The Sixth Step: How One Becomes “Entirely” Ready

Let’s begin today’s discussion,….. by going to “The Other Big Book” for a clarification as to just what is meant by the statement: “We were entirely ready”. Here are some world understandings on the term “readiness”.                            

1. the state of being ready or prepared, as for use or action
2. in readiness
a. prepared and waiting: all was in readiness for the guests’ arrival
b. in preparation for: he tidied the house in readiness for the guests’ arrival
3. willingness or eagerness to do something
4. ease or promptness

 *Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition 2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. © HarperCollins, 2009


In Step Six of our Twelve Steps and Traditions the classical text reads:

“We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”

6th StepAn original drawing depicting Sixth Step contemplation from my awarded book: Living the 12 Steps of Recovery– One Day at a Time – As It was In the Beginning”

Let’s get in the mood for this with some music, huh? Maybe something classical and thematic like  American Idol Candidate Crystal Bowersox’s cover of Rod Stewart’s People Get Ready”


The four Pillars of the Oxford Group are:

“Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness and Love”.

On the foundation of these principles, Bill Wilson built the 12Steps of Recovery. As to Steps Six and Seven, he wrote this in his notes about his 1934 stay in Town’s Hospital, the shrine of the “great white light and spiritual wind” incident.

“I RUTHLESSLY faced my sins (what later became Step Four) and became willing to have my new-found Friend (God) take them away, root and branch (what later became Steps Six and Seven). I have not had a drink since.” *

“This is the step that separates the men from the boys”– a remark he says originated from one of AA’s favorite clerical figures – The Reverend Sam Shoemaker *12×12 (AAWS @1952).

AA’s Bill W. goes on to say that: (paraphrased) “any person capable of enough willingness and honesty to try Step Six repeatedly on all his faults – without any reservations whatsoever – has indeed come along way spiritually, and as such is entitled to be called a person – (we don’t do “man” specific gender anymore) – who is sincerely trying to grow in the image and likeness of their creator,” (as they may understand it). For those of you who embrace “Wilson’s” concept of readiness as a partnership between you and your God ( in faith and trust, you have projected the outcome to your God’s omnipotent power, which that God provides as you do the footwork ), the acquisition of this attitude is, of and by itself, an arrival at “the potential for entire readiness” in this classical form. All you need is the desire, the spiritual commitment and the faith and fortitude that comes from your trust in God, by your own understanding.

As proof of his assertion, Wilson provides what he contends to be the semi-miraculous removal of “the mania of alcohol from their lives”, stating that for nearly all alcoholics, that is exactly what happened. It’s his contention that through the humiliation of alcohol’s terrific beating, an ensuing humble attitude provides a spiritual environment in which “the grace of their God can enter and expel their compulsive obsession”. helping_hand

Coming to grips with the reality of powerlessness

Coming to grips with the reality of powerlessness

Return with me now to those humble moments of asking someone or something to help us overcome our addictive/alcoholic obsession and compulsion – that which we had then come to realize in that instant of terror as having robbed of us of any control in abating it – the recollection of a lump in our throats which brought us that fateful realization of the willingness to “resort to any method,” in our escape attempt from the tyranny of our physical and spiritual slavery. We thought ourselves hopeless and helpless, until that realization brought us faith, faith that we might escape our woeful fate. “Few of us would disagree,…THAT was our moment of entire readiness.”    We were ready to surrender and to submit. We accepted our condition in the stark reality of what it was, having finally abandoned our “I can do it anytime I’m just not ready attitude”. Acceptance was finally possibly in the face of impending madness, illness or death. traffic-light-green We were entirely ready,.. and the green light to go was staring straight ahead for us. Desperation had brought us there.. Our minds were made right.

Remember “Cool Hand Luke” with Paul Newman? The moment when Luke finally breaks down? Let’s pause to look at its similarity.   


Now then, onto the underlying concerns of Step Six: eliminating character defects.     

Seems the 12×12 author has discovered some flexibility here. He contends that our “character defects’ are only our normal God given patterns of instinctive behavior that have “run rampant”. Most of them, ( and he goes into his usual comparative analogy at great length in terms of the 7 Capital Sins ) have a level at which our new manager (aka GOD) has a standard at which they are okay. As long as we don’t take the attitude that we can dally about our efforts to abate them or refuse to consider some potential compromise in the future, everything is okay. It’s just about attitude, you see? If this seems like a strange rationalization to you,….we’re of a common mind. bill_w__1940s




We need to bring this 1952 technique up to speed and amend it to some extent… though,…it was “mighty fine work” — (using the Wilsonian vernacular) — it needs a repaint.

Getting “entirely ready” has to do with far more than another rehashing of our “sinful” ways in the comparative analogy of the Seven Capital Sins. It’s done by getting entirely ready to live Clean and Sober, achieving some spiritual balance and emotional control. It is a process, not an event!

I have some ideas on this (like,……. you’re surprised,…. right?)

How about some real, practical advice you can do yourself, without hooking-up to the "Higher Generator" :)

How about some real, practical advice you can do yourself, without hooking-up to the “Higher Generator” :)

Getting Clean and Sober is one thing. The Classical Approach has been solid for that. BUT – staying that way ( especially after The Honeymoon is over in say,… 5-10 years – or more ) is a different matter.

