This is the seventh in a series of posts in which we hope to acquaint our readers with some of the details surrounding the programs that we recommend. There are a variety of other programs, but because we and most other facilities shape our treatment plans around the 12 Step fellowships, those are the ones on which we will concentrate.
Steps Six and Seven read: “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”; and, “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
The principles behind Step 6 and Step 7 are Willingness and Humility.
These steps seem unnecessary until we stop to think about them. Of course we are willing, otherwise we wouldn’t have done all that work, would we? But what does humility have to do with it, you might ask?
Think about this. In Step 5 we took a look at the things that made our lives, and the lives of others, more difficult. If we put those realizations on the back burner right away, are they likely to cause us to do things differently? We need to recognize the ways that we need to change and — more importantly — to admit that we need to make the changes. Admitting the mistakes we made and taking responsibility for them starts us on the road to developing character and a willingness to do the right thing.
Willingness to change is the most important piece of recovery, next to admitting that we have a problem. Change is scary, and often difficult. If I am not sincerely willing to make changes, I don’t have much chance of succeeding in recovery. As my friend Pierre is fond of saying, “The old Me will drink again.”
Steps 6 and 7 contain the G.O.D. word again, and so they are often used as one more excuse by people who are afraid to do the work. Whether I tell God that I’m ready to have my character defects removed, or whether I look my sponsor in the eye and say, “Dude, I’m sick of this. I’m ready to change,” I need to make this commitment. Thinking about it is not the same thing. The 12 Step fellowships don’t mandate a belief in God, or in anything else. For those of us with religious beliefs, this step might have some extra depth. But whether we believe in a metaphysical higher power or not, we’d better mean what we say when we make the commitment.
Humility means saying that I’m man or woman enough to face my mistakes, own up to them, and get on with cleaning up the mess I’ve made. Addicts are famous for false pride. We become legends in our own minds, because we can’t bear to look at who we really are. If we did that, we might have to look at how our actions hurt ourselves and others, and that might mean that we have to change. Basic changes in the way we live our lives frighten everyone, not just addicts.
But when we begin to get our act together, that is exactly what we have to do. We have to cast aside the legend, accept the person underneath, and determine to strive at making ourselves the best that we can be. That’s not becoming some wimpy doormat who lets people walk all over him; that’s humility based on guts. Step 6 and Step 7 make it official: we’re serious — we can do this! Let’s get to it!