Step 7 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 7 of Alcoholics Anonymous – ‘Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings’. The key word here is ‘humbly’ meaning that it requires humility. The problem that many people have with this step is that they confuse humility with humiliation. Humiliation is usually something associated with shame. This is something many of us experienced on a daily basis over and over again when we were drinking or using.


If we remembered what we had been up to, or were reminded of it. We were even told but had no recollection but know there was a ring of truth about the story – we felt terrible, a total fool. For example, I was talking to a married couple recently. The wife was in treatment, the husband was still angry and upset by what his wife had put him through in her drinking days. He felt a need to tell her how bad it had been for him. ‘Has she told you’ he asked, ‘that she spent a night in a cell once?’. She had not (said she did not remember), so he told us of how they had been out with friends at an upmarket event.


The drinks had flowed and at the end, when it was time to go, she had not wanted to leave. So she kicked the vehicle they were to return in, urinated over their friends’ shoes and refused to go. The police were called and hence the night in the cells. It was utterly humiliating for all of them. She had behaved abominably. That is humiliation. Now the distinction with being humble is not to behave like that – but to be aware that that sort of behaviour is in you and that in your sobriety you are capable of behaving like that – but can now choose not to.

Our humiliation used to lead us to drink or use more to escape the pain. Now we can see what we did and understand how it has brought us to where we are today – and know that we do not have to behave like that again. We have a whole new chance of living our life differently. Distinguishing in doing wrong (which can lead to humiliation) and being wrong (which can lead to us feeling humble).
We become open to change and less hardened in our attitudes. Less convinced that we are always right, and able to admit that our self will is not going to be enough. We become more compassionate as we recognise that we all share human failings and that none of us can be perfect.

Removing our defects of character

We ask our Higher Power to remove our defects of character in the form of a personal communication with ‘him’. This can be on our own or with a sponsor or someone else, and it can take place anywhere. What is important is that we try our hardest to make contact with our Higher Power.
Our defects will not be removed immediately. Rather we are ready to have them removed and this will probably take a lifetime of being aware of them and stopping them surfacing. When they do, putting right any wrong we have caused. It will become apparent that we begin to handle situations differently than we would have done in the past in our days of active addiction and before we began to work the 12 Step Programme. We change – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

The Haynes Clinic is an alcohol and drug rehab clinic which offers detox and counselling for people with addictions. Call 01462 851414 for free and confidential advice.