I would like to start Step Six with the last paragraph from the end of The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous on Step Six (page 58).
“As with the five earlier steps, our rewards when we’ve take 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 Higher Power intended us to do all along.
Did I promise you an adventure? Well, there it is!!! What a promise. What a joy.
The Journey to Change?
There are some changes that you will make in your journey through Step Six. These changes will bring your recovery to a whole new level.
I am going to do something a little different. I am going to talk about the changes Step Six leads us to and a little about my experience with each one those changes. Instead of questions, I want you to pick at least three of the changes you believe may be the most difficult for you and then talk about why they would be difficult and what you will do to accomplish it. And, that will be Step Six
Change No. 1 – Moving Out of Our Comfort Zone - We are comfortable with our old life. At least we know what it is like even if we do not like it.
Change was hard for me. I was so afraid and had to be in control to feel safe so change would have meant I might have to give up some control. The trouble was I was so stuck in the ruts of my life I could hardly breathe. Not changing became more painful than trying to make some changes. Once I got the idea – it really was not that bad.
Thought: Maybe it is time for you to take the risk of moving into a new way of living.
Change No. 2 – Finding a Replacement - We may not know what to do to replace what we have been doing for most of our life.
I remember talking to my counselor about how I felt like I was resting. Nothing was urgent and nothing seemed to need to be worked on. He suggested I just stay with it until I felt some reason to move on. It was very wise advice. What I realize now was I was in transition from the chaos of compulsive overeating to a new way of living in recovery. When I finally moved on I had learned a very important technique when things are changing. I learned to just rest with it for awhile.
Thought: Sometimes we have to just rest until a new replacement comes to us.
Change No. 3 – Fearful of the Ramifications - We may fear that our life is so complex that to let go of one part of it will “unravel the rest”.
Yes, it is true it might unravel, however, when my old way started to unravel I just kept working my OA program. There was trouble that started up with family again. I started to have technical difficulties with getting to online meetings and so much more. All my character defects were in high gear. But I was persistent with my program and used the steps and tools to work my way through it. As I started picking up the pieces one by one my life took on a new direction. I liked what the pieces now created.
Thought: When we take our life apart, putting it back together might end up so much better.
Change No. 4 – Lose Special Attachments - Some of our character defects may have been fun, even exciting.
In the OA 12 x 12 they talk about getting a kick out of lying and getting away with it. Things like that. I used to be arrogant and thought I could fix people. It would put me on a high for quite awhile. Yet, when they did not do what I thought they should be doing I would get real irritated. That fun was a false fun. It was not based on any reality. In OA I learned I can only share about my experience, strength and hope. If it helps someone that was good, if not it might have helped me to put it into words and hear myself say it.
Thought: Do you want fun or do you want peace and the ability to live your life without your COE controlling you?
Change No. 5 – HP will Not Just Magically Change Us - We may misunderstand that we will have to do the footwork to let go of our character defects. God will not just magically remove them.
I was addicted to finding insights about living – I hoping that I would find that one insight that would change my life. I realize it is the same with my character defects. It will take time and I have to pay attention to what is going on and learn to manage my CDs. I have to work at it. I can handle that.
Thought: We will learn step by step to draw on character traits we never knew we had – patience, clarity of thinking, saying we are sorry, and the strength our honesty has brought us. It allows is to do our footwork with a light heart.
Change No. 6 – Powerless Over our CDs - We have to admit to ourselves that we are as powerless over our character defects as we are to food.
Since I hit that point in my life that I admitted I could not control my food and when my HP started to help me, I have no problems admitting my character defects were beyond my control. Because of that life is so much better without ME in control. I am not near as smart as I thought I was when I was practicing my coe.
Thought: We are not alone. What we cannot do for ourselves we can do with the help of our HP and others in OA. We all know what it is like.
Change No. 7 – Turn our Backs on the Old - We have to be ready to firmly turn our backs on our old behaviors and thinking.
