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Oh Lord, It’s Easy To Be Humble

Mike Mather

Admitted to Ourselves

Step Five in Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is a challenging but necessary step for long-term sobriety and peace of mind. It involves admitting the exact nature of our wrongs to God, ourselves, and another person. Many A.A. members initially try to avoid this step due to fear and reluctance, but it is crucial for overcoming loneliness, finding forgiveness, developing humility, and gaining a realistic view of ourselves. Confiding in another person allows us to receive direct feedback and guidance, ensuring that we are not self-deceived. The choice of whom to confide in should be made carefully, considering their experience and trustworthiness. By taking this step, we can experience relief, healing, and a deeper connection with God and others.

What is the purpose of Step 5 in the eponymous 12-Step program? Is it to humiliate an already suffering human? Is it to convert a previously atheistic person into a God-botherer?

Or is it a great way to make people cry in front of someone else and hug a stranger?

Well, certainly all of these can and do happen, so I tried to pull Step 5 apart and see if I can make some deeper meaning to it all. That’s what I do, apparently.

Self-knowledge insufficient

We are social creatures. We share *99.9% of our DNA with the great apes, and THEY are social creatures. Addiction is very personal and private. It’s so private, that most of us stay in denial, so that even we don’t know we’re an addict!

If we have been addicted to our substance or behaviour for some time, there is a fair chance that a lot of adaptive and secret habits have arisen. Sharing with others in an intimate and humble way is foreign.

It is possible, that you had been soul-searching for a while, too. Looking for answers in the bottom of a glass is a great place to look, but we don’t find anything.

Self-knowledge is often pointless, even if we find it. Alcoholism, or its cousins, isn’t an isolated condition, and the other forces that have conspired to get you here are still present when the drinking stops.

So, I see that the first point of this personal interface is that we move from searching for knowledge and contrition, to sharing and empathy. This is a huge change.

Let’s not forget, that the other person that is listening to your shit is also an addict and is simultaneously doing Step 12. Here are two humans that are suffering with a similar condition, helping each other to recover. We are not sharing vegan recipes: this is one addict speaking and one addict listening, then swap. As this conversation follows on from the Personal Inventory in Step 4, it’s going to get juicy and deep.

Humility, Trust, and Secrets

The sharing of war stories, and more importantly, our feelings about the stories, leads to a long-lasting humility. And who doesn’t need more of that?

In addition to fostering humility, the act of sharing war stories allows us to gain a deeper understanding of the human experience. By discussing our thoughts and emotions surrounding these stories, we can reflect on the impact of war and its consequences on individuals and societies. This reflection opens our minds to new perspectives and challenges our preconceived notions about the world.

Moreover, humility empowers us to break free from erroneous perceptions about the world and the motives of others. It enables us to authentically connect with our fellows and cultivate empathy and compassion. By embracing humility, we can bridge the gap between ourselves and others, fostering a sense of unity and understanding.

Furthermore, the practice of humility extends beyond our interactions with others. It also influences our internal dialogue and mindset. When we approach life with humility, we become more open to learning and personal growth. We become willing to acknowledge our mistakes and shortcomings, allowing us to continuously improve and evolve as individuals.

Ultimately, embracing humility not only enhances our relationships, be it with loved ones or strangers, but also brings about personal growth and a deeper connection with the world around us. So, let us strive to incorporate humility into our thoughts, words, and mindset, and reap the countless benefits it offers.

Read also: HOW, AA's Fourth Step And The Higher Trainings

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As everyone has a personal concept of a Higher Power, it is important to acknowledge and respect the diversity of beliefs in this discussion of Step 5. It is worth noting that this pivotal step involves a profound process of moral cleansing and intimate exchange, which taps into the depths of one's spirituality and fosters a deep connection with the divine or one's personal understanding of a higher existence.

We often hear that alcoholism is a Spiritual, Physical, and Mental affliction. As Jesus was once quoted saying, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I”.

Some Tips

Here are some specific tips that I have picked up that might help physically and mentally.

Listen to learn, not to reply. Use your ‘good ear’.

The bad ear listens for what is wrong in what others are saying. The good ear listens to understand.

If you can't understand what someone is saying, ask a question.

Once you understand what they are saying, you can add your own perspective.

Build on what they said, don't replace it.

Here are some specific tips:
  • Give the speaker your full attention.
  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to elaborate.
  • Paraphrase what they have said to show that you are listening and understanding.
  • Avoid interrupting or judging.
  • Be respectful of their opinion, even if you disagree.

The process involves a realisation, secret sharing, and release from the bondage of self. Realisation has sometimes been cleverly misspelled ‘Real-eyes-ation’.

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Photo by Nicholas Sampson on Unsplash

Final Words

We see with our real eyes events and attitudes that have troubled us for years in a new and refreshing way. With a new perspective, real progress will be possible in starting anew, the life that was always available.

Pray every day and meditate on what is of real importance today. Then speak with someone about THEIR experience and feelings. In our daily life, we can observe ourselves as The Pretender (you know the Jackson Browne song?) and try to understand why we act the way we do, and soften that attitude.

Start to learn to listen with your good ear.

*check this!

About the Author Mike Mather

Mike was born in 1963 which technically makes him one of the youngest of the Baby Boomers. An Australian with Indigenous and European heritage, he has been an avid and required student of Buddhism and alcoholism since 2008.

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