Personalizing Step 6

Step 6In previous steps we started identifying mental and moral qualities we wish were better in our relationships within ourselves and with others. How do we improve these?

Step 6 in the book of Alcoholics Anonymous is a brief statement of what Bill W and the first 100 did: “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”. Sounds pretty straightforward and easy … just prepare yourself (without mental reservation) for God to remove these “defects”. Seems more like a half step: just get ready for some change.

If I am “entirely ready” to make changes in my character, how do these changes come about? Do these changes come from outside me, for example, from God? What if I am “entirely ready” for change, but I need something less ethereal than God plucking it out of me?

There are actions we can take to make the changes we want and need. Defects of character? How about some common words or phrases to say what some of these are. Here are but a few …


Problems we direct inwardly include …

Self condemnation
Being undisciplined

Whether we call these “character defects” or, with a more positive spin, “areas in need of improvement”, Step 6 is simply getting in a frame of mind — readiness — to accept that these need improvement or correction. We identify these sometimes in ourselves without help from others. We identify some of these when we do Step 5 with another person. And we continue to identify others throughout our lives. These won’t be “taken from us” by God or another person; the work is ours and ours alone. Guidance can come from others (including professional).

Let’s look at some examples of personalizing Step 6 from “The Little Book” compiled by Roger C.

⁃ Became entirely ready to work at transforming ourselves
(a Buddhist’s Non-Theist 12 Steps)
⁃ Became entirely open to change
(Personalized template by Neil F)
⁃ Were entirely ready to listen to wise counsel and seek that still small
voice within, guiding us to change behaviors harmful to us.
(The Twelve Step Journal)

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