Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, is a 12-step program designed to help give alcoholics support in staying sober. Step 6 requires participants to become willing to look at their negative qualities and ask their higher power to help them change. This step can be challenging because it requires the alcoholic to face his own imperfections, including behaviors he may be deeply ashamed of.
What is Step 6 of AA?
Alcoholics Anonymous Step 6 says, “We became willing to ask God to help us remove our defects of character.” To understand exactly how this step works and what you need to do to take it, you may need to think about the steps that came before it.
Briefly, before getting to this point, you first have to admit that you have an alcohol problem, explore the concept of higher power and begin developing a relationship with your higher power. You also have to look honestly at yourself and your shortcomings so that you can get ready to ask God to remove them. So, this challenging step, which is the culmination of all the work done beforehand, asks the alcoholic to admit that he is powerless over all of his negative behavior, not just his drinking, and consider turning these behaviors over to his higher power. This can be scary or embarrassing just like when the alcoholic admitted he was powerless over alcohol in the first place. However, the step doesn’t ask you to turn over your defects yet – it just asks you to become willing to do so. Here are some ways that recovering alcoholics might take this step:
- Realize that you don’t have to do this step just once. Many alcoholics suffer from perfectionist thinking. They believe they have to do everything perfectly in order to recover from alcoholism and stay sober. This type of thinking can be overwhelming; some alcoholics think that they have to turn over everything that they want to change in their lives to their higher power all at once. Instead, consider turning one or two serious problems over to your higher power and leaving the rest alone for right now.
- Check your attitude. This step is about attitude, not behavior. This can be frustrating for alcoholics because they feel they always need to do something to fix a problem. So replace all the behavioral changes you’ve tried to make without success with an attitude check. Every morning when you get up, ask yourself whether you feel willing to turn your negative qualities over to your higher power. Before speaking, ask yourself if what you want to say is positive and based on a belief that your higher power will work things out or negative and based on self-will.
- Talk with your sponsor or therapist. An outside person can help you see where your attitude needs adjustment. Talk to your sponsor and/or your therapist about your defects of character. Be open to hearing feedback. Whoever you talk to should let you know if you’re seeing a true defect of character and whether you are approaching it with a helpful attitude or not.
How Can I Get Help With the 6th Step of AA?
The 6th step of Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the more difficult steps to take because it deals with attitude and willingness to change rather than change itself. You might not be sure how to take this step. Talking to other people who have been through the Alcoholics Anonymous program and your counselor or therapist are the best ways to get ideas about what to do to take this step.