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Breaking Free: The Essential Guide to Step 6 and Character Defects


Recovery from addiction is a journey of personal transformation, one that requires courage, perseverance, and a deep commitment to self-improvement. As you progress through the twelve steps of recovery, you arrive at a pivotal point: Step 6. This step calls on you to become entirely ready to have your higher power remove all your defects of character. It's a step that requires vulnerability, honesty, and a willingness to confront and release those parts of yourself that have been barriers to your growth and happiness.


Understanding Step 6: The Path to Inner Change


Step 6 is often seen as one of the more challenging steps because it demands a deep and sometimes painful introspection. It asks you to identify and acknowledge your character defects, those behaviors, and thought patterns that have contributed to your addiction and harmed yourself and others. This step isn't about self-punishment or guilt; rather, it's about recognizing these defects as obstacles to your recovery and expressing a genuine willingness to let them go.


Facing Your Defects of Character


The process of identifying your character defects is integral to Step 6 and can feel like a daunting task. These defects might include a range of negative behaviors and thought patterns such as resentment, selfishness, fear, dishonesty, and more. The aim is not to dwell in self-criticism but to recognize these traits as obstacles to your recovery. It's important to approach this process with compassion and without judgment. Remember, acknowledging these defects doesn't define your worth; it's a brave step towards healing and transformation.


Acknowledge Character Assets First:

Before even going near your defects of character, take some time to thoroughly identify and acknowledge all of your character assets. They are there, and there are plenty of them! This can be a good introduction to turning inwards and recognizing the truth about yourself. Once you’ve identified them and asked others for their opinion on these, celebrate them, honor them and be grateful for them.



Engaging in a deeper level of self-reflection is crucial. This involves a thorough examination of your behaviors, attitudes, and responses, especially those that have been destructive or harmful. It's about looking beyond the surface to understand the roots of these defects. Consider setting aside dedicated time each day for reflection, using this as an opportunity to discover patterns you might not have noticed before.


Seek Feedback:

Gaining perspective from others can be invaluable, as it's often challenging to see our own flaws clearly. Engage more deeply with trusted individuals in your life—be they sponsors, fellow recovery members, or close friends—and be open to their observations about patterns you might not recognize in yourself. This feedback should be sought with an open heart, understanding that it comes from a place of support and shared experience. Remember these defects are not you, they are merely patterns you’ve picked up.



The practice of journaling can be particularly powerful in uncovering hidden defects of character. Encourage yourself to write more extensively about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, delving into why you might react in certain ways and how these reactions relate to your character defects. This process allows for a private, unguarded exploration of your inner world, fostering a greater understanding and acceptance of your true self.


The Challenge of Willingness


Becoming willing to have these defects removed doesn't happen overnight. It's a process that may involve fear and resistance. The thought of letting go of familiar patterns, even harmful ones, can be frightening. These defects, in some ways, have served as coping mechanisms, albeit unhealthy ones.


Understanding and Overcoming Fear:

It's natural to feel fear when faced with the prospect of change, especially when it involves letting go of long-standing behaviors. Take time to explore these fears more deeply. Ask yourself what you are afraid of losing or how you fear your life might change without these defects. This exploration can help demystify the process of change and make it more approachable.


Fostering Spiritual Readiness:

Step 6, like all of the steps, is inherently spiritual, asking you to place trust in a power greater than yourself to help remove these defects. Whether you conceive of this power as God, the universe, or the collective strength of your recovery community, this step invites you to deepen that trust. Engage in practices that enhance your spiritual connection, such as meditation, prayer, or spending time in nature, allowing these experiences to bolster your readiness for change.


Cultivating Patience and Persistence:

Developing willingness is akin to strengthening a muscle; it requires constant effort and determination. Acknowledge that readiness may not emerge overnight. Continually affirm your commitment to change, even in moments of doubt. This persistence is key to unlocking the transformative power of Step 6.



Practical Steps Towards Sustained Change


As you nurture your willingness to let go of character defects, integrating practical steps into your daily life can support this process of change.


Focus on the positives:

For each character defect, there is a corresponding character asset, and it’s beneficial to focus on the things you want to develop rather than the things you want to get rid of. For example, if you’ve identified fearful, selfish and irresponsible as some of your character defects; rather than holding your attention on these defects, try focussing on creating courage, generosity and responsibility.


Deepening Meditation and Prayer:

These spiritual practices can significantly deepen your connection to your higher power, offering strength and guidance in the process of removing your defects. Allocate more time to these practices, exploring different forms of meditation or prayer that resonate with you, and allow these moments to provide peace and clarity on your journey.


Leveraging Support Systems:

The role of your recovery community cannot be overstated. Actively seek out and participate in meetings, share your struggles and milestones, and listen to the experiences of others. This shared journey provides a wellspring of encouragement, insight, and mutual understanding that can make the path through Step 6 less daunting. Remember, every human being has defects of character, you’re just being brave enough to face yours, and you are not alone in this.


The Beauty of Imperfection


It's crucial to recognize that recovery is not a quest for perfection but a process of continual growth and improvement. Embrace your imperfections as part of your human experience, understanding that each step forward, no matter how small, is a step towards the person you wish to become. There was a time when you needed these character defects, you developed them in order to get by in life, they served you and kept you safe. But that was the past. You don’t need them anymore. They are not protecting you, they are holding you back. It’s time to lovingly let them go.


Celebrating Every Step Forward

Every effort to identify and become willing to release your character defects deserves recognition. Celebrate your bravery in facing these challenges, your commitment to growth, and every small victory along the way. These moments of acknowledgment are beacons of light on your recovery journey, illuminating the path toward a life of greater authenticity and peace. It’s an exciting time!


In Conclusion

Step 6 is a profound and transformative stage in the recovery process, demanding honesty, vulnerability, and a willingness to change. By engaging deeply with this step, you open yourself to the possibility of profound personal growth and a renewed sense of freedom. Trust in the process, in your higher power, and, most importantly, in yourself. Your journey through Step 6 is a testament to your strength and commitment to living a life unburdened by the past and filled with hope for the future.


The 12 Step Workbook may be a good option for you if you want to lovingly and gently delve deep into each step. It’s been created by addicts in recovery, for addicts in recovery, and provides guidance and structure as you navigate the steps.



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