7-14, 21 & 28-2016 Step 7

UCE AMG
July 14 AGENDA

OPENING WORDS

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

Albert Schweitzer

Welcome

Welcome to the UCE Addictions Ministry Group. We are a group of people who have struggled with our own addictions and the addictions of others. We hope to struggle well together as we work towards finding sanity, peace, love, and healthy relationships in our lives. We will strive to spend our time together in a spirit of love embracing the inherent worth and dignity of all. We accept and respect the varied paths that our members will take to find sanity, peace, love, and healthy relationships. We covenant to be together in a safe, confidential environment where we can explore our paths and our stories.

Our Relational Covenant

Embrace and practice deep listening
We will strive to be respectful of our limited time and try to keep our comments focused on the issues that have brought us here.
Experience the group in a non-judgmental frame of mind.
Build trust within the group.
Confidentiality about specifics shared or discussed is imperative for our success.
We each take full responsibility for what we share or say, recognizing retractions are acceptable as well.
Meetings will always start and end on time.

Business

We are trying out having a minute or two of quiet time. Not yet sure where it will fit best.

Check-in and Processing of Check-in

READING: Step 7 from aaagnostica.org

Work honestly, humbly and courageously to develop our assets and to release our personal shortcomings.
Principles: Personal responsibility, Involvement in change, Courage, Humility, Self-discipline
• • • • • •

We can’t be a changed person unless we are willing to make changes. Step 7 actually involves us in personal
change. As we use this Step, we go further than becoming willing to risk change. We do risk and we do change. We
risk, we try, we fail, we start again. We act and our actions change our lives. In Steps 4 and 5 we discover our
assets and our shortcomings. In Step 6 we become psychologically prepared to deal with these qualities. Step 7
finds us ready to act.

                                                                  Humility Comes First

When we become entirely ready to make changes, our abiding strength is stronger than our shortcomings. And
humility is a crucial part of this spiritual readiness. We know we have learning to do and we undertake our lessons
with humility and self-reverence. We measure our progress in relation to who we have been, instead of measuring
ourselves against other people. We are taking our own journey. We acknowledge our strength and use it with
humility, looking only for an honest way of living in an honest reality.

                                                                         Then Work. . .

First we accept humility. Then we begin to work. So let’s be sure we know what we mean by “work.”

All of us can identify an action as work when it’s deliberate or physically strenuous. Splitting wood is work. So is
consciously gathering our courage to say no to the request of a friend when our guilts insist that we say yes. It may
be harder to realize that we are doing important work when we let down old barriers and open our minds to new
ways of thinking. It’s work to allow ourselves to fail. It’s work to stand up for ourselves. It’s work to be patient. It’s
work to put up with the emotional discomfort of new ways. We can’t judge something as work by whether it feels like
work. We can’t judge it by whether it results in the outcome we hope for. To work simply means to use our energy to
be disciplined and committed in pursuit of our goal.

                                                      Effort And Action Bring New Freedom

We begin to change by actively letting go of our shortcomings, our actions and feelings that are liabilities. We cut our
losses and start again. We begin by discarding old patterns of acting and old ways of thinking. We let go with slow,
cautious and reluctant moves. No one lets go of shortcomings all at once. They disappear as we become aware of
them, one at a time, over a period of years.

Our new rule becomes, “If it feels familiar, watch out. I’d better stop and look at this.” When a friend hurts us, we stop
before we try to comfort her and relieve her guilt. When our mother complains she hasn’t heard from us for a week,
we stop before we make a million excuses and try to make it right with her. When our wife is inconsiderate, we stop
before we flare up and deliver the usual lecture. Whenever a reaction feels involuntary, it may be something that
needs changing.

Change requires thought and planning. It also requires effort and action. Sometimes we work at changing a thought
and then a changed behavior follows. Sometimes a thought just won’t change, so we risk a new behavior anyway.
Often, after we’ve used our new behavior long enough, changed thought will follow. We reinforce our new ways with
practice, but mastery takes more than doing something over and over. It takes a high level of interest; it takes
desire, thoughtfulness, commitment and constant vigilance. Step 7 requires us to be honest, courageous, humble
and willing to do what it takes, even if it hurts.

Some of our shortcomings will stick with us despite our best efforts. Each of us is born with a genetic temperament.
We can modify these traits but we can’t lose them. Some of us have quick tempers. It takes others a long time to get
angry. Some of us are inherently loners, while others would rather be in a crowd. Some of us are natural fighters,
some natural lovers – it’s just the way our genes work. Learning a healthy respect for the power of these traits is
important, because then when they appear, we can collaborate with them instead of letting them take control.

As we let go of our shortcomings, we discover that we do not collapse. We expand. We are not left defenseless
against life. Instead, we become less fragile, less explosive and less rigid. We gain breathing room. A wise person
said, ‘Departure is the mother of hope.” As we depart from our old ways, we have hope for a happier way to live.

             We Exercise Our Freedom By Developing Our Assets And Making New Choices

Assets don’t make us powerful over other people. Their only purpose is to empower us. We develop them by
drawing on our inner strength. Assets are the things about us that make life richer, fuller and happier – things that
give us a sense of well-being. They can be physical, mental or emotional qualities.

A high level of confidence is an asset. So is a special aptitude or talent. Attitudes and ideas can be assets, as are
positive ways of behaving or an innate ability to get along with other people. Sensitivity to others is an asset, and so
is an instinctive sense of self-survival. Assets can be deliberately learned or part of how nature made us. They may
be hidden or obvious to everyone. Whatever form they take, each of us has a huge stock of them just waiting to be
put into use.

