Step Five

Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being
the exact nature of our wrongs.




STEP FIVE

Hi friends.

My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater

Step five seems simple, and it can be simple if after finishing step 4, I immediately set a very near date with my sponsor and read to him everything I have written in my inventory tables. But still there are some more things that can be said about this step.

Let us see what the Big Book has to say.

"Having made our personal inventory, what shall we do about it? We have been trying to get a new attitude, a new relationship with our Creator, and to discover the obstacles in our path. We have admitted certain defects; we have ascertained in a rough way what the trouble is; we have put our finger on the weak times in our personal inventory. Now these are about to be cast out. This requires action on our part, which, when completed, will mean that we have admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our defects. This brings us to THE FIFTH STEP in the program of recovery mentioned in the preceding chapter." page 72.

We see again that our inventory is meant to develop a new relationship with H.P. and discover what blocks us from H.P. We develop a new relationship with H.P. by beginning the process of change, which is our spiritual awakening. We do that by beginning to change our attitude to people we resent and consider them as spiritually sick, we begin to see that our fears stem from our reliance on self instead of H.P., and we begin to see how our character defects cause us to hurt others. We realize that what blocks us are our character defects and their manifestations in our lives.

Again, to the perfectionists among us: in step 4, we DON'T discover ALL our defects, and only ascertain in a rough way what the trouble is. That's very fine for now, since working the rest of the steps will reveal more to us. The process of discovering the truth is endless. What we have to do is just work the steps on a daily basis.

Working the steps is not just for discovering the truth, but for acting on it. The action removes what blocks us from H.P. according to our stage of discovery, so that our conscious contact with H.P. grows and develops with time. This is what is meant by saying progress and not perfection. We aspire to perfection, but we do it by progress, and progress results from continuous never ending daily work.

So the next action to take after writing the inventory is a triple action in a certain order. We admit the exact nature of our wrongs (defects) to God first, then to ourselves and then to another human being. This order of doing things repeats itself with everything we do in this program and it is very sensible. The easiest thing to do is to admit things to God, since we assume he knows anyway. God may know but if we want and need God's help, we have to tell God and ask for it. We sure need God's help. So what we do is pray, ask for God's help, tell him we are going to read aloud our inventory to him and then do it. Not too difficult or complicated to do.

Next comes reading to myself, which is a bit more complicated, not because I cannot read, but because I sometimes try to hide things from myself. So I have to think first if I have written everything I remember and am aware of, or did I hide or ignore some things. If I did, I have to pray to God for help and add them to my inventory. then I read the additions to God and then I read all the inventory again to myself.

The most difficult part is reading it to someone else. That's human nature. When someone does something wrong he is usually more afraid of people finding out about it than of God finding out. A thief for example, does not try to hide what he does from God. He tries to hide it from people. So telling another person is the tough part of step 5 to most people.

Now let us consider what is meant by the exact nature of our wrongs. Well, if we did step 4 according to the Big Book method, the nature of our wrongs is what my defects are: how they affect the different parts of my inner self and how they manifest in my actions, words and attitudes. Here is something we can do that will help us see it more clearly and even bring a little more balance into the picture.

We can make a new table. The first column will be our liabilities (character defects). We copy into this column each of our defects that appear in our step 4 inventory. Near each defect we write the number of times it appears in all our inventory tables.

For example (first column):

LIABILITIES IN MY STEP 4:

resentments (200)
fear (400)
selfishness (247)
dishonesty (4)
self-seeking (100)
inconsiderate (50)
procrastinating (6)
gossiping (3)
etc...

The number in brackets indicates how many times the defects appear in my inventory. We can see in the example that some defects are very prominent - and working the steps will hopefully reduce them - and some are not prominent. They appear only occasionally.

>From this example I can conclude that I am usually an honest person, quite diligent, and usually don't indulge in gossip. On the other hand I am very selfish, resentful and fearful, etc... So I am not just full of defects; I have my good points too. I recognize that by seeing that some of my defects don't repeat themselves often, which means that usually my conjugate asset is dominant. I also know that the picture will be more balanced with the help of my H.P. as I continue to work the steps.

Just to complete the picture, I fill the second column with my conjugate assets.

So now I have my own personal liabilities and assets table, and I know which of the assets already manifests in me to a large degree and which do not.

I can also write a list of my inner self parts and see how many times each of them appears in my inventory.

