Step 6

During this step, we are encouraged to come to terms with our character defects and take action toward their removal. Specifically, we examine our fourth step inventory and get a good look at the profound effect these defects have on our lives, and through a willingness to change, start to overcome them.  Willingness is the spiritual principle of step six.  How sincerely we work this step will be directly correlated with our desire to change.   

It is important to recognize that becoming entirely ready does not happen instantly.  It is a process that sometimes develops over an entire lifetime.  Being entirely ready involves many things: being aware of our defects, being tired of them, and being confident that the God of our understanding will remove them.  While working this step we will consider our fears related to the step, what removal of our character defects consists of, and what our responsibility is in this process. 

Fears related to this step can come in various forms, but almost everyone will experience some level of fear concerning change.  We have all had our defects that we are about to let go of for a very long time, and stepping into the unknown is terrifying.  What will life be like without these defects?!  By working this step, will we be transformed into dull conformists?  Am I capable of living successfully without these defects?  During this time, we need to remain willing and maintain a sense of hope and trust that the process of recovery works even on our most coveted defects.  

So what is this process, and what is our responsibility throughout it?  Well, the first thing most of us do about our character defects is to decide not to have them.  However, this is quite futile because,  much like our attempts to control our using, we may have some success for a time, but the behavior eventually resurfaces.  So, what we need to do in the sixth step is much like what we need to do in the first two steps.  We need to admit that we have been influenced by an internal force that has brought mostly pain and degradation into our lives.  Then we need to admit that we need help in dealing with that force. 

At this point in the step working process, we are typically aware of our shortcomings.  But, it takes an extraordinary amount of energy to monitor our behavior every second of every day and curb every impulse to act out.  Thus, it can sometimes be a discouraging task.  But, we do not give up.  Instead, we make a commitment to our recovery.  We maintain our newly emerging principles despite our setbacks.  We keep taking steps forward despite the step or two we have taken backward.  Ultimately, we are looking for gradual improvement, not instant perfection.  Today you can make a commitment to your recovery.  Today you can decide to keep moving forward no matter how many setbacks you have experienced.  Today you can commit to a gradual improvement in your life!

(Photo by Mark Duffel on Unsplash)

Step 2

The first step strips us of our illusions related to addiction.  It leaves us with a need to believe in something that can help us with our powerlessness and the unmanageability we have recognized in our lives. Step two gives us hope for our recovery and is necessary if we expect to achieve ongoing recovery.  Many people may have avoided this step due to the religious connotation associated with “a Power greater than ourselves”.  However, to complete this step the founders of AA remind us that all we really need to do is “keep an open mind” (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc., 2001).  You will come to find that this “Power” can be almost anything, and doesn’t necessarily have to be related to a religion at all.  Like the first step, there are several concepts within the second step that we will address.

For example, “hope” is one of the great concepts to be found within the second step.  Specifically, the hope that replaces the desperation we came in with when we admitted our lives were unmanageable.  Many of us will have tried a variety of options to overcome this unmanageability in the past (medicine, religion, psychiatry etc.).  However, by working the steps of AA we begin to feel a sense of hope in realizing that there are others, just like us, that have managed to stay sober by working these very same steps.  In the second step we now believe, or at least start to believe, that our lives can be restored to sanity, even in the most hopeless of times.  If our lives need to be restored to sanity in this step, that must mean that, at least aspects of them, are insane right?.  Albert Einstein is often credited with the definition of insanity as “doing something over and over again and expecting different results”.  For purposes of addiction, we will describe insanity as “indulging in something externally (alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, food, money, power, etc.) with the belief that it will cure the issues we are facing internally”.   Sound familiar? 

In the second step we also “come to believe”. Perhaps the biggest issue to face here is that this is typically a process that takes time for most people.  As humans, we are prone to want, and even expect, for things to happen instantly.  That is typically not the case with the 12 steps.  Most of us don’t just wake up one day believing that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.  It is a process that often takes time and patience. So, what is this Power?   Not everyone will consider their Power to be the same.  I call my Higher Power “God”.  Other people consider their 12-step group to be their Higher Power.  Others believe that nature is their Higher Power.  Whatever you choose to be your Higher Power is fine, as long as it is more powerful than your addiction.  Afterall, it is our addiction that has led us to this insanity in the first place!

In the second step we realize that a restoration to sanity is possible.  We are no longer controlled by our addiction or the choices that we made in active addiction.  We begin to slow down and consider the consequences of our decisions before making them.  It is during this step that we truly begin to mature and grow as healthy sober individuals.  “How?” you might ask.  By focusing on the spiritual principles of open-mindedness, willingness, faith, trust, and humility.  Each of these spiritual principles are highlighted during this step and will help you in your quest for a return to sanity.  You can find hope in the second step.  Today you can dare to believe.  Today you can live a life that has been restored to sanity!

(Photo by Ahmed Hasan on Unsplash)

Maintain Integrity

Throughout my journey with alcohol, the decisions I have made, and the consequences that have manifested due to those decisions, have affected me tremendously.  They have also affected a variety of individuals in my life.  For that reason, I believe it is important for them and me that I do what I said I was going to do and remain sober. 