If you read my book, you’ll know that there are five emotions we humans feel our world through: Fear, Anger, Sadness, Joy and Surprise. THESE — are the Spiritual Senses. Either we manage them through a realization and readiness process, or they manage us — creating frustration, fear, depression, confusion and occasional hysteria. They’re also capable of producing parallel physical sensations: tension, stress, anxiety, insomnia, High Blood Pressure, Ulcers, Impacted Bowels (or what I call extreme “shitiness”:) and worry,… Worry,…. WORRY! In the beginning, when we first got clean and sober, we were so “pink cloud” happy for our recovery and we had so much faith in our “Higher Generator” that we slid by these anomalies……………….for awhile. BUT — we discovered that PAWS — Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome could last quite awhile,….even years.

          Entirely Ready

Entirely Ready

So what can we do to get entirely ready to fend off these feelings and avoid being the “VIC”?

We can adapt.

Here’s some thoughts on how and for what you’re going to need to get ready for. To name a few: fear-anxiety-tension-stress-depression and other emotional states like anger, guilt and shame.


  1. Start and close every day with an inventory process. Ask and answer these questions with yourself: Who am I? Where am I? What is going on in the world immediately around me, right now? It’s a good idea to stop whenever you feel negative energy bottle-necking your awareness and find your calm – repeating this process as needed. Seems simple but it dispels confusion and even low-level anxiety — right away. Examine yourself: “Am I living in my head while my body moves around leading a different double life”? Be present. Start with your breath and deep, slow breathing. Take frequent voyages to “The NOW” and pay attention to what you are doing. Just do the next indicated thing.  Do You Like Keeping It Simple? This is one way of doing that and becoming entirely ready.
  2. Keep a journal. There is no better way to reflect on your life and its pressures or  joys (those great mood elevators for later recollection) than a journal. It’s Your Daily Recovery Diary, if you will. You’ll find it’s a clear record of your thoughts and feelings. In treatment centers, they suggest notes on one’s Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual being as to its condition.
  3. Release the Time Tormentor   The counting of time is the great nemesis of low-level insanity. Constantly demanding we leave the present by accounting for what we have done (the past) what we need to do or be in the future; goal setting, how much time we have left, in the day-month-year-decade,…. the digital reference of our past life and that yet to be lived.. Use watches and clocks to keep appointments, otherwise —– dump them. They’re an illusion of security and the counter of paranoia. In real recovery, there is no security – it’s an oasis.
  4. Let Go to the Universe It’s doubtless. Times will come when you are bewildered and don’t know what to do; when your emotions over-ride your vision and a lack of viable options mesmerizes you. In those moments, remember that they are playing upon your irrational fears of the unknown and its time for you to release it all to the universe, knowing that things most often are not as bad as you think, so dump that crystal ball that’s been driving you looney.
  5. Charge Your Batteries Yup! We’re talkin rest or sleep. Without it, things do get worse, so if you find you need a little help, I like over the counters like Melatonin and Benadryl  Always consult your doctor if you have a broken Sleep Clock Circadian Rhythm Disorders. You know those sayings, “I think I’ll sleep on it” or “everything looks better after a good nights sleep”? 
  6. Practice Anti-Isolationism Hanging around with yourself to much makes you one dull Sobrietarian or Addict in Recovery. Furthermore, it’s psychologically dangerous to have such a narrow perspective. Get out there! Use the 100lb phone! be with other people and especially those in recovery. This is even more strategic to you loners with decades in the program. Use your resources — read, write (on-line recovery is great).
  7. Keep Your Expectations Realistic Everyone has fallen prey to the fantasy fairy of false expectations. Whether you project doom and gloom or surety that your lottery ticket is coming in, keep it real. That’s what we mean when we say: “One Day at a Time”.
  8. Acquire Patience and Tolerance   How to be PatientHow to learn Tolerance  (just click on either of these blue links for a reference. Those virtue meanings could be put this way: learning to wait and learning to listen. Not just pretending to do it.
  9. Beware the Ides of Self-Pity I can think of nothing more wasteful and useless to a person in recovery than the tendency (carried over from Addiction and Alcoholism) to feel sorry for themselves. Stop it! The only thing you’ll get out of it is hurting yourself worse.

Practice Meditation Some simple hints on technique:  I am going to include prayer here as well. Taking miniature lessons whenever your tension or stress levels alert you, whenever you feel yourself becoming impatient or intolerant, whenever the emotional torments begin their spell on you,…..stop to breath, clear your mind and practice, practice, practice,……..    564106_466757373342543_488828855_nNow a chance to practice for a scant seven minutes of breathing,…..



Tomorrow, I will have 13 years of Recovery from both Alcohol and Drug Addiction. Following 12 Step Recovery, writing about it and living it has contributed to my success, which has been uninterrupted — “no slips” — right? I am grateful for my recovery, though my life has often been far more difficult than I thought it would be. This is largely because I face everything now. I feel all of my pain and joy where as over a decade ago, I lived in a constant state of inebriation and medication, running from everything in the ultimate escape philosophy.

I hope you can join me in The No Matter What Club. We’ll talk again about Step 7 soon.

Author Arthur Messenger               

We do not use or tilt the booze - ever!

We do not use or tilt the booze – ever!