For example:

AFFECTED INNER SELF PARTS:

self-esteem (200)
pride (100)
personal relations (50)
financial security (200)
physical security (2)
emotional security (300)
sexual relations (5)
ambitions (100)

REMARK: When I count the sexual relations, I also count the entries in my sex conduct table which do not appear in my other tables.

I can conclude from that table that my physical security and sex relations are not as vulnerable as the other parts. Continuing with the step work will make me more stable and less vulnerable in the other parts of self too.

Now comes the question. Do I really have to read my inventory to someone else and admit to him the exact nature of MY wrongs?

Let us see what the Big Book has to say about it.

"This is perhaps difficult - especially discussing our defects with another person. We think we have done well enough in admitting these things to ourselves. There is doubt about that. In actual practice, we usually find a solitary self-appraisal insufficient. Many of us thought it necessary to go much further. We will be more reconciled to discussing ourselves with another person when we see good reasons why we should do so. The best reason first: If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking. Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning. They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only THOUGHT they had lost their egoism and fear; they only THOUGHT they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone else ALL their life story [the written inventory]." pages 72-73.

The Big Book gives us THE reason for sharing our inventory with someone else. If we don't do that we don't recover. It explains that avoiding step 5 means that there are some things in my inventory that I want to keep secret. This means that I don't want to deal with them. So some stumbling blocks will remain and prevent me from developing my conscious contact with H.P., and thus drag me back into the disease. In order to continue with my recovery I have to develop further the assets of humility, courage and honesty, and sharing with someone else is the way to do it in this program. So how do we do that?

We outgrow fear by asking H.P. what He would have us do. Courage is not the absence of fear, but going through the fear by relying on God. So according to the Big Book's suggestions we have to pray to God and act by sharing our inventory with someone else. By sharing it without hiding anything, we develop our honesty.

Now let us see what is meant by humility. First let me say what humility is not. Humility is not humiliation. It is not being a rug for other people to walk on; it is not letting others spit on me and push me around.

Let us follow the definitions of humility, which were written in the A.A. 12&12 by Bill W. the A.A. cofounder.

"... it amounts to the clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be." page 58.

A beautiful definition: seeing and accepting ourselves as we are, with our liabilities and assets, without trying to hide anything, and then acting to become what we can be as recovered persons. This is what we are doing when we take every step, and this is what we try doing by sharing our inventory.

Every step is an act of humility. Admitting our powerlessness and unmanageability of our lives is an act of humility. Coming to believe that only a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity is an act of humility. Turning to H.P. and deciding to let him take care of us and direct our lives is an act of humility. Writing our inventory is an act of humility, and sharing it is an act of humility. Recognizing and sharing all theses secrets that festered inside us and dragged us into our disease is the only way this program suggests to begin treating them with H.P.'s help.

All the steps are an ego (self-will) deflation device. It is our ego which manifests as self-centeredness and self-will run riot, which block us from H.P., from our inner being and from others.

Here is another aspect of humility as defined by Bill W. in step 7 A.A. 12&12, page 72.

"... a desire to seek and do God's will"

God wants us to be happy joyous and free. Which means for us, to be a recovered person free of our obsession with food, and developing spiritually. We have the method to achieve all that by taking the steps, and when we desire to seek and do God's will, instead of our self will, we are acting humbly. Taking all the steps is the way to do it.

Let us turn to the Big Book again.

"We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world. Rightly and naturally, we think well before we choose the person or persons with whom to take this intimate and confidential step...

"... It may be one of our family, but we can't disclose anything to our wives or our parents which will hurt them and make them unhappy. We have no right to save our own skin at another person's expense. Such parts of our story we tell to someone who will understand, yet be unaffected. The rule is we must be hard on ourselves, but always considerate of others." pages 73-74.

So the Big Book suggests we share our inventory with a suitable person who can be anyone who knows what this is all about. There is one warning. DON'T share your inventory with someone who is connected to you emotionally. They may be hurt by listening to it. So the suggestion is NOT to share it with family, or friends. In OA we usually share our inventory with our sponsor.

Now the Big Book tells us how we go about it.

"When we decide who is to hear our story, we waste no time. We have a written inventory and we are prepared for a long talk. We explain to our partner what we are about to do and why we have to do it. He should realize that we are engaged upon a life-and-death errand. Most people approached in this way will be glad to help; they will be honored by our confidence.

"We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past." page 75.

