Step Six: Were entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of character.
The 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 spiritual and mental health. Amen.
Principle of Step Six:
In Step Six we learned more about the necessity of willingness as we became entirely ready to let go of our shortcomings. We apply this principle in many ways now, learning through each day's experience the difference between self-will and a simple willingness to cooperate with the guidance of our Higher Power.
The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous: Page 104-105.
My Step Six:
Step Three changed my life because it gave me freedom from food obsession. BUT that was only the beginning of my recovery. Addiction is a threefold disease: physical, emotional and spiritual. For me, emotional recovery came first, then spiritual and physical recovery was last. Step Six is my favorite step of all. Why? Think of the Twelve Steps as a blueprint - if I follow the blueprint, I become a better person. All my adult life, I wanted to do better but I had no idea of how to accomplish that goal. Now, through the Twelve Steps, I can do just that. And Step Six is all about changing what I can through awareness. It is an action step and although it is my Higher Power that changes what I cannot - my addiction and my defects - I, also, have my part and that is taking the necessary action through working these steps. Step Six shows me how and that is why I love Step Six.
Willingness is the principle of Step Six. Program defines willingness as doing what needs to be done whether I feel like doing it or not. When I first heard that definition, I was shocked! You want ME to do something that I do not want to do. Now why would I do that? I spent thirty-five years of my adult life doing whatever I wanted to do except for those few things that were a necessity, like working for a living or paying rent. My life was designed by me FOR me. Now, someone was telling me I must do all these things if I want recovery. Well I don’t have to do them but then I don’t get recovery. The addict self in me screamed, “NOT FAIR!” Too bad, so sad.
“Were entirely ready,” what does that mean? I thought I was truly ready to be rid of my defects but found that what I really wanted was to be rid of the consequences of my defects. I did not like those at all! My addict self never acknowledges that there ARE consequences to my behaviors. I had to sit down and list my defects and ask myself what they were doing FOR me as well as what each defect was doing TO me. It was hard for me to understand that my defects had their good sides. Fear was my number one defect for most of my life. Why would I not want to give up fear? What positive could there be for fear?
I spent many, many years of my life doing nothing more than working, eating, watching television and sleeping. Fear kept me away from everybody and everything. My little apartment was a safe haven for me. Fear kept me cozy in my little cocoon where I did not have to try and be brave. I could just sit, moan, groan and complain about my life. If I never tried to change anything, I could not fail.
However, as the years passed me by, that safe, secure and cozy little cocoon began to tighten and suffocate me. I hit fifty, my life was a disaster, and fear had a great deal to do with it. When I joined the Twelve Step program for the third time in January of 2002, my first step study allowed me to know and understand how much fear was costing me.
My next biggest defect was resentments. What were my resentments doing FOR me? I hoarded my resentments and brought them out into the light when I really wanted to feel bad. The world was against me! I had the proof! Just look at all those resentments, at everything people had done to me. I had the right to feel as bad as I did! But, what did the resentments do TO me? Didn't those same resentments cut me off from having healthy relationships with people? Wasn't my mind filled with past hatreds that fed on the negativity of my addiction? Weren’t my resentments keeping me from recovery, from becoming the person that I was meant to be?
Pride allowed me to cover up my insecurities with my oversized ego. Sure, I could feel good about myself, but it was often at the expense of other people. It also kept me from developing healthy relationships, mostly because my focus was always on self.
Dishonesty kept me imprisoned in the disease of compulsive overeating for 35 years of my adult life. If I did not believe I had a disease of addiction, then it wasn't true. Right? Ha! I was and still am an addict, whether I believe it or not. Honesty is absolutely essential in my progress down the road of recovery. Until and unless I can face the truth, of whom I am and what I have done, I will not be able to change what needs to be changed.
Yes, after reviewing the pros and cons of my defects, I have decided to give them up as they hinder my further emotional and spiritual developments. But how? Then I realized I was as powerless over my character defects as I am over food. If the first three steps worked on food, wouldn’t they also work on defects? “I can’t. God can. Let God.” Awareness had led me to acknowledge the price of each defect. Acceptance of the need for change allowed me to take the necessary Action, “the triple AAA’s of program.”
Willingness allows me to put into action my desire to release a defect. Willingness comes from acceptance of what is. To me, this is what it means to be “entirely ready.” As soon as I am aware of a defect in progress and I accept the need to change, I turn it over to my Higher Power and then I take the necessary action needed to overcome the defect.
Example: I used to love to drive fast on the interstate - seeing how fast I could go without being picked up for speeding. This was a defect of pride in my skill of driving and arrogance of the "speed laws do not pertain to me, just everyone else." How do I work Step Six on these two defects? I had to list the pros and cons of each defect. What does it do TO me? What does it do FOR me? Once I saw that it was only a matter of time before I was either picked up for speeding or in an accident that could hurt someone, including me, I accepted the need to stop playing cat and mouse with authorities. Awareness = Acceptance = Action. How do I take action? The moment that I become aware that I am speeding down the interstate, I need to say a prayer that my Higher Power gives me the acceptance I need, which results in willingness, then I forcibly lift my foot off the gas, action, and drive the speed limit. Not as much fun as "catch me if you can" but a heck of a lot safer for me and the other drivers. Plus my pride and my arrogance have begun to diminish because I am willing to take the action I need to stop speeding.
The whole process of working through the steps and incorporating what I have learned into my daily life has allowed me to change into a person that I love and admire. I like me! I really, really do!
May the Twelve Step process allow you to become the person that you have always wanted to be.
Study guide for Step Six:
To help comprehend the questions, please read the Step Six chapter in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA. Please also read in the Alcoholics Anonymous book, page 76. (Fourth Edition)
Questions for Step Six:
1. What does being entirely ready mean to you? Explain.
2. List your defects, then answer this question for EACH of the defects. What does this defect do "FOR" me? (note: What is the benefit - the positives of keeping this defect?)
3. Again, list your defects, then answer this question for EACH of the defects. What does this defect do "TO" me? (note: How does it affect me - the negatives?)
4. Are your defects costing you more than they are giving you? Or not? Explain.
5. What is your definition of willingness? How do you find the willingness needed to let go of your defects?
Love in recovery,
WTS: 1st Quarter 2018
The Twelve Steps