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 Part 1: Absorbing the program and philosophy
 
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J) Reading and Discussing Step Five
This discusses the "clear-cut directions" for working Step Five.
 
 

Chapter Six

INTO ACTION

Step Five


1. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 33, we are now at the first paragraph of Chapter Six, Into Action. It says:

"Having made your personal inventory, what shall you do about it? You have been trying to get a new attitude, a new relationship with your Creator, and to discover the obstacles in your path. You have admitted certain defects; you have ascertained in a rough way what the trouble is; you have put your finger on the weak items in your personal inventory. Now these are about to be cast out. This requires action on your part, which, when completed, will mean that you have admitted to God, to yourself, and to another human being, the exact nature of your defects. This brings us to the Fifth Step in the Program of Recovery mentioned in the preceding chapter."

2. Now if you look at this paragraph, it describes the whole purpose of the Fourth Step inventory, as well as the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Step process.

3. It says, "You have been trying to get a new attitude, a new relationship with your Creator…" It continues by saying that you have been trying to "discover the obstacles in your path" to having that relationship with God, and that you "have admitted certain defects."

4. Notice it doesn't say "wrongs" or "shortcomings." It says defects.

5. It goes on to say that, "you have ascertained in a rough way what the trouble is; you have put your finger on the weak items in your personal inventory."

6. These "weak items" are the character defects that were listed as part of following the "clear-cut directions" here in the Big Book.

7. Now these are about to be cast out." In other words, now these character defects are about to be removed. It says that, "This requires action on your part."

8. It's not just the action of taking the Fifth Step. It's the actions that are also there as we take the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and even Ninth Steps.

9. Then it says that these actions, "when completed, will mean that you have admitted to God, to yourself, and to another human being, the exact nature of your defects." Notice that this is a paraphrase of the Fifth Step. It ends with the word "defects" in place of "wrongs."

10. In other words, if somebody does an inventory, looking at what's going on in their life, focusing on the wrongs, they may see that they stole or they may see that they were dishonest. They can recite incident after incident of bad behavior. However, they are not looking at the exact nature of their problem.

11. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 28, in the first paragraph the pioneers tell us the exact nature of our problem. They say, "Selfishness—self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate.

12.  So our character defects, our selfishness—self-centeredness—are the exact nature of the defects we're looking for in our inventory.

13. Thanks to R.A., we can now at last understand that it is our character defects that caused our problems. We can now see that we need to talk about our character defects, not our bad behavior.

14. Continuing in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 33, in the second paragraph, it says:

"This is perhaps difficult — especially discussing your defects with another person. You think you have done well enough in admitting these things to yourself, perhaps. We doubt that. In actual practice, we usually find a solitary self appraisal insufficient. We strenuously urge you to go much further. But you will be more reconciled to discussing yourself with another person if we offer good reasons why you should do so. The best reason first: if you skip this vital step, you may not overcome drinking. Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. The answer is that they never completed their housecleaning. They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone else all their life story."

15. Discussing our defects is a very difficult proposition for most people. Most people would like to get off easier than having to admit their defects of character to another person.

16. So, they might be inclined to keep the exact nature of their character defects to themselves. Yet the pioneers tell us that if we skip this vital step we may not overcome our problems.

17. Remember, in R.A.'s Step Presentation we have discussed, over and over, that the Big Book is based on the pioneers' experience.

18. Their experience is that time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience they turned to easier methods.

19. As a result, almost invariably they got drunk. This is a very important concept. The pioneers tell us that even if someone does all the rest of the program, but leave out this vital step, they're not going to be successful in their search for recovery.

20. Here it again lists their character defects. It says, "They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone else all their life story."

21. So doing a Fifth Step by telling someone, "I robbed the bank," without admitting the exact nature of the defects that caused them to rob the bank, is not going to have the desired effect.

22. Unfortunately, that's what many people do in other programs that don't use the Big Book as the source of the directions for doing their Fourth Step inventory.

23. In R.A. we understand that someone needs to admit that they robbed the bank because they were selfish, self-centered, and greedy.

24. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 33, in the third paragraph it continues:

"More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. He is very much the actor. To the outer world he presents his stage character. This is the one he likes his fellows to see. He wants to enjoy a certain reputation, but knows in his heart he doesn't deserve it.

25. In other words, we want to avoid letting people know who we really are. We don't want anyone to know that we are plagued by these character defects or that they caused us to behave in ways we are ashamed of or regret. We don't want to remember them ourselves, much less share them with someone else.

26. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 33, the fourth paragraph continues:

The inconsistency is made worse by the things he does on his sprees. Coming to his senses, he is revolted at certain episodes he vaguely remembers. These memories are a nightmare. He trembles to think someone might have observed him. As fast as he can, he pushes these memories far inside himself. He hopes they will never see the light of day. He is under constant fear and tension—that makes for more drinking."

