Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Principle behind step six is WILLINGNESS.
LEADER'S SHARE AND STEP QUESTIONS
Well, friends on this recovery journey with me, if youíve gotten over the dreaded step five, Iím sure most of you feel ready to continue this journey and become the best person you can be, and obviously weíd all be better people without those defects of character that you or your sponsor may have picked up in step five. This step at first glance seems so simple and easy but of course it really isnít. If weíve shared our step five weíve probably picked up a whole lot of character defects that we know are harming us so of course we want to be rid of them. In fact at first I almost glossed over this step because after all if I did have those character defects of course Iíd want to be rid of them. But the reality is that those character defects helped me to get me through some very difficult times back then, but they donít serve me now as Iím sure it possibly was the same for you too, and we need to recognise that fact.
But the reality is that even though we know that the character defects are detrimental to our recovery, actually being willing to allow our Higher Power to help us be rid of them and be willing to change is another matter. And of course willingness is the principle behind this step so it is essential that we be willing. My life was such a mess so surely Iíd want it to change and I really thought I was willing, which of course is what we need when working this step, but some days Iím just not plain willing at all, and then I just have to pray for the willingness to be willing. I know for me it took me a long time to get to where I was when I came into program, and Iím sure for most of us that weíre so used to being the way we are, that itís hard to imagine being different. I certainly know thatís how I felt about letting go of my defects or at least allowing my Higher Power to relieve me of them. I know most of my defects caused me pain and yet most of us, myself included, canít imagine ourselves without them. As it says in the OA 12 &12 on page 53:
ďIn practice, step six turns out to be one of the most difficult of the twelve steps, because saying weíre entirely ready and being entirely ready are two very different things.Ē
And boy can I vouch for that!
I think another thing for me too is that I always thought that certain defects like perfectionism were an asset rather than a defect. And yet in retrospect I realise that because of my perfectionism I often didnít do things because I couldnít do them perfectly, and so I deprived myself of so much because of fear of failure or at least not doing it perfectly. Even character defects like being critical and judgmental which possibly made me feel superior, and because of my poor self esteem were ones I wasnít exactly willing to be rid of. But of course most of those defects caused me pain and difficulties in my relationships ultimately, so why was I holding onto them? As it says in the OA 12 & 12, p.53:
ďWhat we are entirely ready for, actually, is to have the difficulties the defects cause us removed while we hang on to the defects themselves.Ē I know for me it was really about fear of change which was something that had held me back a lot in the past.
The other problem of course is Iím very self willed as Iím sure many of you are, so I wanted to fix myself by myself. So the thought of just being ready and not doing anything was very strange for me. Does it mean I should just sit back and do nothing? I finally realised that whilst I am powerless to remove the defect without my Higher Powerís help, I still need to do some footwork. In the past I would often just react in the old way without even thinking. Now I try to think first before acting, and I know slowly over time many of my defects have been lessened and some are hardly there. Another thing that has also helped me is that I have become a lot more accepting of myself and others and that somehow seems to help. And at all times of course willingness is the key because without that I would never be prepared to do what I need to especially when working step six. But it is after all a process and I certainly donít think Iíll ever get this program perfectly and thatís actually OK. Whatís changed though is that when I do act out on my character defects, I am aware of them, whereas I never was in the past.
Thereís a lovely saying in the For Today meditation book that says:
ďWhen a manís willing and eager, God joins in.Ē Ė Aeschylus
And that for me really describes this step in that if weíre willing to change and we do the footwork, we will get help from our Higher Power.
ASSIGNMENT AND QUESTIONS ON STEP SIX
Read step six in the OA 12 & 12 if you have it and Chapter 6, "Into Action," the Big Book, p.76
SIXTH STEP PRAYER: 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 mental and spiritual health.
- Make a list of character defects that you are ready to have God remove.
- How much pain have your character defects caused you? Do you feel you have hit bottom with them?
- How do you know when you're procrastinating on moving forward?
- What gets in the way of being entirely ready?
- Are you really willing to allow for the possibility that your Higher Power can help you with your character defects? Please explain.
- Are there some defects that you think it will take you longer to get entirely ready to have removed?
- Which defects do you think you'd really rather hang onto and what are the payoffs for hanging onto them?
- Are your defects costing you more than they are giving you? Explain
- What will your rewards be when you work Step Six?
The Twelve Steps