Step Five

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







Leader's Share and Step Questions


After we have finished our fourth step, we are ready to give it away as we say in OA. Many of you may wonder why we have to “air our dirty laundry” to another person. You may even be afraid you will be judged and embarrassed and maybe even cause you to feel more confusion about yourself.

We are told over and over in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous that this is not true. We may be humbled but we are not humiliated. In fact, the word used very frequently in the Step Five readings is “relief”.

Also,you will be able to pat yourself on the back for such an accomplishment as well as the honesty that you have been strong enough to exercise. This has been high on many compulsive overeaters list of good things they have done from themselves.

Looking for the Right Person

The first task in Step Five is to find someone to share your fourth step with. You need a guide just like you might need a guide on an adventure into unknown territory. Picking the right guide can mean the difference between a great adventure and a bad adventure. The same is true for picking someone to guide you through your fourth step. When you look for a guide on an adventure you do some research and decide what you are looking for in a guide. When you look for a guide for sharing your fourth step you can ask for your HP’s guidance. Here is what is suggested to help you find your guide.

    Job Description of Our Guide

    1. Trustworthy and understanding.
    2. Recovering in a twelve-step fellowship<
    3. Completed Step Five herself or himself
    4. Can be your sponsor
    5. Can be a therapist
    6. Can be a religious counselor
    7. A loving witness
    8. Can keep our confidences
    9. Listens without judging
    10. Objective enough to tell us if there’s something glaring we’ve omitted
    11. Can guide us if needed.
      (Excerpted from OA 12 x 12 pages 48-49)

Remember, you are not looking for someone to help you solve your issues – just a loving witness.

As I mentioned in Step Four to get the most benefit out of doing Step Five we must discuss the exact nature of our wrongs. It is suggested that we:

1. Talk about why we did the things we did.
2. Express what feelings led to our actions.
3. Explore what we felt afterward.
4. Look at what those actions cost us.

I am going to add one other suggestion.

5. Share how all these feelings and behaviors have affected us materially, emotionally and spiritually

Character Defects

In Step Four we talked about the different types of character defects and during our inventory we are looking honestly at how we coped with life using these character defects. We also talked about how character defects are created.

A sponsee I have was talking about frustration and how it feels the same as wanting junk food. That was a fabulous insight because when we are being human and practicing our character defects it does feel compulsive. We have not learned what is going on and we just head for the food. It is seamless and there is often no recognition of the underlying feelings that started the desire for food.

Until we take the time to identify our character defects and start to recognize when we are feeling them, we will always think frustration, impatience, rebelliousness, unhealthy anger or whatever is a signal to eat. It is not…it is a signal to pay attention to what is really going on inside.

A Personal Example

I was totally frustrated because I endured a month from hell. Everything broke and could not be fixed easily. Everywhere we turned there was a major obstacle. One day in the middle of a storm the internet slowed way down and I had work to do. I got so upset I was ready to jump into the cupboards and cover myself with food. I worked through it – talked with OA friend, went to an online meeting, read my literature. It really shook me up though. About a week later it happened again. I thought I was going back to insanity. I started to doubt myself. I felt all those old crazy thoughts come back. I started to worry about gaining weight. I weighed myself several times (I usually only weigh once a month.) I started to obsess about food.

My sponsor and I had a long talk about my impatience. We talked about maybe stopping what I was doing when I felt it come up and how that might stop the cycle. It started to connect with me that I my impatience was what was leading me to want to eat compulsively. It was not just something that came out of thin air.

The next time I felt that impatience well up in me – yes, the internet had slowed down again and I had work to do – I stopped, got up and did something different for a few hours. I felt like I climbed the highest mountain on earth. What a victory!!!

However, there is more to the story. I had yet another slow internet day (my HP knows how to keep at it until I get it!!!). This time I thought I could stop or I could choose not to stop. However, if I chose not to stop there would be not even a sideways look at the cupboards. I chose to continue and exercise a new character trait - patience.

I felt I had matured some more in my recovery that day. I saw it coming. I saw I had a choice. I took the choice that worked for me and my recovery. The importance of learning my character defects empowered me to live the way I really wanted to life – aware and conscious. Woo Hoo!!!