First we DON'T delay. When we finish writing our inventory we immediately set a date to share it with someone suitable. When sharing, we hide nothing, since we want to see and act on the truth of our situation.

Let us say a bit more on the importance of step 5.

I have to remember that my attitude and viewpoints of what I have written in my inventory are a bit limited and perhaps even distorted, since I am emotionally involved in everything I have written, and since I have a lifetime pf practice in denial (being blind to my problems), and lying and hiding the problems I did see. So reading my inventory to an objective person with an outside viewpoint and a different look at things, will help me see the truth about myself more clearly. Such a person will help me see more clearly some things that are inaccurate in my inventory, or some things that were not clear to me, especially in the columns dealing with how my inner self was affected, which of my character defects manifested in each case and how it manifested. Thus improving my understanding of what blocks me from H.P.

Now let me say a few more words about the role of the person who hears our inventory. He is not there to forgive us, or judge us, or criticizes us, or admire us, or pity us. If it is our sponsor, he had the same general problems and defects that we have. He is there to help us see the truth about ourselves. Mostly his job is to listen. If he spots something missing in our analysis, like failing to see our part, or not seeing it clearly, or failing to see clearly how our inner parts of self were affected, he can ask clarifying questions and suggest looking at things from a different angle. Thus helping us to make our inventory a more accurate picture of our stumbling blocks that prevent our conscious contact with H.P. and hold us back on our way to recovery.

Sharing our inventory with another person gives some immediate results which are called the fifth step promises.

"Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator. We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience. The feeling that the eating problem has disappeared will often come strongly. We feel we are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe." page 75.

These promises are a description of another stage in our spiritual awakening which we pass when we take this step.

Now let us see what we have to do after we finish taking steps 5.

"Returning home we find a place where we can be quiet for an hour, carefully reviewing what we have done. We thank God from the bottom of our heart that we know Him better. Taking this book down from our shelf we turn to the page which contains the twelve steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything, for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at last. Is our work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? Have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation? Have we tried to make mortar without sand?

"If we can answer to our satisfaction, we then look at Step Six." pages 75-76.

The first thing we do after step 5 is pray and thank God for knowing Him better. Why do we know him better? Because by taking step 5 we took another step to recognize and remove the things that block us from H.P. The more the stumbling blocks we remove, the more place there is for God to reside in our hearts, and the more our conscious contact develops, which means that we know God better.

So here is the fifth step prayer.

"God, I thank you from the bottom of my heart that I know you better."

The big Book gives us one hour to go over our step work so far {the five steps), and see if we have missed something. One hour is enough to sit and check quietly. If we see that we have to add or correct something, we do it immediately, and share with our sponsor, and begin step 6.


INTO ACTION AND SHARING SUBJECTS:

1. Tell H.P. that you are going to read your inventory to him, ask H.P. for help, and read it aloud.

2. Read your inventory to yourself and then write your personal liabilities and assets table as explained in this post. List in brackets near each liability, the number of times it appears in your inventory. Share you table with us, and share what are your conclusions from this table about your liabilities and your assets.

3. Write an inner parts of self list (self-esteem, security, etc...), and list in brackets near each inner self part, the number of times it appears in your inventory. Share this list with us, and share your conclusions from this list

4. Set a very near date (NO DELAYING) to take step 5 with a suitable person. Usually your sponsor. Remember NOT to share your inventory with someone who is emotionally involved with you, and certainly NOT with someone who appears in your inventory.

5. After taking step 5 say the fifth step prayer aloud, preferably with your sponsor or someone else suitable listening.

"God, I thank you from the bottom of my heart that I know you better."

6. Read the fifth step promises:

"Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator. We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience. The feeling that the eating problem has disappeared will often come strongly. We feel we are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe." page 75.

Share how they began to materialize in your life.

7. Check your five steps according to the Big Books Suggestions, thus preparing yourself for step 6.

"Returning home we find a place where we can be quiet for an hour, carefully reviewing what we have done. We thank God from the bottom of our heart that we know Him better. Taking this book down from our shelf we turn to the page which contains the twelve steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything, for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at last. Is our work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? Have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation? Have we tried to make mortar without sand? If we can answer to our satisfaction, we then look at Step Six." pages 75-76.

Have you answered the Big Book's questions to your satisfaction? If not than I suggest you get in touch with your sponsor immediately to resolve the problems.

See you in step 6.

Have a nice day.
Shlomo




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