Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step Five requires courage and rigorous honesty. This step continues the process begun in Step Four, uncovering things about ourselves of which we might not have been aware, or were unwilling to face. Admitting what we find to our Higher Power, to ourselves and to another human being helps us to overcome our feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment that may have kept us from realizing our true potential.
By the time we reach Step Five, many of us know with whom we will be sharing our Fourth Step inventory. Most commonly that person is a sponsor we have already chosen.
However, it's not imperative that you share your Fifth Step with your sponsor. Life With Hope suggests that a spiritual advisor or even a total stranger can hear your Fifth Step. (We have found it to be highly beneficial if the person has at least some understanding of the Twelve Step philosophy.)
The Fifth Step is about discovering patterns resulting from our resentments, fears and selfishness. By identifying and sharing them, we find we can move beyond them.
- Read Step Five in LIFE WITH HOPE.
- Review Step Five with your sponsor, or with a trusted member of MA.
- Look up the words humility, humiliation, and honesty; write out the definitions that you find to be significant, and write what each word means to you.
- Do I have a lack of trust in myself or others?
- What factors, if any, contribute to my lack of trust?
- What excuses, if any, interfere with my ability to share my inventory?
- Is there anything blocking me from having the courage to take this step?
Many of us found it helpful to pray for trust, humility, and courage.
We now meet with our sponsor or spiritual advisor to share our fourth step inventories.
- Upon conclusion of sharing our inventories, some of us have found it helpful to spend time alone in quiet reflection.
- If we discover any additional resentments, fears or secrets, we share them with our sponsor or spiritual advisor at this time.
For many of us, after completing this step the wreckage of our past becomes a resource from which we can learn and grow. Many of us experience a new sense of empowerment, self-acceptance, integrity, and humility.
We are now ready to move on to STEP SIX.
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Notes for the Sponsor:
Each sponsor develops their own approach to working with sponsees. That approach may vary from sponsee to sponsee and is almost certain to change over time.
Even without prior expertise, most sponsors are able to note patterns that are revealed by listening without judgment and keeping an open heart and mind.
Some of us may help our sponsees prepare a preliminary list of those they might owe an amends; others might leave that to the sponsees themselves. Likewise, some sponsors apply the same process to character defects. Still others do not include this process at all in the Fifth Step.
After a sponsee has shared their list, many sponsors have found it helpful to ask one final time if there are any other secrets that haven't been revealed or didn't fit under any other category. This gentle prompting can help the sponsee dredge out any lingering "skeletons in the closet."
As a sponsor you may find that while relief is a frequent result of taking this step, anxiety and discomfort may also result from unearthing old memories and feelings. Sponsees may want to run away from what they've found. They may be tempted to avoid us because we "know too much." You may wish to help them resist these urges and turn to the experience of other addicts who are likely to reassure them with their own stories of struggle along this path.
The Fifth Step work that a sponsor and sponsee complete together is effective and often transformative. It may, however, also reveal certain issues or circumstances that the sponsor does not feel capable of handling. In most cases, the sponsor is not a qualified therapist. The sponsor may advise the sponsee to seek appropriate professional help such as a licensed counselor, a legal advisor, or a doctor. In some cases, even the sponsor may wish to seek outside advice, being mindful not to breach the special trust formed in the sponsor-sponsee relationship.
Many of us have found that a great resource in working with a sponsee is our own sponsor; always being careful to maintain the confidentiality of our sponsee.