Step 7 of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Deciding to stop using alcohol is a huge and very personal decision. For some, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the perfect resource to assist with restraining alcohol consumption and promoting long-term recovery from alcohol abuse. While AA involves 12 steps, this article will primarily focus on Step 7.
Step 7 of AA focuses on letting go of shortcomings and other negative thoughts and feelings by developing humility, taking an honest assessment of oneself, and increasing courage.1 By doing so, people learn what it means to be humble and walk humbly on their recovery path. Once a person has completed Steps 5 and 6, they will move on to Step 7.
What Is Step 7 of AA?
Step 7 of AA says, “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”1 Step 7 helps people change character flaws and shortcomings by committing to practicing consistent humility and by identifying and adhering to guiding principles rooted in spirituality. In this case, spirituality does not refer solely to having a belief in God, but instead, focuses on the concept of a “higher power.” The “higher power” component is a personal choice, which may not necessarily be God.2
Spirituality and humility are both associated with increased quality of life. Spirituality is said to bring a sense of meaning and deep thoughtfulness to a person’s life.3 While step 7 requires a person to practice spirituality and humility with consistency, thoughtfulness, honesty, humility, and bravery, it is the completion of Steps 4, 5, and 6 of the AA 12-step program that will make a person well prepared to tackle Step 7.
Step 4 requires a person to identify, acknowledge, and take personal responsibility for their shortcomings.4 It also encourages people to accept their past and limitations but to find ways to move past these for a meaningful recovery.
In Step 5, a person recognizes their weaknesses openly and honestly, not only to themself but to others.5 Step 5 can provide a sense of freedom as the person embraces self-acceptance.
Step 6 of the AA model focuses on assisting people with making preparations to take action on all that they have learned about themselves.6
Through the completion of steps 4, 5, and 6, people have the tools necessary to take action on their recovery by consistently practicing spirituality and humility in their daily lives.
What Is Humility in AA?
Humility in AA requires people to consistently treat others with respect, be open and honest about one’s limitations, admit that one needs others, show gratitude when help is received, and not brag about one’s accomplishments.7 Steps 4, 5, and 6 help people acknowledge their powerlessness and poor self-management. These are baby steps in the development of humility, which will be significantly helpful with success in Step 7.7
Step 7 requires an honest, brave, and humble perspective of oneself.7 To achieve humility in Step 7, people ask their “higher power” to rid them of their shortcomings.8 This allows a person to lose feelings of self-entitlement, shame, guilt, regret, and unworthiness.8 Step 7 helps give the person a feeling of peace and self-acceptance instead of despair.9 In addition, the person is required to surrender to their “higher power” in order to take action.
7th Step of AA in Action
Step 7 of AA requires consistent and committed action for successful, long-term recovery from alcohol abuse. It is likely to feel uncomfortable, so patience—in terms of both the time and effort that it takes to identify and truly dispel shortcomings—is required. 7,8,9 Step 7 will not be quick. The person will need to take as much time as necessary.1,7,8
Step 7 also allows people to set healthy boundaries and limits with themselves and others.7,8 They learn to make good decisions about the people, places, and situations in which they involve themselves.1,7,8 Step 7 is about humility, spirituality, patience, acceptance, and freedom—freedom from the shortcomings that have bound the person to despair and alcohol abuse.7
AA Step Seven Questions to Ask Yourself
Completing Step 7 of the AA model can be a challenging task. It requires a person to consistently ask themselves questions to ensure that they are being accountable.8 Here are some self-reflection questions that may help people navigate through Step 7:7,8,9,10,11
- What does “higher power” mean to me?
- Have I completed adequate work in Steps 4, 5, and 6 to successfully fulfill Step 7?
- What does humility mean to me?
- How can my humility help me complete Step 7?
- Do I have a plan regarding asking my “higher power” to dispel my shortcomings?
- What is my prayer or meditation plan? How will I use my prayer/meditation plan to ensure the successful completion of Step 7?
- Am I firmly rooted in the “here and now?” Or have I been outside of reality?
- Am I taking time to pause before acting on my shortcomings? Am I making choices to embrace my spirituality rather than acting on my shortcomings?
- Have any of my shortcomings been dispelled already? If so, how was this process for me?
AA 7th Step Prayer
There are many guides and resources to assist people with navigating Step 7. Also, in the AA Big Book, there is a 7th step prayer to assist people with this step:12
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.
This prayer demonstrates not only acceptance of one’s shortcomings, but clearly articulates one’s desire to dispel these shortcomings in favor of positive work. Again, while spirituality is a critical element of the AA 7th Step, believing in God is not a requirement.2 Having belief in a higher power from which a person draws inspiration, strength, and thoughtfulness is all that is needed.7
Next: Step 8
Previous: Step 6