked your higher power to remove your shortcomings. By step seven, you no longer feel grandiose or self-entitled. But step seven isn’t about just bringing someone down off of their high-horse or putting them “in their place.” 

In addition to your “too big” feelings being removed, so are your “too small feelings.” By step seven, you have also let go of regrets, shame, and unworthiness. You are now “right-sized.”

Step seven is something you can move on from, but it is never fully completed. Instead, it is an ongoing opportunity to embrace the pursuit of humility as a foundation for living a sober life. Attainment of greater humility serves an important role in your long-term sobriety.

Questions to Ask While Completing Step 7 of AA

There are several questions that you can ask yourself and answer that will help you work through step 7, including:

  • Has my understanding of my higher power grown? How so?
  • How have steps one through six prepared me for this step?
  • How am I helped in this step by my awareness of my humility?
  • How does surrender work in this step?
  • Does prayer or meditation make me uncomfortable? Why? Do I feel better about it if I make up my own version of prayer or meditation?
  • Is my sense of reality out of whack? Is my perspective reasonable?
  • Have I ever been able to stop myself from acting on a defect and instead turn to a spiritual practice?
  • Has my higher power removed any character flaws or reduced their power over me thus far?

Why is Step 7 Important for Recovery?

Step seven gives you an opportunity to exercise your newfound freedom from addiction. You develop your assets, live without your defects, and make new choices that allow you to live soberly. 

One of the most important things to remember during this step is the phrase often used by AA participants:

Progress. Not Perfection.

During this step, you learn that there is no guarantee your shortcomings will be removed. Some stick with you longer than others. Some are lifelong challenges. But there is still progress and you are no longer the person you were before recovery. You’re able to: 

  • Take stock of your journey
  • Acknowledge your strengths 
  • Utilize them with humility
  • Seek only for an honest path without alcohol

You’ve changed and you continue to change, but it happens slowly. Your shortcomings do not just vanish immediately. But as you grow more aware and take action, they do fade away. 

Step seven is about learning you cannot control the course of your life, but you can control the spiritual moves you make.

Step seven requires a lot of work. You must practice discipline and commitment. You must focus on long-term sobriety. You might need to be patient or accept discomfort. But most AA participants will tell you the work is worth it. 

Step seven is important because it requires you to actively participate in your recovery and be responsible for the things you do. 

Some people make the mistake of thinking that asking a higher power to remove your defects means you step back and take a passive role while the higher power does all of the work. This is untrue. 

Your higher power is there to support you, but you are doing the work.

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Resources

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“Alcoholics Anonymous: Is A.A. For You?” www.aa.org. https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/is-aa-for-you.

Tonigan, J, and Susanne Sturmhöfel. Alcoholics Anonymous: Who Benefits?. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/ahrw18-4/308-312.pdf.

“Why Is Spirituality an Essential Part of a Recovery Program?” Psychology Today, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-craving-brain/201706/why-is-spirituality-essential-part-recovery-program.

“What Makes AA Work?” Harvard Gazette, 12 Sept. 2011, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/09/what-makes-aa-work/.

Suire, Jared G., and Robert K. Bothwell. “The Psychosocial Benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous.” American Journal on Addictions, vol. 15, no. 3, Jan. 2006, pp. 252–255, 10.1080/10550490600626622. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16923673/.

Schneider, Kathleen M., et al. “Evaluating Multiple Outcomes and Gender Differences in Alcoholism Treatment.” Addictive Behaviors, vol. 20, no. 1, Jan. 1995, pp. 1–21, 10.1016/0306-4603(94)00037-y. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1530-0277.1981.tb05352.x.

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