Working the Steps – Step 6
In Step Four we write down a moral inventory of all of our wrongdoings. Then, in Step Five, we share our moral inventory with our higher power and another human being—probably the most difficult of the steps.
The character defects we discover in writing down and sharing our moral inventory can include things that are difficult to stop or let go of, which is asked of us in Step Six.
We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
The defects of character referred to in Step Six can include what many refer to as the seven deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, gluttony.
While some of these things are natural instincts, the key to Step Six is recognizing that they have gotten out of control and have negatively affected our lives and others.
Alcoholics Anonymous refers to Step Six as the step that “separates the men from the boys.” This is because it’s the step that entails we rid our lives of things that used to bring us joy, regardless of their harmless nature. It also entails that we are entirely ready to hand these defects of character over to our higher power—something that takes a lot of courage and strength.
Working Step Six
The first part of working Step Six is recognizing what your defects of character are. This is a good moment to refer back to your Step Four inventory and look for patterns of dishonesty, greed, lust, jealousy, etc. It’s helpful to make an additional list of the character defects you discover while studying your moral inventory. Once you finish writing your list, it is also helpful to write next to each character defect something you would like to replace that trait with. For example, if you find that you were very dishonest in your drug addiction, you could replace the dishonesty with being “truthful” and “transparent.”
Following are some questions and points to help you work Step Six:
- Describe any situations or events that have filled you with pride. What have these events and emotions brought into your life that you like and/or enjoy? Adversely, what problems have these events or emotions caused you?
- Describe any situations or events where you have been greedy or materialistic. What have these events and emotions brought into your life that you like and/or enjoy? Have you experienced any problems due to your actions?
- Describe any situations or events where you have given into lust without the regard for others or any morality. What have these events and emotions brought into your life that you like or enjoy? Have these events or emotions caused you any problems? Are you ready to hand these events or situations over to the care of God?
- Continue the descriptions listed above for dishonesty, excessive eating, drinking, or shopping, situations or events where you have been envious or jealous of others, and events or situations where you have avoided responsibility for your actions. What have these events brought to your life that you like or enjoy? What problems have occurred because of these events or situations?
- Aside from your addictive behavior, what other activities do you really enjoy?
- After going over your Step Four inventory and describing the events or situations above, list your major defects of character:
- What do you plan to do to change the major defects of character? List each defect individually with a proposed preventative behavior. How will you allow your higher power to help you in your battle against these character defects?
For many recovering addicts, it helps to realize that in giving up these character defects they are learning new and different behaviors that can better serve them. We are not merely “giving up” natural behaviors; rather, we are adjusting our lifestyle to gain a new and healthier way of life.
For more information on working the 12 Steps to addiction recovery, please refer back to our blog series.
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