A Study of Step 6

The 12 Steps of A.A. and Al-Anon

The key to Step 6 is acceptance -- accepting character defects exactly as they are and the willingness to let them go.

Step 6
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

After identifying shortcomings and admitting to them by working Step 4 and 5, the next step forces members of 12-step recovery groups to ask themselves if they are really willing to give up some of those faults.

After all, some of them have been around so long, they are like old friends. They have been comfortable.

But if the previous steps have been done thoroughly and honestly, many times facing the truth can bring a measure of guilt, which is a great motivation to become "entirely ready" to have those shortcomings removed. As with all the steps, the ability to become ready comes from a higher power, a power greater than yourself.

What Does This Have to Do With Alcoholism?

The idea behind this phase of 12-step recovery - steps 4 through 7 - is to address some of the personal issues, shortcomings and character defects that may have been a factor in your decision to begin drinking in the first place.

If you simply stop drinking and do not address some of these other issues, they could cause you to get into situations that may cause you to relapse. For example, if the way you express anger or the way you handle rejection is a problem for others around you, you could end up ruining a relationship and that could cause you to pick up a drink again.

Furthermore, if you quit drinking "only" and you don't address your other issues, you could end up what some call a "dry drunk," and end up bitter and resentful. In which case, you may be sober, but very unhappy.

Easy to Repeat Old Behaviors

There is a saying around the 12 step rooms, that you can get a horse thief sober, but you still have a horse thief.

Or another one, "you can take the rum out of the fruit cake, but you still have a fruit cake." What that means is, if all you do is stop drinking and you don't change some of your other behaviors, then it will be easier to slip back into your old habits, including going to the bar to drown your sorrows.

That is why steps 4 through 7 are in the middle of the 12 steps. If you don't admit you have shortcomings and take steps to address those issues, then a spiritual awakening may never come. It's all about being honest with yourself and those around you.

Identifying your shortcomings and admitting them is not the end of the process. Becoming "entirely ready" to do something about them is a key to the solution.

Others in recovery have shared what their experience is with Step 6. Here are some of their stories:

Step 6: Getting Humble

Working step 6 is simply working the first five steps, and then getting humble. This is not very easy for us drunks. Working the first five steps seems grueling at first, but we manage to do it. Then the "humble" part steps in.

How do you get humble? Well, did the message of the first five steps sink in? If it did, you have found humility. If the message somehow escaped you, go back and work them again, find out what you did wrong, and then try this step again.

For me, once I had done a thorough inventory, it was painfully obvious that I had overstepped my bounds many many times. I had crossed the line with friends, family, lovers, employers, you name it, I hurt em. But the power of the drink always allowed me to rationalize my behavior, to blame the next guy, to blame the one injured.

Now sober, and working the steps, coming to terms with my actions, living up to and accepting responsibility for the consequences of those actions, (or ommissions!), I could see that I was a complete, 100 percent, bonafide jerk of the first order. Recognizing what I had done, I was immediately ashamed, but remorse, and then prayer, helped me through it.

The only avenue to redemption was by making amends, but first, I had to ask my higher power to remove my defects. And the only way to ask Him was in deep humility.

The gawdawful experience of re-living those horrible moments in my life was, in short, humbling!


Growing Up

Step 6 for me is a way to grow spiritually. I asked God to remove the compulsion to drink, he did. How can I not ask for help with learning a better way of life?

This is where the "Progress, not Perfection" comes in. Step 6 must be worked through a lot of prayer and that keeps me aware of His love and power.


Index of the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions Study

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