Step Five

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

Leader's Share and Step Questions

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

Step 5

For many people, taking a fearless and searching moral inventory, and practicing courage, in step 4 seems scary. Few of us want to look at our character defects and what our part has been in the challenges, conflicts and difficulties in our lives. Being in the disease of addiction for me goes hand-in-hand with acting like and feeling like a victim. Practicing courage, therefore, takes some time.

Even more challenging than practicing courage though is the principle of integrity. For me, integrity has a number of components. My sponsor reminds me, “Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t say it mean,” for example. So often in my life I kept my mouth shut about something I should have been talking about because I didn’t have a way of skillfully honoring my truth (say what you mean and mean what you say) without harming others (and don’t say it mean).

Integrity is about being a woman of my word. When I commit my food, for example, and there is a deviation in it, telling my sponsor or someone else is a way of practicing integrity. When I admit to god, myself AND another human being the EXACT nature of my wrongs (whether it is eating more chicken wings than I had planned or acting selfishly), I exercise my integrity muscle. Our literature talks about how we addicts often judge ourselves by our intentions, but the world judges us by our actions. I need to remember that unless my words and my actions match, people will always believe my words. Think about people you know: do you believe their words or their actions?

For years, I woke up every morning wanting to eat moderately and get healthy (my intention) but my actions weren’t in alignment with that intention (I was bingeing on sugar by 11 am). There was no integrity, or wholeness, between my intentions and my actions.

Turning over an inventory to another person can feel scary only because it is so unfamiliar to addicts like me. I spent my life rationalizing my behavior. I remember when I got into recovery I lived in an apartment in a very noisy area of a major European city. During the summer, loud motorcycles would often drive by at night and wake me up from my sleep. I would get up feeling furious and helpless and with no acceptance whatsoever. Then in my anger, I would eat something in the middle of the night to crunch out my anger. It was only in recovery that I learned how not to “eat at someone” or a situation. Nobody “makes me” do anything. The loud motorcycles didn’t “make me” eat anymore than anybody or anything else does. Having integrity in my life means owning my behavior and doing the step work so that I may be changed by my HP. I can’t make myself have integrity any more than I can make myself not eat compulsively.

But I can practice the principle of integrity. That means what I do and what I say need to match in my life, to the best of my ability. Because if they don’t, the slippery slope begins, I lose my spiritual center by getting cranky (restless, irritable and discontent), and then I want to eat.

Today is my birthday and I want to do all kinds of things that I want to do. But I have made a commitment to this step study and being a woman of my word is the most important way I can practice integrity in this moment.

Here are some questions and assignments for you this week.

· Is there an area in your life where what you do and what you say are not in alignment? Your food? Relationships? Finances? Anything else?

· How does practicing integrity help you overcome compulsive eating? How is integrity the result of recovery from compulsive eating?

· Do you expect people to judge you by your intentions or your actions? Do you judge yourself and others by intentions or actions?

· Do other people or situations “make you” eat today? What have you learned about accepting responsibility for your actions as a result of working the steps?

· How can you practice integrity in your life today?

· Is there one thing you would like to admit today that you have not yet turned over to another human being?

· Why is step 5 – admitting to God, to yourself and to another human being the exact nature of YOUR wrongs – necessary to recover? Why isn’t writing an inventory of other people’s wrongs (what they did to you) sufficient for you to recover from compulsive eating?

· “Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t say it mean” is what my sponsor says. Are you living this way today? If not, where can you demonstrate willingness to practice greater integrity in your life today?

· Read step 5 in the OA 12 and 12 and AA 12 and 12.

Wishing you a sane, abstinent week.


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