How It Works
This is perhaps difficult, especially discussing our defects
with another person. We
think we have done
well enough in admitting these things to ourselves. There is
doubt about that. In actual
we usually find a solitary self-appraisal insufficient. Many of
us thought it necessary
to go much
further. We will be more reconciled to discussing ourselves with
another person when we
reasons why we should do so. The best reason first: If we skip
this vital step, we may
drinking. Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to
themselves certain facts about
Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to
easier methods. Almost
got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they
wondered why they fell.
the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning.
They took inventory all
but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only thought
they had lost
and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves.
But they had not learned
humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it
necessary, until they told
someone else all their life story.
-A.A. Big Book p.72-73
Comments from Web Sites and Publications
Having taken my personal inventory in step 4, I am now ready to
share that inventory.
I share it with my God, with myself and with another human
being. This allows my history
become more real with me. It begins to become in my mind what it
truly is, namely
"my history". By sharing it with another person, I begin to pull
down the fake
truths of my life - the facades and the games - and I begin to
be who I truly
am and build my life with others on the basis of honesty and
- From 12Step.org
All of A.A.'s Twelve Steps ask us to go contrary to our natural
desires ... they all
our egos. When it comes to ego deflation, few Steps are harder
to take than Five. But
Step is more necessary to longtime sobriety and peace of mind
than this one.
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 55
Some people seek an easier and softer way by doing a "general
confession" to God alone.
They are not about
to name specifically the humiliating, "awful" thinks they have
done out loud before
another human being.
But this act of specifically confessing things is what often
leads to serenity. The more
afraid you are to
tell about a certain act or thought in your Fifth Step, the more
likely it is that
confessing that particular
thing will put a new crack in your denial and free you in a new
area. There doesn't seem
to be an easier, softer
way, and people who seek one apparently don't understand the
tenacious and tricky nature
of this spiritual
disease we are facing. Step Five is to help us see, to grasp, to
how the disease has
permeated our lives in ways we usually cannot see any other way.
- A Hunger for Healing, p. 91-92
The Fifth Step is the key to freedom. It allows us to live clean
in the here and now.
Sharing the exact nature
of our wrongs sets us free to live. After taking a thorough
Fourth Step, we have to deal
with what we have
found in our inventory. We are told that if we keep these
defects inside us, they will
lead us back to using.
Holding on to our past would eventually sicken us and keep us
from taking part in this
new way of life. If we
are not honest when we take a Fifth Step, we will have the same
negative results that
dishonesty brought us in the past.
...Our Higher Power will be with us when we do this, and will
help to free us from the
fear of facing ourselves and
another human being. It seemed unnecessary to some of us to
admit the exact nature of
our wrongs to our Higher Power.
"God already knows that stuff", we rationalized. Although He
already knows, the
admission must come from our own
lips to be truly effective. Step Five is not simply a reading of
- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, Chapter 4/Step 5
This may be one of the most challenging steps we face in our
recovery process, but it
can also be one
of the most fulfilling in terms of removing us from our
isolation. In order to
accomplish Step 5, the
three-part sharing it endorses must take place. That is, all of
what we discovered about
ourselves in our Step 4
inventory is to be freely admitted to God, to ourselves, and to
another human being.
...Because these areas are so sensitive and so very personal, it
is important to
exercise care in
choosing the person or persons with whom we formally share our
fifth step. Such
individuals should be
trustworthy and somewhat detached from the situations about
which we will share. For
one would not usually calll on a spouse or immediate family
member to hear this
confession. In fact,
it is quite common to choose a therapist or pastoral counselor
for this purpose. Also,
should be compassionate, not condemning.
- Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery, p.