The sixth step in the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as follows:
“We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
This is the halfway point along the 12 step recovery journey. Step four asked participants to make a moral inventory, and step 5 asked them to admit their faults. When a recovering alcoholic reaches step 6, they will be required to seek a higher power to help them conquer their failings.
Preparing for the Battle
It is vital to notice what step 6 does not say. It does not require people to alter their lives, but, instead, it asks them to appeal for some respite. This is one of the primary distinctions between AA and most other programs. AA doesn’t demand that individuals change using willpower alone.
Yes, people must be ready to let go of old routines and harmful thoughts, but the burden isn’t entirely on them. Instead, they will ask for help from a higher power to provide them with the strength they need to change their lives.
Step 6 also does not yet ask individuals to abandon their bad habits altogether. The words must be interpreted carefully: “were ready.” Moreover, a person must be willing and motivated to enact changes.
AA will ask participants to turn their lives and trespasses over to a higher power, but not until they are entirely prepared to do so. With step 6, alcoholics do not even have to address the need to take concrete action. Instead, they must be contented with altering their expectations and attitude.
Overcoming Shortcomings Through a Higher Power
At this stage of recovery, persons prepare themselves for events to come. This qualification includes surrendering control—not merely over alcoholism, but also the harmful feelings and behaviors that have resulted in hopelessness.
Taking Control by Surrendering
Honesty requires that alcoholics make at least one admission: patterns of thoughts and actions and the accumulated habits of years that have controlled them. To give up control of these deficits to a higher power is to regain control in some sense and not to lose it.
Unfortunately, individuals tend to hold on to their harmful behaviors and feelings as if they were much-loved companions. Feelings of anger, pride, and bitterness all seem to serve some purpose. For some, these feelings are believed to forge a fundamental part of their personality. In other words, one may ask: “Who am I if I do not have to cope with these feelings?”
Others falsely believe it is not possible to surmount intensely held emotions and behaviors. On the contrary, freedom is only possible when the alcoholic eventually understands that, in truth, such compulsions undermine their independence and hinder their recovery journey.
Taking It One Step at a Time
When a person starts down their path to recovery, they also begin regaining control by surrendering. But this is neither the first step—nor the last. The important thing is not running headfirst through these steps but using them one at a time.
It is not like waiting for an accidental acute injury to heal. Disease is essentially a chronic and possibly lifelong condition, and the treatment is often continuous.
Indeed, most experts now believe that drug and alcohol addiction is a life-long disorder, and there is no way to rush it along. It will always be there, and progress can take significant time and requires an incredible amount of patience. It also requires courage in the face of barriers and setbacks.
So, yes, it is often better to engage in baby steps. Instead, rather than abandoning everything all at once, some individuals prefer to work on their faults one at a time. Others tend to rush in headfirst and never look back. Regardless of the approach, it is critical to speak with a counselor or sponsor. When people reach out for professional help, they are far more likely to reach their goals.
Finding Your “Higher Power”
The notion of a higher power can be regarded in many different ways. For this reason, no other person else can tell you what this means to you. For example, some may say it must be a god or spiritual being and literally more powerful than oneself.
Others say it could be someone or something—that can help you transform your life. Examples might be tangible things, such as a family or career. However, it may also be something more abstract, such as “love,” “nature,” or even simply “reality.”
Some individuals find themselves conflicted over the concept of a “higher power,” especially those that do not associate with a religion or belief in a god. Many people in AA struggle with this dilemma, but countless persons work through the twelve steps without compromising their personal faiths.
The critical thing to remember is that you can determine who or what is your higher power. No one else can do this on your behalf, and there are almost no limitations on who or what you choose to recognize as being your higher power.
Although there is no pre-defined “higher power” in AA, the idea of turning to a higher power in addiction recovery is fundamental. For individuals who believe in a god, it’s often easiest to give up control to that god. Instead, they will trust that this entity will help them confront the many difficulties and obstacles to achieving long-term recovery.
Conversely, for those who believe in a God, accepting the concept of a higher power and finding one may be more challenging. Although it may be tempting to avoid the whole higher power thing altogether, you should understand that spirituality is a vital part of an individual’s recovery.
Evidence has shown that elements of spirituality are associated with positive outcomes. Promoting a healthy spirituality may produce meaning and a purpose for life and help people cope with severe life stressors, trauma, and many ups and downs.
If nothing immediately comes to you, realize that, at least temporarily, you don’t even have to be spiritual, per se. However, it is good to reject nihilistic tendencies as soon as possible and foster some sense of infinite and absolute truth.
If you are still having difficulty finding your own higher power, be patient and give it time. Talk to others in recovery about how they found their own. As you continue on your recovery journey, you may find that your higher power eventually makes itself known to you.
Treatment for Substance Abuse
For decades, AA has been helping people sustain sobriety through peer support and accountability. As a result, some have been able to use AA to recover independently, while professional treatment is needed for others.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery feature comprehensive, evidence-based programs and services specially designed to treat addiction and comorbid mental health conditions. We employ therapeutic approaches clinically proven to be vital to the recovery process, including the following:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Individual counseling
- Family counseling
- Group support
- Health and wellness programs
- Substance abuse education
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning