Step Five

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step Five Outlined

"I believe this Step has two important implications: the focused Fifth Step confessional work we are called upon to do when we formally take this Step; and the practice of appropriate honesty and vulnerability with the people we relate to in our lives. Let's talk about both."


"Some call codependence a disease, an illness. Others call it a problem. Some don't know what to call it. Some don't even like to call it "codependency." But many, including some original Al-Anon members, call it a "soul-sickness". What we do in recovery is to practice the daily behaviors that we call "recovery". What we are seeking are psychic and soul-level changes in ourselves, changes that can be manifested in our lives and our relationships, beginning with our primary relationships with ourselves."

"To begin that process, it is imperative that we unearth, release, get rid of, and be done with shame, fear, guilt, secrets, and anything else inside us that bothers us, causes us to feel less than, weighted down by, burdened by, and bad about ourselves. The way to do that is by opening our mouths and getting it out. It is a simple but effective way to begin healing ourselves. We simply tell the truth about ourselves to ourselves, to another person, and to God in an attitude of self- responsibility, acceptance, and forgiveness."

"If we have done the work called for in the Fourth Step, if we have sat down and inventoried ourselves, we have started to shake up our souls. We have reached in with a Brillo pad and begun to scrub loose the debris and film within, those things blocking us from living the life we want. No matter what form of Fourth Step we use, no matter if we do a small, medium, or large one, we have loosened some things that need immediately to be washed away."

"Once we start this process of loosening the "stuff" within, we will often notice it more. We may feel the weight of it all. We may begin to notice the feelings, needs, guilt, and burden of what we have carried around. We need to set up an appointment to talk about this soon. We need to move quickly on to this Step to do the washing away and cleansing of all that has been loosened."

"It's important to take a Fifth Step soon after completing our Fourth Step inventory. Some people suggest making an appointment to take a Fifth Step before we begin working on the Fourth, giving ourselves about two weeks. They suggest beginning on deadline to do the Fourth and going immediately in for the "cleansing" part. However we do it, we can do ourselves a favor and move quickly to this Step. With many of the Steps there is no rush to move on to the next. This one is an exception."

"Just as it's important to do our Fifth Step soon after we write our inventory, it's also important to choose carefully the person with whom we take our Fifth Step. Some people choose to do Fifth Step work with clergy. Others prefer not to. Some people choose a trusted program sponsor to do this work with. Others search around until they find the right person. An important criterion is that we take the Fifth Step with someone experienced in listening to Fifth Steps, someone who has done it before, and knows what we're looking for, someone who can assist and lead us through the process."

"Sometimes it's helpful to use word-of-mouth references to locate our Fifth Step person. If we're having trouble locating someone, if we feel stuck, we can ask around for references at our groups. We can also contact the local Intergroup office (the Twelve Steps headquarters) for the Twelve Step group we attend. If our group doesn't have a local Intergroup, we can contact Al- Anon."

"Sometimes we find that the most troublesome things - for many of us, stealing something when we were younger; for others our flaws about ourselves and our lives - don't seem so bad once we get them into the light. We learn that nobody is perfect and nobody needs to be. But when something bothers us, we need to get it out into the light to be healed from it. If it's bothering us, we need to talk about it. And the more it bothers us, the more shame and self-hatred it causes, the more it controls us and our lives, the more important it is to bring it out."


"Another part of this Step, besides making an appointment and taking a formal Fifth Step, is learning to be appropriately vulnerable and honest with others about ourselves."

"It is good for the soul to learn to reach out when we need to do that. We aren't a bother. We aren't a burden."

"If we want to take down the walls in our relationships, we need to take down our walls. That is an effective and appropriate use of our power."


"We've talked about telling another person about our shortcomings, wrongs, mistakes, failures, secrets. We've talked about sharing ourselves with others - who we are, what we feel, want, need, think, and desire. There are two more parts to this Step."

