Step Six

by Pat P.

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

Doing the Step

Step Six is going to take recovery to another level. Step One through Step Three is like finding a puzzle box. You really don’t know what’s in it but you’d like to see if you can put the puzzle together. Step Four and Step Five represent opening the puzzle up and dumping all the pieces on the table. If you have done a thorough Fourth Step there are many more pieces on the table than you thought there would be and this realization can be overwhelming.

So here I sit with all these pieces of this puzzle on the table and I have no idea how to even start much less what the picture is going to look like when I’m through. You see the problem with this puzzle is there isn’t a picture on the box to help me. Now I must ask myself some simple questions. How committed am I to changing my behavior? What am I willing to do to change? I must give examples of how each of my character defects has caused problems for me and those around me. Which character defect is causing me the most pain right now? How willing am I to give up this defect? What would be the consequences of giving it up and not giving it up? What positive attitude would I replace this defect with? Do I really believe if I surrender this defect to a Higher Power it will be removed?

I must cite some examples indicating I am committed to the guidance of my Higher Power. I must examine the areas that will give me the most trouble in giving up my defects. What anxieties am I feeling about giving up my defects? Why is it necessary to learn humility before my Higher Power can remove my defects of character? What are my doubts that my Higher Power will really remove these defects? What do I fear will happen when these defects are removed? What behavioral changes have I made that indicate my thought patterns are changing?

I must go through the exercise of preparing to let go of my character defects. I must list examples that indicate I’m willing to let go of my constant need to impress others. What do I fear I’ll lose by letting go of my intense desire for material things? What will I gain by giving up my selfish tendencies? How will honesty improve the quality of my life? What anxieties do I feel when I realize the need to tell the truth? In what ways am I ready to lessen my desire for status and material wealth? What do I believe my life will be like when I no longer experience jealousy? I must list examples that indicate I am willing to heighten my productivity. What steps have I taken to eliminate my habit of procrastination?

This step is where I’m going to find out how bad I want to change. I have said a diet doesn’t begin until I get hungry. Well, it’s time I begin facing the pain I’ve created for myself and others.

Listening to the Step

By the time I get to this step I have already formed a bonding relationship with this person. We are comfortable with each other and I have shared enough of my insanity that they know they aren’t different from me. Although I have talked about faith and trust before, it is time to begin practicing it. I have met two types of people while doing the steps. There are those who say they believe in a Higher Power and those who claim the jury is still out. Both have the same speed bump. Acting on something with nothing but faith as the foundation is a challenge for everyone. After years of practicing trust and faith I still want to control the outcome of particular events because I can’t trust I’m going to be all right.

I understand the problems I’ve had with this issue so I try to communicate this understanding to the presenter in the beginning. I talk about trusting their Higher Power to those who have a concept of a Higher Power, and for those who don’t have a Higher Power I ask if they can trust me and the process.

I believe it is virtually impossible to complete the steps from this time on if you can’t trust something or someone else. I have to practice staying teachable and that means I must become comfortable being anxious and confused all the time. Without anxiousness and confusion I’m in “my will” and that will always give the power back to my addiction which will lead to relapse.


Reprinted by kind permission of Recovery Today. About the Author: Pat Peteson has been in recovery for over twenty-five years and a substance abuse counselor for over twenty years. He presently works with X-Gang members in the Department of Criminal Justice. He also has published a Twelve Step Workbook covering many addictions.

About the Authors

Contributors to Renascent’s Blog share their stories of addiction and recovery and/or their professional expertise.