Big Book Recovery

Working the 12 Step Programme

Step Six

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
Reading: pages 75-76

 This is a short and simple step. We made sure that there was nothing that we had knowingly left out of Step Five (see page 75, last paragraph).

We asked ourselves: am I entirely willing to have my defects removed?

In the light of what we have learnt from Steps Four and Five it is likely that we will be. If we are, then we do not hesitate and move to Step Seven without complicating it further.

However, for some of us there was a hesitation. We felt perhaps that we wanted to hang on to some of the defects and the bad behavior driven by them. For example, some of us wanted to hang on to lust because we thought we would never have sex again. Our sponsors assured us that in this analysis of defects we are talking about the self-seeking part of us. From the very name we give them – defects – it indicates that we are talking about a defective desire. When we are experiencing lust, our motivation is self-centered. We were told that there is another motivation for sex. One that is good – love. Our experience is that when self-centeredness drives us it causes problems in our relationships. So trying to do the loving thing in our relationships is the ideal we aim for.

Similar arguments can be used for any of the defects. For example, pride: acting without pride doesn’t mean that we stop dressing well or washing. If we do this out of pride it is likely to be vanity. However, it is good to dress well if we are aiming to look becoming for others. This is not taking a “pride” in our appearance (although that is how we would refer to it in everyday language) but consideration of others. Similarly, we should not be “proud” of our abilities but we can be pleased that we have them and aim to use them to the full because we are grateful to God for having them and we want to use them for good.

When we made a start on the program we had to start the process of living our lives according to spiritual principles. In trying to do the right thing we were doing our best at putting Step 12 into practice – practice these principles in all our affairs. We try to follow the principles of the steps and to “do the right thing”. Many of us were inexperienced in this and so need to learn the discernment that could guide us in all our affairs, that is one reason that a sponsor is so helpful. He has been an objective viewpoint who could help us to see how spiritual principles apply in our daily lives. He could point out if we are being dishonest or selfish, for example, where we were blind to it ourselves.

Now that we have completed Step Five, we can see more clearly self-centered and dishonest behavior and attitudes. This does not mean that we no longer need a sponsor, but it does mean that we have more of a sense of what it means to live a life according to spiritual principles. So in the light of this in Step Six, many see it as a resolution in the light of what we know to carry on with the program, which means completing steps Seven to Nine, and continued practice of 10, 11 and 12. We continue to trust God, clean house (which now means regular written Step 10s) and help others – we try to follow the principles of the steps and to “do the right thing”. This commitment is the indication of the willingness we had when we took Step Six. This can apply to our conduct in all areas where a code of morality applies: for example, questions of honesty and sexual morality. A more detailed discussion of how we know what is the right thing to do is given in Step 12 in discussing practicing these principles in all our affairs.

If we are struggling to be willing, then we can ask God to be given the necessary willingness until we receive it.

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