Sobriety Navigator: Alcoholics Anonymous and overview of Step 7:
Step seven: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
Humility – A humble attitude of mind.
Example: The realistic perspective of a one’s importance in the world.
Humiliate – Cause to feel ashamed and foolish.
The practicing alcoholic is an ego maniac with an inferiority complex.
Step seven deals with humility. Oh, yes, at the first thought of humility, most people have an automatic response; it’s “yuck”. To many, humility means letting people walk all over you and turning the other cheek when you really want to retaliate. To others, it means a life of poverty, piety and martyrdom.
It is interesting to talk to people about how they were taught humility. Time and again, well meaning (though misguided) parents, teachers and even clergyman would use shaming tactics such as criticism, ridicule and judgmental words to temper the child’s pride and make him humble.
These tactics didn’t teach humility. Instead, they often evoked feelings of shame and embarrassment, guilt and fear. Quite often, they would convey the message, “Don’t trust people with your feelings, thoughts and ideas.”
When we surrendered to the fact that we are powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable, it was a great relief. That surrendering was an act of humility. But the thought of surrendering all other aspects of our instincts, actions and attitudes was beyond comprehension.
Alcoholics are notoriously grandiose. We can wear our false grandiosity like a badge of honor, worshiping at the altar of money, property and prestige. We are filled with illusions of terminal uniqueness and draw large amounts of our false identity from that belief. These illusions can be used as self-justification when we demand more than our share of success, attention, recognition, booze, security, sex or anything else we have decided we must have, are entitled to, and can’t live without.
Humility really means that we are, in fact, human, fallible and born with natural instincts and limitations. By getting honest with the fact that we don’t have all the answers (and many times we don’t even have the questions), we can learn to avoid self-humiliation by not pretending we’re something that we’re not, and continuing to allow our shortcomings to rule our lives.
Many old-timers in A. A. attribute their long-term sobriety and serenity to being teachable. They say that staying open-minded and teachable was both liberating and comforting. This willingness to stay open-minded and teachable is another form of humility.