Step 6 of AA: Understanding Defects of Character

Sober Link sobriety monitor

This is such a great step! We have done the moral inventory and then admitted to God and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6 Worksheet

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

This post looks at what this means and the outcomes of it.

In step 4 we took a fearless moral inventory of ourselves and listed all our character defects. When we did the fifth step we admitted to our Higher Power and another human being what these wrongs were. Now we are ready to approach the sixth step.

This together with the two previous steps are the steps of review. The review culminates in being ready to have the god of your understanding take away every defect of character that exists. This willingness represents such a significant change from our previous addictive behavior.

It also is the necessary preparation to help us open our minds for the seventh step where we

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

That step is the first of the steps we take in correcting our ways.

Let’s face facts it is probably a huge number of things that need to be removed. All our negative behaviors, all our old habits, those bad character traits, we will need to ask for each of them to be removed. Remember you were never a bad person; it was alcohol abuse.

We are now at the halfway point though of this 12-step program and ready to cast ourselves further into the care of God as we started preparing to back in Step Three. Each alcoholics anonymous step is designed to gradually guide us along the path to spiritual awakening and is intended to help ensure long-term recovery.

step 6 alcoholics anonymous freedom

This is a step of celebration. Take time to think back on your personal experience since your first AA meeting and when you took the first step. Think about your old ways and the great way you have come. You now have a positive attitude. You know what your old patterns of thought were like, and you have seen real change and started to see real spiritual growth.

This is the step where we prepare to nail down the real change we have undergone and begin the lifetime job of keeping the disease of addiction in check. It says in the Big Book that those who can’t be honest with themselves or have personality disorders have less than average chances of addiction recovery. If you are here at the sixth step preparing to let the God of your understanding take away these character faults, then your chances are better than average.

The steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have a series of gateways. At step three we decided to turn our lives over to our Higher Power and here at step six, we open another gate by becoming willing to let God begin to alter our nature and help us become a better person. It is almost impossible to stress what an important thing this is.

It is an exercise in humility. We are saying, “God, I have taken a personal inventory and fallen short. I need help to deal with such compulsions and bad habits that stand in the way of my ongoing sobriety. Take these away and let’s start to build a new foundation today.”

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 & guide me toward spiritual & mental health.

This is a 6th step prayer, and I mention it because of its reference to spiritual and mental health. We are in a place now where we are starting to recover what we used to be before the desire to drink overwhelmed us. Not only that, though, we want to go better than that, and that starts with the humility I have mentioned.

Think about this. If you hurt yourself and go to a doctor and ask that the issue be dealt with, there is no humiliation in that at all. There is humility in realizing the doctor is more capable than we are of dealing with the problem.

Now, in step six, it is the same. There is no humiliation in humbling ourselves before a Power that is Higher than us, and there is no humiliation in asking that the process of recovery be taken further. This is what we prepare for in this step.

It is not a long step. It can be over in seconds, to be honest, but there is one warning. It applies to this step as much as any other step in AA. You need to mean what you say or ask. The desire to have God intervene and remove our defects of character must be earnest, heartfelt, and sincere. Simple lip service does not work. Any effort without honest effort is not a true willingness to effect change.

This is the halfway point! Words to express how overjoyed I feel when someone reaches this step may not exist. There are six more steps to go, and some will not be easy, but whoever reaches this step has already made amazing progress.

Now that you have reached this step and asked God to remove all those defects of character, the challenge in step 7 is to ask it and then move through the rest of the steps. Congratulations!

Note: Except where specified, all quotes are from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous