Steps 6 and 7: Asking To Have Defects of Character Removed

Step 6:  “Were entirely ready to have God remove our all these defects of character.”

Step 7:  “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”


Steps 4 and 5 reveal patterns of behavior and the character defects that underlie them. Once they’ve been identified, Steps 6 and 7 are about working on correcting those flaws.

The Big Book says: “…. we then look at Step Six. We have emphasized willingness as being indispensable. Are we now willing to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable? Can He now take them all — every one? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing.”

“When ready, we say something like this: ‘My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you will remove from me every single defect of character which stand in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me the strength, as I go out from here, to do you bidding. Amen.’ We have then completed Step Seven.”

Like Step 3, where the essential action is making a decision, Step 6 only requires willingness. That’s not as easy as it sounds, because many people start out by clinging to their old ways of thought.

As the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions states, “How many of us have this degree of readiness? In an absolute sense practically nobody has it. The best we can do, with all the honesty we can summon, is to try to have it. Even the best of us will discover to our dismay that there is always a sticking point, a point at which we shall say, ‘No, I can’t give this up yet.’ And we shall often tread on even more dangerous ground when we cry, ‘This I will never give up!'” AA counsels patience and continuing effort to become more willing.

The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions says that Step 6 is “the best possible attitude one can take in order to make a beginning” on the lifetime job of confronting one’s character defects. And it isn’t entirely up to a Higher Power, it requires individual effort: “If we ask, God will certainly forgive our derelictions. But in no case does He render us white as snow and keep us that way without our cooperation. This is something we are supposed to be willing to work toward ourselves. He asks only that we try as best we know how to make progress in the building of character.”

Step 7 is about practicing humility while we endeavor to be more complete, honest people who are willing to do “the next right thing.” It isn’t necessarily what we want to do, which is why this Step can be daunting and difficult. But the goal isn’t to build a perfect character, just to work toward a better one. It’s “progress, not perfection.”

For the next article in the Treatment series click here.

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