Step Six

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




PART ONE
PART TWO
PART THREE
PART FOUR
FINAL THOUGHTS




Step Six - Part One of Four

Dear WTS Members,

I am pleased to be your Step Six leader this week. Thank you for your work so far and please remember that even if you're not ready for Step Six yet, you have time to finish what you've started and be in great shape by the end of December.

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

Did you notice that Step Six does not say that we were to remove all our defects entirely? To the contrary, once again, it asks us for our willingness ... our readiness to remove all our defects. "Entirely" has to be a relative term because I doubt that anyone can discern all their defects by Step Six. When I did this step for the very first time, it felt complete; however, it wasn't. As I grew in program, one defect after another would pop up and I thanked God many times for Step 10 which gave me the chance as I grew older to revisit my character defects. In addition, I repeated the steps at various times and each time I became more and more enlightened about myself.

Step Six enabled me to take action and begin peeling the onion that was me. With each layer I shed, I would uncover more defects ... but because we have "one day at a time" and "progress not perfection" as our mantras, that is okay. While we may not remove all these defects of character at this time in this Step Study, we are, nevertheless, ready to have our Higher Power remove all our CDs, even the ones we are not yet aware of.

When we talk about CDs in Overeaters Anonymous, we are not talking about going down to our neighborhood bank, handing them our money in exchange for a piece of paper or a certificate that tells us they'll deposit that money in an account. The CDs we are going to talk about this week are a different kind of CD ... "Character Defects."

What is a defect? The dictionary defines it as a "failing," an "imperfection," a "flaw," among other things. Is Step Six telling us that WE are defective? Absolutely not. And what is "character." I think character is doing what is right when nobody's looking.

Basically Step Six is not about us getting rid of our CDs. We can't do that any more than we can will ourselves to be abstinent ... or to suddenly magically cure ourselves of an addiction. In a way, Step Six is deja vous ... revisiting Step One in another form. Whether we take the huge step in "admitting that we are powerless over food," we also must take an equally huge step in "admitting that we are powerless over our defects of character." We must turn both over to God as we understand Him and have the grace to accept both the gift of abstinence and of the removal of our character defects.

I quote from OA's 12&12: "In practice, Step Six turns out to be one of the most difficult of the twelve steps, because saying we're entirely ready and being entirely ready are two very different things. What we are entirely ready for, actually, is to have the difficulties our defects cause us removed while we hang on to the defects themselves?"

Our CDs are part of us ... we've become comfortable with them. In Serendipity this week you will read an article, a poem and hear an audio about a Tapestry. In essence, we are like a tapestry and our character defects are as much a part of that tapestry as our good qualities. Even the 12&12 picks up on that when it says "In honestly facing Step Six, we confront the fear that our defects are like threads woven into the very fabric of our being; if God removes them we feel we'll surely come unraveled."

I'll give you an example of one of my defects I had become comfortable with and tell you why I lived with it so long. When I was a teenager, I would go to slumber parties with my girlfriends. One of the highlights of those parties was talking about those who were not there. GOSSIP!!! When the gossip would focus on someone I didn't like, I experienced a high ... almost like an adrenalin rush and I would contribute as much or more than anyone else. As time went on and I grew up, this habit continued even after I had children and into middle age. Until I recognized it as one of my ugliest character defects, it had become so comfortable that it was almost like an addiction itself. When my Higher Power removed my character defect of gossiping about others, I did something similar I've seen done with alcoholics and those who smoke cigarettes. Some reformed alcoholics and smokers are notorious for despising those habits in others. And so it is with me. When I hear gossip today, I cringe. When I hear gossip that has made its way through one person after another and reaches me, I react immediately. I discard it and any truth that might have been connected with it becomes part of the gossip itself and loses all credibility with me. Today I do not repeat third party information or even listen to it seriously ... even on television and newspapers. I insist on hearing everything from the source directly. I had become comfortable with gossiping. It fulfilled a need I had to be accepted by others. It gave me a feeling of power. It exhilarated me. It was like a puff of pot or a mood altering drug ... or alcohol for an alcoholic or food for a compulsive eater.

Would you share back with us about the following? There are no wrong answers.

Look through your Step Four inventory and see if some of your character defects jump right off the page to you.

List your most serious character defects. Send them to your sponsor and to the study if you like. You are welcome to use a pseudonym in this study.

Do you enjoy any of your character defects?

Which are you clinging to? Why?

Why is it so hard for you to be entirely ready to part with your defects?

How many of the following defects do you have? You do not have to list them. Just count them. Add any new ones that you come up with.


Resentment
Anger
Fear
Cowardice
Self pity
Self justification
Self importance
Egotism
Self condemnation
Guilt
Lying
Gossiping
Evasiveness
Dishonesty
Impatience
Hate
False pride
Phoniness
Denial
Jealousy
Envy
Laziness
Procrastination
Insincerity
Negative Thinking
Immoral thinking
Perfectionism
Intolerance
Criticizing
Greed

Dear God,

I am ready for your help
in removing from me
the defects of character
which I now realize are
an obstacle to my recovery.

Help me to continue
being honest with myself
and guide me toward
spiritual and mental health.


In Fellowship,
Mari


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Step Six - Part Two of Four

Dear WTS Members,

I hope that each of you are being gentle with yourself as you work the 12 Steps of Overeaters Anonymous. Sometimes there is a fine line between being diligent and being gentle. I believe you will find that to be true during the next two months we have together. Please learn to be more gentle when you're overburdening your psyche with the bad stuff and compensate by being more diligent when you find you're on the slippery slope to laziness. The process of recovery may be one of the most important things you've ever done in your life. It may also be one of the most difficult.

When my first sponsor introduced Step Six to me I thought ... piece of cake! I'll get through this one in five minutes. Who in their right mind wouldn't be ready to have their magical Higher Power make them a person who was slim, beautiful, nice, kind, happy and someone who would never do bad things again? I felt sure I was entirely ready to have God remove all my character defects. After all, I wasn't one of those really bad people! How little I knew about myself then. As we grow up, we get used to all our traits and we don't stop every week or so and self-analyze why we do certain things and why we don't.

I want to reiterate something I wrote about when I introduced this Step to you. I'm going to use the 12&12 again to make my point ... and that point is not debatable because in this program it is an absolute fact: WE ARE POWERLESS. No, we're not wimps and we are scapegoating. We just simply must surrender. Please read this carefully ... as carefully as you've ever read anything in your life:

"Even when we approach Step Six with complete willingness, another problem often arises. Some of us misunderstand this step and act as if it's up to us to remove our own shortcomings. In our attempts to be rid of dishonesty, for instance, we may try to reform and become honest. Or we see we've been selfish, so we try to be generous. Anger is one of our problems, so we try never to get angry. Or we've heard that fear is incompatible with faith, so we try not to feel any fear."

If our thinking is even remotely like this, we are wrong. Even though all these things sound good, we don't really have a clue what Step Six is about and we can reform ourselves until the cows come home, but we will not "get it" until we can truthfully admit that we are as powerless over our character defects as we are over our compulsive eating.

We cannot do either of these alone.

Period.

Here are some more questions for you:

1. Describe some secret good deeds that you have done or that you would like to do.
2. Describe some situations and/or events where you have been greedy, overly needy or materialistic.
3. Have those situations and/or events brought you joy? Have they caused you problems?
4. What are some unhealthy behaviors around food that you have? What are some healthy eating habits that you could start?

There will be some more questions as we move along this week. But for now I have one last question for you to answer now:

Are you entirely ready to have your Greater Power remove all the above defects of character?

Love in recovery,

Mari

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Step Six - Part Three of Four

Dear Friends,

Step Six is about reality. We can pretend all we want to that our character defects are not defects at all. They can be glaring when looking at them in the light of day but we have been comfortable with them for so long, we are surprised when we are instructed to be "ready" to have them removed. Having our defects removed arbitrarily is not going to happen. They will be removed at the right time and when we're in the right place. There is footwork to be done and pre-requisites necessary. We did a lot of footwork in Steps Four and Five. This is why the Steps must be worked in order. One doesn't do a Step Six out of the blue.

