Step Six

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

Leader's Share and Step Questions

AA BB page 76 - 1st Paragraph
AA 12 & 12 -- Step 6

Some people like to work Steps 6 & 7 at the same time. You may want to do that.

In step one, I admitted defeat. In step two, I accepted that a power that was not created out of my own selfishness and self will would help me, In step three, I decided that I was willing to let that power do its job, In step four I sorted out the specific things (character defects) that blocked me from that power, and in step 5, I shared those things with another human being and was very specific with my power about what they are.

It Step 6, I am spending time mulling over the particular character defects that block my relationship to my higher power, and adopting an attitude that that I am entirely ready to give all these blocks up to the direction of my higher power. -- to give up the things that I have relied on for a lot of years. While it is one sentence in the Big Book, there really is a lot to think about as we make this decision -- am I really ready to give up this stuff?

We start by making sure that we are solid in our first five steps.:

AA Big Book, p 75 (last paragraph) to p. 76 -- first sentence

Taking this book down from our shelf we turn to the page which contains the twelve steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything, for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at last. Is our work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? Have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation? Have we tried to make mortar without sand? If we can answer to our satisfaction, we then look at Step Six.

If we cannot answer YES to these questions, we probably should return, with the help of our sponsors to Steps 4 and 5, and see what else might be there.

Step 6 in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is one sentence on the top of page 76, and all it does is ask us to make a decision.

AA BB p.76:
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?

That sure seemed like an easy YES to me! I just completed steps 4 and 5, and holy cow, I sure wanted to move forward. Go ahead and get rid of this *stuff* that was making me sick! I said a quick yes -- I was willing -- but I wasn't really:

In my step 4 inventory, I had identified selfishness. I was ready and willing to let that go. To have my higher purpose/power remove it. My mind and my heart were open on that, even if I found particular instances quite difficult. I could decide that I was willing and my higher purpose/power could have that one.

I had identified dishonesty and self seeking. I wasnít quite so ready to let that go. Lying made me feel like I might look a little better to others -- and I like to look better than I think I am. I was pretty good at manipulating situations in my own interests. I often promoted myself at the expense of credit for others. I got ahead that way, and I liked being ahead. I didnít have a clue how to do that honestly and without greed. How could I let it go? What would I do instead?

And my fears didnít seem to want to let me goÖ that seemed like it needed a leap of trust in my higher power that Iíd yet to make for these particular blocks (character defects).

AA 12 & 12 beginning on p. 66
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? (me -- I exulted in that (self seeking)!) 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. [Me again!] Gossip barbed with our anger, a polite form of murder by character assassination, has its satisfactions for us, too. [I liked this 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, [I didnít want to give this selfishness up either -- I was always imagining that my life would be better if I had this or that other thing, and I loved planning for it, and complaining about not having 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.

Work the Step
Work with your sponsor to be sure you are ready for this step. Do you have steps 1 through 5 solidly in place?

Please read all of the AA 12&12 , step 6, and then go back through the quote above, and think about the character defects that pertain to you and which of those serve you well -- which of these are the ones you might not want to give up. Make your own list. Remember that the BB identifies only four character defects -- selfishness, dishonesty, fear, and self-seeking, not that zillions that are sometimes seen listed.

AA 12&12 p. 68-69
Looking again at those defects we are still unwilling to give up, we ought to erase the hard-and-fast lines that we have drawn. Perhaps we shall be obliged in some cases still to say, ďThis I cannot give up yet . . . ,Ē but we should not say to ourselves, ďThis I will never give up!Ē

AA Big Book, p. 76
Can He now take them allóeveryone? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing.

Step 6 does not ask us to be willing to give up character defects that we cannot give up. It asks us to be willing to give them up, and if we find we are not, we, in whatever way we do so, pray for the willingness. It will come.

As long as we have decided that we are entirely willing, we move on to the rest of the steps. Our prayers for willingness will be on going. Our attitude as we approach our lives now will be one of willingness and open mindedness.

The OA 12&12 , step 6, largely seems to be telling us how to fix our character defects by balancing the defects against an asset. If I am selfish, I should be generous, etc. This isnít part of the Big Book at this step. Step 6 isnít about what we do, other than becoming willing to let our higher power do the work. If I am to trust this higher purpose/power of mine, and really turn my will and my life over to him/her, then I donít need to decide how he/she should do this; I have admitted that I am powerless and that means Iím out of the driverís seat. How these character defects are removed is the job of my higher purpose/power.

These assets will come to us through our higher power as we work the rest of the steps.

My job is to adopt an approach to life of open mindedness and willingness.
My job is to pray for willingness in those instances when it is lacking.
My job is be ready to hear and heed the directions of my higher purpose/power.

These assets will come to us through our higher power as we work the rest of the steps. We donít put them there.


What character defects are you willing to let go of now?
What character defects do you need to hang on to for now? How do they serve you?
What does Ďentirely ready?Ē mean for you?
Are you willing to listen to your higher purpose/ power when your character defects rear their heads in your lives and your will?
If you have experienced that, how do you experience it?
Can you describe a new attitude in your approach to life at this point?


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