More is revealed
One afternoon I found myself watching my dog participate in his usual shenanigans, which of course led me to join in with the little guy. My dog kept losing his tennis ball under the sofa for me to do several search and rescue missions. Over and over and over again. Once he even lost the ball the second I had just handed it back to him. This was a classic example of doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.
Or was it? At some point, I came to the determination that my dog had become an attention monger. That's the moment I realized I was not only taking my pup's inventory but also seeing my own personal character defects.
Shortly afterward, I attended a World Service Convention for a 12-step organization. There was a 6th and 7th step workshop being presented and I felt quite led to sit in. To this day, I am still glad I did.
It seems that Steps 6 & 7 tend to be quickly breezed by in the process of taking the steps. Yet they are so vital. Because of the workshop I had attended, I have made it a point to spend a good amount of time with my sponcees when they get to these particular steps.
We make it a fun event though we do get rather detailed and raw in our sharing. More is always revealed.
The Spiritual Malady
Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator. We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience. The feeling that the drink problem has disappeared will often come strongly. We feel we are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe. – 5th Step Promises
Suffice to say, when we addict/alcoholics arrived in the rooms of recovery, we were in deep need of a spiritual experience. But first we must recognize the Spiritual Malady. This malady is exceptionally defined throughout the Big Book. A few good examples of the Spiritual Malady are:
- Resentments towards others.
- Our personal relationships have become strained or disconnected altogether.
- We lived in constant fear of people and financial insecurity.
- We were restless, irritable and discontent.
- We were selfish and self-centered.
- Living double lives.
- Self-seeking, self-delusional with much self-pity.
In Steps 4 & 5 we found out those things that:
•Block us off from God.
•Block us off from our fellow man.
•Creates the resentments and the fears and the guilt’s etc.
With Steps 6 & 7:
•We begin to work on those things that block us off.
The principle of Step 6 is "Willingness".
On page 76 of the Big Book, we have emphasized willingness as being absolutely necessary.
Not much to add here. WILLINGNESS IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.
Willingness is the key foundation of complete abstinence!
On page XVI of the Big Book, upon hearing the broker give the physician, Dr. Silkworth's description of alcoholism and its hopelessness, the physician then began to pursue the spiritual remedy for his malady with a willingness he had "never before been able to muster". He sobered, never to drink again up to the moment of his death in 1950.
"I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch. I have not had a drink since." - Big Book page 13
Willingness as a foundation of belief in God:
"I stood in the sunlight at last. It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning." - Big Book page 12
On page 47 of the Big Book, it is written that all we needed to ask ourselves If we now believe, or are even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than ourselves.
Willingness is setting the firm base of a sober life:
Page 13 of the Big book affirms that the essential requirements are being a belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things.
"If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps." - Big Book page 58
"To duplicate, with such backing, what we have accomplished is only a matter of willingness, patience, and labor." - Big Book page 163
Suggested reading: Page 63 from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
The Seven Deadly Sins
It is recommended in pages 64 & 65 of the Twelve by Twelve that we start with the Seven Deadly Sins in recognizing our character defects. The Seven Deadly Sins are as follows:
I tend to make this a homework activity with my group at the end of each 6th and 7th step session. We will each take a slip of paper from a hat. On each slip of paper is one of the 7 Deadlies. For the next week, we will each focus on our particular sin and do some writing about it. At the beginning of our next session, we all read and discuss what we came up with.
Things get real at this time and it is one of the most revealing and freeing exercises we experience as a group! From amongst us lies a tremendous amount of honesty expressed. Because of this, I recommend the men and women to form separate groups at this time (if this is a workshop that includes both sexes).
Video to keep it a little light
When we just can't let go of our character defects
The Big Book says that the alcoholics don’t always want to give up their defects. There is so much security in the familiar. On the flipside, fear of the unknown can rise up. But what will the future be like with out that pain in your life? To know this, you will most certainly need to let it go completely.
Some of our character defects are fun just to hang onto. I used to love my drama and chaos. It kept life interesting. Nevermind that it hurt others and caused them to pull away. It was part of my personality, what made me who I was. Would I lose myself if I gave all that up?
Not exactly. Character Defects will be replaced by Character Strengths.This means that where the defects used to be, you’ll find love, compassion, and the will of a Higher Power. You’ll also start to know peace, serenity, and happiness.
The 5 As of Adjustment
We can only let go of what we are aware. (Steps 4&5)
It is time that we not only be willing to let our character defects go, we must stop hanging onto them. (Step 6.)
Looking at the actions or inactions that we might employ to have our defect removed. (Step 7) Talk around among trusted folks. Find out what works for them.Do solid research.
The 7th Step Prayer.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
The definition of Humility is "the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc."
Some say that humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. Therefore, humility is the key principle of step 7.
I once heard the practice of humility explained in this way: Humility is like a garment. We were born without garments, making it a practice to dress ourselves daily. Just as we put on our clothes, we must do the same with humility.
Steps 4, 5, and 6 have prepared us to know much of what makes us who we are. It is within our reality, that we stand before our Creator with our prayer.
Does God remove defects that we don't know about? Not necessarily, for if He did, then what would be the point of doing steps 4 and 5?
We might at times, think something is a defect of character when it is, in fact, a strength. This is where we learn to Let go and Let God, which is a process and not an event.
Additionally, this step is not a catch-all. We will do it again as more will be revealed. Most of us will do this on a daily basis.
- What defects will be most difficult for you to give up?
- In what order to you plan to do so?
- Are there any situations, stressors, triggers or pressures that may cause you to fall back into your defects of character?
- What can you do to lessen the potential of that occurring stress?
- Where do you feel safest and supported in your for recovery efforts?
- Are there any situations that cause you to lose hope?
- If so, how can you avoid these situations?
- Are there any persons, situations, events, thoughts that restore your hope?
- If so, how can you maximize those influences?
What if my defects flare up worse than ever?
With spiritual healing, we acquire awareness. We didn't even concern ourselves with these problems when we were drinking. Now that we are aware of them, we can make a choice to act on them in a healthy manner as the Step directs. Prayer and talking it over with someone each time it occurs is recommended. They will surely diminish as time passes. We will tire of being humbled by our defective actions, and eventually be open to new ways of thinking.
What else can I do?
Well, "Service" is another facet of humility.
We start to care less about ourselves and more of others. "We are born to help others." - Joe McQ
We learn that we must pass it on to keep it. We do this by service to others. We begin to not only practice humility by our service but also model it.
Every day, practice Humility.
This topic is intended to be a useful tool in developing a good 6th and 7th Step workshop or event and not to be in competition of the AA Big Book. It is an additional seasoning for group participation.
Many ideas were taken from the recordings of Joe and Charlie, Sober.org, and Angelfire.com. All great resources.