As a compulsive eater for my entire adult life, I was imprisoned. I know of no other disease that robs us of so much. When we are busy living our lives we underestimate the insidious damage being done to us. COE is very much like a cancer that sometimes moves so slowly we barely know it's happening. By the time we get to the stage where we are literally on our knees praying to a greater power than ourselves to free us from this suffering, we are no longer the loving, free, all together spirit we were intended to be. The disease has affected not only us but everything around us: our children, our significant other, our parents, our extended family, our jobs, our health, our looks, our homes, our spirituality and our emotions.

Did any of you see "The Exorcist?" Step Six prepares us to cast out, not demons or evil spirits from our bodies, but the desire to continue the behaviors that led to our being taking over by an addiction so cunning that even Father Merrin and Regan who played the Demon in that movie would have built a scene around. For us it may have been when we reached bottom ... or when we had a spiritual experience ... or, to a lesser degree, when we woke up one day, smelled the coffee and decided we no longer wanted to live like that anymore. No one is going to say to us ... "Be gone!" Be gone you despicable disorder which has flung us from being a normal person with precious abstinence to the depths of Hell.

Each of you who have come this far have uncovered and exposed your character defects. We did that in Steps Four and Five. We will have these defects cast out in Steps Six and Seven. If a defect is a blemish or an imperfection, then the opposite of a defect according to the thesaurus is improvement, perfection, or strength. In Step Six, we will again demonstrate courage, willingness and trust in our Higher Power. We will apply our determination, consistency, diligence and, most of all, our integrity to all our character defects without any reservation of mind or body whatsoever. Remember one thing ... this will not happen overnight. Completing the 12 Steps of Overeaters Anonymous is a journey - not a destination. And we may take that journey many times.

We will exorcise our character defects from our soul. And beginning now and for one day at a time for the rest of our lives we will know the difference between recovery and wallowing in this hellish disease we call compulsive eating.

  • What will our rewards be when we work Step Six?
  • Have you taken a long hard look at each of your defects? What did you find?
  • Are you becoming ready to "let go" of your character defects?
  • Do you recognize and are you prepared to acknowledge that our character defects are removed, not in our time, but in our Higher Power's time?
  • Ask yourself this last question for this assignment and think about it before you answer: Am I willing to do the recovery work that makes me receptive to my Higher Power's guidance?

I will not be assigning you any more charts and tables in Step Six. I do ask you to spend a quiet hour or two reflecting on each of your character defects and which were developed during a period of vulnerability for you and which were just pure selfishness and/or being self-centered.

I also ask one other thing of you as we end this Step Six week. Please begin and end each day by including this in your meditation.


God, I Offer myself to Thee-to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always.

Love in recovery,
Mari



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Step Six - Part Four of Four

Dear WTS Friends,

I am a study in contrasts. By nature I'm a person who likes things just so, down to the smallest detail or I am the messiest person on earth. I can become completely absorbed in something ... or be totally apathetic. These are not good characteristics for a compulsive eater because program doesn't work that way. I thank God that I recognized that the Twelve Steps required the devotion I was capable of and you will remember as we began hearing "Half measures availed us nothing" that we needed to give 100% to this program. This was from the chapter in the Big Book on page 59 in which the gift of the 12 Steps was presented to humanity. "We stood at the turning point." I've always been fascinated by that statement. Most of the time when that sentence is used, we say ... 'We stood at ***a*** turning point." In "How It Works" I believe those who drafted the AABB fully realized that this would be the most significant turning point anyone ever made. Truly, in my own life, it was *the* turning point. And then also on Page 59 we were introduced one by one to the twelve steps.

