What is Step 6 of the 12 Steps Program?


Step Six of the 12 Steps: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

“All these defects of character” refers to, of course, all the “wrongs” that came out privately in Step Four and were confessed in Step Five of the 12 Steps. In the relief of getting things out in the open, we can forget that it’s not enough to admit we did wrong; we have to be fully prepared to stop doing it.

Too many people instead stop with confession. They wholeheartedly acknowledge they were wrong; they apologize and mean it; they promise themselves and everyone else that this will be the last time it ever happens; but within a week, they once again reach for the pill bottle, stagger in reeking of liquor, put a new dent in the car or a new bruise on someone’s face—then look at the mess they’ve made and beg for just one more chance. The misery of abusive relationships is built on endless apologies and short-lived promises. So is the proving of the old saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.”

The insanity is in believing that good intentions and sheer willpower are enough—that nothing else really needs to change, that we can meet the same old problems with the same old attitudes and that this time we’ll be strong enough not to resort to the same old chemical “solutions.” Or that this time life will cooperate by laying off the pressure and that we won’t even be tempted again. Of course, the rest of the world never changes just to make things easier for one person. So the only alternative to failing again and again is to make some significant changes in ourselves.

This is what is meant by being entirely ready to have our defects removed. Not just “ready” in the sense of bracing ourselves for a one-time leap. Not just ready in the sense of knowing what we should do. But “ready” in the way an athlete might commit to training for the Olympics: seeing the final goal clearly; understanding the full program required to meet that goal; and accepting that it will involve not only hard work over a long period, but a daily “whether I feel like it or not” commitment. Otherwise, the best we can hope for is the equivalent of the “flare and fade” done by the would-be marathoner who buys the best available gear, launches into the initial mornings of preparatory jogging with great enthusiasm, then (as the novelty wears off and the brain fully gets the message that this isn’t a one-week thing) lets the luxury of a soft bed and the anticipation of aching feet tempt him into “skipping just one day” that turns into an endless string of “just one more” days until the original goal fades to a vague dream of regret.

Step Six of the 12 Steps: Dealing with Temptation

Another element of being entirely ready is accepting that temptations will come and being prepared in advance to avoid or resist them. This may include taking precautions we’d rather not be bothered with—even some that practically break our hearts. Taking a bus so we won’t be tempted to pull into the bar, and accepting the crowds and noise and longer waits that come with that decision. Severing ties with friends or romantic interests who pester us to “have just one drink.” Maybe even changing residences or jobs if the substance-use associations are too much. Again, “entirely” means entirely—which means doing everything possible to keep life conducive to sobriety, day after day, week after week, until the new habits finally take hold. And, even then, staying aware of our weak spots and keeping an eye open so as not to get overconfident.

If all that evokes thoughts of “I never dreamed what a tall order this would be,” that’s actually a good thing. Remember, one thing that characterizes members of the “always promising, never quitting” crowd is thinking in terms of “once I admit I should do it, the rest will be easy.” A good look at what transitioning to the sober life really requires—and the initial paralyzed-with-terror reaction that results—separates those who really want their defects of character removed from those who just hope their problems will go away. It also separates those who are addicted to the proud dream of total self-sufficiency, from those who are strong enough to trust a Higher Power and their fellow human beings for the help they need.

About Kemah Palms Recovery®

Located in Galveston County, Texas, Kemah Palms Recovery® offers a high-quality 12 Step recovery program. As a vital part of our addiction treatment options in South Houston, we help individuals work through the steps and strive toward self-improvement.

Get help today: call 855-568-0218.