In Step Five, we need to admit the harm we have done to others to another person. Essentially this is a confession of the soul, but it may be done with anyone regardless if they are in A.A. or not, have a mental illness or not, or be a clergy member or not. Most people feel comfortable using their A.A. sponsor for this step.
This step requires a great deal of courage. You need to open up about what exactly you have done wrong (that may have been complied in Step Four) and communicate this to another human being. It is not enough to make an admission to yourself and your higher power. To be on the path to truly find peace, the admissions of wrongdoings from Step Four must involve someone else.
For me personally, when working with my sponsor, I catalogued behaviors that were wrong (or felt were wrong) all the way back to high school… or at least as far as I could remember. Growing up in a catholic household, high school (or near about to it) was probably the last time I made any kind of confession to a priest, or to anyone. It pays to be thorough with this step. Essentially you are cleaning house. All the garbage and trash (negative behaviors) are accounted for in this step as best as possible. Not doing this step completely can leave negative emotions within you and could possibly lead to a relapse (drinking, or otherwise).
Admitting that one has done something wrong is never easy. Neither is cataloging and discussing perhaps a lifetimes’ worth of wrongdoing. It pays dividends in the long run to complete this step to the best of one’s ability – since it cleans and refreshes the soul, leaving the individual with a sense of a clean slate and a fresh start from this point forward.
It is after this process is complete, that one can being quiet contemplation about what one may have done, and prepare for the process of making amends to others later.