Step Six of AA: Willingness

Step Six of AA: Willingness

Society sees the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as the Bible for anyone looking to recover from an addiction.  The program has an estimated success rate of between 8% and 12% according to addiction specialists, and AA has approximately 2 million members worldwide.  Nonetheless, regardless of your thoughts on the program there are valuable lessons we can learn from their text. Above all, each step offers a different gift to an addict. In this series we take a subjective look explaining the benefit each step brings.

The Gift of Willingness

Step Six: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.  In a lot of ways Step Six is the culmination of the steps that came before it. To recap, in order to get to this point you must first admit that you have a problem, then you must be open to the concept of a higher power and work to develop your relationship with this power.  Next you have to take an honest unfiltered look at yourself, recognizing your shortcomings, and (in the next step) ask your higher power to remove them.

What this Teaches

In Steps Four and Five addicts work to become conscious, to recognize, our shortcomings.  These steps are all about self-awareness, we discover how we’ve harmed ourselves and others by living a reactive life dictated by character defects.  In other words, they point out patterns in our behavior, and through self-awareness we learn to break these patterns. In Step Six addicts admit they’re powerless over their own negative behavior, not just using, and consider or become willing to turn these defects over to their higher power.

This awareness helps us to become ready to have these defects removed.  Step Six is about becoming willing to let them go. In active addiction our lives become ruled by our flaws and character defects.  Above all, the result of this is self destruction. Essentially, willingness is the act of becoming ready

Why This is Important

Addiction is many things, one of which is a stubborn commitment to a broken pattern of thinking. By becoming willing to have our defects of character removed we develop a willingness to adopting new patterns of thinking. We see a pattern emerge between our character defects and our instincts.  Above all, instincts were developed through evolution over time as a tool to aid in our survival. With that being said, our instincts become character defects when they exceed their purpose. The broken pattern of thinking present in addiction is, in part, the result of acting on our instincts.

In all honesty people sometimes love their defects because they feel so good at times.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.  Being able to recognize when your instincts are taking over requires a willingness to accept that our desires are not always in our best interest.  The most important lesson of Step 6 is a willingness to a broken pattern of thinking.

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