Since 1935, the Twelve Steps of Recovery have guided struggling substance abusers to a new way of life. In this installment, we examine the Sixth Step:
Twelve Steps: The Sixth Step
“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
The Sixth Step is about a willingness to change. By this point in the Steps, we have already taken a “fearless moral inventory”, where we listed all of our character defects and shortcomings. And now, we want to leave all of that negative baggage behind.
We are ready to change for the better.
Changing During Recovery
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has identified the Stages of Change, and by comparing them to the Steps, we can evaluate our own progress.
- Pre-Contemplation—This was active addiction, before we admitted our problem.
- Contemplation—When we admitted our powerlessness over our addiction and started reflecting on our choices. (Steps 1 through 3)
- Preparation—When we organized our thoughts as we moved towards change. (Steps 4 through 6)
- Action—Making the change, and more importantly, LIVING the change. (Steps 7 through 10)
- Maintenance—Making the change last. (Steps 11 and 12)
Step Six is a “bridge”, because now that all is Prepared, it is time to Act.
The Power of Letting Go
We can’t move upward and onward unless we release everything that’s been holding us back and keeping us down. “Cleaning house” emotionally means that everything that we no longer want or need must go. This includes the behaviors, thoughts, and attitude that bring chaos and conflict into our lives.
Some of the things we need to leave behind might include:
- Pride—We must never be too proud to ask for help or admit when we’re wrong.
- Greed—We must learn to be content with what we have, instead of being dissatisfied by what we don’t have.
- Envy—We must stop comparing ourselves to others.
- Lust—Our feelings for others should not be guided by selfishness.
- Sloth—If we want good things in our life, we must be willing to work for them.
- Anger—When we let negative people or situations overly upset us, we give them power over us.
- Gluttony—We must avoid excess.
Letting go can be hard—especially when we’ve become accustomed to responding and coping in a certain way. In fact, we may even define ourselves by our faults. Even though our dysfunctional behaviors and mindsets are bad for us, they’re all we’ve known.
But that’s just it—we’ve also known the pain, embarrassment, and regret caused by our defects. If we want to stop hurting ourselves and others, then we have to start over.
Step Six as a Process
We’ll repeat the Sixth Step again and again. Whenever we find ourselves at the mercy of destructive personal traits, we’ll need to once again learn to let go.
If you want to know more about overcoming addiction by shedding character defects, Teensavers Treatment Centers can help. As the most-trusted adolescent-focused drug rehab in Orange County, Teensavers has been providing premier recovery services since 1978.
by Albert Fontenot