Dec 31, 2015 | By Tim Powers

The Seventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous: Developing Humility

12 Step Recovery Recovery

Respect and pray on nature background

In the previous article written about the Sixth Step of AA, there was great emphasis on the importance of taking a deep and unflinching look at our shortcomings that prevents us from growing into our new life in recovery. While you may have gone to great lengths and taken considerable time to thoroughly list all of your shortcomings, you may not be fully ready to let them go. As it has been stated before, each Step that you work must be done with all of your energy and willingness.

This is especially true when you reach the Seventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous when you must humbly ask God–or the God of your own understanding–remove your shortcomings. The Seventh Step is explicit in stating that we as recovering addicts must embrace humility as a fundamental aspect of getting and staying sober in the long run. The ability to practice humility in your recovery is a major aspect of living a healthy and happy life, but you may struggle in trying to define what humility really is in relation to your recovery and life in general.

Defining Humility

Perhaps the greatest reason why it is so hard for people to grasp the concept of humility is the fact that we base our definition of humility on the norms of society. In American society, humility is often defined as being weak. As a collective, we seem to look at our own needs and sense of self and well-being before others. Additionally, we often equate humility with being punished in some way, shape or form. How many times have we heard that someone got a serving of humble pie after they got caught doing something they shouldn’t have done.

With this mindset, it is understandable that people in general may not grasp the true meaning of humility. The true meaning of humility does not mean that a person has low self-esteem; humility means that we consider ourselves equals with everyone we come in contact with and everything that is in our environment. When you are humble, you realize that you are not the universe but a part of that universe. Humility means that you take credit for what you are responsible for and you honestly give credit for what you are not responsible for. Ultimately, humility means having a solid sense of self-esteem and that you are completely secure in being who you are–both good and bad.

The Importance of Developing Humility

Every step is important in helping you transform into a centered and spiritually aware person in your recovery journey. Cultivating a strong sense of real humility through the Seventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous is a major key in achieving that goal and evolving as a person. Developing humility allows you to reconnect with your inner authentic soul that was buried beneath the ego and hubris of addiction. In many ways, the Seventh Step of AA can be easier to undertake because you had begun the process of developing humility back in Step Four.

During that important Fourth Step of AA, you had to put your ego aside and perform a searching and fearless moral inventory to uncover the roots of your alcohol addiction. In Step Five you had to tell another person the exact nature of your wrongs and in Step 6 you had to revisit your inventory to uncover the character flaws that kept you stuck in your addiction. These previous steps allowed you to start cultivating and practicing humility and the act of letting go those shortcomings that marked your past life will help you become happier, more fulfilled and more spiritually connected.

5 Ways to Practice Humility in Your Recovery

If you are about to work or are currently working the Seventh Step of AA, the following five ways can help humility flourish in your recovery and your life:

Practice Gratitude

It is important to look at what positive attributes you have and how you can share them with others. Practicing gratitude in your recovery on a daily basis will allow you to truly be grounded within yourself without bragging or have an inflated sense of worth.

Be Yourself

Don’t fall into the trap with comparing yourself to other people. You are unique and possess a combination of talents and gifts that others don’t possess. Comparing yourself to another person is a futile exercise and takes energy away from finding ways to being a true individual. It is our differences that allow us to learn from each other.

Don’t Be Afraid to Learn

One of the biggest keys to growth as a human being is to be teachable and open to new experiences. The simple truth is that  you don’t know everything, and the hunger to experience and learn new things about yourself, others and the world around you is one of the main components to practicing humility in your recovery. You may be surprised to discover that many of the things you believe may be false.

Practice Kindness

When you practice kindness on a regular basis you can experience feelings of complete fulfillment and you feel complete in your connection to other people. Practicing random acts of kindness without any expectation of reward is the best way to validate yourself without becoming boastful. When you truly give of yourself your pride and ego won’t interfere with your true spirit.

Learn to Be Free

It really doesn’t matter how organized you are or how great you are predicting outcomes, life has a way of throwing you curveballs and your day to day existence will always produce different results that are unexpected or unwanted or both. When you hang on to expectations you will more often than not become very disappointed, angry and even defeated. The Seventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous, when worked in the correct manner, will teach you to let go of those expectations. As a result, you can begin to take yourself and life less seriously and you can accept life on life’s terms. You are able to do that because you are allowing your Higher Power to guide your journey.


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