…On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…the humility to ask their Higher Power to remove their shortcomings…
Similar to Step 6, asking your Higher Power to remove your shortcomings sounds very similar to asking our Higher Power to remove “defects of character”. Could the 12 Steps be condensed in this regard? In my opinion? Yes. But, it’s helped hundreds of thousands of people so, what, am I going to rewrite the 12 Steps? Ha! It’d be a Cliff Notes version…wait, I guess that’s what I’m doing now. Anyhow, at this point, if you’re reading the 12 Steps (as you’re supposed to be), you know that God is all that they say, no longer “Higher Power” in the actual Steps. I add that part in because I mentioned previously that I am a Polytheist (someone with more than one religious belief).
Let’s get to the point: The difference between Step 6 and Step 7. A “character defect” is a defect in the way we think or behave (we’ll talk in a different blog about how we treat those types of things in therapy) and a shortcoming is a failure to meet a standard that has either been set for us or by us. Step 7, however, over anything else, emphasizes humility. Being humble, as “The Big Book” discusses, is difficult for addicts because they’re basically used to living a life of their own perceived righteousness. (In summation, anyhow.)
The saying is “When Life Gets Too Hard to Stand, Kneel”, referring to prayer of some kind. If your Higher Power doesn’t involve this, go to a mountain trail and scream. Just do whatever it is that you need to do to admit that you can’t handle something alone. Even if, at this point, you’ve acquired a sponsor, a close friend, and a close family member that you feel you can confide in (especially since this is a blog series supposed to be assisting in families and friends doing the 12 Steps together) you still need that Higher Power, remember? I’ve only mentioned this 100 times, people.
I can relate to this quote because, well, it’s true. We’ve all had tragedies in our lives and, if you haven’t, I expect you to go outside and thank your lucky stars. When these things happen, it’s like a true punch in the gut (if you’ve ever been punched in the gut, you know you can drop to your knees). As I’ve mentioned before, once you’re sober, you’re going to realize all of the mistakes you’ve made, wrongs that you will, eventually, have to right, and will look in the mirror, at times, with disgust over things you have done. The more self-awareness you gain, the more you will see how much you’ve hurt and angered those around you. Note to family, if you all are working the steps together, constant reminders of such things do not help. You cannot force someone to become self-aware or humble. Just like you can’t force someone to stop using…you get the point.
Finding humility isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do, especially if you’re in the “everyone gets a trophy” and beyond generations. I do have to say that I was in that generation and I’m a complete traitor. I was raised by parents who were raised by members of “The Greatest Generation” and they raised us the exact same way so I don’t exactly relate to my generation. Somehow, my brother (less than 2 years between us) ended up in this generation, feeling entitled, like he should be paid more for jobs that he’s barely qualified to have, etc.
On the other hand, I got a Master’s Degree in Social Work (all while working full-time) making diddle (which is what I expected) because I wanted to be a therapist and try, really try, to make a difference. I have close to $100,000 in student debt and you know what my expectation is? To make a difference in one single person’s life. Just one. That’s it.
My expectations are low for both pay and outcome because I don’t have some complex that I’m more important in the grand scheme of the world than I really am. We’re literally just handfuls of dust in the wind in the end. Some of us, in one lifetime, are meant to achieve great things and influence many people and some of us are meant to be influence one person which sets off a domino effect. THAT’S how humility works. Understanding that you are small in the grand scheme of the universe, but that you do have a place here. (I know I took the long way around on that one.)
All pics are courtesy of Google, FreePik, or Adobe. Title pic designed using Canva.