How to Work Step 6 [of the Twelve Steps]
While working Step 5, you brought a full inventory of your harmful behaviors to your higher power and another human being. After Step 5, the program asks you to prepare your heart and mind to have your higher power remove all those defects of character. But what does that mean? And how do you work Step 6?
Step 6 of the 12-Step Program requires courage, humility, and perseverance to achieve. Instead of just quitting drinking or saying you’ll stop using drugs, this step requires you to become willing to completely change your life by addressing the underlying causes of your addiction.
If you’re ready to start working Step 6 but you don’t know where to start, here’s a quick overview of its purpose and some tips to help you get started.
What Are the 12 Steps?
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
What Is Step 6 of the 12-Step Program?
Step 6 of the 12-Step Program is: “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
What Is the Purpose of the Sixth Step in the 12-Step Program?
The purpose of Step 6 is to develop a sincere willingness to make changes in your life so that you can hand over your shortcomings to your higher power.
In working steps one through five, you admitted that you were powerless over your drug and alcohol abuse. Then, you established a relationship with your higher power before making a list of individual shortcomings and defects of character. Now, you’re ready to humble yourself and prepare your heart and mind to hand those defects of character over to your higher power and start fresh.
Although you might be able to just stop drinking, this step is the beginning of you addressing the underlying causes of your addiction. If you were to simply stop drinking or using drugs but never address your defects of character, you’d likely return to drinking once you’re faced with difficult circumstances, powerful emotions, or other external triggers.
By working Step 6, you are safeguarding your sobriety by committing to changing your addictive behavior and the character defects that have contributed to your drug or alcohol abuse.
Common Misconceptions About Step 6
You have to complete this step perfectly the first time. No one can possibly deal with all their character defects in one fell swoop. Instead, know that you’ll work this step several times over as you confront each of your character defects and work to address them. It’s best to focus on just one or two main issues at a time. Thankfully, the 12-Step Program is not about perfection. All it requires of you is your best efforts and willingness to try.
You have to give all your defects of character to your higher power right now. Step six only requires you to develop a willingness to give up your shortcomings and allow your higher power to take over and help you change your life. With time, you’ll find yourself able to hand those things over and leave your past behind you, but it won’t be all at once or right away. It’s okay to do things in your own timing.
How to Work Step 6: 3 Tips
1. Look at yourself and your life honestly.
If you are not completely honest with yourself and others about your personal flaws and defects, it will be difficult to complete Step 6. Instead, practice acceptance and acknowledge that you’re not perfect. There are things in your life that you need to change to successfully get sober and maintain your recovery. By accepting these things and being willing to hand them over to your higher power, you’ll be one step closer to letting go of the past and moving forward with your life.
2. Fully explore each character defect.
It’s not fun but you’ll need to be very specific about your character defects and work through each one individually and fully. Whether you struggle with anger, co-dependence, or some other personal issue that has contributed to your addictive behaviors, you’ll need to explore them deeply to completely work through them.
3. Practice humility.
It takes a lot of humility to admit that you need to work on yourself. But being humble will open the door to change by allowing you to accept your faults, develop a positive attitude, and become willing to do whatever it takes to become the best version of yourself.
Get Help to Work Step 6
Working Step 6 of the 12-Step Program is challenging but there is help available. Sober peers, your AA sponsor, or treatment professionals are all available to help you walk through each step of the program. Having unconditional support is so beneficial in the early stages of recovery and it may be just what you need to get the most out of the 12-Step Program.