Step Study ~ Step 6

Old 02-19-2008, 08:49 PM
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Step Study ~ Step 6

If you are just joining in, 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. Steps 1 thru 5 have already been posted.

Most of the information here comes from the book Paths To Recovery, Al-Anon’s Steps, Traditions and Concepts along with some readings from Courage to Change, One Day at a Time in Al Anon II.
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.
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Old 02-19-2008, 08:50 PM
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Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remover 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?
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Old 02-19-2008, 08:55 PM
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What fears block me from being entirely ready?
It sounds really odd now, but at the time I first worked this step, I was really afraid to consider having God remove my defects of character. They might be unhealthy, they might be keeping me from growth, but at least I knew what they were. They were comfortable and familiar, even if they weren't good for me. If I got rid of those character defects, what would be left in their place?? I imagined myself as a piece of swiss cheese, full of holes.

Again, this was a good time to call on others in the program. I talked to my sponsor and to other recovery friends who had worked this step. They assured me that once I became willing to have my Higher Power remove my defects of character, there would be more room for my assets and attributes to prosper.

The truth is, those "holes" were filled up with love and gratitudes. Pure and simple.
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Old 02-19-2008, 09:12 PM
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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.”
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Old 02-20-2008, 06:20 AM
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The 4th and 5th steps helped to begin to identify my character defects (or rather, survival mechanisms no longer needed). On a conscious level I really am ready for these defects to be removed. It's the monster in the blue lagoon of my psyche that messes with the whole process. I often trip over "what is a defect". When I do that it probably means that I am just not ready to let go of that one. I wish that it was as easy as just being ready for HP to take away all defects - I can say and mean that. For me, it appears that that simply is not enough. I have to actually recognize and identify the defect....really understand the dang thing. Yucko. I read a passage from a 6th step guide that jumped out at me in regards to recognizing the defects.....

To reach our goal of happiness and to be bursting with goodness, we must recognize where mayhem, deceit, arrogance, self-indulgence, egotistical desires, resentment, and edginess will impair the execution of our ambitions.

I've found that asking myself the question of "what's still good about it?" helps me to eventually see the tentacles that the defect grows into so many areas of my life. I've found that putting on my victim dress is one of my favorite things to do...if I don't wear it I don't get as many "warm and fuzzies". That helps me to identify my part of this - what do I need to do to support myself? Are there healthier ways to get the payoff? Is the payoff worth it?

This growth stuff sure ain't for sissies.

I'm looking forward to everyone elses input on this step.

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Old 02-25-2008, 09:10 PM
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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?”
I struggle with this one ALL the time. What's the payoff? Sometimes I just want to feel righteous indignation for awhile longer. That's why I hold onto resentments.

What's the payoff? Sometimes I want to feel needed. That's why I continue to meddle in my sons' business and in their decisions. I also want to feel superior & smart. I can make better decisions than they can. (:rof)

So, when looking at why you hold onto some of your character defects... What's the payoff?
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Old 02-26-2008, 03:27 AM
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Step 6 was another of those steps that seemed so simple but indeed were more complex than I had anticipated.

Steps 1, 2 and 3 were my "surrender and find faith" steps, and steps 4 and 5 were about identifying my personal feelings and reasons for them. These steps brought me to a point where I had to decide if I wanted to continue living the life I had been living or if I really really wanted to change and begin to live differently and better. It was a point where I KNEW better now, where I KNEW that I could not control anyone else's behaviour, and where I KNEW that I desperately wanted to live in peace and find happiness again.

Shaking my old behaviour, ridding myself of my defects of character and the obsessive "need" to run the world was not going to be easy and Step 6 was where I got to closely examine my "garbage" and decide whether to take it to the curb and pray for the Higher Garbage Man to take away what I no longer wanted or needed.

For me, I took a deep breath and decided God could restore me to sanity (Step 2) only if I were willing to change.

Toward the end of working my Step 6, I felt a relief combined with a new hope that if I were willing to give up my old ways, God would help me get rid of them. I had no idea where that would lead me, I had no idea what might lie ahead, but I had reached a point of faith where I KNEW that where I was going could not be any worse than where I had been and I KNEW that I was ready.

Thanks for posting these, Cats, it's good for me to review my own steps and give thought to what areas still need work.

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Old 02-27-2008, 07:14 AM
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Courage to Change ODAT in Al-Anon II 6/8

Step Six speaks of being entirely ready to have God remove all my defects of character. Yet I find that I often cling to my defects because they give me a certain amount of pleasure.

What defects could possibly give me pleasure? Revenge, for one. I spend lots of time creating mental scenarios in which I punish those who have hurt me. I also get a great deal of enjoyment from thinking that I am never wrong; in other words, I cling to my pride. Yet these characteristics are defects that get in the way of living the kind of life I want to live and prevent me from treating myself and others with love and respect. There is abundant reason to let them go, but to do so, I have to become willing to lose the enjoyment they sometimes deliver.

My recovery will have a giant void as long as I am unwilling to give up my shortcomings. If I want healing, I must turn over my will, my life, and my character defects to God.

Today’s Reminder

Are the small, temporary pleasures I get from my defects of character worth the price I am paying to keep them? If not, I may be entirely ready to let some of them go today.

“I know that help is waiting only for my acceptance, waiting for me to say, “Not my will but thine be done.”

The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage
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Old 04-05-2008, 01:51 AM
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Thanks Cats - Your posts keep me motivated to work through the steps. I worked through them superficially before. This time around they are much more meaningful.
Your guidance here is proving to be extremely beneficial in my ability to grasp a deeper understanding.
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