The Spiritual Principle Willingness
The Spiritual Principle Willingness lies behind A.A.’s Step Six: “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
The defects of character, of course, refer to those defects which we admitted to in Step Five. Having done so, we’re ready to cast out those defects. The crucial aspect of Step Six is our willingness to let go of old behaviors.
What is willingness? Most people would tell you that they know the definition of the word. But do they really?
If someone approached you with a check in your name for one million dollars and asked if you were willing to accept it and you said yes, does that make you willing? NO. Why you ask? Because you already want a million dollars!
Willingness isn’t doing or accepting things that you would gleefully want to do or accept anyway; willingness is doing and accepting things you don’t want to do or accept.
People often ask “don’t you have to want to enter treatment for it to work”? The answer is No. You have to be WILLING to enter treatment. Very few people wanted to enter treatment. But we were willing to enter treatment anyway. See the difference? Willingness only applies if you never wanted to in the first place.
How does one become willing? They decide to become willing. It’s that simple. See, you can’t teach willingness. That makes it one of the rarest of the Spiritual Principles. You can teach people how to be humble, you can teach people how to grow closer to their higher power, you can teach people how to be or service. But you cannot teach willingness.
You can’t force willingness either. Just as you can’t force someone to seek treatment. You can however help them once they get there.
You Can Lead a Horse to Water...
As a wise man once said “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. You can salt his food though”. Treatment helps salt the food of an unwilling addict, with the goal being for that person to find their inner willingness to make a change. Once that willingness is uncovered, the world literally opens up for people and they have the most important tool/principle they will ever need to succeed.
Recovery Boot Camp knows full well that the Spiritual Principle Willingness makes all things possible, even -- and especially -- sobriety. That's why we work A.A.'s 12 Steps from Day One of Basic Training. And why we consequently adhere to the Traditions and Principles in everything we do.