Step 6 of AA

Step four asked you to compile a moral inventory and step five asked that you share your wrongs with your chosen higher power and with a discreet person that you trust. If you got through both of those steps, good job on your achievement. But, the work isn’t done yet. In fact, the hardest work is just getting started.

Step six states:

“We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

It’s no secret that the Alcoholics Anonymous authored book, The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, calls this step the one that “separates the men from the boys.” You have certainly expended energy and emotions working through the previous five steps, but developing complete, total, abject willingness to let go of the defects you identified working through steps four and five requires a ton of resilience, which is good because studies show that resilience can make the difference when people attempt to abstain from using a substance.

The following discussion should help you to better understand step six, its intent, and how to work it. This should help you to develop the fortitude you need to get through this challenge. For aadditional support and for resources that can help you through recovery, call 800-839-1686. There is a caring counselor waiting to answer your questions right now.

How Much Courage Does This Step Really Require?

Step 6 of AA

It may take some time to let go of your past behavior.

If you think that the only defect you really need to change is your drinking, you aren’t giving this step the level of attention that it needs and deserves. Drinking is one defect, yes, but it is one of many that you have to be prepared to let go of.

Some of the defects you discovered in the previous steps are a lot of fun and that will make it hard for you to be ready to let them go. Some of them are even necessary to live. For example, eating and sex are both fun and vital parts of being a human animal. But, they can also become so powerful that they drive you to hurt yourself and others. At that point, they are defects. You will know that you need to change them, but it won’t be easy.

Further, being entirely ready to change is difficult in general. Even when the defects aren’t fun, they are a part of you. You may have learned ways to cope as a child that make you feel safe, like isolating yourself from others. But, those coping mechanisms could be undermining the quality of your life now. How do you let go of something you have done for as long as you can remember?

Trust that making changes will require your strength and you won’t be able to make these changes easily. You probably won’t be able to make many or be completely willing on your first attempt either. You will continually be working this step. It will be a matter the defect, your attachments to it, and whether or not you believe that changing it will be better than continuing it.

What Are Defects?

In broad terms, some people tie the concept of defects back to the seven sins. If you start thinking of defects, you can probably connect them to one of the seven. For example, cheating on a partner is obviously lust, but it may also be driven by pride and gluttony and envy.

Working through steps four and five, you should have developed an understanding of many of your defects. You probably have a good idea what you need help removing.

Understanding Why Alcoholics Must Accept Their Powerlessness in AA

What Are Ways to Come Up with Defects?

As stated, you probably have a lot of defects in the moral inventory you drew up for step four. Try highlighting behaviors and actions; then, note the character defect on a separate list. Look for patterns in your list. You will probably see multiple instances of dishonesty, for example., That is a great sign that one of your defects is dishonesty.

You can also try compiling a list of defects independently and then determining whether or not they are applicable to your situation. Come up with general terms and try to elaborate. For example:

  • Anger: hatred, acting out to show unhappiness, violence
  • Anxiety: a fixation on what is wrong or what might be wrong or will be wrong
  • Close mindedness: blowing things off before learning about them, thinking less of things and ideas that are new to me, refusing to learn, shutting down any new arguments

How Can I Be Entirely Ready to Have God Remove These Defects?

Honestly? You might not be. You will have to fairly work as hard as you can to make it happen. Over time, all of that effort will make the process get a little easier. But, working step six to perfection is a goal that might overwhelm you.

Your higher power will help you to let go of these defects, but you will never be able to stop working at it. They can creep back into your life. Removing them is an ongoing process. To get additional help, call 800-839-1686. You may need medical help changing some of your behaviors and we can link you to qualified, professional rehab that can treat you.

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