Upon closer examination of our fourth steps with our sponsor, behavior patterns usually emerge which are quite revealing as to our characters up to the present. In active alcoholism, our decisions and actions are driven by more primitive and selfish motivations which manifest in the form of character defects. Things like greed, dishonesty, anger, impatience, and laziness are all character defects common among those in active substance abuse. Just because you have put down the drink or drug does not mean you have eliminated these defects in your daily life! Step six gives us the opportunity to identify those defects which we need help removing from our lives.
Step six is an important part of the process and reads “We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” Why must we pause and ready ourselves to have our character defects removed? For many recovering from addiction, our character defects became as beloved a part of our lives as our substance of choice. Those who are motivated by greed point to the positive effects this character defect has in their lives, as it may spur them to improve their standing in their career and work diligently at their jobs. However, ultimately character defects garner the label “defect” for a reason - they only serve to harm us and our relationships with others in the long run. As part of your sixth step, you should take a good hard look at your fourth step and flesh out a list of your character defects, paying particular attention to those which are still clearly present in your life in sobriety.
Once you are aware of those character defects in your life, you should begin asking your higher power to help you build the willingness to let go of these patterns of thought and behavior. As previously stated, we are often comforted by our character defects as much as we were comforted by our substance of choice, so the willingness to have these removed from our lives is not always easy to maintain. Remember that just as with the steps that came before, perfection is not a requirement to work the sixth step. So long as you are making a conscious effort to remain willing to have God remove your defects of character, you have done your best and will be rewarded for your efforts.
No one on earth is perfect, and everyone struggles with defects of character in their daily lives. Those of us who are recovering from a substance abuse disorder are blessed with the opportunity to work on eliminating the influence our character defects have on our decision making in our day to day living as part of the twelve steps of recovery. The sixth step is your time to prepare for this undertaking, as you identify and accept the removal of your character defects regardless of your feelings about them. Again, willingness is key to success in this step, and you should ask your higher power to grant you the willingness to have your character defects removed as part of your daily prayers. So long as you put forth the same level of effort which got you through the previous steps, you will be ready to have your higher power work in your life to remove your defects of character so you may live a happy, joyous, and free life in sobriety!