Step Six

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


Hi all, I'm rose, COE and your leader this quarter

Now that you've done your inventory, you most likely have a big old list of Character Defects. All those things in your personality that drove you to eat compulsively, and will again if they get the chance. The first time I approached this step, I had my list of CDs in my hand, I got on my knees and prayed for god to remove them. I didn't get much result though, and I was very perplexed by this. I knew I had these bad parts to my personality; selfishness, fearfulness and judgementalness being chief among them. But it was hard for me to imagine life w/o them! Who would I be? I was pretty sure that the program was not insisting that once I was able to stay abstinent for a while that I had to be perfect, but found out that this is a very common misconception in OA. We hear a lot of talk in meetings about people having "back to back abstinence" or adhering very rigidly to daily routines, when what the program promises is "intuitively knowing how to handle situations that used to baffle us," and that"...god is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves" (AA Big Book, p. 84). There is nothing in there about being perfect at some point. But how can I do all that changing, if I'm not perfect at the end of it? How can I trust god even more, and let him take my deepest imperfections and change me? It turns out it's *because I'm not perfect and rely on my HP to help me with my imperfections that I can allow his will to come through me, and that's the whole point of the 12 steps. I don't have to strive to be perfect; I have to strive to let go of my character flaws, as god sees fit to show me which ones I need to let go of most. The sixth step is where, having let god and another person really know us in the previous steps, we get to really know, understand and accept ourselves.

The sixth step is more an attitude to take when looking at problems in our character than a comprehensive action.

"If we ask, God will certainly forgive our derelictions. But in no case does He render us white as snow and keep us that way without our cooperation. that is something we are supposed to be willing to work toward ourselves. He asks only that we try as best we know how to make progress in the building of character. So Step Six-"Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character"-is OA'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" (AA 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, p. 65)

There are a lot of ways that you might try and make progress on the areas that seem to be holding you back the most from god's will. Prayer and conscious contact w/ HP are chief among them for me. Something I found very very helpful in really getting a good look at my character defects and determining which ones were hindering me the most at any given time was doing a journal on my character defects. I have a specific method for this. I go thru my 4th step, and tally up the CDs, noting which ones come up the most. Starting on the ones that came up the most in my 4th step, I ask myself these questions; What have I gotten from this CD in the past? What am I getting from it now? Am I ready to give it up? If not, why? What would it take for me to be ready to give up this CD?

After completing all my major CD's, I consult this list:

Personality Characteristics
of God's Will:
Characteristics of Self Will
interest in othersselfish and self-seeking
humility(seeking god's will)pride
giving or sharinggreedy
asking what I can do for otherslustful
take action/prompt actionprocrastination
love/concern for othershate
good deedsharmful acts
humility/seeking god's willself-justification
self-forgivenessself-condemnation (low self-esteem)
simplicityfalse pride (defiance)
positive thinkingnegative thinking
looking for the goodcritical
high-minded, spritual clear thinkingvulgar, immoral, trashy thinking.

Looking at the Characteristics of God's Will, I ask myself if I am ready to ask god in the seventh step to remove this CD, and then I continue to write on the questions posed above on the remaining characteristics of Self Will. And then I'm ready for the 7th step:o)

My experience doing this exercise was that I really noticed the many small ways (and large!) my characteristics of Self Will came up and cut me off from God's Will. And it made me ready to take the seventh step w/ willingness and ability. It also made me aware of how character defects tend to wax and wane. Some will be very troublesome for a while, and then will go away, and then will come back up when re-triggered. What happened when I did the journaling was that I came to understand exactly what kind of behaviors and situations tended to spark which defects, and that I had a plan of action all written out. When I revisit my journal, I am always struck by how I've grown a lot in some areas, not so much in others, and that there is always room for improvement. I don't ever have to be perfect; I just have to keep on growing towards god's will for me.

thanks for letting me share


Some people find that the phrase " character defects" sounds too harsh. If there is a phrase that you prefer to use to describe this idea, please share it with us, and why it works better for you.

If you're having a hard time getting your mind around the idea that we don't have to be perfect, but we do have to strive towards god's (perfect) will for us, please share w/ us any feelings or reflections you have on this idea.

Sometimes when people see these big lists of good and bad, they get very intimidated or angry. Is this your experience? Why do you think that is, and what do you think you'd need to make this process of self-discovery less charged for you, and more gentle?

If you have a very specific way of working this step, please share it with us.

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