Last Thought

After my experience with impatience I am so looking forward to continuing my fourth step. I have an even greater respect for myself and OA. I really liked mastering that impatience. It gave me hope I could master the rest of my “humanness”. Another miracle in my life has just happened.

I know this miracle can happen for you also.

Questions About Step Five

1. How is your abstinence? Has it improved doing the steps? Explain.

2. How long have you been living with your “secrets” and how do you feel about exchanging secrets for openness?

3. Have you noticed any reoccurring themes in your Step Four? Can you begin to see the character defects you have been living with? Explain and list a few.

4. Can you accept both good and bad in life, as experiences and learning?

5. How does forgiveness for what you have done play into Step Five?

6. Why is it important to keep aware of your positive traits as well as your negative ones?

7. If you have worked Step 5, please share your experience and before-after reactions.

8. If you have NOT worked Step 5, please share what you hope will be your experience and before-after reactions.

Leader's Answers to Questions

1. How is your abstinence? Has it improved doing the steps? Explain.

During preparing for this study I had the experience with my impatience. I am so able to work with my other character defects because how good I felt about what I learned. I truly loved this experience. And, yes I am much less compulsive because of it.

2. How long have you been living with your “secrets” and how do you feel about exchanging secrets for openness?

I have lived with my secrets since childhood. However, I have learned when I stop trying to keep secrets and am open no one has anything that would frightened me any longer. I know I am working on them and if they are judgmental about what I am or have been then it seems they have a character defect they should be working on. When I was trying to hide my fears and feelings about things is when my life was so messed up. Now, I am even open to being wrong…a huge step in my recovery.

3. Have you noticed any reoccurring themes in your Step Four? Can you begin to see the character defects you have been living with? Explain and list a few.

Yes, I can. I have been judgmental, arrogant, self-loathing, fearful, intolerant to whiny people and controlling to name a few.

4. Can you accept both good and bad in life, as experiences and learning?

I can now because I can see that I have received a lot of understanding from addressing the “bad”. That understanding is now serving me well. I live a good life these days and I will be eternally grateful for the OA steps and tools for giving me that. And, for my willingness to persevere until I turned the bad into GREAT!!!

5. How does forgiveness for what you have done play into Step Five?

I spent a lot of my life in a self-loathing mode. I expected far too much of myself. I was always searching for what I did not know. I finally forgave myself for being human. It was safe for me to be flawed. In fact, I was stronger for knowing my weaknesses rather than living a life of insanity in denial of them.

6. Why is it important to keep aware of your positive traits as well as your negative ones?

When I started my fourth step I felt I was living in a really down, intense and ugly world. It was my world of a living hell. The only way I could deal with it was to write what I have learned about each one of my character defects and how it helped me to progress into a better place. I would have given up if I had not done this. (I highly suggest anyone doing a fourth step add this to their process.)

7. If you have worked Step 5, please share your experience and before-after reactions.

I picked the right person. I was open to what she had to say. I learned so much about managing my life in a sane way. It was a miracle and a joy. It is one of the best things I ever did for myself.

8. If you have NOT worked Step 5, please share what you hope will be your experience and before-after reactions.

Suggested Reading
Books:
The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, pp. 45-52
The Twelve-Step Workbook of Overeaters Anonymous, pp. 31-37
Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., pp. 72-75
AA Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pp. 55-62

Pamphlets:
A Guide to the Twelve Steps for You and Your Sponsor, pp. 9-11

Fifth Step Prayer:
Higher Power,
My inventory has shown me who I am, yet I ask for Your help in admitting my
wrongs to another person and to You. Assure me and be with me, in this step,
for without this step, I cannot progress in my recovery. With Your help, I can
do this, and I will do it.

Slogans
1. Forgive easily -- as if your life depends on it.
2. Take the mess to your sponsor; take the message to the meeting.
3. Try to be grateful and resentful at the same time, you can't serve two masters.
4. Success means getting your "but" out of the way.
5. A COE's mind is a dangerous neighborhood, don't go in there along.







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Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Step Four
Step Five


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