"We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongdoings."
Moving on to Step 5
Step 4 led you to discover your true self, and Step 5 is the point at which it's time to share who you are with other people. In doing so, your life will take on a new and brighter reality and change the way in which you function socially.
Stepping Out of Isolation
Step 4 wasn't easy, and neither is the next one, but despite your deepest fears, you will almost certainly find that Step 5 of the 12 step program brings even more profound and fundamental changes in the way you view and interact with other people. It's much like walking out of a dense, smoky room and into a bright, sunlit landscape.
Anxiously hiding your secrets takes a toll on the way you perceive others. It prevents personal growth and interferes with self-identity, according to Evan Imber-Black, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Families and Health.
It's very difficult to live honestly and develop healthy and meaningful relationships when you're constantly in fear that people will find out that you are, in your own terms, an awful person. But what you should have taken away from Step 4 is that your deeds don't define you, and there's plenty of room for self-compassion and forgiveness.
Telling Your Tales
The Fifth Step requires you to talk to another person about your nature, and that entails telling them about what you found during your "fearless moral inventory". Confiding in someone whom you trust and respect breaks down the barriers you've constructed and allows you to let go of your emotional and psychological baggage.
You may struggle with Step 5 for a while before you're able to follow through with it. You may worry about the shame and embarrassment you imagine you'll feel, and you may also worry that your confidant will think less of you - or worse, banish you from his or her life forever. But this is not the case. Rather, you will receive nonjudgmental feedback and find yourself hearing good things about yourself. Resist the urge to contradict your confidant. Really listen to what he or she tells you, and more importantly, believe it.
Following the meeting, you'll be lighter on your feet and in your heart, and the power of your shame and fear will be eradicated. You will learn that you can put your trust and faith in people, knowing they will see beyond your past deeds and know and love you for the whole and complex person you are. This leads seamlessly to the Sixth Step, in which you will be ready to acknowledge your abiding strength and fully release your shortcomings to God or the universe or whatever higher power helps guide you.
Choosing Whom to Tell
It's important to choose the person who will be your initial confidant with care. According to The Alternative 12 Steps, this person must be truly objective, which means that you should avoid choosing a family member, friend, or anyone else with whom you have a social history.
This person should also understand the Fifth Step and his or her role in it, be someone you trust, and be able to listen respectfully without passing judgment. This person may be your therapist, spiritual advisor or clergy member, physician, AA sponsor, or a current/former counselor, mentor, or teacher.
Once you emerge unscathed from this first formal Fifth Step meeting, you'll likely find yourself performing mini-Step 5s, and they'll become less formal and a lot easier as time goes by. As you move through this phase of your recovery, you will off-load the haunting and painful memories that would otherwise impede your progress.
You will always be free to be discriminating about who you tell and when, but you'll soon find that you are not only able to identify with other people, but that they also can identify with you.