Step Study - Step 5

Old 02-11-2008, 07:46 PM
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Step Study - Step 5

If you are just joining in, this is an online Step Study. Each of the 12 steps will have its own thread, so you can participate at whatever level you are comfortable.

Most of the information here comes from the books Paths To Recovery, Al-Anon’s Steps, Traditions and Concepts and How Al Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics, along with some readings from Courage to Change, One Day at a Time in Al Anon II.

The first 4 steps are “stickies” at the top of the page.

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

How Al Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics: pp 53

The thought of admitting our darkest secrets to someone else can be frightening at first. We fear that our wrongs are worse than anyone else’s, and that we would be humiliated if we ever admitted them to another human being. Perhaps the alcoholic in our lives has led us to believe that we are horrible people; perhaps we created this damaging illusion ourselves. But if we can summon the courage to challenge these fears, and can go ahead and take Step Five in spite of them, we take a huge stride toward personal freedom.

Not only does Step Five help us to learn that what we have done isn’t so terrible or irredeemable, but also that there are people who will love us unconditionally, even if they know the very worst about us. Most of us are astonished to discover that we are the only ones who judge ourselves and our wrongs harshly. This Step can dramatically change the way we look at ourselves and others, and most of us find it well worth the effort.
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Old 02-11-2008, 07:47 PM
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Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs

As we prepare to admit our faults, we can begin by asking ourselves the following questions or use them for a group discussion:

If I have completed my Fourth Step inventory, how do I feel about sharing details of my past with another person?

In what areas of my past am I willing to be completely honest?

What are some of the advantages I might get from admitting my faults?

Do I understand the healing relief that honestly admitting my faults can bring?

What expectations do I have about how I should feel or what I should experience when I admit my faults?

Am I ready to let these expectations go and allow the God of my understanding to determine the best results for me? How do I know?

If I do not feel ready to do this step, do I need to do more work on Steps One through Four?

Would I be willing to group my inventory into things I could admit, things I might admit, and things I think, “No Way! I’ll never be able to do that,” and then start with the “could” list?

Am I afraid to admit my faults to my Higher Power? Why?

Who in the program could I call to discuss my fears about God?

Could I make a list of my fears and turn them over? What are my fears?

How can admitting my faults to the God of my understanding help me?

Can I concede that I am not perfect? How can I quit trying to be?

How do I try to excuse myself from harms I may have done?

With whom will I share my Fifth Step? What qualities make me choose this person? Do I trust him or her?

Do I have any of those qualities myself? Did I list them under my assets?

What may block me from trusting someone with my truth? Can I share these fears with another person?

How does my desire to be perfect block me from believing someone could love me unconditionally, even after hearing my Fifth Step?

How can telling someone else the exact nature of my wrongs enhance my ability to see myself?

How have I isolated myself? Do I believe that sharing with another person can lead to relief from isolation?
What is the one thing I don’t want to tell another person? Can I start there?

Can being honest and admitting a mistake have positive consequences? What are they?

Can I remember when another person admitted a fault or mistake to me and I understood and didn’t judge?

In doing this Fifth Step, what have I learned about the exact nature of my wrongs?

What have I learned about fear? Honesty? Trust? Acceptance?

How did I feel after sharing with God? Admitting to myself? Sharing with another person?

What, if anything, have I left out? If I have completed Step Five, what am I feeling? Is anything different? Better?
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Old 02-11-2008, 07:56 PM
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In looking back, I don't know which scared me more... the thought of a searching and fearless moral inventory, or the thought that I would have to share it with someone else.

Fortunately, I had a good Al Anon group and a wonderful sponsor who were patient, loving, and supportive. I went to a lot of meetings and listened to others share how they had worked the steps and how their lives had changed because of it. I wanted what they had - a serene and happy (happier?) life. I wanted that SO MUCH that I was willing to work Steps Four and Five to get there.

What I love most about this step is that I don't rationalize or excuse any behaviors...just accept them as fact,and then to understand what need or fear was happening at that time.

Step Five is not as scary as it looks.
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Old 02-11-2008, 07:57 PM
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From Paths to Recovery, pp 53-56

In Step Four we made a thorough inventory of ourselves, both assets and defects. Step Five asks us to take another action with what we have learned about ourselves. We are to share “the exact nature of our wrongs” with God, ourselves and another person.

Step Five requires honesty with ourselves and others. It was one thing to get the courage needed to list our deeds and misdeeds, our fears and resentments on a piece of paper; quite another to reveal them to another person. We sometimes hear in Al Anon meetings that we are only as sick as our secrets. What goes on in alcoholic homes is often kept very private; many of us have been taught not to air our dirty laundry in public. In Step Five we begin to unburden ourselves of our secrets. Step Five does not ask us to show our faults to the whole world, but to our own hearts, to the God of our understanding and to a trusted friend. Step Five gives us permission to talk about things in a healthier manner, rather than make ourselves martyrs to anyone who comes along.