I have fallen flat on my face many times when I try to exert some kind of will over my character defects. However, as I learned more about them and kept working at it, I finally was able to make a decision with dignity as my sponsor calls it. Remember the story about how we walk down a road and fall into the hole. Then we get program and the next time we walk the road we see the hole but we still fall in. Then we get some more program. The next time we walk down the road we see the hole and walk around it. Back to more program. The next time we take another road. With abstinence, clearer thinking and the OA steps and tools, I have left many of my character defects behind. It is good to know when the chips are down these days, I will do the right thing – for myself and others.
Thought: It may take some getting used to but once you make the change you may wonder why you did not do it so much sooner.
Change No. 8 – Discouragement - We could become discouraged if the change does not come overnight.
I have a saying, when the going gets tough, it is almost over. When I hit discouraged, I know it is almost over if I hang in there just wait awhile longer. So when I am feeling discouraged and ready to give up and just go lie in my bed, pull the covers up and listen to some soothing music. Helps every time!!
Thought: If you are discouraged, maybe if you reach out to help someone worse off than you might change your outlook.
Change No. 9 – Lifetime of Growth and Change - We will have to dedicate ourselves to a “lifetime of growth and change”.
Here is my thinking about that -- Let’s see on one hand is a lifetime of growth and change or on the other hand there is the misery of living in our insanity. Hum!!!
Thought: Life is never boring when you live in growth and change.
Change No. 10 – Close Scrutiny - We will have to submit each character defect to close scrutiny.
The first time I did this process I was amazed how much easier it was to come to understand my other character defects. The end result was I actually found it freeing to know I would sense when one of my character defects was raising its ugly head. It was so worth it.
Thought: A little work with a big reward.
Change No. 11 – Recognizing our Defective Behaviors - We will have to be completely willing to recognize and let go of our defective behaviors.
One day I realized if I was not going to like my son (he was a teen in constant trouble) I needed to either do something about my attitude or find a loving home for him. I am so glad I recognized what was going on. It gave me something to work on instead of just reacting to what was going on. I have found the same to be true with my character defects. When I start thinking about food it is a big clue.
Thought: For so long we have not realized there is a moment of choice between our character defect starting to show itself and acting on it. That moment is where we have the dignity of choice.
Change No. 12 – What our CDs are Doing TO Us - We will need to ask ourselves what our character defects are doing for us as well as what they are doing to us.
My CDs stopped working for me. My controlling, arrogant attitude left me with few friends. I was very lonely and felt there was no one there for me. I had to find new ways to deal with things if that was ever going to change. If I wanted to have friends and close relationships I need to be a good friend. I need to realize it was my CDs causing my problems.
Thought: They say when the pain becomes worse than the effort it would take to change we will change. I hope you are ready. It will get better.
Change No. 13 – Our CDs have Outlived Their Usefulness - Our character defects served a purpose and now they have outlived their usefulness.
I had a counselor tell me I could have become catatonic and unresponsive from my childhood experiences. I chose to deal with it by various character defects and numbing myself with food. I survived. Now I am stronger and I want to live, really life. My shortcomings get in the way now.
Thought: We did the best we could with what we knew. Now we know better and can forgive ourselves and move on.
Change No. 14 – Willing to Change - We have to be willing to change.
This is the bottom line with Step Six. We have to be willing and I can deal with just being willing. I do not need to know how or when or why. I just need to be willing. When I came back to OA, I found myself saying with all my heart, “I am willing to do whatever it takes to recover.” I have and I am recovering.
Thought: Being willing, doing the footwork and our HP will work the miracles. What an adventure life has become.
The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, pp. 53-58
The Twelve-Step Workbook of Overeaters Anonymous, pp. 39-44
Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., pp. 75-76
AA Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pp. 63-69
A Guide to the Twelve Steps for You and Your Sponsor, pp. 11
Sixth Step Prayer:
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 mental and spiritual health.
1. If nothing changes, nothing changes.
2. I am perfectly imperfect.
3. Half measures availed us nothing.
4. You can DO what you want, or you can GET what you want.
5. It is not the experience of today that drives people mad, it is remorse of yesterday and the dread of tomorrow.
The Twelve Steps