The 12 Gifts from Working the Steps

An excerpt from
An Abridged Version of 12 Hidden Rewards of Making Amends

by Allen Berger, PhD., Hazelden Publishing

PART THREE | The Fifth Step Creates a Solid Foundation for Recovery Based on Willingness

We will never achieve serenity and peace of mind if we don’t accept responsibility for our actions and clean house. The Fifth Step teaches us the value of authenticity and the importance of having an enlightened witness in our lives. These two factors will be essential in our recovery.

The ability to step up and accept the responsibility to change our defects of character separates the willing from the unwilling. Our commitment to rid ourselves of those character flaws that caused problems with our fellows and with society at large is at the heart of the spirit of recovery. We are aiming at becoming our best self. We must remember, however, that desire doesn’t equal ability. It is unreasonable for us to expect to rise above all our character defects and ascend into the hallowed halls of saints. We cannot; it’s impossible. Instead of expecting the impossible, we will have to be content with steady improvement. Striving for progress rather than perfection is the best attitude we can take toward becoming our best possible self.

This Step helps us realize that there are forces operating within us that might resist change. We need to understand these forces if we are going to be able to remove our character defects.

Getting honest with ourselves and working through our resistance to remove some of our character defects are important parts of the change process. When responsibility is fused with blame, it creates a block that interferes with mobilizing and motivating ourselves to change.

Responsibility is self-empowering and is not to be confused with blame, which is paralyzing. We are not taking responsibility if we blame ourselves for what we have done wrong. This is how our false-self fools us into thinking we are doing something about a problem when we aren’t. These are futile self-improvement games. Blaming ourselves is a part of the problem, not a part of the solution.

We are beginning to see that our desire to grow, to be self-actualized, is a very different kind of motivation. This motivation, based on a desire to grow, provides a solid foundation for our recovery. It is not temporary and short-lived like a motivation based on fixing a problem.

Steps 1–7 have restructured our relationship with ourselves. We let go of our reliance on our false-self and have, in earnest, begun replacing it with a higher self, a true-self. We are aiming at becoming our best self, and to do that we have to step up and accept responsibility to change.

PART ONE          PART TWO          PART FOUR          PART FIVE