We learn about real choice as we work Step 7. We finally comprehend that we have actual choices about how we
act and think and feel. It’s exciting to know we don’t have to be the way we don’t want to be. We develop our ability
to see choice and to exercise choice. We can actually change who we are by developing our assets, making new
choices, and following through with action.

                                                             The Downside Of Change

Change is risky. The 12-Step program doesn’t guarantee specific outcomes to the changes we make. Some
outcomes produce new problems. Self-respect and more independent behavior may make a spouse angry. When
we stop trying to run our daughter’s life, she may go wild for a while. When we refuse a friend’s invitation to lunch,
she may not call again. When we stop drinking in a favorite bar, we may spend many evenings alone. We always
risk when we make changes, but with the tools we learn in the 12-Step program we can keep our perspective and
deal with whatever happens.

Change is tricky. Step 7 has a predictable pitfall. At one time or another, every single one of us will think we are
letting go of a particular shortcoming when in fact we are expressing it in a different guise. For instance, switching
from beastly outbursts of rage to rageful, covert manipulation is not recovery. It isn’t healthy just because we smile
instead of scream. We must always stay aware of the power of our shortcomings to snag us. We are so practiced at
self-deception that it sometimes takes even more pain before we understand our own games.

Change is slow. Deep and lasting change comes slowly, much more slowly than our impatient selves would like.
Sometimes we have bursts of insight and rapid growth. We move along easily and are excited with our progress.
We’d better enjoy these periods, because they certainly won’t last. Most change is a matter of everyday practice,
everyday recommitment day by day, thought by thought, action by action. We will probably spend the rest of our
lives increasing our excellence in developing our assets and releasing our personal shortcomings. It’s a grand way
to live.

                                                           Assists For Working Step 7

Working the Seventh Step is like being in training. It lays out a lifestyle training regimen that builds inner spiritual
strength and endurance. We make changes in the care of our body, the activity of our minds and the acceptance
and expression of our emotions. We gradually bring the different parts of ourselves into a healthy balance as we
practice new living skills.

In some cases our shortcomings will fade away as we practice. In others we need to make a conscious, deliberate
effort to stop an old behavior and substitute another. The simple words “Stop,” “Think” and “Start” can save us a lot
of misery. When a feeling or an action feels automatic, we Stop. Then we Think, which allows us to pull back and
realistically look at the situation. Then exercising deliberate choice, we can either continue with what feels familiar or
Start something else.

A common example is chronic worrying. Something happens and we start to worry about it. We worry and worry,
even though we know we should be thinking about other things. So we Stop. Really Stop.
We make a conscious effort to step back, take time and Think about the situation. What good is the worrying doing?
Is it going to make a difference in the outcome? Is it helpful to ourselves or someone else? Does it fulfill an
emotional need? Then we Think about the answers to these questions and choose to either continue worrying or to
Start doing something more interesting and productive. This sounds like a simple exercise. It’s really very complex,
but with practice it works.

There are lots of methods to help us learn new ways and practice them. Mental rehearsal or visualizing how we want
to behave is one of the most powerful tools. Listening to people in a 12-Step group provides good ideas on handling
similar situations in our own lives. Going to workshops and classes provides information that helps develop skills
and assets. Reading can stimulate us and provide inspiration for change.

These are only a few of the ways that can be helpful – there are many others. By being open to trying new things, by
purposefully experimenting, any of us can find methods that both work and fit our particular personality.

A final comment. We cannot force change in ourselves. We simply cannot do it. Forcing change is a fight against
self and most often leaves us wounded, defeated and despairing. A lighter approach is much better. This is a mortal
struggle, but it doesn’t have to be deadly serious. Perspective, relaxation, a sense of humor, lots of love and
forgiveness for ourselves – these are the qualities that are going to open the way. A useful slogan is, “Easy does it,
but do it.”

                                                                  To Set The Goal

In the past we have often set grandiose or inappropriate goals that condemned us to failure. Its important to set
realistic goals we can actually attain. We are walking in a new way, perhaps in an altogether different direction and
across unfamiliar terrain. We are likely to get lost or at least lose our footing now and then. When we are unsure, we
take baby steps, keeping our goal in mind. We keep on going, but with caution. Every step, large or small, confident
or hesitant, counts. And reinforcement is important. Again and again we tell ourselves, “Once is not enough,” “Every
time counts” and “Practice is what it takes.”

Sometimes all of a sudden, after many tries, something we are working on clicks and we reach our goal. And
sometimes we miss it by a wide margin. It’s okay to fail because we learn from our mistakes as well as from our
successes. And even though we miss our goal we’re still on track, because we’re moving in the right direction.

Effort alone is progress, and we value our progress more than we value the perfection of the outcome. We learn not
to judge our efforts in the short term because deep and lasting change for the long term takes a long time.

Little by little, step by step, stage by stage, we will reach a goal. And when we look back, we can’t really explain how
we got there. So much depends on our willingness to “become entirely ready” and to work hard. So much depends
on our willingness to be open to the spiritual energy that strengthens us. But for each of us it will happen, and we are
grateful and we move forward.

Work honestly, humbly and courageously to develop our assets and to release our personal shortcomings.
• • • • • •
Today I will act on a plan to develop an asset and release one liability.
I will remember that I can freely change my plan as I move through my day.

http://aaagnostica.org/2014/08/27/step-7/

 

CLOSING WORDS

MY HEART IS MOVED BY ALL THAT I CANNOT SAVE;
SO MUCH HAS BEEN DESTROYED.
I HAVE TO CAST MY LOT WITH THOSE WHO, AGE AFTER AGE,
PERVERSELY, WITH NO EXTRAORDINARY POWER,
RECONSTITUTE THE WORLD.
Adrienne Rich

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