"We need to tell God about ourselves. Quietly, loudly, silently, during our morning meditation, our afternoon break, or our evening walk, we need to say, God, this is who I am. This is what I did. This is what I think. This is what I want. This is what I need. This is what I'm feeling. This is what I'm going through. This is what I'm worried about. These are my fears, my hopes. These are my old beliefs. This is what I think I can't deal with, what I can't do. This is what I need help with. Hey, God, this is me."

"We need the power to be honest, open, and vulnerable with our Higher Power. When we can do that, we will achieve the highest form of spirituality."

"We are not burdening God by bringing ourselves to God. That's what God wants. And God cares, that much."

"Besides telling God, we need to tell ourselves who we are, what we want, what we have done, our wrongs, our secrets, our good points, our beliefs. We need to admit to ourselves what we are really feeling, what we fear, and who we are. We need to break through our own denial."

"We need to be honest with ourselves."


"Even after we take formal Fourth and Fifth Steps, even after we take several, even when we are working hard at recovery and trying to stay honest, we have fears, limiting beliefs, and resentments. We make mistakes. Sometimes these are judgement calls we make during certain periods of our lives when we are afraid and trying to survive. Sometimes these are manipulations. Sometimes they cross the line into dishonesty. We do a thing we really are not comfortable with; we violate our own moral code; and we tuck away the guilty thing, and all the feelings that go with it, right down inside ourselves."

"We may live with this for a period of time, barely noticing, until one day it emerges. There it stands, right before our eyes. We've got a new list of fears, or shame. We did something wrong, and we've been denying, justifying, and rationalizing it for a time - sometimes a long time. Then panic may strike. What do we do? Do we run and hide? Do we keep denying it? Or do we use these wonderful Steps as a tool to free ourselves from the darker side of being human?"

"Thank God for these Steps. Thank God we no longer have to live in guilt and shame. Thank God we no longer have to try to be perfect. Thank God we no longer have to hide from ourselves and others. Thank God the gift of this program is healing, self-acceptance, and a bond - a deep connection with others, ourselves, and our Higher Power."

"We are finally free to be who we are. We are trust that when and if we are to become more, that will happen by taking the simple actions called for in these Steps."


"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Many people pair Steps Four and Five together because they are integrally connected. That's how we work them. That's how they find us."

"Learn to allow Step Five to follow Step Four quickly in our lives. Learn to open up quickly, admit to God, a person, and ourselves, what it is we need to admit - a feeling, a belief, a discovery about ourselves, or some hidden wrongdoing from which we need relief, release, and healing."

"These are cleansing Steps, freeing Steps."

"The Fourth and Fifth Steps are our tools for releasing and healing ourselves. We write an inventory of what's bothering us, then we verbalize our part and our responsibility to another person, ourselves, and our Higher Power. We take responsibility for ourselves. We accept situations and ourselves the way we are."

"The Fourth and Fifth Steps can be used as needed. We can do them formally, by writing an inventory and making an appointment to discuss it, or informally, whenever things arise in the course of our lives that need attention. These two Steps give us the formula for healing from our pasts, from our old negative beliefs, from repressed feelings, from mistakes, from all that we are striving to be healed from."

"Learn to connect with ourselves honestly and emotionally, so we can do the same with others."

"Be open to using the process, the tools defined in the Fourth and Fifth Steps. Do this to initiate change and healing in ourselves, trusting that it will bring positive results; harmony with others and good feelings about ourselves. When we are confused about our part in an incident or who to talk to about it, wait for guidance, but do not wait too long."

"These Steps give us permission to be who we are, to forgive and love ourselves, and to forgive and love others. These Steps give us a formula for self-care in relationships: looking within, and honesty with self, God, and others."

"The Fifth Step gives us permission to be human, vulnerable, and honest. It gives us permission to have emotions."

"This is the telling-the-truth Step. Use it as often as necessary. This is the Step that will set us free."

The Source for this Step Five outline: Melody Beattie's: "Codependents Guide To The Twelve Steps"

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