Jun 11


Confession really is good for the soul.  It marks the end of living in denial and underscores our commitment to living in truth.  In the Fifth Step we confess the results of our thorough moral inventory.  We now examine what we have written and find the courage to admit the exact nature of our wrongs.

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

Step Five is not just the act of reading Step Four.  It really is an act of confession.  We have already admitted our powerlessness over our current condition and the need for a Higher Power but now we are asked to admit exactly what we have done.  This is a big reality check and at this point it might be feeling a little too real.  It can be hard to admit our part in creating the unmanageability of our lives.  Sometimes it’s hard to admit it even to ourselves.  Sharing the details of our experiences and especially of our own wrong doing with someone else will require courage and faith in the process of working the steps.

Reading through pages 72-75 in the Big Book of AA is a good way to prepare for the Fifth Step.  It explains why it is so important to share this step with another person.  Our admission to ourselves is not enough; confessing to another human being is a part of the healing process that cannot be glossed over.  We are given some advice in this chapter on choosing a person that is trustworthy – preferably your sponsor, but possibly a trusted friend, a pastor, counselor or therapist.   This is an intimate discussion that can be quite time consuming and demands absolute confidentiality.  Page 75 gives us some direction for this conversation and lists some of the benefits we are promised.

Working Step Five:

  •  What are your reservations about Step Five?  Fears?  Trust issues?
  • How can you use the Third Step to give you strength for the Fifth?
  • Why is it important to admit your faults privately through prayer and meditation first?
  • How have you avoided self honesty in the past?
  • Can you admit the exact nature of your wrongs to yourself now?
  • How do feel about admitting this to someone else?
  • What can you do to make sure you feel safe sharing this private information?
  • Who will hear your Fifth Step?  Have you selected a person, time and place that feels right?
  • How can you use the humility required for this step to increase self-acceptance and love for your true self?  Can you use it to increase your compassion and love for others?

“Higher Power, my inventory has shown me who I am, yet I ask for Your help in admitting my wrongs to another person and to You. Assure me, and be with me, in this Step, for without this Step I cannot progress in my recovery. With Your help, I can do this, and I will do it.”  ~ Fifth Step Prayer

Our desire for healing is what strengthens our conviction to move forward.  We are overcoming our fears and learning to trust that the miracle of recovery is worth every effort.  We are beginning to accept what is… We are learning to accept ourselves and our past, realizing the great gift of clarity that comes from admitting our self-defeating behaviors.  Denial is broken through honesty.  This is a step of truth and living in that truth really will set you free.

 “No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit   others.” ~ Promise Five

Recommended Reading:

The AA Big Book and Guide for Working the Twelve Steps are recommended reading for anyone in recovery of any kind, not only because they were the first but also for their inspirational and direct content. Two great resources for those working the Steps for codependency are also included here. More books on 12 Step Work from other fellowships and programs can be found in the “Steps” drop down list under “Programs and Literature.”

Featured image for this page taken from Hazelden 12 Step Pamphlet Collection – The Complete 12 Step Collection used by patients in recovery centers throughout the nation, these easy-to-read editions are a sure way to gain a basic, and yet thorough, understanding of the significance of each Step. Pamphlets are available individually or in a money-saving full collection.

Recommended Links:

The questions above are fairly generalized in order to apply to a variety of conditions. The basics are the same but if you are working the Steps specifically for drug/alcohol abuse or codependency the following links may help you to explore further. There are many other formats and workbooks available through a simple web search.

12 Step Worksheets

CoDA 12 Step Worksheets

Barefoot’s Intro to Working the Steps



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