4 | Step 6
"Admitted to our Higher Power, to ourselves, and to another human
being, the exact nature of our liabilities and our assets."
|A core principle behind the Fifth
Step is that in sharing our list of assets and liabilities, we learn
more about ourselves, see through our blind spots, find out what is
true, where we are misguided, and what areas we need to work on.
IN OUR OWN WORDS: Members
share their thoughts on the Fifth Step
Fifth Step was a true consciousness changing life-affirming breakthrough.
It was the first time in my life that I had ever been able to honestly
share who I really was on the deepest level with another human being. It
was the beginning of the end of a life of feeling somehow different than,
and isolated from, everyone else. It was the point where I finally felt a
sense of truly belonging to the human race. It may well have been the
first time I felt true acceptance and honest compassion for myself. When I
think of my experience with my first Fifth Step I remember the results
more than the process. It seemed less like something I did than something
that happened to me.
The strangest thing happened to
me when I shared my Fifth Step with my sponsor. I read off my list of
resentments, my assets for recovery, my values and where I felt I'd fallen
short, my secrets... you know, all that stuff and it felt really good, but
suddenly when I was nearly done I realized how much resentment I had for
my bi-polar illness. All the hospitalizations, family problems, job
problems, and how it affected my whole life since I was a teenager. I was
in tears in no time just trying to explain how much that hurt and how
damned unfair it was. None of that was written down in my Fourth Step but
it was like the thing that bugged me the most. I learned that this was an
important area I needed to explore and work on.
think picking just the right person to share your Fifth Step with is
really important. Spouses, lovers, and family members should not be
considered... I mean, there's no law against it, but they are too close
and might be hurt or unable to see things from that close perspective that
someone with a bit more objectivity and distance might see. Sponsors are
good as long as they have experience and really understand the Steps. Many
therapists and clergy have training and experience with the Steps and can
be wonderful resources.
As a sponsor,
it's not my job to judge a person who shares their Fourth Step work with
me. I just quietly listen, sometimes asking them to explain little things,
and sometimes I share a story from my own life that may relate to what
they are sharing. The point is not to bring focus on myself, but to offer
them another perspective or insight. Taking another members Fifth Step is
a huge honor. To me it's an almost sacred honor. I remember how scared I
was when I shared my first Fifth Step. I felt awkward and was worried that
my sponsor might think less of me because of my past behavior. Some of
that stuff was so embarrassing. Yet she listened to every word and in the
end gave me a hug and told me how proud she was of me. She actually said
it was an honor and thanked me for trusting her. That's the gift I want to
It says in the Big Book, that
people who tried to avoid the Fifth Step invariably relapsed. They say
this is because we hadn't finished our "housecleaning."
"They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst
items in stock." So the best reason to do this Step is to stay clean
and sober. I mean, I think that's the reason to do all the Steps, but I've
seen a lot of guys get stuck on their Fourth and Fifth and end up having
problems. When I did mine, I had a lot of issues that were about illegal
activities I had engaged in over the years. It took me over a year to find
just the right person who I felt enough trust in to share those things
with. I was really on slippery ground there for awhile. But getting all
that out finally, and then working on solutions made all the difference.
the Fifth Step, we can't be sure our perspective on certain issues still
isn't clouded by denial, our ego, or low self-esteem. Remember, our very
best thinking got us to the very depths of our disease. Until we do a
Fifth Step, the Fourth Step is still nothing but our very best thinking. I
think that's really why it's important to share our inventory work with
4 | Step 6
*Adapted from the Twelve Steps of
*The Twelve Steps of AA are
reprinted and adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services,
Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt the Twelve Steps does not mean that AA has
reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that AA agrees with
the views expressed herein. AA is a program of recovery from alcoholism only -
use of the Twelve Steps in connection with programs and activities that are
patterned after AA, but that address other problems, does not imply otherwise.
THE FIFTH STEP OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS* 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step Discussion Booklet - This is a printable booklet of this Step
Discussion section of the web site in Adobe Reader (PDF) file format.