Fast forward now to Step Six: How have we done? Have we dug so deep that we uncovered things that amazed us about ourselves? Have we peeled the onion so meticulously that we know every nook and cranny of our psyche? Did we unload things to our sponsor that we swore to ourselves at one time that we would never let another living soul know about them? We are now in the aftermath of Steps 4 and 5 and we recognize that changes are being made. We promised ourselves that we would "find a place where we can be quiet for an hour, carefully reviewing what we have done. We thank God from the bottom of our heart that we know Him better." Martin Luther King was not the only person who said "Free at Last." It's right there in the Big Book, last paragraph on page 75 .... "we shall walk (through the arch) a free man at last."

If you feel you have built a firm foundation thus far for your recovery, read with me from the Big Book . . . .

"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? Can He now take them all - every one? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing."

We are getting so close to Step Seven.

As we finish up Step Six we have begun to realize that where we live is inside ourselves. No matter where are geographical location is, our real home is right inside us. Do we like our home? We can keep it as we always have or we can let the steps guide us and make changes here and there and end up with a better home.

I think as we draw to a close as far as Step Six is concerned, there is one word that personifies this entire Step. I'm not going to tell you that word until we finish up Step Six Sunday night and between now and then for those of you who are keeping up ... begin your responses to the group with that one word on the subject line. Nothing more ... No "re" this or that. Just the one word after reading everything you can about Step Six, that really will make the difference in moving on through the Steps with ease.

This will be all for Step Six. You are a wonderful group and make me feel honored and proud that I could share so much of this with you.

I leave you with this and one assignment:

"Change is always frightening, even when it's a much needed and long-overdue change for the better. Many of us have wasted years and suffered a lot of pain in order to avoid having to change. As we face step six, we recognize and acknowledge our human fear of change. Then, because we are willing to go to any length for recovery from compulsive eating, we move ahead with this step anyhow. No longer will we allow fear to keep us from doing what is best for us. After all, we have confronted the first five steps, taken them in spite of our fear, and lived to tell the story. By the time we reach step six, we're almost used to doing the very things we've been the most afraid of." OA's 12&12, pg. 57.

ASSIGNMENT:

Write an essay about the fear you have experienced and are experiencing knowing that you must now be rigorously honest. You are readying yourself for God to remove your character defects so that you can consummate your work in Steps one through six by moving ahead to the pivotal Step Seven. Share all of this with us.

Love in recovery,
Mari


God, I Offer myself to Thee-to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always.





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Step Six - Final Thoughts

Dear Steppers ~

It has been a joy working along side of you with Step Six this week. Many of you have poured your heart out and inspired so many with your responses to the questions and little essays about your life.

As we live our lives, we go through many challenges. In looking back at my own life I wonder how I survived ... so many changes. I don't know whether it's the times we are living in or not but I used to envision reaching a plateau of constancy; but, I don't think that happens automatically. I believe we are fortifying ourselves for what is to come. You're going to love the Seventh Step. You are on the brink of empowering yourself to deal with life on life's terms.

I'd like to conclude this week's Step 6 study with a quote from Overeaters Anonymous' Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Please remember to give yourself an early holiday gift by ordering this wonderful book from oa.org.

"As with the five earlier steps, our rewards when we've taken step six are great. Although we may not realize it at first, our commitment to embrace the needed changes in ourselves has given us an extraordinary power to deal with life's challenges. No longer do we go through life clinging desperately to the past, resistant to change. From now on, we will strive to keep ourselves entirely ready for any transformations our Higher Power wants to bring about in us. Having such an attitude, we cannot fail. We will become wiser, saner, more effective people as we recover from the disease of compulsive eating. We'll find we can cope with both good times ... and bad, learning and growing spiritually from each experience, as our High Power intended us to do all along."

Please remember to give yourself that hour we talked about earlier this week. Recite this beautiful prayer below daily. Try to attend a Step Six meeting online tomorrow ~ there will be eight of them. If you haven't finished your past work, continue to work steadily and you will have no problem completing all 12 Steps by December 31. One day at a time .... because you're worth it.

Love in recovery,
Mari


God, I Offer myself to Thee-to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always.



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