Step Six: Willingness – Reflections On The 12 Steps Amidst Coronavirus

Coronavirus has instigated changes throughout most aspects of daily living, but the Twelve Steps of A.A. offer a design for living which is applicable in all circumstances. Each week we will be sharing staff reflections upon one of our recovery steps, as it relates to a corresponding principle. This week, John M., Matt T., and Alex W., share on Step Six.

Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Step Four
Step Five

Step Six
“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

Maybe I can postpone dealing with some of my problems indefinitely,” (Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions, 69). I can rationalize during the COVID-19 season we are in, but it’s just an excuse. Having willingness requires me to remain prepared, and be ready, no matter extenuating circumstances. Willingness for me means preparing emotionally, spiritually, and physically so that I can confront any challenge or opportunity. Sometimes I practice willingness easily while other times it’s painstakingly difficult. The best I can do is to “try to have it,” (66). Only the First Step requires 100% completion. “The remaining eleven Steps state perfect ideals. They are goals toward which we . . . estimate our progress,” (68). Willingness suggests that I trust, be willing to accept my higher power’s ability to deal with the challenges which confront me and to put forth just a little action. 

I can inventory my willingness by measuring my ability to be entirely ready. During COVID-19, has my willingness altered? Sure! I have become lazier about meetings, furthering my understanding of the Big Book, calling my sponsor, etc. However, have these practices stopped entirely? No! I am still willing because I still willingly attend meetings, read the Big Book, call my sponsor, etcI still am putting forth action. My life will always encounter unknown challenges and opportunities that will test my willingness, and if my willingness isn’t 100%, that’s okay as long as I remain entirely ready to continue practising AA’s principles to the best of my ability—just for today. 

-John M.


I’ve always been told that Step 6 separates the men from the boys. I wasn’t sure what that meant until I started to do the work. As I became more willing each day I started to notice changes in my thoughts and actions. I was actually taking a look at myself and was willing to change the person I was. In life, I’ve said I was willing to do a lot of stuff, but never finished it, or even started. I had to be willing to take a hard look at myself and my life. I was willing to go to any lengths to get high. I have to apply that same willingness to my recovery.  By no means do I do this perfectly. When the COVID-19 started to affect our daily lives, I realized that I needed to double down on my efforts if I wanted to stay sober. My willingness to continue the work had to be stronger than ever. In the midst of quarantine life, my character defects really ramped themselves up. Laziness, fear, and procrastination are big ones in my life. I noticed these were more in the forefront after a while of quarantine. My prayers during this time have been full of asking for the willingness to continue to be the man I’ve become. During this time, God has become an even bigger part in my life. I’m so grateful for this program and Discovery Place for giving me the tools to stay grounded in life and in this trying time in our society.

-Matt T.


“How willing are you?”  That question was asked of me very early on in my recovery, and it has been asked of me frequently since. I was told that willingness was indispensable, and my experience has shown that to be true in my recovery.  It has been tested at every step.  In Step One, I had to be willing to concede things to my innermost self.  In Steps Two and Three I had to be willing to believe in a power greater than myself, and to then give my will and my life to that power. Then came the first true test of that willingness, as I put pen to paper in the fourth step and presented a life full of anger, resentment, fear, and sexual misconduct to another person in the fifth step.  At this point, when the sixth step is presented to me, I feel I begin to look more at the present. Am I willing to allow the careful examination of my past relationships? Am I willing to act on principles, rather than simply acting on emotion and making decisions based on how I feel?

Over the past year, I have allowed myself to be disciplined by the guidance of my sponsor and the big book of AA, and I began to build a relationship with God.  Acting on principles has become slightly more intuitive than before.  I have found a daily routine which always starts with opening the channel to God and asking to be the man He would have me be, ‘today,’ and asking for the removal of my defects as He sees fit.

Then we were told to stay home.

Businesses closed and meetings became this new virtual experience that was uncomfortable for me. The willingness that I thought I had so much of, evaporated in an instant. It took me several weeks to realize that it was even gone.  I was simply floating along, reverting to my more comfortable mode of acting based on how I felt.  With the help of my sponsor, I got back on the beam and stopped pouting about the changes. I rediscovered the willingness to allow God to remove these less desirable qualities from me.  I adapted to this new normal that was presented to me and have found the peace and serenity again that I had lost.

-Alex W.


Additional Resources:
Are you struggling with addiction recovery while in quarantine?
Everything may feel upside down, but recovery must continue. We’ve reached out to our alumni to encourage them and make suggestions, and you should benefit, too. Here’s how.

Are you unable to figure out Online Recovery Meetings?
It can be daunting trying to set up a camera, mic, or even just a computer. But you don’t have to. Here a way to join an online recovery meeting without hassle. 

How is Discovery Place responding to COVID-19?
While the disease of alcoholism and the consequences of addiction continue to threaten millions of lives, we’ve taken guidance from the CDC and implemented measures to ensure the safety of our guests.

Have questions about our recovery programs?
You might be interested in Discovery Place’s own treatment alternatives, such as our 30 Day Residential Addiction Alternative Recovery Program or our Long Term Alternative Recovery Program in Burns, Tennessee. Call, let’s talk: 1-800-725-0922.

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