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Alcoholics Anonymous Step 6: Become Ready to Remove Your Flaws

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Step 6 AA – 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

According to SAMHSA’s 2020 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 50% of Americans aged 12 or older, which is almost 140 million people, reported consuming alcohol in the past month. Some of them drink alcoholic beverages in moderate amounts, while others engage in increasingly popular sporadic binge drinking.1,2

Even though for most people moderate alcohol consumption isn’t necessarily a problem, there were more than 28 million individuals in the US who struggled with alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2020. This is alarming since it’s proven that, besides representing a great economic burden for the whole nation, alcohol misuse takes a great toll on a person’s mental and physical well-being.1,3,4

Evidence has shown that the program used by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the oldest and most effective tools to overcome alcohol misuse-related issues. AA’s 12 step program has proven invaluable in dealing with alcohol addiction among various groups of people. In 2020, research sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) concluded that AA’s 12 step therapeutic programs were more effective than other established rehabilitation approaches.5

What Is the Step 6 of AA?

AA was founded nearly 90 years ago and has a great track record of helping people overcome alcohol addiction challenges. It utilizes a specific 12-step technique that helps people achieve sobriety and provides them with the tools to remain sober long after the completion of the initial recovery program. AA is free and open to anyone who is willing to tackle their dependence on alcohol regardless of their age, sex, or education levels.6

AA’s 12 Step programs give people an opportunity to change their behavioral patterns using a set of spiritual principles. Staying true to these principles enables them to establish and maintain a way of living that is free of alcohol and finds fulfillment in better things in life. After completing AA’s Step 5, which entails that “We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”, an AA participant can proceed to Step 6.6

AA’s Step 6 states that “We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”. Since AA doesn’t belong to any religious denomination, God in this sense stands for some Higher Power that we believe in. No matter what religion you practice, AA’s doors are open as long as you are willing to show humility and admit that you need help from a Power greater than yourself. This willingness to change in combination with an awakening of spiritual awareness is a fountain from which people can draw the strength they need to ultimately beat addiction.7

Step 6 AA Prayer

Before AA’s Big Book became available, members of the AA fellowship studied the Bible to draw the required knowledge and attain serenity and overall betterment. Since AA encourages people to strive for spiritual awakening and to draw strength from their Higher Power, AA’s prayers are an important component of the 12 step approach. Each step has its own prayer that encompasses what is required on the road to recovery and is designed to help strengthen an individual’s connection with God. The Step 6 Prayer is as follows:8

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 and

Guide me toward spiritual and mental health.8

AA Prayer associated with Step 6 is a helpful tool that people can use in times of crisis or when things just feel too overwhelming. It can help them regain composure and focus that are needed to stay on the right track. This short prayer promotes honesty with oneself that will help them come to terms with their defects in order to overcome them. Seen from the scientific angle, recent research has shown the importance of mantras and prayers for people’s overall psychological well-being thereby validating the significance behind this approach.9

What Is the Importance of AA’s Step 6?

Basically Alcoholic Anonymous’s Step 6 is all about readiness to change and placing our trust in possibilities of spiritual growth as a means to achieving sobriety. We can take lessons from Step 6 and apply them to many other spheres of our everyday lives. After completing AA’s Step 6, people are gradually starting to change for the better and beginning to feel the benefits of surrendering to their Higher Power.10

For this reason, it is often said that AA’s Step 6 “separates the men from the boys”, since there is no turning back from being honest with oneself about one’s defects and the need to change one’s ways of thinking and doing things for good. Even though it might seem hard to remove all of our defects at once, it is important to never give up and keep trying because every improvement keeps us steady on our way to becoming a better version of ourselves.10

Once they look deeply at themselves, people may find that they have more defects than they previously thought. AA’s Step 6 is a continuous process that can last a long time. Nobody is ever going to become perfect since that is reserved for their own Creator, but striving for excellence while remaining humble will guarantee that individuals won’t revert to their damaging habits and rituals. Stay honest, humble and hungry and results are bound to follow.10

What Are Character Defects?

Character defects can be defined as shortcomings that cause us to make bad decisions which ultimately prevent us from reaching our true potential. Every person has certain character defects. These can vary from small imperfections to more serious issues that can lead to destructive or dangerous behavior. Bad habits tend to become everyday routines ranging from unhealthy lifestyles to violent and destructive personalities. All of us had certain thoughts we are not proud of, or committed deeds we would like to forget.11

But, at the same time, this doesn’t necessarily mean we are bad people. The goal is to look deep into ourselves and recognize which faults in our character made us react in the way that we now feel and know was wrong. Maybe we were angry and not able to control our emotions, or maybe we were envious but completely unaware of the fact. Character defects are not what defines us and getting rid of them doesn’t mean we’re giving up on who we are.11

Not all character defects will cause the same amount of damage and not all of them are equally strong or influential in our decision making. For this reason it might be wise to start from those that interfere with our everyday lives the most and influence our decision making in a very damaging way. Some of the most commonly reported character defects are:12

  • Dishonesty
  • Envy
  • Hate
  • Fear
  • Lust
  • Greed
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Laziness
  • Gluttony

How To Complete AA’s 6th Step?

