Working Step 5 Frees and Heals

What We Do Working Step 5

What we can’t control, our past and present failures — the stuff we did wrong, the stuff we did not do, and the stuff we did poorly — we admit to God, and to ourselves, and to another human being. And so we take Step 5.

Working the steps successfully depends upon a willing attitude and reading comprehension skills.


Step 5 is not about reciting our Step 4 inventory – and somehow I missed that until I reread the step carefully:

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another person the exact nature of our wrongs.”

After taking the Fourth Step describing what our resentments, fears, regrets, and our strengths, and after thinking about what is working for us, and what needs to go, then we are ready to take this fundamental step.

It’s fundamental because:

1)             If we skip this step, we may not overcome drinking. (AA Big Book, page 72)

2)             If we have swept the searchlight of Step Four over our careers, and it has revealed in stark relief those experiences we’d rather not remember, if we have come to know how wrong thinking and action have hurt us and others, then the need to quit living by ourselves and those tormenting ghosts of yesterday gets more urgent than ever. We have to talk to somebody about them. (The Twelve and Twelve, Step Five)

3)             We are only as sick as our secrets. (Rick Warren)


An AA member in a meeting I attend developed a way to start working the Twelve Steps with AA literature. Again, on this step, I have added my suggestions, too. Remember we are making progress – not aiming for perfection!

  • Read Chapter 6 in the AA Big Book, pages 72-76. Underline the “musts” and the promises. Take the 5th step this week with someone this week and practice honesty, courage, and forgiveness all week.
  • A suggestion: Have that person write down your character defects that come up, and your main fears. After you have taken this step you can tear it up, and your fourth step, too, after you have written out a list of all people to whom you owe amends.

Humble Note – The most important person to whom we must speak is God.

God wants us to come clean. We need to admit that “what is wrong is wrong. We are guilty as charged.” We need to own up to the sins we discovered in our inventory.

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13) ( See Celebrate Recovery) 

A personal note:

When I reluctantly completed my first 4th step, and admitted to God my wrongs, I said to myself, Self – there’s no need to spread this all about. God knows, and that’s really all I need.

Well, within a short time, guess who knocked on my door?

My sponsor dropped by to see how I was doing. I fixed us a cup of tea – still resolved to keep private my failures, shortcomings, and sins. But, the next thing I knew, I was blurting out the resentments and regrets.

Yes, I caught her wholly off guard – but her job was to listen, and then remind me of the mighty and merciful God we both loved, and praise Him for the freedom of forgiveness that is ours when we turn to Him. Romans 5:8

“My sin, Oh! the bliss of this glorious thought – is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more! Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord O My Soul! (Sing with me!)


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Working Step 5 Frees and Heals