In the material for Step Five it talks of three gifts we receive through working step five: 1) self awareness: By reviewing our step 4 we become aware of feelings and attitudes that have influenced who we have become thus far in our life. Elder Bruce D. Porter taught, “we must know ourselves, for until we are conscious of our weaknesses, we cannot correct them; until we know our strengths, we cannot use them well.”
2) Self-evaluation: Our awareness and open honesty prepare us to let go of painful memories and self-defeating behaviors. We acknowledge our mistakes but do not allow them to define who we are or who we can become. We begin to seek soul-level changes in ourselves.
3) Self Acceptance: We come to accept our wrongs with the understanding that we are spiritual beings having a mortal experience and recognize that we all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. As we come to love and accept ourselves, we begin to experience changes that help our thoughts and behaviors to become more in harmony with who we really are.
We are told in the reading material we must admit to: 1) Heavenly Father all the personal details of our lives. We are not revealing anything to Him that he does not already know but by doing so we are becoming humble and expressing a desire to change and shows we are willing to let him reveal to us our true selves. Through this process our relationship with our Heavenly Father is strengthened.
2) Be honest with ourselves. As we discuss our lives with Heavenly Father we are able to see ourselves more clearly. Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught: “More than we realize, being honest with God in our prayers helps us to be more honest with ourselves.” We need to acknowledge all that is good within us and the righteous desires of our hearts. We also need to admit to ourselves our mistakes, recognize our weaknesses, and identify all that we hope to change within us. As we do so we will feel burdens lifted.
3) Admit to another person our desires to change. This is one of the many areas that it is beneficial to be attending a support group meeting. It is hard to share these personal things with close family and friends, they are too emotionally connected to us. But to have a friend in recovery to share these things with provides support and comfort and by admitting things to another person it helps us reflect on what we have learned and our desire to change is more powerfully imprinted in our own minds.
I find a quote by Jeffrey R. Holland very comforting: “God doesn’t care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are, and with His help, where you are willing to go.”
As I have worked through this step I am finding the natural man is quite interesting and stubborn. For me, I have thoughts and behaviors that I have justified and rationalized my entire life and until I truly found the desire to want to see myself clearly and become a better person, I was completely oblivious to these behaviors. For example, I am quite insecure with myself and what others think of me and I feel judged by people most of the time. I am so intimidated by others that I prefer to keep to myself and hang out with family members rather than get to know other people and make new friends. I have always said that is just who I am, I was born with an introvert personality, my dad is the same way, and there is nothing wrong with it. My husband would get so frustrated with me, especially in the beginning of our marriage and I would tell him that he needed to accept me for who I was that I didn’t choose to be this way that’s just how I am. And now that my children are getting older my husband would tell me I needed to have my kids in more play dates and involved in more social interaction. I didn’t want to put myself “out there” and was terrified so I would tell him thatthe kids go to primary, they go to preschool or kindergarten, they are signed up for gymnastics or whatever and that is plenty of social interaction and they didn’t need anything more. We have had many emotional discussions about this and I was very good and defending my reasons. It wasn’t until recently that I was able to admit to myself that I actually had several experiences throughout my school years that slowly lowered my self esteem and I chose to tuck myself into a shell. I finally admitted that it is my own insecurities that make me who I am. I worry about what other people think of me but I don’t give them a chance to get to know me so instead give them no choice but to assume I am cold and unfriendly and then they don’t want to get to know me. I have been noticing behaviors in my oldest daughter that she doesn’t know how to make friends and is scared to death of new people and I am sure a big part of that is the example I have set for her. I still believe we each have different personalities and some are more social or outgoing than others but there is also a part of it that we choose and allow because of fears or anxieties or allowing a few unkind people to affect us. This is just one of many examples that I could share how following the concepts of Step Five has allowed me to see myself more clearly and honestly and to begin the journey of making changes that I know will bless me and relieve uncomfortable feelings that I have kept and harbored and justified for so many years. This particular weakness I did not see at first. I identified many other weaknesses before I admitted this one. I believe it is because I wasn’t ready to. I believe that my Heavenly Father will show me what I am ready to see when I am ready to see it and will help me overcome those things that I need to as long as I am always prayerful and humble enough to seek his help.
I also must add that just because I can see my weaknesses does not make them easy to change. I am still scared of the change but I feel because I see it and can make even baby steps each day, it is a start. Maybe that is just another justification but I feel that even baby steps is okay as long as I am doing the best I can and being willing to move forward, however long it takes. But I also have faith that my with my willingness and the Lord’s grace – the change won’t be as long or as difficult as I expect it to be.
One other thing I must add is that as I recognize how blind I am to my own rationalizing behaviors and how easy it is for the natural man to make mistakes or have weaknesses and not be able to see them clearly, it helps me heal from the hurt of my husband’s addiction because I can see better how he could make those choices and not even realize what he would do to me or even see clearly what was wrong with what he was doing. I also find healing when I focus more on myself than on him, I am in a much better place emotionally and spiritually.