The challenge of discovering oneself intimately, and letting go of the old, addicted persona, is increased with the lessons of steps six and seven.
Steps six and seven further confront the addiction as character defects are identified and slowly eliminated. For the remainder of this article addiction will be used for both alcoholism and addiction to other substances.
Invaluable these steps are, if the trapping of the denial system is to be accomplished. However, it must be strongly impressed that the denial system can never be eliminated. The best that can be hoped for is to chain it down and cage it. See an unleashed denial system as a wild beast stalking prey.
Logically, it follows that, if the chains and cage are not checked and periodically re-checked, the denial system can be set free only to continue hunting and ravaging.
Defects of Character
Alcoholics Anonymous lists about 20 character defects. This is not an absolute list, and the number is not the key issue. Rather, a defect of character is any human factor that allows the addiction/denial system to take hold and continue the rampage. In order to prevent lapses (slips) and subsequent relapses, each and every defect or negative dynamic of character must be identified and removed.
Some Defects of Character:
- Fear; and,
Surrendering to Removal
Surrendering to the removal of all defects of character is not as easy as it sounds. This is a process.
It is important to set realistic goals, otherwise, the endeavor may become too overwhelming, thus setting up a scenario of relapse territory. “This is too hard, I give up! Lick my wounds with something to drink.”
Best course of action:
- Identify the defects;
- Be consciously mindful of them; and,
- Work towards letting them go.
For each identified defect compose a short description of how this was revealed in the past and the preventative measures or escape routes available to fall back upon in the present. Do not expect immediate results and allow for mishaps. Set up a support network – sponsor(s), phone contact(s) and recovery group(s).
Readiness to Take the Risk
The core of step six, however, is readiness to let go and move to the next level. Yes, it is scary leaving the old and familiar behind and stepping out to an adventure!
For comparison sake, think of it this way, how many times were drinking and driving an issue? Wasn’t it scary operating a vehicle – a potentially lethal weapon, blitzed?
How many times was a night in jail a consequence? For most people these would be very fearful ventures.
Asking God to Remove the Defects
Breaking out of isolation, reaching out for help, placing ever increasing amounts of trust in a supreme being, a sponsor and/or a recovery group, or a counselor are key components to step seven. No longer is the addiction or the once actively addicted persona allowed to operate secretly. No longer are the denial system and cycle of addiction allowed free rein.
Whatever and whoever the Higher Power entity is, accountability and responsibility as well as forgiveness are additional earmarks of this step. Realistically, faith/trust in a supreme being makes this step a little easier, in that only a supreme being has the ability to completely remove defects.
If the Higher Power is the recovery group, AA sponsor or addiction therapist, the removal must come from the recovering person through mindfulness and practice.
It is important to understand, many recovering people rework the steps over and over again. It is a logical and healthy activity to pursue, because relapse is a component of addiction. Sincere, 12 step inventories are a catalyst for growth, thus, keeping a full-blown relapse at bay.