Why Step Five?

12152536_sThis blog post was written by Recovery Help Now’s, Amy Margolis, MSW.

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

In 12 step programs, steps 4 and 5 are the action steps you take to “clean house.” The big book of AA describes steps 4 and 5 as necessary to rid alcoholics of their “spiritual malady.” In essence, they are meant to cleanse you of all the debris in your life that causes negative feelings such as, guilt, shame, anger and resentment. Resentment being “the number one offender.”

Besides step 1 when you admit you are powerless over your addiction, step 5 is the most humbling step. For many it might be even more so. As an addict anticipating doing step 5, you may be fearful your sponsor will disapprove of all your terrible admissions. Yet reading it aloud is essential. Why? Because only “by disclosing all shameful and secret things to another could an alcoholic learn how to be honest and humble enough to avoid the guilt and shame they used to drink over.”

The good news is upon completion of step 5, most people feel great relief! Baring your soul to a nonjudgemental sponsor fosters a vulnerable human connection. Many sponsors will validate you and share their own secret shames. You will feel understood and loved for your humanness. When accepted so unconditionally by another, it is easier to accept yourself.

As the AA big book states after “illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past, withholding nothing, we can look the world in the eye. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease.” The premise being, if you can be alone at perfect peace and ease, there is no reason to reach for your addiction. I think this is why so many in 12 step rooms say they are grateful for their addictions. For through working the twelve steps, they have not only found recovery from their addiction but also a life of serenity.

Elana Clark-Faler
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