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The sixth step of 12-step programs is "Became entirely ready to have a higher power remove all these defects of character."

There are plenty of stumbling blocks here for our fears. There's the fact that here again is a step that asks us to trust a higher power. Where before we were just starting to trust that there might be something bigger than us that could guide our decisions in life, now we have to consider that we might somehow, apparently magically, be able to have that thing take away our defects of character.

Defects of character? I don't have any defects of character. My character is just fine, thankyouverymuch! For a lot of people, "defects of character" seems like an unnecessarily judgmental term. It's old-fashioned language. What the steps call character defects are all the dysfunctional behaviors we had to learn to survive our childhoods. They are like lifesavers that kept us afloat for a while, but which now are too small.

We don't need them anymore, but it can be really hard to understand that. When we have known nothing else, it can be hard to imagine that things can be better, or that letting go of all that stuff won't plunge us into an emotional chasm. And yet, it has worked for millions of people over the decades. And, at least, the sixth step just asks us to understand how our problems are harming us and be willing to have them disappear. We don't have to do anything new yet: just become willing to experience change.