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Understanding AA’s Step 6

How Step 6 worksAA’s Step 6

How to Practice Step 6 in Daily Life

Step 6 in the 12-step recovery program says “We became willing to ask God to help us remove our defects of character.”

This is a particularly challenging step to take. To understand why, let’s first review how far we’ve come in steps 1 through 5.

The first 3 steps of the 12-step recovery program are about accepting powerlessness in the face of addiction, and about finding the willingness to get sober.

Steps 4 and 5 are about looking at the consequences of your addiction.

Such a hard look in the mirror is scary and sometimes embarrassing — identifying character traits and patterns of behaviors that lead you to where you are today.

Which brings us now to step 6. After all the difficult work you’ve done, why is step 6 especially difficult?

Steps 1 through 5 are all about self-reflection — you’ve admitted you have an alcohol problem.

Step 6 is about finding the willingness to take some action, to turn over powerlessness, as well as any negative aspects of our character to a higher power, as the individual has defined it.

And you thought things were tough before? Just wait! But you can do it.

First, keep in mind step 6 doesn’t ask us to take some action right away, it only asks us to find the willingness to take some action – difficult enough to do, but anything that’s difficult to do can be made easier when broken down into smaller chunks, like the following:

  • Beware of perfectionism

You don’t have to do everything perfectly to recover from drug and alcohol abuse.

In addition, you don’t have to be willing to turn over everything all at once.

Instead, identify a few of the most serious issues you’re willing to address, and tackle the rest at a later time.

  • Check Yourself

Another way of saying that step 6 doesn’t ask us to take some action right away, it only asks us to find the willingness to take some action is to say step 6 is about attitude rather than behavior.

How can you change your attitude? Try this:

  • Every morning, take a look in the mirror. Ask yourself: am I willing to turn my negative qualities over to a higher power, however I have defined it.
  • Before answering, consider first whether your response is positive or negative.

Another way of thinking about this could be, do you feel confident that your higher power can sort out these issues, or is your self-will telling you that your negative traits and behaviors will persist no matter what you do?

  • Get an outside perspective

Turn to your therapist or counselor to check on the progress of your attitude adjustment. Evaluating this can be difficult from the inside.

We are, after all, just too close to the situation.

A therapist or counselor can also help you evaluate and prioritize any perceived weaknesses of character, and let you know whether or not your attitude is helpful in achieving real change.

For this to be successful, however, you must be willing to hear their feedback.

It can also be helpful to simply talk with others who have successfully complete step 6. Who did they change their attitudes in preparation for making some real change?

It wasn’t easy for them, no doubt. But they did it, and so can you. It is possible to find a willingness to change, and June is a great time to start.

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