Eliminating Limiting Beliefs in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step groups


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Step 7 - It's All About Letting Go

Step 7: Humbly asked God* to remove our shortcomings.

Once we have become truly willing for the God of our understanding to remove our 'defects of character' (or shortcomings or whatever you want to call them), we simply need to ask… that's what Step 7 says. In some ways it really is that simple.

Of course, it doesn't always feel that simple!

The 7th Step is the letting go step. Letting go is a big subject for us. It often seems as if we should be able to let something go, but it feels stuck.

It's starts with acceptance

One way I look at all this is that acceptance proceeds letting go, and once acceptance is there, letting go almost takes care of itself… almost. Step 6 is really where we reach true acceptance.

As an old timer in Alcoholics Anonymous used to say, over and over again, "You've got to accept it just as it is!" He'd go on, saying that if the acceptance was real and true, the letting go would just happen. He'd point out we couldn't cheat by accepting it so it would change – the acceptance had to be absolute and total and then, he'd continue, "of it's own action it will change." I've found he's often right; in fact, if it doesn't change I now figure I haven't really accepted it.

Seek and do God's will

Of course, in Step 7 we are also dealing with humility… have you looked humble up recently? My dictionary includes such statements as 'not haughty or arrogant.' Unfortunately, it also contains such phrase as 'not assertive' and 'low,' which, if taken too literally, puts us back at powerlessness over everything, not just our addiction. Obviously, there must be some balance here.

As addicted people, no matter what addiction we claim, we have lots of experience with humiliation. We know it from the results of our addiction, and we usually discover we don't have much solid self-worth. 

That's not what we're after here. The 12 and 12 sets us straight when it says, in Step 7, that humility is the desire to seek and do God's will.

Knowing God's will for us is a huge subject! Theologians have debated it for thousands of years. The authors of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous were smart enough to stay out of this battle. There is, however, an approach that's much simpler, and if we have learned to be honest with ourselves, works as a good guideline. It's this:

If something works well for us, it's probably God's will for us.

Think about it and see if it fits for you. If it does, it means we have to know a bit about ourselves – we need to know what we're good at; what we're bad at, and all that stuff in the middle.

For many of us, recognizing what we're good at is the hardest part of this. One way to begin to get at it is to look at what you do easily. For instance, for years and years I thought everyone could write reasonably well because I found it fairly easy to do so. When I discovered that most feel writing is really difficult, I was forced to recognize that I'd been given a talent… it is the antithesis of humility to deny that, because I would be denying a talent that I had been given.

On the other hand, I also have to recognize that balancing a checkbook is almost impossible for me – really! 

Both are true for me – other things will be true for you. Learning to accept, and be a good steward of our gifts is part of the power of the 12 Step Program.

Love, peace and abundance,

 * Yes, in the Big Book and subsequent official versions of the 12 Steps, the word used is actually 'Him.'  However, I believe the way we use language impacts our view of ourselves. So I substitute non-gendered language for gender specific language (even when it's said to be generic).

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