Sunday, 14 September 2014

Choosing someone to hear a Step Five

Whether one chooses one or more people (yes, you can share your Step Five with more than one person, and it is usually beneficial), there are certain criteria to follow in choosing (from pages 74 to 75 of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous):

(1) 'Close-mouthed ...', 'It is important he be able to keep a confidence ...'

Ask someone who can keep secrets.

(2) '... understanding ...', '... that he fully understand and approve what we are driving at ...'

Ask someone who is going to receive and understand, not condemn etc.

There is a caveat, however: the ego will perceive itself under attack due to this process, as it is, in fact, although the attack takes this form: the ego's goals are perceived as fruitless, its conceptual framework, insane, and its effects, null. Someone 'understanding', in this context, is someone who will help us laugh at the false conceptual structure we have used to 'understand' the world and run our lives.

Ask yourself: is it me that is under attack, or is it the ego, the mind-made false images of self and the world it has constructed?

Sometimes people say they feel 'vulnerable' after a Step Five. This may be due to choosing the wrong person (see below, particularly). Or it may be a good sign. If you want to be close to people, you have to make yourself vulnerable, in the sense of being candid. If you have spent years being cagey, out of fear, and you are suddenly candid, you will feel vulnerable. This may be a sign not that you are genuinely vulnerable to attack but that you have historically associated candour with fear. This is a reason not to withhold or cloak the truth but to challenge the belief system giving rise to the fear.

It is important also that the person be well-versed in the Big Book, have taken Step Five himself, and believe in this process.

Spiritual danger lies in taking Step Five with someone who himself is harbouring secrets, other agendas, or is not signed up to this process.

(3) '... friend ...'

Although a sponsor won't usually share the whole of his Step Five back, he may share excerpts. Sharing a Step Five also with friends can often best be done by swapping.

Also, test-drive your potential Step Five listener with various problems in your life. See how he responds. If, over time, his response gives rise to healing or is practically helpful, good: he will likely be helpful in hearing the whole Step Five. If he induces fear, he may be unhealed himself, or you may simply not be ready for what that particular person has to offer. Find someone else.

(4) '... it may be one of our own family, but we cannot disclose anything to our wives or our parents which will hurt them and make them unhappy ...'

This point speaks for itself.

(5) '... that he will not try to change our plan ...'

Sometimes a Step Five hearer, on hearing a Step Five, will suggest other or additional approaches to recovery.

This can be beneficial, e.g. the suggestion of Al-Anon if the person reveals an undealt-with family history of alcoholism and a childhood badly affected by the alcoholic drinking of a parent, but can sometimes create great confusion if what is suggested is not consistent with the programme the individual is currently in the middle of.

Spiritual consent is there with a sponsor, but may not be there (in terms of full-on suggestions and advice) with someone roped in merely to be the witness to the Step Five and to provide a human presence for the process.

* * * * *

If these suggestions are followed, this will maximise the chance of the Step Five being a positive, effective experience.

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