Step 6 of AA: Be Ready to Have God Remove Defects

Step 6 of AA is “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

Step 6 builds upon the work you did in Step 4 and 5, which involved taking a moral inventory of your character defects and then admitting these faults to another person. Once you have cataloged your past negative behaviors and admitted them to someone else, you are ready to give up your shortcomings.

This may feel uncomfortable or distressing, given that most of our negative traits have been with us for a long time and we are used to them—despite the harm they have caused us and others. Your higher power is with you every step of the way, but step 6 is an especially good time to lean on the power that is greater than yourself.

The idea behind AA Step 6 is that simply quitting drinking doesn’t address the underlying issues that caused you to abuse alcohol in the first place, which means that these traits could possibly lead you to relapse, particularly in stressful situations.

Additionally, if you get sober but don’t address your other problems, you may not be able to find the peace and contentment you long for from a sober life. Step 6 of AA helps prepare you for Step 7, which is “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings,” with “Him” meaning your higher power of choice.

Once you have established that you are ready and willing to leave behind your faults, then you can progress to Step 7. The timeline is different for everyone, so don’t rush.

How to Begin AA Step 6

The first thing you need in order to start working on AA Step 6 is a willingness to address your problems and negative patterns.

Simply listing and admitting them is not enough; you really need to be ready to give up these crutches so that you can embark upon a new journey toward a happy and healthy life. It can be helpful to begin from a place of humility—humility allows you to recognize the harm you’ve caused without making excuses for your negative behaviors.

If you are feeling some resistance, there are some practical things you can try when working through Step 6. 

Tips for Working Step 6 of AA

Getting rid of your harmful behaviors is no easy task, but luckily, there are some tips and tricks to making the process a bit easier. These include:

  • Consult your list from Step 4.
  • For each bullet on your list, write down how that issue affects your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  • Write down how this problem harms yourself and others.
  • Write down any feelings you associate with this defect. Chances are, you’ll need to develop new and healthy coping skills to manage these feelings.
  • Imagine a new life free of these behaviors and patterns. What are some coping strategies you can use that would be more helpful?

Some common and helpful coping strategies include:

  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Visualization exercises
  • Slow, deep breathing
  • Walking or driving
  • Playing an instrument, singing, or dancing
  • Painting or sketching
  • Journaling or writing
  • Taking a relaxing bath
  • Making a gratitude list
  • Keeping an inspirational quote with you to consult in times of need
  • Healthy outlets for anger like punching a punching bag
  • Rewarding yourself when you are successful

While working through Step 6 of AA, it’s important that you don’t shame yourself. You can’t change the past—all you can do is change the future.

Instead of condemning yourself, accept that the past is part of your story and look ahead to brighter days. Once you accept your past, you can then submit to your Higher Power and work toward letting go of these negative traits.

Common Misconceptions About AA Step 6

One myth about AA Step 6 is that “God” has to refer to a Christian God. Although the step uses the word “God,” it really just means the higher power that you’ve chosen for yourself. Alcoholics Anonymous welcomes people from all backgrounds, religions, and beliefs, so try not to let the mention of “God” put you off.

AA doesn’t require that you believe in God, only that you believe in something greater than yourself, however abstract or personal it may be. If you strongly identify with Jesus Christ as your higher power, you may find meaning in attending Celebrate Recovery, which uses the 12 Steps alongside scripture.

Alcoholics Anonymous doesn’t have to be your only recovery resource—you may want to get professional treatment while attending AA meetings, and that’s great. If you aren’t sure where to start in your search for an addiction treatment program, call 800-948-8417 Info iconCalls are forwarded to paid advertisers to get help and find a rehab in your area.

What is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, is a 12-step fellowship and support group for people who are recovering from alcoholism or alcohol abuse. One of the main facets of AA is the twelve steps, which includes a group of guiding principles you work through at your own pace. These twelve steps are intended to help you obtain and maintain sobriety.

Alcoholics Anonymous is extremely inclusive—as long as you want to quit drinking, you are welcome to join and attend meetings, which are available worldwide.

The three main components of AA include:

  • Unity: You support fellow AA members and follow the 12 steps, effectively leading by example.
  • Service: You are a helpful and active member of AA, which may include setting or cleaning up meetings.
  • Recovery: You commit to working through the 12 steps of AA.

One of your first tasks when working the steps will be to give yourself up to a higher power. This may be initially off-putting to secular-minded members, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a religious being. Your higher power can be whatever you want it to be, as long as it is something that is “greater” than you. Some creative examples include consciousness, science, art, nature, and music. You may find balance between this spiritual aspect of AA by attending a secular peer support group simultaneously. These groups include HAMS, LifeRing, SMART Recovery, and the Secular Organizations for Sobriety.

Quitting drinking is easier when you have a support system like AA in place. If you are looking for an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, you can browse the directory to find one near you.

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