Spiritual principles behind Step Five: Integrity

What are the spiritual principles behind Step Five?

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

The operative spiritual principle behind Step Five is integrity.

Other applicable spiritual principles include humility, willingness, honesty, forgiveness, open-mindedness, acceptance, prudence, and serenity.It’s pretty obvious why we need to share our inventory with someone else: We are masters at believing our own BS, our justifications, and half-truths. After all, we used to say, and sort of believe, that we didn’t have a drinking or drug problem. We told ourselves again and again that we were doing fine – as we were slipping ever deeper into the dark abyss of addiction and alcoholism.

Admitting to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs seems difficult at first, especially discussing our embarrassing defects and behavior with another person. Many newbies think they have done well enough in admitting these things to themselves. Not so; in practice, we find a solitary self-appraisal to be quite insufficient. We now realize it is necessary to go much further. We will be more comfortable and willing to discuss these things with another person when we understand there are very good reasons to do so.

The most important reason first: If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome our drinking and drugging. Time after time newcomers have kept certain facts about their lives to themselves. Almost invariably they got drunk or high. Later they wondered why they relapsed. It’s probably because they never thoroughly cleaned house. They took some inventory but hung on to some of the darkest, most embarrassing items in stock. They had not learned enough about humility, honesty, and willingness.

Integrity means being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to hold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards.

Integrity is doing the right thing for the right reasons, even when no one is watching. Integrity is taking the higher road in an argument or disagreement, allowing others to save face. Integrity includes choosing to be happy instead of being right; it’s living by a higher standard. For addicts and alcoholics, this is a new code of ethics, applying spiritual principles in all areas of our lives. None of us came to the rooms brimming with Emily Post-level manners and etiquette, overflowing with kindness and respect for ourselves or others. Step Five opens the door to living with integrity.

Step Five helps us to ease the anxiety, irritability, and depression that inevitably results from hiding the worst parts of ourselves. We are able to rid ourselves of isolation and loneliness once we come out into the open. Step Five of Alcoholics Anonymous teaches you that you can be forgiven for your shortcomings and also forgive others who have hurt you.

Folks often feel a huge weight lifted off their shoulders when they honestly and thoroughly confide in another.
Step Five is much more than merely reading our Fourth Step to the other person. A good Step Five includes revealing your most embarrassing, tormenting, distressing memories to another person — usually your sponsor. It is crucial to be as honest as possible with the individual hearing our Fifth Step; we look closely at who we are and what we would like to become as we move forward with our sober living.

Go all the way; be vulnerable and don’t hold back. Your sponsor (or other person) will usually talk about his past as well, having done many of the same dumb things you did. He will possibly note some of your most glaring character defects that kept popping up as you went through your lists. We accept advice from our sponsor with an open mind. This will allow you to move on to Step 6 in a place of humility.

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