27. R.A.'s experience has been that most of the things that we are most ashamed of are really of little consequence to people around us. They are not revolted, they do not develop a negative opinion of us because of what we did.

28. In most cases this is because they did the same or similar things themselves.

29. So we learn that we are simply human. We now know that the only thing we're guilty of is being human.

30. We now understand that we have a spiritual malady that caused us to behave in certain ways. So we are now able to begin forgiving ourselves for our past behavior.

31. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 33, the fifth paragraph says:

"Psychologists agree with us. Members of our group have spent thousands of dollars for examinations by psychologists and psychiatrists. We know but few instances where we have given these doctors a fair break. We have seldom told them the whole truth. Unwilling to be honest with these sympathetic men, we were honest with no one else. Small wonder the medical profession has a low opinion of alcoholics and their chance for recovery!"

32. In R.A., we believe this is one reason why many people can spend years seeing a therapist, and make very little progress. It is because they have been unable to fully reveal themselves.

33. If they are unable to reveal themselves, they can't be open to the therapy. It is unlikely to work for them because the problems, the real problems, the character defects, the causes and conditions as the Big Book calls them, are never addressed.

34. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 33, starting in the bottom paragraph, it says:

"You must be entirely honest with somebody if you expect to live long or happily in this world. Rightly and naturally, you are going to think well before you choose the person or persons with whom to take this intimate and confidential step. If you belong to a religious denomination which requires confession, you must, and of course, will want to go to the properly appointed authority whose duty it is to receive it. Though you have no religious connection, you may still do well to talk with someone ordained by an established religion. You will often find such a person quick to see and understand your problem. Of course, we sometimes encounter ministers who do not understand alcoholics."

35. This is also important! Most people don't understand that they do not have to give their inventory to one person if that's not their direction and guidance.

36. They can give different parts of their inventory to different people if that is what they feel is appropriate.

37. And of course, if somebody belongs to a religion that requires him or her to talk to a specific person, then they need to pray about doing what their religion requires.

38. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, we are now at the first full paragraph on page 34. It says:

"If you cannot, or would rather not do this, search your acquaintance for a close-mouthed, understanding friend. Perhaps your doctor or your psychologist will be the person. It may be one of your own family, but you should not disclose anything to your wife or your parents which will hurt them and make them unhappy. You have no right to save your own skin at another person's expense. Such parts of your story you should tell to someone who will understand, yet be unaffected. The rule is you must be hard on yourself, but always considerate of others."

39. Sometimes someone can share parts of their story with one person and then share other parts of their story, the parts that might affect that first person, with someone else.

40. Continuing on page 34 with the second paragraph, it says:

"Notwithstanding the great necessity for discussing yourself with someone, it may be that you are so situated that there is no suitable person available. If that is so, you may postpone this step, only, however, if you hold yourself in complete readiness to go through with it at the first opportunity. We say this because we are very anxious that you talk to the right person. It is important that he be able to keep a confidence; that he fully understand and approve what you are driving at; that he will not try to change your plan. But don't use this as a mere excuse to postpone."

41. If a person is in a situation where nobody is immediately available to hear their Fifth Step, they shouldn't just stop and wait until someone is available. They should continue on with working the rest of the program. However, they should mentally hold themselves open to share this step at the first possible opportunity.

42. Sometimes people will be at this point in their recovery while they are on a vacation or in the military or in the hospital, or some other place where it might not be possible to find a sympathetic ear. In that case, they should postpone sharing this step.

43. But, and this is important, they should only postpone if they are willing to go forward as soon as they are able to, as soon as someone is available to hear their Fifth Step.

44. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 34, in the third paragraph it continues:

"When you decide who is to hear your story, waste no time. Have a written inventory. Be prepared for a long talk. Explain to your partner what you are about to do and why you have to do it. He should realize that you are engaged upon a life-and-death errand. Most people approached in this way will be glad to help; they will be honored by your confidence."

45. Someone who follows the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" in the Big Book will have a written inventory with them. In R.A. we suggest that they have R.A.'s Step Presentation Workbook with them. They should try to meet without any limitation on the time they will spend together.

46. The person who is listening to the Fifth Step should understand the purpose and importance of doing this. They need to understand that this is a life and death errand. In other words, sharing the Fifth Step means life or death for the person doing it.

47. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 34, in the fourth paragraph it continues with explicit directions for what to do. It says:

"Pocket your pride and go to it! Illumine every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past. Once you have taken this step, withholding nothing, you will be delighted. You can look the world in the eye. You can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Your fears will fall from you. You will begin to feel the nearness of your Creator. You may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now you will begin to have a spiritual experience. The feeling that the drink problem has disappeared will often come strongly. You will know you are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe."

