Step Five

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There really aren't a whole lot of "rules" or even suggestions for step
five.  It is covered in the AA Big Book in Chapter Six from pages 72-76.
Interestingly enough, the name of the chapter is "Into Action".  I wonder
if that means something? <G> Reading these pages tells most of what we
need to know.  In Step Five, it is not what we know - but what we DO!

I think the real ISSUES about Step Five are:

1. finding someone to give our fourth step to and then...
2. DOING it.

The Big Book was written in 1938 - before there were many people who could
take a fifth step from someone WITH EXPERIENCE IN THE STEPS.  So the Book
suggested professional people or clergy as an *alternate*.  Some people
still do that.  I believe it is best to do it with someone who has done
their fifth step already IN PROGRAM.  I believe the experience shared of
*how it was for the listener* is very helpful to the person giving away the
fifth step.

As another *alternate* idea, I think it is possible to do it on line.
There will probably be people who disagree, since to not do it f2f may lose
something.  I think it would be a loss, but I think something else is
gained by having the sponsor-person simply react to the written material
and help the sponsoree accept his/her own realities for today.

In the next two weeks, I would like to recommend, in the absence of any
other definitive material, that


A.  If you're getting ready to do it:

1.  What, if anything, is holding you back?
2.  Are you looking for the perfect person to give it to?
3.  Are you  waiting for the perfect time to do it?
3.  Do you think your material is "not quite ready" to "give over"?
4.  If so, what will you do to get it ready?

B.  If you did it:

1.  How did you get over the fear of selecting someone?
2.  How did you get over the fear of DOING it?
3.  What was the setting in which you did it, and did it help or hinder?
4.  How did you feel afterwards?
5.  How did it affect you long term?


   The light of God surrounds us.
    The love of God enfolds us.
   The power of God protects us.
The Presence of God watches over us.

Wherever we are, God is.  And all is well:)


                          STEP FIVE - THE SPONSOR

It seems that much has been written, and rightfully so, on how to do the
fifth step from the point of view of the person who is READING IT to a
sponsor, friend or professional.  I thought I'd share what I've found works
from the point of view of someone who is *LISTENING* to someone else's
stuff.  This might be helpful to someone who has never done it for others
before .


I find it the greatest honor to be asked to receive someone's fifth step.
It means they are trusting me  (for some HP reason:) to be helpful to them.
It's usually very scary for most people who are considering this action
(from both sides) and it was a little for me at first.  No longer.  I know
it works and I know HP is involved deeply in this experience.

I have listened to fifth steps by men and women in OA, AA, Alanon and
alateen.  I am an active member of only OA today and never was in AA though
I went to lots of AA open meetings; and sponsored alateens.

Before we start, we pray.  We have a box of tissues handy.  I assure them
that I will never discuss this material with anyone else.  I let the person
read for awhile.  Many listeners just listen and don't comment.  I find it
very important to comment as we go along.  the comments are of a varied


1.  I've been through similar experiences.

If what the person is reading is very upsetting or embarrassing, I usually
have a personal similar story I can relate, and I do - it takes some of the
pressure off.  Knowing we are not alone, nor terminally unique, is an
important part of the goal of this step.

2.  Humor.

Sometimes, if it's getting real serious, I may say something humorous.  It
is usually spontaneous and I rely on my ability to be sensitive but also to
keep it light.  Learning to laugh at ourselves often STARTS here.  I try to
not give it the air of someone going to a priest in a confessional and
admitting stuff to someone on a pedestal.  We've ALL done stuff we're not
thrilled about - are we going to continue to suffer for past actions?
Again, no *terminal uniqueness*.

3.  Reassuring.

As the reader begins to identify his/her character defects, I usually add
that I had that problem too - this this is the first time I discussed it,
and that relief is just a STEP or two away.  I can often give actual
examples of how I've changed with respect to a CD, and that seems to help.
I don't necessarily comment on EVERY CD, just one or two to explain that
CDs are NOT forever.

4.  Correcting

Sometimes it becomes clear that people don't have the slightest idea which
CD is behind some experience, resentment, fear or guilt they have had.
They will call out ten or twelve CDs for each item on the list.   (Most of
us tend to be MORBID at this point.  Sometimes, the reader wants to make
sure he *hits* the CD, so s/he writes out a bunch of them.)  My "job" here
is to help focus on the one or two, from MY viewpoint, that are REALLY
operative.  ***I think this is the GREATEST help we can be to people in
this process - to help them discern the REAL problems.***

So I *ASK* if they might consider perfectionism as the cause of this
resentment rather than pride, or something else like that.  I try to think
along with them. (We're working on this together to help the reader
discover the REAL reasons for his/her misery.)  We may have to explore a
few to get to the root ones.

When the material has been read, we tally up the CDs and discount some of
them as trivial.  We figure up the top five CDs and discuss how to go into
the 6th step to WORK on them.

This is one of the reasons why it's important to read our fifth step to
someone who has done it before.  IF someone HASN'T, it still may be OK, as
long as both  can have the feeling that others have done it before us and
we're both gonna try to continue on and get rid of these CDs.

And it is for this reason that I think it is important to read it to
someone in Program, and not just a professional.  (It may be that the
professional has another technique to "get rid of CDs" that is not
spiritual - many of us have been sidetracked for years because of this,
though some of it is helpful for awhile:)  The steps still remain, in my
opinion and experience, the FASTEST way to get weller, period!

5.  Probing

Towards the end, I usually ask if there is ANYTHING they haven't told me.
Often we need to be asked.  It was so with me on my first 5th Step.  If
it's a concern, it usually needs to be aired and often the experience is

6.  Humility

I sometimes add at some point that I'm not an expert, just another
compulsive overeater trying to work my steps.  Listening to a fourth step
by another is a way I do my twelfth step.  I try to be helpful and assist
the person in their endeavor to work this step.


FINALLY, when it's all done, I thank the reader for his honesty, and
usually can share that it did more for me then him.  I think we ALL need to
be reminded that we are part of the human race.  And that applies to both
of us.

I suggest they read the first few pages of Chapter Six in the AABB when
they get home.  And I remind them that they don't have to wait a year, or a
month to start working on the Sixth Step.

I welcome any sharing on this.  I don't think anyone does it *perfectly*
and I would love to get others EXPERIENCE on this to enhance my own and to
be more helpful to others.


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