Step Six

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.



STEP SIX

Hi friends.

My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater.

Let me review what I have done till now.

I admitted defeat in step one, acknowledging that I have a chronic, fatal disease that is physical, mental and spiritual, and I admitted that I could not manage my own life. I was convinced that probably no human power could have relieved my disease.

I was convinced in step two, that only a Power greater then myself, which personally I call God, could restore me to sanity (remove my obsession with food). I was further convinced that God would restore me to sanity if God were sought. What convinced me were the living examples of recovered people who said that God restored them to sanity.

I decided in step three, to turn to God in all things and let God take care of me and direct my life. In order to begin to carry out my step three decision, I had to accept that there are things that block me from God, and then I had to identify them and begin to have them removed by turning to God.

All the steps after step three are a process that enables me to turn my will and my life over to the care and direction of God.

In writing step 4, I identified some of my grosser handicaps that block me from God. Those are my character defects that manifest in my life and control me.

Discovering that I have character defects and that they are what is ruining my life was the beginning of my spiritual awakening. I began to learn to treat people with patience and tolerance. I began to understand that when I wrong others or others wrong me, it is done out of a spiritual illness, and therefore I should be tolerant, patient and compassionate towards them. When I feel that this is too much to ask I turn to God and pray for His help in doing that.

I realized that my life is run by fears and began to pray to God to remove them and show me what He would have me do. I saw how I harmed others by my conduct, words and actions, and began to be ready to straighten out the past. I shared all this with my sponsor, thus practicing humility, honesty and courage. With my sponsor's help I saw more clearly how my defects run my life, and how I hurt others.

After reviewing all of this I realized that this process took me closer to God since it began to remove the things that block me from my Higher Power. Therefore I prayed and thanked God for knowing Him better. Then I checked again to see if I missed something in my step work and after concluding that I did the first five steps to the best of my ability I was ready to look at step 6.

Step Six: "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."

I have to understand that step 6 is not an action step but a state of mind and attitude step.

Was I ready? What made me ready?

Taking the first five steps made me ready. Now I knew I had defects since I identified them and began to pray to God to remove some of them (the resentments and the fears). I also began to pray to God to help me cultivate the conjugate assets like tolerance, patience, faith, ideals for a sane life, etc. So working the first five steps made me ready.

How about entirely ready?

Well, being entirely ready is something to aspire to like an ideal, since this is a program of progress and not of perfection. I aspire to be entirely ready but my progress will not be hindered by just being ready for the removal my defects.

Let us see what the A.A. 12 & 12 has to say about it.

"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 eat compulsively was. A few of them may be, but with most of them we shall have to be content with patient improvement. The key words 'entirely ready' underline the fact that we want to aim at the very best we know or can learn.

"How many of us have this degree of readiness? In an absolute sense practically nobody has it. The best we can do, with all the honesty that we can summon, is to TRY to have it." pages 65-66.

Okay. So now that this "entirely ready " business has been explained am I going to remove my character defects when taking the rest of the steps??

NO!!!!!

That is God's job. We are ready to have God remove all these defects of character, NOT to have us remove them.

My sponsor told me not to try to remove my defects, and best not touch them even with a ten-foot pole. Seems a bit strange doesn't it? I always thought that I was the one who had to set things straight if they were wrong. The Big Book tells me that I don't deal with my defects, which means that I am powerless over them, and only God can remove them. But on the other hand, prayer is always complemented by action in the Big Book: "faith without works is dead." page 76.

So what will be my action? My action will be to practice my assets by working all the steps. We will discuss this more in step 7 and the following steps.

Here is a story about how prayer alone (faith without works) may affect us. You probably heard of the alcoholic who prayed and prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Since he didn't accompany his prayer with action he got half his wish, and was filled with spirit.

Now just to help me look at what I am ready for God to remove, and what I will have to cultivate instead, let us look at my liabilities and assets table that I have made by collecting the liabilities that appear in my step 4 tables. What I write here is an example only. You may write your own table according to your own character defects that appeared in your inventory.