48. Notice that it tells us to, "pocket your pride," which is a character defect. It also says to, "Illumine every twist of character." This was later changed to "illuminating every twist of character."

49. This again makes it clear that we're talking about character defects not a history of bad behavior.

50. This paragraph also tells us about the effects that taking this step can have.

51. It tells us that we will be "delighted." It says that we will be able to "look the world in the eye." It tells us that all the fear that we had will "fall" from us.

52. This is because the feeling that we were unique, that we did bad things that nobody else had ever done, that we should be ashamed and beat ourselves up for the very human traits that we have displayed, will fade away.

53. We can begin to understand that, not only did the people who hurt us do so because they were spiritually sick, but we did the things that we did because we, like them, were also spiritually sick.

54. Once we can truly accept that we were also spiritually sick, we can stop being guilty and beating ourselves up. We can stop hurting others and ourselves further because of our guilt at what we've done in the past.

55. In case we, in R.A.'s Step Presentation, have not been clear enough, you have now read and discussed all the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for the Fifth Step from pages 33 and 34 in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book.

————Now is the time for them to actually find someone to share their Fifth Step with!—————

56. When we finish reading this part of R.A.'s Step Presentation, you will now need to use these "clear-cut directions" to actually find someone to share the details of your Fifth Step with.

57. To help with this process, please read R.A.'s Review Notes for Step Five, and R.A.'s List of Character Defects on pages 14 and 15 in R.A.'s Step Presentation Workbook.

58. After you read these pages, actually share your Fifth Step with someone. Do this as soon as possible after we finish reading this part of R.A.'s Step Presentation!

————Read to yourself the following Instructions for Listening to a Fifth Step—————————

Since you are their sponsor, your newcomer can also choose to share their Fifth Step with you. Please note that what is done at this point, is different from what will be done when formally going through the Fifth Step, which will be done later in Part 2 of this presentation. Here are some suggestions that will help your newcomer share their Fifth Step if they choose to share it with you:

a. In R.A.'s Step Presentation Workbook, go to page 15 and look at the List of Character Defects for Step Five. One at a time, go down the list and read each defect aloud.

b. Ask your newcomer if they have that defect, and if they find it objectionable. If they do, ask them to share an example or two from their inventory that shows that they have this defect.

c. If a character defect does not apply to them, they can just skip it. If they want to add other defects to the list, they can.

d. Repeatedly assure your newcomer that they are not the same person who did these things, or they would not now find this behavior to be objectionable. Point out that this is because they are now being restored to sanity.

If your newcomer is not going to share their Fifth Step with you, encourage them to share it as soon as possible so you can continue working the rest of the program with them. If they do not share their Fifth Step quickly, then suggest that they move on to the Sixth Step while they are waiting to do their Fifth Step.

————Resume reading with your newcommer————————————————————————

59. However, before we stop so you can share your Fifth Step, we are going to first finish reading and discussing several more of the pioneers "clear-cut directions." These "clear-cut directions" are to be followed after you have shared your Fifth Step with the person or persons you have chosen.

60. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 34, in the fifth paragraph, the pioneers say to:

"Return home and find a place where you can be quiet for an hour. Carefully review what you have done. Thank God from the bottom of your heart that you know Him better. Take this book down from your shelf and turn to the page which contains the twelve steps. Carefully read the first five proposals and ask if you have omitted anything, for you are building an arch through which you will walk a free man at last. Is your part of the work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? Have you skimped on the cement you have put into the foundation? Have you tried to make mortar without sand?"

61. In other words, after you have shared your Fifth Step, you need to take the time to follow more of the pioneers "clear-cut directions." First, you need find a place where you can be quiet for an hour.

62. Second, the pioneers say to turn back to page 26 in the Multilith Big Book and look at the first five proposals, which are the first five steps.

63. The pioneers continue their "clear-cut directions." They say to read the first five steps very slowly to see if anything has been omitted. By doing this someone should be able to reassure him or herself that they have not left anything out.

64. This is because in the course of going through R.A.'s Step Presentation we have read every page, every paragraph, every sentence of the pioneers "clear-cut directions" for working these five steps. We have followed every direction, and answered every appropriate question.

65. This review should only take one hour. In other words, the pioneers don't want someone spending days, weeks, or months going over what they've done.

66. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 34, the first sentence of the sixth paragraph says that after asking yourself these questions, "If you can answer to your satisfaction, look at step six."

67. In other words, if you are satisfied that you have done everything the first five steps call for, it will be time to move on to read and discuss the Sixth Step.

68. But first, this is the time for you to decide who you want to hear your Fifth Step, make arrangements to share your Fifth Step, and then share your Fifth Step. You should do this as soon as possible. If you are not able to quickly share your Fifth Step, we suggest that you move on to the Sixth Step while you are waiting to do your Fifth Step.

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