Step Six: “We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
By the time we reach Step Six, we have already taken important steps toward acknowledging and admitting our shortcomings. Rooting out any defects of character is a process, not an event. It takes time to do this close inspection of our negative traits and behaviors and to understand their connection with substance use disorder.
First, we needed to identify the list of character defects, as we did in Step Four, by taking a moral inventory of ourselves. After that, we admitted these defects to ourselves and to another person in Step Five. When we reach Step Six, we have reached a point in our journey when we are truly ready, with the help of our Higher Power, to let go of the character defects.
Working Through Step Six of Alcoholics Anonymous
To forge ahead into Step Six, you need to develop a relationship with your Higher Power, as you understand it. Cultivating this spiritual connection takes time, so Step Six often requires significant time for that relationship to solidify. When you reach this step, you’re ready and willing to “hand over the reins.” You trust in your Higher Power to help you conquer the deep-seated issues that would otherwise trip you up in the future.
Committing to Step Six moves you significantly forward in the recovery process. Completing this important step demonstrates your willingness to take a back seat to your Higher Power and to stop muscling through on your own volition. By arriving at this point of humble readiness, you are cooperating with your Higher Power to clear the way for a sustainable recovery.
Consider the Step Six experience of Ashley’s Alumni Coordinator, Louis M:
Using the patterns of my actions from my Fourth and Fifth steps, my sponsor and I were able to get down to some of these causes and conditions. Fear, selfishness, and countless other shortcomings have ruled over my decision-making process for years up until that point. It was time to let a higher power into my life when it comes to these defects of character. It’s about becoming willing, about opening your mind to another way of doing things. I just had to think to myself, “maybe it’s time to try a different way.”
Louis makes a key point when he states that Step Six is about being willing to consider a new way of doing things. Having a willing attitude toward change puts you in the right frame of mind for accomplishing this essential step.
The 12-Step Program Offers a Blueprint for Personal Growth
For decades, people have turned to Alcoholics Anonymous to help them achieve and sustain sobriety. The nonprofit program provides a system of twelve benchmarks to help members succeed at these goals, but there is more to the program than just getting sober.
The steps progress along a continuum, with each step building on the last one until the individual reaches the twelfth and final step, which culminates in a spiritual awakening. Completing the twelfth step carries responsibility, because you are tasked to carry the message forward to others struggling with an SUD, and to continue practicing the principles in all areas of life.
As you move through the 12-Step Program, you are actually engaging in a personal growth process that results in heightened self-awareness and enlightenment. These personal changes are what will help you practice the principles in all facets of your life. Changes will occur in the following realms:
- Emotional. Learn how to recognize unhealthy emotional states which can lead to substance use, such as loneliness, anger, or frustration. You will also learn how to better manage them.
- Behavioral. Become aware of behavioral patterns and habits that have contributed to the substance use, and then modify them.
- Cognitive. Learn how your thought patterns may have contributed to compulsive addiction behaviors. Also, you come to recognize the negative consequences of substance use.
- Social. Make changes in your social life by ending relationships with those who don’t support sobriety, while also building new sober friendships in recovery.
- Spiritual. Increase reliance on and trust in your Higher Power to overcome defects of character, which allows you to overcome the SUD.
By completing Step Six, you have made it to the halfway point in the 12-Step Program. You should continue on the path to recovery while always remembering that recovery success is achieved “one day at a time.”
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.