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12 Steps and 12 Traditions Information and Discussions related to the 12 Steps and The 12 Traditions

 
 
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Old 08-08-2013, 12:45 AM   #7
MajestyJo
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STEP FIVE

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

Humility is the underlying thought of the Twelve Steps. The pattern was set for us by Step One: "admitted we were powerless." In Step Two we acknowledged a Power greater than ourselves; in Step Three, we relinquished control by deciding to "turn our will and our lives over" to that Power. In Step Four we faced up to our shortcomings. All this is concerned with the quality and purpose of humility.

The Step before this one started us on a continuing process of uncovering what we were really like. We learned day by day, to observe what actions might have kept us from realizing our true potential, and getting from life the serenity it could bring. We decided to do a three-fold "admitting": to God, to ourselves, and to another person.

Admitting to God-first-prepared us for the two things we had to do next: admit our shortcomings to ourselves and to another human being.

It was not a matter of informing our Higher Power of something only we knew. It was rather the effect on us of feeling that we could, in a sense, speak to our God without embarrassment or shame. This provided us with a solid base for a clear understanding of ourselves. It was this intimate communication with a Higher Power that made us feel all the more free to bring out everything that needed to come to light. In consciously telling God, we enlightened ourselves about the ways in which we wanted to change.

Our method of communicating with God depended on our personal view and our relationship to Him. Some of us might "speak" to Him in thought, perhaps visualizing Him as a kind, understanding presence, or as an impersonal Universal Spirit. No matter how we chose to communicate with God, it was essential for us to experience the feeling of surrender of our will. Then we would have prepared ourselves for unquestioning acceptance of this guidance in the days and years to come.

Step Five next asked us to admit our shortcomings to ourselves. This might not have been easy, even after we had opened our hearts to a spiritual power. It was helpful to check our Step-Four list for such character flaws as arrogance, self-justification and resentment, for these three traits may have concealed other faults.

Strict honesty and courage had helped us with this added effort.
We might not have liked what we found, but once we had admitted our imperfections to ourselves, the improving process began.

We might have been tempted to justify our hostile or indifferent feelings about others or to overlook whatever we found too painful to admit, but such evading would have surely hindered our progress. If we were really trying to isolate our major faults, we found it helpful to observe them in the way we reacted to the people in our daily lives. Such awareness could give us a clearer understanding of the causes of our failures and frustrations.

It was a good idea to undertake these self-examinations when we had been annoyed or hurt by what somebody else had done. We may have wondered why things worked out the way they did, only to find it was our own attitude or action that created the unwelcome result. Even when we were not at fault, we learned about ourselves when we became aware of our reactions and discovered what sort of situations had the power to hurt us.

When we reviewed the list of faults we made for Step Four, we found each of these related to some habit, some way we thought, acted, worked or spoke. If we were quick to resent, to imagine that others were purposely hurtful, we might have uncovered the reasons behind these thoughts by recalling actual instances in which this resentment made problems for us. If our resentment was due to unfulfilled expectations, then we needed to learn not to expect others to behave exactly as we wanted them to. If we resented what we regarded as a deliberate unkindness, we asked ourselves whom we were really hurting by feeling bitter. We realized, then, we were hurting only ourselves and not the person against whom we held a resentment.

The same thinking-through could be applied to other flaws we discovered. As we learned to understand why we reacted the way we did, we were ready for the next part of the Step and we shared the nature of our shortcomings with a friend.

Choosing a helpful, understanding Al-Anon member, someone who was really living the program, was a good idea. Usually, we did not choose a family member or a close relative-or the alcoholic. Before we decided on confiding in a member of the clergy, we took into account that trustworthiness was not the sole consideration. It was also important for our confidant to have knowledge of the program and the purpose of this Step.

Once we had decided on a dependable person, we tried to make our communication as open and honest as possible. There was much more to this than just presenting a list of our shortcomings; frank and detailed explanations were needed; how we felt about these faults, instances of how others responded to what we did, and so on. We found this telling and explaining far more natural and easy, if we were able to avoid feelings of guilt. After all, the faults we described were those we were not even aware of before we began our effort at self-improvement. We tried to refrain from passing judgment, even on ourselves.

In bringing our hidden thoughts about ourselves to another person, we were also asking for more than just to be heard. We ourselves were ready to listen to the other person's response to what we had told them. Their experience might not have been the same as ours; the interchange could only be productive and helpful if we were willing to listen with an open mind to someone else's view. We were broadened by accepting ideas that could change us for the better.

No matter how difficult we found this part of Step Five, it brought a tremendous sense of relief. It lightened our own burden to share it with another for whom it was not a burden, but an opportunity to help.

Thinking It Over

It is very comforting to know I can have a personal relationship with a Higher Power of my own choosing. Because God and I have an understanding, I am free to bring my shortcomings to this Spiritual Friend.

When I admit my imperfections to myself, I give myself a chance to make room for new attitudes and directions. My willingness to look beyond my defensive view, or my real or imagined hurts, gives me release from the job of carrying them around. If I can search them out and look at them, I can put them down.

Learning to trust and confide in another person means ridding
myself of the prejudices I'd acquired with the disease of alcoholism. I can receive a special bonus in establishing this kind of rapport with an Al-Anon sponsor, who is able to share the recovery tools of the program when I share my feelings. I can use what I have learned to sponsor others. My sponsor listened, just listened. What relief it gave me to unburden myself and what a sense of freedom I felt. I will try to share my experiences without suggesting solutions for others.
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Love always,

Jo

I share because I care.


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