Step Five

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

Leader's Share and Step Questions

Center yourself as you are able
AA Big Book, Pages 72 to 75
AA 12 & 12, Step 5
OA 12 & 12, Step 5

AA BB, p. 75

AA Big Book, Page 63

We pocket our pride and go to it…

This step is found at the beginning of Chapter 6, INTO ACTION in the Big Book. And it is about action -- we ‘go to it’ with humility and courage. The steps are getting increasingly outward turning as we go through them. We have admitted to ourselves that we are powerless, we have chosen our own higher power and decided to turn our will and our lives over to him, we have inventoried our own lives to discover what it is that stands between us and our higher powers. For me it seemed like this was the time to pave the way to bring my new heart out into the bigger world and to really integrate it in my life.

OA 12 & 12 p. 46

This is the beginning of the end of our isolation

Here’s why we do this (AA BB pp. 72-73):

Please reread this with your own name and pronouns in there ...If I skip this vital step, I may not overcome my compulsive overeating… this makes it so much more powerful for me.

And from the AA 12 and 12, pl 55
Most of us would declare that without a fearless admission of our defects to another human being we could NOT stay sober. It seems plain that the grace of God will NOT enter to expel our destructive obsessions until we are willing to try this

So, in the words of the precise directions of our recovery, we have to talk to another human being and tell them what’s on our 4th step inventory. We aren’t asked to go through the things we’ve done or have been done to us (but it will turn out that we probably will), but we are asked to admit the exact nature of our wrongs. These are the character defects -- the wrongs -- the blocks-- the things that stand between us and a higher power.

OA 12 & 12 p. 49
It’s not enough to acknowledge that we have held a grudge against a certain person; we also need to talk about what it is in our nature that causes us to react that way.

AA BB pp. 73-74
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.

We often hear in meetings that, in terms of the program, we would should take what we want and ignore the rest, that the directions of the Bib Book are just suggestions. Maybe so - some say the whole program is a suggestion, but if you follow it, you follow it as it is written. I’m sure you can tell that I am in that camp! At any rate, there are some MUSTS in this book, and here’s the second one we’ve encountered -- We must be entirely honest. So we have to do it, and we have to be all-in -- no half measures here!

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

We go to a person we trust -- usually our sponsor, and that’s because our sponsor will get it -- will have been there, done that -- will hold our wrongs in a sacred place. He or she holds no judgement, and has been through this before. However, we don’t have to choose our sponsor. For some, a religious person might be a good choice, or a therapist, or trusted friend. Just remember that:

AA BB p. 74
....we tell to someone who will understand, yet be unaffected. The rule is we must be hard on ourself, but always considerate of others.

OA 12 & 12, p. 59
We are not looking for someone to tell us how to manage our problems. What we need is a loving witness, someone who will keep our confidences and will listen without judging us or seeking to fix us.

The only rule is that we cannot choose someone who will be hurt by what we have to say (often this includes our spouses or partners. (The AA 12 & 12 is interesting if you want to read about the relationship of our 5th step to religious and therapeutic tradition)

Work the Step -- part I -- another human being
The Big Book doesn’t really have many precise directions-- just “go to it.” So here’s how i worked the step, and I worked the step with my sponsor. She had me set up a time -- at least three hours --, and as I completed the step 4 inventory, she asked me NOT to do the last column -- the one in which I was to write those things that stand between me and my higher power (character defects, the wrongs).

She asked me to read my resentments, this time across all of the columns, and as we got to the last, blank column, I had to identify that character defect(s) at play in that resentment. If I didn’t see it, or didn’t see all of it, she helped me thoroughly identify it.

We continued in that way, resentments after resentment, until a pattern became evident. (It didn’t take long!). For me, at that time, selfishness emerged as my go to ‘block’, That was really in my way. And it was apparent fear played a bigger part in my life than I knew.

That formed the basis of the rest of my steps, and through them, I surely saw a lot more, but at first that was my experience.

You sponsor will have his or her own technique for you. Please work with your sponsor on this. If you do it with someone else, you’ll likely see a pattern.

Work the Step -- part II -- your higher power

Working the step with another human being is often exhausting -- we have gotten through what’s really difficult. I was tired, but I wasn’t done.

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?

-Now that we’ve really identified and review OUR particular character defects that stand between us and our higher power, we spend at least an hour making sure that so far, our foundation is strong. We follow the directions. Here’s my share -

We meditate about our gratitude. If you have a higher power to whom offering thanks is appropriate, do that. And please share that here for others to understand that experience.

If you don’t (as I don’t) then meditate on the gratitude for the pathway that has come into your life. For me, I really wanted to serve others, to be there for other people, to help folks who needed it, yet I didn’t do that, and now I was getting a glimpse into how my selfishness and fear prevented that, and eventually I meditated both on the gratitude that this program had come to my life, that I could see and avoid my selfishness, that my path towards my real goals was becoming clear. This wasn’t the end of it for me-- as I continue in the program, other things become clear, and I use step 10 to deal with them, but we do the best job that we can in the place that we are when we do our step 5.

An hour-- really -- spend an hour in meditation and prayer completing the second part of Step 5.

The Step Five Promises

AA BB p. 75
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 drink 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.

We have these promises! And we get them! These things happened to me, and they will happen to you.

Please reflect on these problems.

Are you delighted?
Can you look the world in the eye?
Can you be alone, at peace and ease?
Are your fears falling from you?
Do you feel the nearness of your creator?
Are you beginning to have a spiritual experience?
Do you feel that your problem of compulsive overeating has disappeared?
Do you feel that you may be on the ‘broad highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe”?

And please reflect on this:
These promises have become a checkpoint for me. If, at any time, I can’t answer yes to one of them, I go back and revisit the steps at which I might be stumbling. My experience is that if we can’t answer yes to all these promises, then we need to go back and redo at least steps 4 and 5, and perhaps more. We work until we know the stones are in place, that there’s enough cement in our foundation, and sand in our mortar.


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