According to the Big Book of Alcoholics we have agreed to be willing to go to any lengths in order to gain and maintain sobriety. Our first act is to take step 1 which states that “we admitted that we are powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.” And we have to put down the drink. Usually stopping drinking is the easy part. I know because I did it every morning. It’s the staying stopped that we have to deal with. We deal with this through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Willing to go to any lengths means that we have to give up everything that stands in our way of gaining sobriety. This may include many lifelong prejudices and beliefs that are not conducive to the new way of life we are seeking. We have to let go of our pride in the necessary way to complete the steps. Prejudice, stubbornness, laziness, short temperedness and many other defects of character have to go. We can hardly live a spiritual way of life if we continue to practice these things.
The steps help us to ascertain what are defects of character actually. They may be glaring to other people while we are blind to them. This is where a good sponsor or a closed mouth friend can be very helpful. They can help us pinpoint what are defects are and help us to let go of them. We may be a particularly angry person and not be able to see it. That’s just the way we have always been. We think we are just fine while we may act like a bully to others. Anger and resentment have no place in sobriety, so this is something we have to let go and be rid of.
Some defects we may wish to keep as we believe they serve us well. Greed can be characterized as being an ambitious person. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get ahead in life. After all we have to provide for ourselves and our families. It is when we have an overwhelming obsession to get ahead and step on the toes of others in the process that the trouble begins. We may lie, cheat and steal our way to the top. No more. These things are objectionable and have no place in sobriety. We have to learn to wait our turn in line like everyone else. Remember we agreed to be willing to go to any lengths to maintain sobriety.
Gluttony can also be particularly troublesome. We are not talking about food here. We may have overwhelming desires for more possessions, money, property and prestige. We scrape and claw at life and are not special and do not deserve more than our fair share of what we work for. They say, “a day’s pay for a day’s work.” We also do not cheat our employers out of time.
All of these defects must be removed if we are to be sober and happy. Step 4 lists our defects and then step 5 has us share our list with our sponsor or a closed mouth friend. It is through steps 6 and 7 where we ask our Higher Power to remove what is objectionable in our character. It works, it really does. But remember you agreed to be willing to go to any lengths to remain sober. Willingness is the key.