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|08-29-2010, 07:45 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In my little piece of heaven
Intro Step 6
This is an online Step Study. Each of the 12 steps will have its own thread, so you can participate at whatever level you are comfortable and discuss your own experience with concepts in each step. It’s a combination and compilation of step studies – some from Al Anon, some from Nar Anon and some from CODA.
Sources include Paths To Recovery, Al-Anon’s Steps, Traditions and Concepts ©1997and How Al Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics ©1995, along with some readings from Courage to Change, One Day at a Time in Al Anon II ©1992.
Each of us works the steps in our time, and in our own manner. Most often, step work is done by those who attend face-to-face meetings and have a sponsor. That doesn’t mean that you MUST, it’s just a suggestion. Please don’t feel as though you must rush thru these steps… it took some of us a few years in the program before we began, and we found ourselves stuck on at least one of the steps for a year or more. The questions and postings here will be an outline, a framework from which you can begin your journey. If nothing else, the questions will provoke some thought and self-reflection, and some great discussions and dialogue.
Others who have worked the steps before may find that they wish to do the steps again. Many people who work one step per month every year – 12 steps for 12 months. The more you learn about yourself, the more you know, and the more you wish to learn!
Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
From How Al Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics pp 55 -56
In Steps Four and Five, we uncovered aspects of our lives and our personalities that needed change. Most of us are uncomfortable with these aspects of ourselves and want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. But Step Six says nothing about changing ourselves or making our own defects of character go away. In fact, this Step points out that we are powerless to remove our defects of character ourselves. Instead, we are reminded that we are in a partnership with a Power greater than ourselves. Our role in this partnership is to accept ourselves as we are, flaws and all, and to become willing to let go of all that stands in the way of our health and growth. No other action is required. The rest is up to a Power greater than ourselves.
In other words, in Step Six we learn to “Let go and let God.” This means that we must once again learn to trust the God of our understanding to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It isn’t always easy, because we know too much to remain comfortable with our defects. As we catch ourselves acting them out, we don’t like what we see. We want to be proud of ourselves and feel at peace with our behavior, yet we are increasingly embarrassed at what we find ourselves saying and doing. These actions, attitudes and habits do not reflect the person we are striving to become.
At this point, many of us try once more to change ourselves. For instance, if we have always been too busy focusing on everyone else’s problems while ignoring our own, we might try to force ourselves to mind our own business. We are often dismayed at how quickly our efforts fail. Although enormous energy goes into focusing on ourselves, many of us find that we continue to be preoccupied with other people’s lives.
Sometimes we have to try to make these changes on our own- and fail – before we can honestly say we are entirely ready for God’s help. After a lifetime of self-sufficiency, most of us need to be reminded that there are limits to what we can achieve without help. Paradoxically, by accepting our limitations, we can avail ourselves of unlimited possibilities. With God’s help, we can overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. Miracles can grace our lives, and serenity can take the place of despair. Our defects of character can be blessings in disguise, because in order to be free of them, we must deepen our faith, and that spiritual depth will bless our lives.
Our strength lies in accepting our role in our relationship with God, and trusting that a Higher Power will play a significant role as well. No longer must we struggle alone, attempting the impossible. We need only “Let go and let God.”
From Paths to Recovery p 65
The key principle of Step 6 is readiness. If we believe we are ready but find we are procrastinating, we need to consider each character defect more closely to see what is stopping us. In most cases we can find several factors that block us from being entirely ready. A longtime member of Al Anon suggests that, by closely reading, studying and understanding Step Six, some members begin to understand the spiritual basis of this Step. As discussed in Steps One, Two and Three, we learned that we couldn’t handle the disease of alcoholism, we acknowledged that the God of our understanding could and that we would let Him. Without true unconditional acceptance of Step Three, the action of Step Six is impossible.
We know we have character defects and have some idea of the pain and difficulties they have caused us; surely it would be a relief to get rid of them. Step Six does not get rid of these defects, it only asks us to become ready. Are we entirely ready? To continue, the answer must be yes. These two words “entirely ready’ are not conditional – they are clear and concise in their instructions; we must commit to the action of having God remove our defects of character.
Paths to recovery pp 67-68
I find myself at Step Six. I’ve been here before and I’m sure I’ll be here again. This time, now that I’ve been working the Steps for eight years, Step Six is about the six “Ps” for me – perspective, pain, prayer, patience, process and payoff.
Perspective. My second sponsor described defects of character as “survival skills that no longer serve me.” This definition helps me stop being so hard on myself. It helps me understand that for most of my life these defects of character worked for my benefit. Since my Higher Power wants more than mere survival for me now, I can choose to let them go.
Pain. When clinging to my defect or survival skill becomes more painful than my fear of letting it go, I become entirely ready to have God remove that defect of character.
Prayer. Step Six says God removes all these defects of character, not me. My part is to pray for openness and willingness. God chooses which defects He will remover. I just do the footwork.
Patience. Since God is in charge, God gets to choose when and how fast He will remove my defects of character. A couple years ago, when I humbly asked Him to remove my arrogance, God proceeded to first show me how terribly arrogant I was and how it affected so many of my relationships in a negative way. I was able to accept that perhaps I humbly asked a little too soon.
Process. Becoming entirely ready involves a process for me – a grief process – where I walk through my denial, anger, bargaining and depression. As I complete the grief process, I become ready to have God remove a defect or former survival skill. It is helpful for me to pretend the defect is a friend by writing it a thank-you and good-bye letter.
Payoff. When I struggle with a defect, my current sponsor asks, “What’s the payoff?” In other words, since I’m having a hard time letting it go, “What’s still good about it?” Lately, I’ve been struggling with forgiveness. If I remain unforgiving, the payoff is that I can savor thoughts of revenge. I can feel sorry for myself for the hurt that was inflicted on me. I can justify my actions and remain distant. I don’t have to work toward a closer relationship with that person if I remain unforgiving.
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
The following questions may generate thought and discussion on Step Six.
Have I completed working the first five Steps to the best of my ability? Am I willing to go back and look at them if I feel overwhelmed in working this Step?
What have I learned from my sponsor or another Al Anon friend on how they worked Step Six?
As a result of working Step Five, am I grateful that there is a Step Six to work?
Do I clearly understand the concept of readiness?
How do I know if I am ready?
If I am not entirely ready, how might I turn these fears over to the God of my understanding?
What fears block me from being entirely ready?
Can I ask God for the willingness to be ready?
In what ways do I trust the God of my understanding in working this Step?
Am I willing to let go of all of my defects of character? Why or why not?
Which ones would I prefer to hold onto? What advantages do I see to holding on to them?
Which defects of character also contained assets?
What does “have God remove all of my defects of character” mean to me?
How do I trust and feel confident that my Higher Power is there for me?
Do I understand why this Step speaks only of my own relationship with God? What does that mean to me?
How am I grateful that I now know the God of my understanding?
Can I make a commitment to share in an Al Anon meeting how I worked this step?
How have I encouraged those I sponsor to work this step?
Will I consider chairing a meeting or workshop on the power of this Step?
What evidence do I see in my life today of my Higher Power’s willingness to help me improve my behavior? How can I do my part?
Do I make demands on God, praying for a specific result rather than trusting God to know which defect is most important to remove?
How can I look at all these characteristics from a fresh point of view today?
Other than “Let Go and Let God: what other Al Anon slogans or tools can help me with this step?
What other people think of me is really none of my business!
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