Are You Ready to Get Rid of Your Defects?
By the time members of Alanon have reached the Sixth Step, out of the 12 Steps of Alanon, they have made a list of their defects of character and shared them with someone else. The Sixth Step tells them that they must now feel entirely ready to have God remove their defects of character. It doesn't matter how you envision your personal Higher Power ... whether in nature, in a church, a synagogue or a mosque. You simply need to be willing to ask a power greater than yourself to take away your character defects.
As a long term member of Alanon, I have listened to dozens of Alanon members share their Fourth Step inventory, and most of them initially say that they are eager to have their Higher Power remove their defects. After all, who would want to go through life with defects in our character? However, surprisingly, many of them are not as ready as they think. Read on to find out why.
Taking the Sixth Step of Alanon can be more stressful than we first realize. Although all of us think that we would be happy to have our defects removed, some of our character flaws may seem like such a part of our personality that we don't even realize they are a problem. For example, do you have trouble saying "no" to people? You may have become so kind towards others, that you don't always have enough energy left over to take care of yourself. Despite this, you may still be reluctant to say "no" when people ask you to do almost anything, whether it is babysitting their children, caring for your sick relatives, or running your church nursery's volunteer program. However, "terminal niceness" is one of the character defects that you may need to be prepared to discuss with God. This can be scary. Many Alanon members immediately begin to worry that people won't "like" them anymore. However, when you learn to say "no" nicely, but firmly, you may be surprised that people will not only still like you, but they will also respect you.
As we prepare to take the Sixth Step of Alanon, and get ready to request that God remove our defects, first we must spend some time thinking about the flaws we want Him to remove. If you get a lot of praise for being overly-generous, even when your generosity harms yourself or others, are you really ready to ask for that character flaw to be removed? If you have been a pushover your entire life, are you actually prepared to request help to become more assertive? If you've always gotten your way by "whining," are you willing to learn to speak up for yourself in a calm, mature way?
As you think about this step and the rest of the 12 Steps of Alanon, you may feel that you need more information. If so, you can pick up a few Alanon books by using this direct link to Alanon books from Amazon.com.
In addition to the character flaws of being overly-generous and a pushover, there may be other defects that you are reluctant to give up. The anger we've felt towards the alcoholic for years is another issue to consider. Do you feel resentful towards the alcoholic? Do you feel self-righteous anger? Does a little voice inside of you say that the alcoholic deserves to suffer? We may be reluctant to give up these defects. Instead, we may feel that we are entitled to them! Many new members of Alanon have found it helpful to spend some time in prayer and meditation as they prepare themselves to have a new attitude.
If you have been unwilling to admit your faults, and still want to blame someone else for your own unhappiness, it may be difficult for you to turn your flaws over to God. You may also find that you spend a lot of time wallowing in grief or disappointment because of past events. Or, fear could cause you to spend a lot of time living in the "wreckage of the future," rather than living just for today. This means you have become so certain that you have more disasters ahead of you that you cannot enjoy the present. That is why the program teaches us to live "one day at a time." If this is your situation, take a deep breath and prepare to ask that all these defects of character be removed, too.
The most important thing to remember in taking the Alanon Sixth Step is that we are preparing ourselves to ask GOD to remove our defects of character. We are not saying that WE will remove our defects. This is one of the steps where we continue to prepare ourselves to turn our lives over to our higher power.
As you consider your defects of character, and decide which ones you are ready to have removed, you will begin to realize that you may not feel ready to ask God to remove all your defects. Many members need to carefully consider which defects they are prepared to ask to have removed when they meditate on the Sixth Step. Gradually, they may return to the Sixth Step again and again until they feel prepared to ask God to remove their defects. Only when you have decided you are ready, should you move on to the Seventh Step … which is when you actually ask God to remove your defects!
That's right. All you have to do in the Sixth Step is to become willing. You don't actually ask for anything, yet. While many Alanon members tend to gloss over this step, it is extremely important. There is no point in asking your Higher Power to help your with your flaws, if you don't feel ready to have them removed. Take your time and really think about this step. You will be glad you did!
You may also be interested in reading some of these other articles about Alanon and alcoholism:
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