Once again, willingness is the key to the successful completion of step 6. The step states that we were “entirely ready for God to remove all these defects of character.” These defects of character are what we determined in steps 4 and five that were objectionable to us. These are things that caused harm to ourselves and others. We take the names, situations and principles from our 4th step list to see what we need to be rid of.
It can be hard to let go of old ideas and ways of doing things. Many of these have been lifelong practices. We may have adopted the persona of an angry person to help us navigate through life. All the things that went into the development of that persona must be gotten rid of. In our new way of life, they are of no value or use any longer. Remember we are talking about an entire psychic change of our attitudes, motives and beliefs.
This entire psychic change can only come about through working and applying the principles of the 12 steps. Without this change there is little hope of recovery from our disease. We have to throw many lifelong ideas out the window as the Big Book states. If we are not willing to let go of a particular defect of character or shortcoming, we pray to become willing to do so. In time the willingness will come in order to rid us of this shortcoming.
Honesty in our step work is mandatory. We must be honest in making our lists so that we can go onto the next step. The steps build on one another. That is why they have to be taken in order. Without a good step 4 and 5, I cannot do a complete step 6. Each step has its own principle behind it. This is what we have to learn by taking the steps in order.
We must also be openminded in our willingness to let go of things from the past. This requires major changes in our lives. Change of this magnitude is not easy. That is why we need the help of our Higher Power. Of ourselves we are powerless to make these mandatory changes. Yes, they are called suggestions, but the definition of suggestion is a “subtle command.” So, you see that there are many “musts” in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. There is only one small paragraph in the Big Book regarding step 6. It talks about willingness being the key to sobriety. This is the reason we need to read step 6 in the 12×12. It goes into depth how the step works and what we must do to make this happen.
Being willing to let go of our defects of character prepares us for the rest of the steps. Without the removal of our most glaring defects, we cannot progress in the spiritual life. And to not progress leads us back to the three choices, death, insanity or jail. This is what awaits us if we fail to stop drinking and using drugs and alcohol. With a large amount of fortitude and work we can attain the gifts of a new sober life which is to be happy, joyous and free.