Step Five: A Confirmed Awareness

Accept the Things We Cannot Change
April 27, 2021
god spiritual program
God Leaves the Door Open for Everyone
April 27, 2021
bondage of self
An alcoholic cannot drink on the truth, only on a lie.


When I asked God to relieve me of the “bondage of self” in Step Three, I had only a vague concept of what that might be. But when my sponsor helped me go through the Step Four directions from the Big Book, I developed a much clearer insight—I began to realize that this bondage was what had been blocking me from the truth in drink. Someone said: “An alcoholic cannot drink on the truth, only on a lie.”

The Big Book suggests that we begin Step Five at “first opportunity” (p. 74) which turned out to be approximately ten minutes after completing Step Four. My sponsor, Carl, helped me realize, from my Step Four list, where I had been selfish; dishonest; resentful; and fearful to an extent that I had never realized before.

As a matter of fact, he pointed out that most all of my character defects would fall under one or more of these four “grosser handicaps” (p. 71). They were like an umbrella! If I improve on these four major items, then the minor ones would become less destructive—or hopefully disappear.

A Personality Change Sufficient to Bring About Recovery From Alcoholism

Step Five not only simplified the step process but also brought about a confirmed awareness of my defects for God to remove them in Step Seven. I also learned the necessity of facing up to selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear if I were to live in the spirit of Step Ten. It was pointed out that these four defects are mentioned in Step Ten (p. 84) and Step Eleven (p. 86). These four demons are indeed enemies of my sobriety.

This new awareness has brought me to realize why going on the wagon or quitting drinking forever, year after year, never lasted. My personality problems (bondage of self) remained active throughout those periods of abstinence. Although Step Five has not completely removed these dangerous barriers, I have been able to maintain a “personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism” (p. 567) for many years. Thank God for spiritual progress, not perfection.

By Bob S.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.