My integrity is also at stake in this instance.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary provides three definitions for the word integrity; they are a firm adherence to a code of especially moral values, an unimpaired condition, and the quality or state of being complete or undivided.  From a psychological perspective, Erikson’s theory of adulthood asserts that a person achieves integrity when they have established a complete sense or feeling that their life has been meaningful and worthwhile and includes the ability to look back on their life and not dwell on mistakes, or feelings of regret.  The alternative to this, according to Erikson’s theory, is despair.  Despair is defined as an utter loss of hope.

Strictly from reading the definitions, I am confident that a life of integrity would be more fulfilling than a life of despair.  With that being said, I am also confident that it would be tremendously difficult to maintain integrity in active addiction.  In active addiction, we are already starting off with a disadvantage because we will often times be impaired, and at this point, many of our decisions will be far from unimpaired.  These decisions will likely lead to divisions in our ability to make morally sound decisions as well.  In the end, it is hard to imagine that we will look back at life without dwelling on any feelings of regret.  In fact, it is much easier to imagine despair and a loss of hope. 

By remaining sober, you can keep your word and, in so doing, build a life of integrity.  You can one day look back on life without having to dwell on mistakes or feelings of regret.  Today you can avoid despair!  In conclusion, for the day I would like to leave you with a poem I have entitled Intrigued by Integrity:

You want it?  Go get it!  I’m not finished!  Still things left to prove, and not to you!  I didn’t leave it all out there; now I will; no matter what, I don’t care!  After all the hard work I put in, not to try would be a sin!  Many think I will not succeed, and to my anguish, it will lead.  To them, I say this:  I will never quit, no matter what the obstacle, I will push through it!  I’ve faced ambiguity before, through that, I soar!  I thrive on people’s doubt of me, any other way I would not have it be!  I know the odds are against me, but I don’t care, can’t you see?!  If not, then you will, in me there lingers a destiny to fill!  I won’t let myself down; not this time…  Just wait, victory will be mine!

(Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash)


“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Isaiah 40:31- But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.
  • In Isaiah 40:31, the Lord says, “those who have hope in me will not be disappointed.”
  • In Jeremiah 29:11, the Lord declares His plans for our future, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future.
  • Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not lean on our own understanding. 

There have been times when I have lost hope.  Looking back, those were some of the most depressing times of my life.  It felt like I couldn’t get any further down. Like it was the end and nothing was going to get better.  Times when I contemplated suicide and began partaking in reckless behavior.  Times when I lost sight of God.  Every day I continued my journey down that path; those feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, and depression only worsened.  Nothing ever got better on my walk down that path.  The only solace I have ever found when it comes to emerging from that darkness is in turning to the light of God.  In those times, down that path, my strength was renewed.  I was not weary.  Believing in God’s plan for me and trusting Him has not left me disappointed.  Trust, believe, and HOPE in Him and disappointment will allude you as well.  Today you can dare to hope that things can and will get better!

(Photo by John Towner)


I’ve had enough! It’s no one’s fault but my own!  My lack of discipline has been shown! 
I don’t feel like that justifies my ignorance, however.  I can’t live like this forever! 
Mistake after mistake, how many dumb decisions can one person make?! 
To that, there is no right answer, mistakes are just a cancer.
  Most are treatable, though; it depends on how far you’re willing to go?! 
Can you push yourself past that limit?  That moment when you think there is no way to win it!?
  I know I can, I have before, even after people had hope for me no more! 
So I’ll get past this as well, even if in pain I must dwell. 
I know afterward, I will reap my reward, of this I am assured! 
I’m going to overcome every lousy decision; this is my mission, and my mission I will stand by.  I will not fail, I’d rather die…
(Overcome! is a poem by Justin Heupel) (Photo by
Gayatri Malhotra)

Courage, Strength, Hope, Love, and Faith

My courage, my strength, I must go on, I must have faith! 
My love, my fear, both appreciated more with every tear!
  My mercy and intuition help me to evaluate every situation.
  My blood, my sweat, help me to pay off every debt! 
My joy my passion, I will always remember smiling and laughing!
  My life, my strife…  Nothing’s won without a fight!
  My lies my hate, not forgotten, never too late. 
My hope my creed, shown by every deed.
Hard work and dreams, sometimes nothing is as it seems.
  My doubt and questions; answered by hard life lessons. 
Every family member, every friend…  No matter what, I’ll be there for you until the end! No matter how hard or painful, lonely, or cruel…  Don’t give up; there is nothing we can’t do.
 LIVE, always for good, leave no moral left misunderstood!
 LOVE with all your heart; if you don’t give it your all, it’s not even worth the start! 
Life is not easy, no one ever said it was…  So live it for yourself, not for someone else. 
Try to be humble and kind, you never know in life what you will find… 
Do this not for me but for yourself…  To say; I have nothing else!

(Courage, Strength, Hope, Love, and Faith is a poem by Justin Heupel) (Photo by Javier Allegue Barros)