LIABILITIES
(defects)
OPPOSITE
(assets)
resentful (100) forgiving, loving
fearful (110) having courage, having faith
selfish (200) thinking about the good of others
self-seeking (150) acting for the good of others
inconsiderate (40) considerate of not hurting others by my actions and words
dishonest (100) honest
conceited (20) humble
controlling (50) let go, esp. of other's lives
critical (100) nonjudgmental
envying (3) generous, thankful for what I have got
gossiping (40) praising
greedy (4) generous, sharing
impatient (70) patient
intolerant (50) tolerant
jealous (1) trusting
judgmental (100) tolerant
justifying (100) honest
lying (130) honest
lazy (50) industrious
manipulative (15) non-controlling
people pleasing (10) self-caring, acknowledging my self worth
perfectionist (4) setting realistic goals
prejudiced (30) open-minded
procrastinating (120) acting promptly, not delaying
self-pitying (100) grateful for what I have
self-righteous (30) humble
stealing (40) honest
treacherous (6) trustworthy
ungrateful (20) grateful
vengeful (50) forgiving


The numbers in the brackets indicate how many times the character defect appeared in my inventory.

Looking this table over I can see that some of the defects are not very abundant which means that the conjugate assets are mostly manifested in my life. So I can say that I have plenty of defects but I am also usually generous, trusting, trustworthy, and I usually set realistic goals.

Let us now see what the Big Book has to say about step six.

"We have emphasized willingness as being indispensable. Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable [our character defects]? Can He now take them all, everyone? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing." BB, page 76.

Let me say a few words about being ready and being willing. I think there is a difference. Here is an example.

I get up in the morning and want to go to work but I cannot find my pants. In this case I am willing to go to work but not ready yet, because I haven't found my pants. Now suppose that after searching for a while I do find my pants and put them on. I am now ready, but I decide to go and take a walk in the park instead. So now I am not willing to go to work.

Taking the first five steps made me ready for step six. But am I really willing to have all my character defects removed? May be not. But I cannot take the steps without willingness. As the Big Book says "willingness is indispensable." Therefore we are told to pray for willingness.

In this program we always turn to H.P. for help with any problem. The way of turning for help is by prayer and meditation. So if we are not willing to do something that we should do in this program, we pray for willingness.

"God I pray for willingness to do your will. Please make me willing to have my character defect of _______ removed by You."

Why aren't we always willing to have God remove some of our defects? Because we think we have a use for them. Because we still cling to our self-will in some areas of our life.

The A.A. 12 & 12 explains it quite nicely.

"Practically everybody wishes to be rid of their most glaring and destructive handicaps. No one wants to be so proud as to be scorned as a braggart, nor so greedy as to be labeled a thief. No one wants to be angry enough to murder, lustful enough to rape, gluttonous enough to ruin our health. No one wants to be agonized by the chronic pain of envy or to be paralyzed by sloth. Of course, most human beings don't suffer these defects at these rock-bottom levels.

"We who have escaped these extremes are apt to congratulate ourselves. Yet can we? After all, hasn't it been self-interest, pure and simple, that has enabled most of us to escape? Not much spiritual effort is involved in avoiding excesses which will bring us punishment anyway. But when we face up to the less violent aspects of these very same defects, THEN where do we stand?

"What we must recognize now is that we exult in some of our defects. We really love them. Who, for example, doesn't like to feel just a little superior to the next person, or even quite a lot superior? Isn't it true that we like to let greed masquerade as ambition? To think of LIKING lust seems impossible. But how many men and women speak love with their lips, and believe what they say, so that they can hide lust in a dark corner of their minds? And even while staying within conventional bounds, many people have to admit that their imaginary sex excursions are apt to be all dressed up as dreams of romance.

"Self-righteous anger also can be very enjoyable. In a perverse way we can actually take satisfaction from the fact that many people annoy us, for it brings a comfortable feeling of superiority. Gossip barbed with our anger, a polite form of murder by character assassination, has its satisfactions for us, too. Here we are not trying to help those we criticize; we are trying to proclaim our own righteousness.

"When gluttony is less than ruinous, we have a milder word for that, too; we call it 'taking our comfort.' We live in a world riddled with envy. To a greater or less degree, everybody is infected with it. >From this defect we must surely get a warped yet definite satisfaction. Else why would we consume such great amounts of time wishing for what we have not, rather than working for it, or angrily looking for attributes we shall never have, instead of adjusting to the fact, and accepting it? And how often we work hard with no better motive than to be secure and slothful later on -- only we call that 'retiring.' Consider, too, our talents for procrastination, which is really sloth in five syllables. Nearly anyone could submit a good list of such defects as these, and few of us would seriously think of giving them up, at least until they cause us excessive misery.

"Some people, of course, may conclude that they are indeed ready to have all such defects taken from them. But even these people, if they construct a list of still milder defects, will be obliged to admit that they prefer to hang on to SOME of them. Therefore, it seems plain that few of us can quickly or easily become ready to aim at spiritual and moral perfection; we want to settle for only as much perfection as will get us by in life, according, of course, to our various and sundry ideas of what will get us by. So the difference between 'the boys and the man' [the immature person and those who have grown spiritually] is the difference between striving for a self-determined objective and for the perfect objective which is of God.

"Many will at once ask, 'How CAN we accept the entire implication of Step Six? Why -- that is PERFECTION!' This sounds like a hard question, but practically speaking, it isn't. Only Step One, where we made the 100 percent admission we were powerless over food, can be practiced with absolute perfection [even that is not certain for food addicts and compulsive eaters since we may sometimes slip into volume eating or under-eating of our 'safe' foods]. The remaining eleven Steps state perfect ideals. They are goals toward which we look, and the measuring sticks by which we estimate our progress. Seen in this light, Step Six is still difficult, but not at all impossible. The only urgent thing is that we make a beginning, and keep trying." pages 66-68.

I want to add here that some assets, taken to extreme by our self will run riot, turn into liabilities. Examples: kindness may turn into people pleasing, determination into pigheadedness, etc. We may still delude ourselves that we are acting according to our assets in these matters, and thus be in denial about being willing to have H.P. remove them. In such cases "removing" the defect means returning me to balance.

Do we have to stay in step six if we are not willing to have some of our defects removed? I think not. I think it is enough to pray for willingness and immediately advance to step 7, while continuing to pray till willingness comes.

So in order to take step six I may ask myself the following:

Am I willing to abandon my selfish, self-centered way of life and adopt fully a life guided by God?

Am I willing to let go of my old ideas, attitudes and actions?

Am I willing to adopt this new outlook on life?

Am I willing to pray for willingness in those areas at which I balk?

If I am willing, I continue to step 7.


INTO ACTION AND SHARING SUBJECTS:

1. If you don't have a written liabilities and assets list based on your step 4 tables, write it down now. I suggest you follow the outline of the example in this post.

Which assets are more manifested in your life?

Which character defects are the most prominent?

2. Go over the liabilities in your table and ask yourself if you are truly willing to have God remove them all, and let the assets take their place.

3. It is possible that you are not sure about willing some of your defects to be removed, or even that you are sure you want to hold on to some defects. In that case write down for each such defect, how it is useful to you and what are the benefits you think you get from it (example: not paying my debts - makes me have more money, or gossiping - makes me feel more worthy than the other person, or lying - white lies - makes life smoother, etc.).

Then write down all the harm that holding on to these character defects may cause you (example: remaining in the disease, holding you back from conscious contact with H.P. which is the real happiness, joy and freedom in life, etc.).

Share this with us, and share how the writing affected your willingness.

4. If after writing all of that you are still not sure about being willing to have God remove these defects, pray for willingness. Pray many times each day till you become willing.

5. Ask yourself the following:

Am I willing to abandon my selfish, self-centered way of life and adopt fully a life guided by God?

Am I willing to let go of my old ideas, attitudes and actions?

Am I willing to adopt this new outlook on life?

Am I willing to pray for willingness in those areas at which I balk?

If I am willing, I can continue to step 7.

See you in step 7.

Have a nice day.
Shlomo




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