This week on Bigger Than Me, Rocky and Bri discuss steps 6 & 7, and character defects. There’s an idea that there is only 4 cardinal character defects dishonesty, fear, resentment, and selfishness. Almost all of our character defects can be narrowed back down into one or more of these 4 defects. Steps 6 & 7 are often referred to as the meat and potatoes of the A.A program, the progress not perfection of how we begin to change how we are as people are where these steps come into play.
Progress Towards Perfection
No one is perfect, that is evident by personal experience and the stories of others. There are many ways to work the 6th step, but it varies depending on sponsorship. Rocky points out that, “We don’t work the 6th step, the 6th works us.” When we begin to fall short in our relationships and how we treat others and ourselves without the drugs and alcohol that is when we become painfully aware of our character defects. Just as when the pain to of the staying the same became greater of the pain of changing ourselves when we were drinking and drugging, we have to do that in sobriety.
Our underlying issues that were there before the drugs and alcohol are now being brought into the light, and we have to become willing to change them. Rocky heard once that defects are “Things that I like about myself, but other people find objectional.” Sometimes we have trouble viewing our character defects as defects; we justify them as assets. In the 12 and 12, Bill Wilson points out that if we are not ready to have God remove these defects of character that we should pray for the willingness to be ready for him to remove our defects.
When we act out in emotions, we tend not to make good decisions. It often comes down to realizing that defects are anything that holds us back from having a loving relationship with another person.
Living in Our Spiritual Blindspot
Rocky makes the statement that we “All live in our own spiritual blind spot.” He compares it to a traffic reporter talking about a car accident. The reporter never reports that there’s a wreck and what is going on from in a car a half mile back from the accident. They report on the accident from a birds-eye view to be able to see the whole thing and what went wrong. That is why it’s a WE program. We have to rely on others and a God of our understanding to help us see the defects in ourselves that aren’t blatantly obvious to ourselves. In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous on page 76, it states, “The chief activator of our defects has been self-centered fear – primarily fear that we would lose something that we already possessed or would fail to get something we demanded.”
When we’re dishonest, it’s because we fear to be honest, as an example of that statement. It is often recommended that if you have a problem with a step to go back to the step before it. If you have an issue with someone, it’s a 4th step problem that we wouldn’t grant the person we are having an issue with the same empathy we would a sick fellow. Then it becomes a 6th step problem because we are allowing our character defects play a role in how we are treating someone else. Then it all boils back down to a 3rd step problem. We have played God, found them guilty and now want to persecute them. This is how Rocky explained this concept of our self-centered fears.
The 7th Step
We humbly as God to remove our shortcomings so that we can be of better use to our fellows and in turn God. It’s often said in the rooms that everyone is an example of what to do, or what not to do. When we begin acting out on our defects of character, that is solely on us. It is usually centered in unhealthy fears. There is such a thing as healthy fears, fear of a hungry polar bear is an example of healthy fear.
Our self-centered fears are usually not based in reality. The saying faith without works is dead is heard often in the A.A fellowship, we have to surrender all of our defects of character and then not continue to act out in them. If we are acting out in fear, we have to have faith. Faith that we will employ the courage to change how we would have acted out in this situation. When we continue to act out in these defects of character, we aren’t acting in faith.
The 6th and 7th step are action steps. We have to continuously mold ourselves and our relationship with a Higher Power of our understanding to continue to progress towards perfection. By removing our character defects, it allows us to balance where we have been dishonest, to be honest in those situations instead, it’s a scale that continually adjusts depending on how we’re acting or not acting out in defects.