Step 6 of Alcoholics anonymous prepares the participant to begin the task of making amends for their mistake and removing their flaws.

What is Step 6 of AA?

Step 6 of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) asks participants to build on the moral inventory from step 4 and the strength of confession built-in step 5 by asking the higher power to remove their negative qualities.

Step 6 of AA reads as follows: “We became willing to ask God to help us remove our defects of character.” 

Step 6 builds on all of the previous steps, accepting we are powerless, that we relinquish our control to a higher power, and have built a moral inventory and begun to admit our wrongdoings to others and ourselves. Step 6 can be a painful step for some as it asks that they not only accept they have character defects that have led them to addiction but that they are also powerless to deal with them on their own.

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Turning defects over to a “higher power”

Just like with previous steps, the higher power mentioned in step 6 does not necessarily refer to a God-like being or entity. It can be a manifestation of the addict's own choosing, one which represents the qualities they aspire to and a target for actualization. 

Many people in the program find this step challenging as the idea of turning over the worst parts of yourself can feel awkward or embarrassing. The key thing to realize is that the prayer is asking for willingness to turn over defects to a higher power, not that it needs to happen immediately.

How is Step 6 of AA helpful?

As with previous steps and the ones that follow it, step 6 is built around a structured model that is intended to be handled at different speeds and orders. Some recovering alcoholics may take a lot of time with step 6 (or any) and it is not intended to be tackled at a set pace. Nor is it linear, with many people in the program returning to previous steps with new interpretations throughout their journey.

The twelve steps should never be seen as a list of tasks to overcome, nor a series of progression that one fails at if they have to go back. Often, progressing through the steps allows participants to gain deeper insight into previous steps, allowing them to go back and focus on them again. This principle is the same for steps six and five, with the defects of character perceived by the member being allowed to change and grow over time.

Step 6 of AA and a change in attitude

Step 6 forces those on the journey to recovery to confront what it is they wish to change about themselves and shift their attitude and focus away from themselves so that they can be open to receiving help. This shift in attitude can be helped by talking with a counselor or therapist, as well as other people who have been through Alcoholics Anonymous.

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Next: Step 7 of AA