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“Admitted to God (higher power), to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
In the 4th step, you admitted the nature of your wrongs through a moral inventory. In the 5th step, you confess them to yourself, your higher power, and another person. For many, this other person is their AA sponsor or another AA participant.
This person becomes an important part of the healing process and helps you become aware of your self-delusion and destructive behavior. They help you be honest with yourself and stop believing whatever lies you’ve told yourself as an addict.
The admission of our defects is challenging but freeing and provides peace of mind. The confession of personal wrong-doings can be painful for many, but it offers mental and emotional relief.
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In step five, you admit your mistakes and begin to understand the nature of those mistakes. You speak with another person, often your AA sponsor, and tell them your secrets, character defects, and behaviors that have hurt others. It’s not easy, but nearly everyone who completes this step says that it feels great to no longer carry this burden alone.
Most people discover there are patterns in their behavior during this step of the recovery process. The self-appraisal and sharing of their feelings and experiences help them discover why they act the way they do. AA teaches that these patterns are character defects and the things you do are a reflection of those defects.
This step requires honesty and vulnerability. Most people reveal their defects with their sponsor because this person understands alcoholism. They do not judge or shame you. They listen with compassion and give you space to free your mind and heart without any conditions or shock.
Step five sets you up for steps six and seven, just as the previous steps laid the foundation for this step. This step is the beginning of an in-depth examination of how your defects played a role in why you developed AUD and is necessary before you can ask that your higher power remove those defects.
Many find the fifth step to be one of the most difficult of the 12 steps. They experience discomfort, embarrassment, shame, and other negative emotions admitting their worst secrets to someone else.
However, the relief that comes from sharing this information makes this step valuable. It’s after this step that you can begin to return to sanity and have a clearer understanding of who you are.
According to AA, this step is important because it reveals beliefs and memories that only survive in the dark. Sharing them shines a light on them and banishes them from your mind and memory.
Many people with AUD feel as if they are living a double life or acting as a character. They are acting out a story that is not completely true. Once they’ve revealed their defects to someone else, they no longer need to live this double life. This step allows you to let your fears drop away and gives you peace.
There are several questions that you can ask yourself and answer that will help you work through step 5, including:
AA participants call this step “painful but rewarding.” It offers emotional and mental relief. It also allows you to gain profound personal insight.
After this step, you no longer need to run your life according to self-will. Most people are pleasantly surprised to experience less pain and feel serene about their situation. For many people, this is the first time in their lives they’ve felt OK with who they are in the present. They’re able to accept themselves as they are while still committing to improvement in the future.
AA participants also say that it’s after this step that their relationships begin to change. This not only includes their relationships with other people but also with their higher power.
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