Looking deep into yourself is not an easy task. It requires determination and a dose of courage. Working through AA’s Step 6 is a personal experience that may seem hard or even daunting, but it’s a necessary stage of a successful recovery process. There is no need to rush and you should advance slowly but surely, taking gratification in each small step and advancement you make.11

Once you think about your shortcomings, it is useful to make a list of all character defects you recognize. This will help you to externalize your faults and encounter them face to face. There is no need for frustration if the list seems too long; it just means you were honest with yourself. After you completed the list of character defects, you should put down corresponding virtues or character assets that would be their opposite.11

Listing your virtues will help you envisage the improvements that you’ll make by turning those faults into positive traits. This positive list can also serve as a clear goal and a guiding light that will give you the strength needed to keep pushing and staying positive when you maybe feel like giving up or delaying certain badly needed measures. Keep in mind that even though there is no need to rush, delaying and procrastination can be dangerous.10

What Are the Tips for Completing Step 6 of AA?

Since Step 6 requires that you look into yourself. Try being honest about how your various character defects influenced your actions and decisions in the past. Think about the ways your actions have impacted you and people around you and how a change for the better might be a force for good. Honesty will help you realize the damage your alcoholism has caused. Here are some other principles you can turn to for guidance while completing your alcohol addiction recovery:13

  • Stay humble and true to yourself, knowing that you are on the right path but there is still much to be done.
  • Be open minded because it will help you confront your shortcomings and place trust in your Higher Power.
  • Embrace personal responsibility and agency as a way of looking into your issues honestly, knowing fully that recovery is within your reach.
  • Show acceptance for your mistakes from the past in order to be able to let go of the habits that are holding you back from submitting to a Higher Power.
  • Be positive and keep your end goal in sight so as not to lose hope and willingness to keep improving.
  • Keep the faith and trust in yourself and the overall process to be able to reap the benefits of each stage of recovery.

If you feel overwhelmed and start losing focus of your goals try and remember all the good things you got from previous steps. Try and visualize the progress you’ve made and the concrete changes you implemented. Alcoholic Anonymous’s Step 6 prayer is one of the best tools you can turn to when you just need to keep a cool head and gather your thoughts.9

AA Step 6 Worksheet

AA’s Step 6 focuses on recognition and acceptance of your character faults, but also on being ready to let go of them and place your trust in Higher Power as a way of overcoming your shortcomings. For some people Step 6 can be a long-term phase depending on their level of commitment and readiness to pull all their unpleasant characteristics out into the light.10

It might be smart to think about compiling a Step 6 worksheet that will help you keep things organized and not get too overwhelmed by challenges that AA Step 6 is throwing at you. While having that honest and searching conversation with yourself, there are several questions you can put down on your worksheet that will help you run through some of the issues related to Step 6, such as:10

  • Are any doubts or fears holding me down? Where do they come from?
  • How do I understand the idea that Higher Power will remove my defects?
  • What are my responsibilities during Stage 6?
  • Do I see changes for the better from previous steps and do I believe further changes are possible?
  • Are some of my defects enjoyable and a source of pleasure? Will this make me less inclined to give them up?
  • Are there any defects which look impossible to let go of? Do I have the willpower to overcome them?
  • How do I understand the act of surrendering to a Higher Power? Am I ready to surrender completely and how will it help me on my way to recovery?

How to Interpret Step 6 AA: What Should I Do Next?

The goal of Step 6 is to openly confront your character defects and recognize the ways in which they have affected your behavior in everyday situations. This will help you recognize the negative influence these faults had on your decision-making capacities, which became impaired due to alcohol misuse. Step 6 will advance your spiritual growth by encouraging you to place your trust in your Higher Power as a way of letting go of your bad habits and defects.11

Importance of AA’s Step 6 is also backed by research which has shown that surrendering to a Higher Power can have a positive influence on psychological wellbeing of people who are undergoing substance abuse recovery programs. Prayer, meditation and reliance on your Higher Power can function as a substitute to substance addiction providing concrete benefits that will aid the recovery process.14

If in all honesty you can look deep into yourself and say that you are satisfied with what you were able to get from Step 6, then it’s time to move on to the next step. AA’s Step 7 is all about humility and being ready to ask the Higher Power to remove your defects. It emphasizes the need for personal change and betterment and the courage to put your faith in Higher Power in order to make it happen.15

How Can I Get Help from Step 6 of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcohol use disorder is classified as a mental health issue that requires a personalized approach since no two cases of addiction are identical. The optimal type of treatment will depend on the severity of alcohol addiction. For those who are mild or moderate users outpatient rehab is the most popular form of treatment that can be adjusted in terms of its intensity while others may need to submit to a specialized rehab center.16

If you feel like alcohol is making your everyday life unbearable or is starting to influence your decision making, there are various inpatient programs that offer the highest quality of care in a structured environment of a rehab facility. Long-term users and severe cases usually have to submit to a medically managed detox to cleanse their system from harmful substances before entering treatment programs that can last one month or longer.17

American Addictions Center (AAC) is the nation’s leading provider of addiction rehabilitation treatments. AAC operates a network of medical facilities that utilize some of the best amenities to deal with alcohol addiction. AAC’s centers are located around the country and accept payments from all the major insurers in the country.

If you want to find out more about your financing options, you can use AAC’s alcohol dedicated hotline that will provide you with all the relevant information about overall costs to enable you to make an informed decision. AAC admissions navigators are able to answer your questions, verify your insurance over the phone and provide advice about possible payment options at your disposal.

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The editorial staff of Projectknow.com is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands of pages for accuracy and relevance. Our reviewers consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA, NIDA, and other reputable sources to provide our readers the most accurate content on the web.
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