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What is Step 6 of AA?

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

Step 6 is about removing the things from your life that do not work. The things listed in steps four and five are the things you now ask your higher power to remove. This includes behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes. 

Together with your higher power, you decide to release the things that no longer serve you. These are things ruling your life and driving you to self-destruction.

This step is often the point in your addiction treatment at which other people begin to notice changes in you. Gradually, as you work through this step, the thought patterns and actions that supported substance use begin to change. 

How Step 6 Works 

Step six is about being ready to change. It doesn’t mean change happens immediately. But it does mean that you are as ready as you’ll ever be to change and let go of what’s not working. It’s all about being prepared, open, and available to change.

Previous steps of your 12-step recovery were about discovering the self-harm and harm to others one’s actions caused. Acting on your character defects caused pain to yourself and those around you. 

Your thoughts and behavioral patterns led you down a destructive path. But now you are ready to change. 

At this point, you are aware of your defects and spiritually ready to change. In this step, you admit to the readiness to change and begin moving in that direction. 

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Main Components of the 6th Step of AA

Step six requires establishing a strong connection with your higher power. It is not about having a spiritual awakening, but about building a relationship with a higher power. The step teaches you about humility and self-reflection.

You also learn that your instincts and character traits and defects are closely linked. Many people learn in this step that our instincts and desires caused us to make bad choices. 

Over time, this tendency worsens and our instincts become character defects. Many of the things become habits which we must now work to change.

AA encourages participants to remember the basic nature of human beings. Everyone has needs they want met, but how you go about doing that can be defective and self-destructive. 

Step six is the time when you can begin to repair these shortcomings and make lasting change.

AA participants continue to explore the root of their addiction during step six. They search for the underlying emotional and mental issues that led to alcoholism and their old ways. Once identified, you let go of these defects as you work through these steps. 

This includes defects such as:

  • Greed
  • Lust
  • Pride
  • Jealousy
  • Dishonesty
  • Willfulness
  • Anger
  • Self-pity

Like the other steps, step six requires complete honesty with yourself and your higher power. You must admit to your defects as you did in previous steps and admit that you enjoy some of them. But now is the time to change these defects and turn away from self-will.

Letting your defects go, even if it’s challenging, is necessary for recovery and sober living. Admitting your powerlessness gives you freedom to move through the rest of the addiction recovery steps.

Questions to Ask Yourself While Following the Sixth Step

There are several questions that you can ask yourself and answer that will help you work through step 6, including:

  • Do you have fears about completing step six? What are they?
  • What do you think it means to have a higher power remove your defects?
  • What responsibilities do you have during this step?
  • Do you believe change is possible? Have you changed so far as you worked through the previous steps?
  • Do any of your defects give you pleasure? Does that make them more difficult to give up?
  • Do you have any defects that you believe cannot be removed? Are you willing to have them removed?
  • What does it mean to you to surrender? How does surrendering help you complete this step?
  • What can you do to show you are ready for this step?

Activities to Complete During Step 6

There are several tasks to complete during this step. Not everyone will need to do all of them. However, completing these activities provide a roadmap through step six. For example:

  • List each of your defects and describe each one
  • List how your behavior demonstrates this defect
  • Explain the effect your behavior has on you and the people in your life
  • Describe the life you’d have if you stopped these behaviors
  • What new behavior could replace each behavior?

Once you’ve completed this list, create an affirmation for each defect you’ve listed. Come up with three to five positive things you can say to yourself to deter you from engaging in previous behavior.

For example, if you were prone to lying about your alcohol consumption and other activities, a positive statement to say would be “I am an honest person who does not lie about drinking.”

Why is the Sixth Step Important for Recovery?

Step six is important for many reasons. It’s about acknowledging you are a work in progress and that you should focus on each small victory as you work through all 12 steps. It also encourages new open mindedness. 

But perhaps the most important thing about step six is the fact that it’s when you truly begin to see change. Everyone knows how difficult it is to stick with changes when you don’t see results. 

Step six is when you and everyone around you begin to see real change.

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Related posts:

Resources

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“Alcoholics Anonymous : Is A.A. For You?” Www.aa.org, www.aa.org/pages/en_US/is-aa-for-you

“Why Is Spirituality an Essential Part of a Recovery Program?” Psychology Today, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-craving-brain/201706/why-is-spirituality-essential-part-recovery-program

“Alcoholics Anonymous.” Aa.org, 2019, www.aa.org/. Tonigan, J, and Susanne Sturmhöfel. Alcoholics Anonymous: Who Benefits? .

“What Makes AA Work?” Harvard Gazette, 12 Sept. 2011, news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/09/what-makes-aa-work/.

Suire, Jared G., and Robert K. Bothwell. “The Psychosocial Benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous.” American Journal on Addictions, vol. 15, no. 3, Jan. 2006, pp. 252–255, 10.1080/10550490600626622. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10550490600626622.

Schneider, Kathleen M., et al. “Evaluating Multiple Outcomes and Gender Differences in Alcoholism Treatment.” Addictive Behaviors, vol. 20, no. 1, Jan. 1995, pp. 1–21, 10.1016/0306-4603(94)00037-y. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/030646039400037Y?imgSel=Y.

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