“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
The last few steps of the twelve-step program have largely been focused on self-reflection. We took a personal moral inventory of who we truly are at our core. We then shared our truest selves with another human being. Then, we developed an acceptance and cultivated a willingness to let our character defects go. In step seven, we build upon these steps with a step that is more action oriented.
We take action in that we ask our higher power to remove our character defects that we had previously identified. To reiterate, higher power does not equate to any particular religious figure or notion. Instead, it has an individual, personalized meaning. While a higher power could mean God, it could also mean the natural world, science, or the twelve-step program itself, among others. Whatever the case, we rely on our chosen higher power to instill a sense of trust in life’s events. Life will do what life does. We reject the notion that we control what happens to us, and instead focus on what we can do for the world around us. In essence, we welcome in a sense of humility.
Let me ask you, what do you first think of when you hear the word ‘humility’?
For many people, humility immediately conjures associations to the word ‘humiliation,’ which is typically viewed in a negative lens since it is essentially defined as the degradation of oneself in either their own eyes or the eyes of someone else. It is a loss of pride. ‘Humility,’ on the other hand, is not about public or private ridicule. Instead, it is about freedom from pride and arrogance. It is a sense of humbleness; a modest view of one’s own importance. Humility is something that we must continually foster and nurture. It is essential to long-term sobriety. It is what allows us to live life on life’s terms. Many twelve-steppers refer to this notion as getting “right-sized.”
Well, what does “right-sized” mean anyways?
Have you ever heard the fairy tale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears?” In the story, Goldilocks goes through trials and tribulations with bowls of porridge that are too hot and too cold, chairs that are too big and too small, and beds that are too hard and too soft. With each of these items, she eventually finds one that is just right. A bowl of porridge that’s the right temperature, a chair that’s the right size, and a bed that’s the right firmness. In step seven, we do the same thing.
We rely on our higher power to remove the aspects of ourselves that are “too big,” like grandiosity and self-entitlement, as well as the parts of ourselves that are “too small,” such as shame, regret, and unworthiness. In doing this, we become “right-sized,” which allows us to move forward. It does not mean that we won’t experience negative emotions or events. Rather, it frees us up to better cope with negative experiences when they do arise.
By Jonathan Fricke, MA