Comments from Web Sites and Publications
Step 6 is a step of preparation
and reflection. I have been preparing for a significant change in my life and
now I need to make sure that I am ready. I need to make sure in my own heart
and mind that I am truly willing for God to remove these defects of character
that have enabled my addictive behaviors. It might mean letting go of other
things in my life in order to allow God to do the work that needs to be done.
I need to determine if I am truly ready.
- From 12Step.org
So Step Six - "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of
character" - is A.A.'s way of stating the best possible attitude one can take
in order to make a beginning on this lifetime job. This does not mean that we expect
all our character defects to be lifted out of us as the drive to drink was. A few of them
may be, but with most of them we shall have to be content with patient improvement.
The words "entirely ready" underline the fact that we want to aim at the very best
we know or can learn.
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 65
When we tried to clean ourselves up with our own power and "discipline" we kept ourselves
agitated, confused, in denial, and worn out, and we were in almost constant emotional
pain. We were like the man who tore the scab off his arm every morning to see if his
wound had healed.
But it was in doing the sixth Step that I saw why I had become so exhausted. I'd been trying to
do God's part in the spiritual growth and healing process. In the program I was told that
my part was "being entirely ready", being ready to let God be the controller and life-changer of
myself and others. When I did that, my sponsor said, I would see how God's power is released to
flow through our lives to clean them only when we quit trying to control the how and when he is
to use that power...At first this sounded like a call to complacency - until I got into Step Seven. This
attitude of readiness to let God reach into our lives and uncover and remove the things that make us
spiritually and emotionally sick is paradoxically the doorway to active and effective change
of specific lifelong habits and sins. But it means turning loose of our control-even of our healing.
- A Hunger for Healing, p. 112-113
When we are working Step Six, it is important to remember that we are human and should not place unrealistic
expectations on ourselves. This is a step of willingness. That is the spiritual principle of Step Six. It is
as if to say that we are now willing to move in a spiritual direction. Being human we will, of course, wander.
Rebellion is a character defect that spoils us here. We need not lose faith when we become rebellious. The
indifference or intolerance that rebellion can bring out in us has to be overcome by persistent effort.
We keep asking for willingness. We may be doubtful still that God will see fit to relieve us or that something
will go wrong. We ask another member who says, "You're right where you're supposed to be". We renew our
readiness to have our defects removed. We surrender to the simple suggestions that the Program offers us.
Even though we are not entirely ready, we are headed in that direction.
- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, Chapter 4/Step 6
We must be specific in our identification of individual defects of character, and we must be
specific about the changes required to recover from them. One cure does not fit all! The approach for addressing
one addiction may not work at all for another. For instance, the rageaholic may need to reduce anger expression.
Conversely, the anger phobic person, who has no permission to feel or experience anger, may need to
mobilize anger expression and assertiveness. The treatment has to be very specifically tailored
to the defect and to the person.
As a rule, most defects of character involve some imbalance in the expression of and the experience of our
most basic human needs. For example, sexuality and ambition are not bad unless our experiences of those
drives are imbalanced or codependent. If we are addicted to sex or driven by ambition to the point of
workaholism, these expressions have become defects we must address. Our sixth step prayers would not
be "Make me asexual" or "Take away my ambition." Rather, we might pray, "Grant me a healthy expression of
my sexuality" or "Channel ambition into enhancing my private life as well as my work life."
As we hold known defects of character up to God, we must avoid self-shaming and self-condemnation. The
goal here is spiritual release, not spiritual self-punishment. For most of us, this process is ongoing.
We will not be healed and sent forward immediately; rather, recovery will be a daily effort to evaluate,
balance, and adjust the healthy expression of all of our God-given needs.
- Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery, p. 50-51