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How I was Taught
 Wow!  What a scary experience, if you have never done this before.  I can only offer my own experience, strength and hope on this.  Before I arrive at the 5th step location, I pray and ask God to remove me from the situation, and guide my words and actions.  I ask God to have me speak when I should speak, and shut-up when I should.  I ask for God’s will to be done and us both to have acceptance of it.  I ask for God to be with the individual, ease their pains, and loosen their tongues.

     When I listen to a fifth step, I put an extra chair in the room, and let the person know that this is for God.  He is hear with us.  I have a box of tissue and often a candle.  Tissue...understandable, Candle:  seems to bring a little of ease in the tension, and is a great cigarette smoke eater!  I ask the person if they have done the third step and ask them to pray with me.  We Pray.  I give them a brief overview, that I am here to listen.  I tell them that I have a pen and paper to take notes for them, and they will be given the notes upon completion of the fourth.  If this seems to make them very uncomfortable, no notes are taken on my own.  I give them the option.  I want to make this as comfortable as possible.  I assure the person what is said here, stays here.

     I listen.  I share some of my own personal experiences with the individual and ad humor whenever possible, if needed.  As I take any notes, which is very very little, mind you, I write down things that I hear often in their character defects list.  Just the word, that is all.  When they have finished their readings, I tell them they did very good.  If the individual did not include any assets in the fourth step, we make a list of them now.  It’s over!  They admitted their wrongs and the nature of them.  Now, they know the nature of some of their character defects to some extent and they know they also have assets, and are not bad people.  I give them a list of what I jotted.  This is for them to keep for a later date.  I ask them if they are willing to have these defects of character removed.  If they are, we go directly into the Seventh Step Prayer.

      I tell the individual that the big book says that we are to spend one hour in silence and reflect on our program and grounding in it.  We are to think about weather or not we feel we have a good grounding.  I also let them know that their emotions may be varied for a little while after completing the fifth step.  I instruct them not to beat themselves up over anything now.  The hardest part is over, and healing can begin.

      I then tell the individual that I made my list of amends directly out of my fourth step.  This is to be done as soon as possible.  After the list is made, the fourth step is to be burned (in a coffee can or camp fire...destroying it is the main goal).  They are not to think about making the amends yet, just making the list.  I assure them that it gets better!

AA: Chapter 6 - INTO ACTION (From Page 72 - 75) - The 12 & 12:  Step 5

Don't worry, we all have them.  Listening to a fifth step is a very scary process the first time or two.  Remember how it was for you.  Be compassionate, understanding, pray, and share your experience, strength and hope.

How Long Should It Take?

Click the button above, and check out this site!  It has so much to offer.  Big Book Thumpers here, Folks!  How to hear a Fifth is one of the subtopics on the left hand side of the screen!

Ask Bill Wilson - You can ask Bill Wilson Anything here.  

Below is someone else's experience, strength and hope:


                          STEP FIVE - THE SPONSOR
It seems that much has been written, and rightfully so, on how to do the
fifth step from the point of view of the person who is READING IT to a
sponsor, friend or professional.  I thought I'd share what I've found works
from the point of view of someone who is *LISTENING* to someone else's
stuff.  This might be helpful to someone who has never done it for others
before .
I find it the greatest honor to be asked to receive someone's fifth step.
It means they are trusting me  (for some HP reason:) to be helpful to them.
It's usually very scary for most people who are considering this action
(from both sides) and it was a little for me at first.  No longer.  I know
it works and I know HP is involved deeply in this experience.
I have listened to fifth steps by men and women in OA, AA, Alanon and
alateen.  I am an active member of only OA today and never was in AA though
I went to lots of AA open meetings; and sponsored alateens.
Before we start, we pray.  We have a box of tissues handy.  I assure them
that I will never discuss this material with anyone else.  I let the person
read for awhile.  Many listeners just listen and don't comment.  I find it
very important to comment as we go along.  the comments are of a varied
1.  I've been through similar experiences.
If what the person is reading is very upsetting or embarrassing, I usually
have a personal similar story I can relate, and I do - it takes some of the
pressure off.  Knowing we are not alone, nor terminally unique, is an
important part of the goal of this step.
2.  Humor.
Sometimes, if it's getting real serious, I may say something humorous.  It
is usually spontaneous and I rely on my ability to be sensitive but also to
keep it light.  Learning to laugh at ourselves often STARTS here.  I try to
not give it the air of someone going to a priest in a confessional and
admitting stuff to someone on a pedestal.  We've ALL done stuff we're not
thrilled about - are we going to continue to suffer for past actions?
Again, no *terminal uniqueness*.
3.  Reassuring.
As the reader begins to identify his/her character defects, I usually add
that I had that problem too - this this is the first time I discussed it,
and that relief is just a STEP or two away.  I can often give actual
examples of how I've changed with respect to a CD, and that seems to help.
I don't necessarily comment on EVERY CD, just one or two to explain that
CDs are NOT forever.
4.  Correcting
Sometimes it becomes clear that people don't have the slightest idea which
CD is behind some experience, resentment, fear or guilt they have had.
They will call out ten or twelve CDs for each item on the list.   (Most of
us tend to be MORBID at this point.  Sometimes, the reader wants to make
sure he *hits* the CD, so s/he writes out a bunch of them.)  My "job" here
is to help focus on the one or two, from MY viewpoint, that are REALLY
operative.  ***I think this is the GREATEST help we can be to people in
this process - to help them discern the REAL problems.***
So I *ASK* if they might consider perfectionism as the cause of this
resentment rather than pride, or something else like that.  I try to think
along with them. (We're working on this together to help the reader
discover the REAL reasons for his/her misery.)  We may have to explore a
few to get to the root ones.
When the material has been read, we tally up the CDs and discount some of
them as trivial.  We figure up the top five CDs and discuss how to go into
the 6th step to WORK on them.
This is one of the reasons why it's important to read our fifth step to
someone who has done it before.  IF someone HASN'T, it still may be OK, as
long as both  can have the feeling that others have done it before us and
we're both gonna try to continue on and get rid of these CDs.
And it is for this reason that I think it is important to read it to
someone in Program, and not just a professional.  (It may be that the
professional has another technique to "get rid of CDs" that is not
spiritual - many of us have been sidetracked for years because of this,
though some of it is helpful for awhile:)  The steps still remain, in my
opinion and experience, the FASTEST way to get weller, period!
5.  Probing
Towards the end, I usually ask if there is ANYTHING they haven't told me.
Often we need to be asked.  It was so with me on my first 5th Step.  If
it's a concern, it usually needs to be aired and often the experience is
6.  Humility
I sometimes add at some point that I'm not an expert, just another
compulsive overeater trying to work my steps.  Listening to a fourth step
by another is a way I do my twelfth step.  I try to be helpful and assist
the person in their endeavor to work this step.
FINALLY, when it's all done, I thank the reader for his honesty, and
usually can share that it did more for me then him.  I think we ALL need to
be reminded that we are part of the human race.  And that applies to both
of us.
I suggest they read the first few pages of Chapter Six in the AABB when
they get home.  And I remind them that they don't have to wait a year, or a
month to start working on the Sixth Step.
I welcome any sharing on this.  I don't think anyone does it *perfectly*
and I would love to get others EXPERIENCE on this to enhance my own and to
be more helpful to others.
Love, BOB
                            Excerpt Submitted - Looking for Reference 
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This Website was last updated on:  June 17, 2008

    Disclaimer: This site is NOT endorsed nor sponsored by Alcoholics Anonymous or any group and is not intended to offer specific advice to persons in recovery or contemplating recovery. This site DOES, however, attempt to follow the 12 Traditions of AA. Contact your local Alcoholics Anonymous Intergroup Office for direct info on AA, for info on meetings in your area, and if you'd like to speak with someone regarding alcoholism. This site is produced in the spirit of AA's Twelfth Step - to carry the message. When reading the experience, strength and hope on this site, we remind you that AA's "public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films."