Our first task is to admit the exact nature of our wrongs to our Higher Power. Having spent some time with Steps Two and Three, we have come to understand our God as loving, compassionate and non-judgmental. We also know that God can help us if we are willing to be helped. We can begin work on Step Five by talking to our loving Higher Power about what we discovered in Step Four. We recognize that we are probably not telling God anything new, but this open admission allows us to approach our Higher Power acknowledging our hard work and our willingness to see ourselves as we really are. Many of us feel a sense of relief as we feel the acceptance and love offered despite our wrongs.

The next part of the Step is to admit these same things to ourselves. For some it is easier to tell God about our wrongs than to admit them to ourselves. When we look at ourselves with complete honesty, stripping away excuses and the blaming of others for our behavior, we become aware of how much we deluded and justified ourselves. At this point, we may be tempted to condemn ourselves for the difficulties we caused. It is important to remember to love and accept ourselves unconditionally, just as our Higher Power does. We are seeking to grow by facing who we are at the moment; nothing is served by beating ourselves up for the past. Step Five does not ask us to do anything about our past actions; for now all we are asked to do is to face them squarely and admit them to ourselves as fact.

Admitting to God and to ourselves is not enough; we must break our isolation and share our faults with another human being. This, too, can be difficult, since many of us had criticism and blame heaped upon us if we admitted a mistake. Admitting our faults to another person may seem like asking to be rejected. To admit our darkest secrets to anyone requires us to trust another person and to trust our own value as a human being. Learning to trust is an essential tool of recovery that brings with it relief and serenity.

….. It is vital to be as honest as we can through all stages of Step Five. Asking our Higher Power for help before we begin to share may be helpful. As we share our inventory aloud, we do not want to deny or excuse our wrongs, but to come to understand and accept them. We honestly face the past and, by sharing our faults, make a commitment to continue to grow and change.

It is important to explore not only the list of events, but also the “exact nature of our wrongs”. We seek to know ourselves more fully, therefore we examine our deeds and the reasons for them. Without excusing our behavior, we try to recognize what basic need or fear was operating when we behaved as we did. Taken in context, many of our behaviors made sense at the time. For instance, there are experiences where mistrust was appropriate. We may have been dealing with people and events who were out of control or dangerous. The defenses we learned served us well in alcoholic and other unhealthy situations, but now they keep us from living happily and serenely. We can acknowledge these defenses without condemning ourselves for using them. Our confidante is sometimes able to help us understand the exact nature of our wrongs. As we share, we may discover that we need further thought and meditation. In either case, we do the best we can at the time - and move on.
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Old 02-12-2008, 02:08 AM
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I loved Step 5 when I got there. Step 4 had me doing inventory or a personal housecleaning, exploring dark corners where I had not been in a long time.

Step 5 helped me sort out the treasures from the garbage, and share them with a trusted friend, for me it was my sponsor. When my I was ready to review my list with my sponsor, we went out to dinner to a nice restaurant where we could find a quiet private table to talk about this, then we went for a long walk, talking some more and finally to a church where I shared my list with God, quietly through prayer.

I felt such a sense of relief at this point. Relief to know I was no longer carrying the burdon of the past, relief to know that I was about to give the rest to God and ask him to take it away, and relief that I was now ready to live my life in a healthier way.

My house was clean, I had sorted through the debris, and I was now preparing to put out the garbage and ask my Higher Power garbage man to come take it away. I was free.

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Old 02-12-2008, 06:26 AM
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After I finished the 4th step it was an easy step for me to do the 5th. I don't carry any deep dark secrets (have enough therapy that that is long gone) so it really wasn't a huge unburdening for me. However, it did develop an even greater closeness with my sponsor. It was a relief to laugh over some of the things and hear that she had done much of the same.

I am grateful to steps 4 and 5 because they offer me a vehicle to let go of my fears and resentments. It's occured to me that one of the things the 5th step offers is the chance to be loved by someone for being exactly who you are. My sponsor knows all of my down and dirty and she still loves me for who I am. That is the gift for me. I'm still finding it difficult to "love myself" and this step is a help in that direction.

Thanks for doing all of this work Cats! Donna
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Old 02-12-2008, 07:41 AM
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It was a relief to laugh over some of the things and hear that she had done much of the same.
I think that is part of the beauty of step 5....sharing with someone I can trust who understands what I have been through, and then finding out the "my bads" weren't so bad. I can forgive myself easier when I know that others too have been there. I love that person warts and all, so why shouldn't I give myself the benefit of the doubt too. Like you, Donna, I am still working on that...Making progress, slowly but steadily.

I really appreciate all the work you are doing to bring the steps here Cat, and I enjoy reading all the responses...more help on my journey.
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