Understanding Step Five | 12 Steps

Understanding Step Five

March 14th, 2015 12 Steps, Helpful Articles

Many people who follow a path of recovery in 12-step programs feel intimidated by Step Five. In this step, we learn that we need to face and admit the exact nature of the things we have done wrong. We need to make this admission to ourselves, to our Higher Power and to another human being. Once we have done a fearless and thorough inventory in Step Four, the next logical step to take is to discuss what we have learned about ourselves with someone else.

Taking this step requires willingness and courage, probably all the courage we can muster at this stage of our recovery. The easy thing to do would be to avoid going through with it, but many of us have found that it’s necessary to go through with this step in order to continue to progress on our spiritual journey.

Our Secrets Make Us Sick

We hear frequently in meetings that we are only as sick as our secrets. Many of us carry a lot of shame and guilt about things we have done in the past. As active alcoholics and addicts, most of us did a lot of things that we wish we hadn’t done. We may have stolen money from people we loved, neglected our responsibilities or treated people badly because of our problems with drugs or alcohol. We may have committed crimes or caused a lot of pain to the people who love us the most.

We can’t pretend those things didn’t happen. We have to face them. The things that we have done that make us feel ashamed have the power to trigger the urge to eventually pick up a drink or a drug again. We have to face our past and admit the things we have done so that we can let them go once and for all. If we don’t face our demons, we will stay stuck. There’s a good chance that the shame and guilt we are still feeling will eventually ruin our inner peace and sobriety.

Taking a Fifth Step With the Right Person

Once we develop the willingness to share our deepest self-examination with another human being, the next thing we have to do is pick the right person to take this step with. For most of us, the thought of talking about the things we have done with another human being is pretty intimidating. To face ourselves and our Higher Power is one thing; to face another human being is something else.

It helps to take this step with someone we know we can completely trust, such as our sponsor or closest friend in recovery. Some people prefer to take their Fifth Step with a minister or spiritual mentor, while others will turn to a counselor or mental health professional.

Whom we choose is a personal decision and requires careful thought. The most important thing of all is that we go through with taking the Fifth Step and that we take it with someone who will be empathetic and respectful of what we are trying to do.

The Benefits of Step Five

Taking Step Five can be a very healing experience, particularly when the person we confide in shares some of their own deepest secrets, such as their imperfections or some of the things they have done in the past. We begin to realize that we are not alone on our journey. Others have walked a similar path and are imperfect too.

Once we have come up with the willingness and the courage to go through with Step Five, we are able to set free emotions that may have been bottled up for years. Things we have been afraid to share with anyone else turn out to be much more manageable once they have been shared. We don’t have to live with our secrets anymore.

Step Five represents the beginning of the end of isolation. It’s a turning point for letting go of our guilt and shame for things we have done in the past that we can’t do anything about now. In sharing our secrets, we set ourselves free and are able to move forward into a truly sober and serene life.

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