Step 7 of the AA 12-Step Program

The Step That Focuses on Humility

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What Is Step 7?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) outlines 12 steps for recovery, where each step focuses on helping people work toward recovery. Step 7 of this process focuses on humility. Humility refers to modesty, lack of pride, and a humble view of your importance. AA suggests that people who struggle with addiction often lack humility, which makes it much more difficult to admit to mistakes, shortcomings, and a need for change.

Step 7 encourages people to practice humility by asking a higher power to remove shortcomings and replace these imperfections and replace them with spiritual practices. This step emphasizes acceptance of flaws and the need for personal change.

What people often find is that taking this step helps them develop a richer and deeper understanding of themselves. It also helps them come to better understand their connection to others. 

Because this step concentrates on prayer and finding meaning, it can also help foster a deeper connection to spirituality. This can be an important part of recovery from addiction.

If you are working through Step 7, remember that it is one step in your recovery process. Understanding how this step works and why it is important can help you as you progress on your journey through the 12 steps.

AA's 12-step program states that the focus of Step 7 is to have, “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

How Step 7 Works

Step 7 is the last step in a phase of recovery that began with step 4. During this period of the process, the goal is to work on addressing personal issues, including some of the shortcomings and flaws that contribute to problematic alcohol consumption.

Step 7 asks people to humble themselves and acknowledge that they are not perfect. This is accomplished by asking a higher power to help remove these shortcomings.

It is important to remember that for some people, this may involve asking God, as they understand Him, for help. However, belief in God or a specific religious tradition is not required to complete the 12 steps of AA. This means that for some people, step 7 may involve different types of prayer. Others may ask for guidance or strength through meditation or other spiritual practices.

Step 7 of AA also includes a prayer that people can recite as they strive to become more connected to their higher power and spiritual practice:

“My creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength as I go out from here to do your bidding.”

The point of Step 7 is to help people realize their character flaws and achieve a new perspective by humbling themselves and asking for help in addressing these issues.

Recap

Step 7 allows you to see yourself as you are, including both your strengths and your weaknesses. When you are able to see yourself authentically and as you truly are, you are better able to understand how you can leverage your strengths and when you need to seek assistance.

Why It’s Important

Working through Step 7 can be challenging, but it can also come with lasting rewards. By practicing humility, people are better able to recognize that they are not perfect and need help to overcome their addiction. Asking for help from a higher power can be a humbling experience, but it can also be very empowering. This step can help people to:

  • Change the attitudes that might contribute to addiction
  • Practice humility in order to let go of the flaws that have led to harm
  • Prepare for the next step of the process, which is about acknowledging how their actions have hurt others
  • Let go of defensiveness, blame, and excuses that stand in the way of moving forward without alcohol

Step 7 can also help foster a connection to deeper objectives in one's life. For many people, step 7 is a key step in the journey toward sobriety.

In previous steps of this process, people admit that they are powerless and that their addiction to alcohol is not something they can manage on their own. Step 7 is about recognizing that embracing humility can provide a sense of peace.

Gaining such humility is an important part of taking a realistic perspective of yourself. AA refers to this as viewing yourself as "right-sized." Rather than viewing yourself with a sense of grandiosity or entitlement, you learn to accept who you are as you are. You no longer see yourself as greater than you are, and then you may make less unreasonable demands on yourself and others.

According to Alcoholics Anonymous, if you do not practice humility and admit your shortcomings, you will continue to make excuses about your actions, which undermines your ability to change your behavior.

If you are working through Step 7 or considering it as part of your recovery process, know that you are not alone. 

What You Can Do

There is no one right way to complete Step 7. It may involve simply reflecting on their shortcomings and asking for help overcoming these challenges for some people. Others may choose to write out a list of their flaws to reflect on, seek out therapy, or get other support to help them work through this step.

Other things you can do as you work through step 7 include:

  • Reflecting on what you have learned in previous steps
  • Considering how you have humbled yourself
  • Thinking about how your own understanding of your higher power has been strengthened
  • Engaging in prayer, meditation, and other spiritual practices
  • Considering your perspective and whether it is realistic and achievable

Regardless of how you approach it, Step 7 is an important step in recovery. If you are struggling with addiction and want to change your life for the better, working through this step can be a great way to begin your journey toward healing.

History of Step 7

The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were first outlined in the book “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism.” First published in 1939, it is now often referred to as “the Big Book.” The steps were based on the experience of the early members of Alcoholics Anonymous and are designed to help people recover from addiction.

Step 7 is the last step in this phase of recovery, and it focuses on humility and asking a higher power to remove personal shortcomings. Over the years, many people have found that working through Step 7 can be one of the most important steps in their journey toward sobriety.

Helpful Strategies

There are a few things that you can do to make working through Step 7 easier. 

Talk to a Mentor

First, it may be helpful to talk to someone who has already completed this step. This could be a sponsor, therapist, or another support person. Talking to someone who has been through the process can give you some insight and guidance.

Use Self-Reflection

It is also important to be patient and understanding with yourself as you work through Step 7. This step can involve a lot of self-reflection and may stir up feelings of shame or guilt. Try to be kind to yourself as you go through this process, and focus on the positive changes that you hope to achieve through step 7. Working through step 7 can be a rewarding experience with time and support.

Change Your Mindset

A big part of this step involves working on giving up an attitude of total self-reliance. Instead of putting it all on your shoulders alone, step 7 helps you shift your perspective so you are able to ask your higher power for help as you work toward change. 

Be Patient

Step 7 also encourages people to understand that recovery takes time. Mistakes and shortcomings will not vanish instantly overnight, but by continuing to humbly ask for help and guidance, you can work toward improving your life and overcoming your addiction.

It is also important to remember that you may need to return to this step from time to time in the future. Even as you change, you may find that new problems arise or that old ones sometimes return. Practicing humility and asking for help to address such problems can help you continue to grow and live life as your best possible self.

When you feel that you are able to humble yourself and ask for help, you may be ready to move on to step 8 of the 12-step program.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

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4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Intercounty Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Seventh step prayer.

  3. Alcoholics Anonymous. Step 7.

  4. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Historical data: The birth of AA and its growth in the US/Canada.