How to Work Step 5 of the Twelve Steps

The journey through the Twelve Steps of recovery is a deeply personal and transformative process. Step 5, often phrased as “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs,” is a pivotal point in this journey. It’s where introspection meets confession, fostering a sense of vulnerability and truthfulness essential for healing and growth.

The Essence of Step 5

Step 5 revolves around the courage to confront and admit one’s faults, mistakes, and weaknesses not only to oneself but also to a higher power and another individual. This step is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Acknowledging Flaws and Mistakes: It begins with a thorough and honest acknowledgment of one’s faults. This introspection is often uncomfortable but necessary for personal growth.
  2. Building Trust and Vulnerability: Admitting these flaws to another person requires vulnerability, which is key to building trust and strengthening relationships.
  3. Spiritual Connection: Confessing to a higher power, whatever that may mean to the individual, helps in establishing a deeper spiritual connection and understanding of oneself within the universe.
  4. Relief and Liberation: Many find that admitting their wrongs aloud brings a sense of relief and liberation, as if a burden has been lifted off their shoulders.

Approaching Step 5

Taking Step 5 involves several key aspects:

  • Preparation: Before approaching this step, it’s essential to complete Step 4, where you make a moral inventory of yourself. This preparation lays the groundwork for a more truthful and comprehensive confession in Step 5.
  • Choosing the Right Person: The individual to whom you confess should be someone you trust implicitly. This could be a sponsor in the Twelve Steps program, a spiritual advisor, or a close confidant.
  • Environment: Choose a setting that feels safe and comfortable, allowing for open and honest communication without fear of judgment or interruption.
  • Honesty and Thoroughness: The effectiveness of this step lies in the level of honesty and thoroughness with which you approach it. Half-measures will not yield the full benefits of this transformative process.

The Impact of Step 5

The impact of successfully working through Step 5 is profound:

  • Increased Self-Awareness: This step helps in developing a deeper understanding of oneself, one’s actions, and their impact on others.
  • Healing and Forgiveness: It opens the door to healing and forgiveness, both self-forgiveness and seeking forgiveness from others.
  • Building Stronger Relationships: It lays a foundation for stronger, more honest relationships with others.
  • Spiritual Growth: It fosters spiritual growth by confronting one’s flaws and understanding their role in a broader spiritual context.


Step 5 of the Twelve Steps is more than just an exercise in confession; it is a transformative experience that lays the foundation for genuine recovery and personal growth. It demands courage, honesty, and vulnerability, but the rewards are immense, leading to a deeper understanding of oneself and paving the way for a more authentic and fulfilling life.

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