Step Four


"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

Step Four Contents:

Part 1 and Questions for journaling
Part 2 and Questions for journaling
Part 3 and Questions for journaling
Part 4 and Questions for journaling

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Step Four ~ Introduction

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

Hello my dear WTS companions, my name is Margaret and I am a gratefully recovering compulsive overeater. I am your trusted servant to submit questions and other things for consideration in our study of Step Four this month.

I am anxious about this job, I gotta tell you right off: and this being Step Four, I am already presented with character defects (CDs) to be aware of: pride (I want to be the best Step leader EVER! Yay ME ME ME!) fear (what if they see me for the fraud I really am? Poor ME ME ME!) shame (I should have done a better job of preparing/reading previous questions! Bad ME ME ME!)

But as I typed the first line of this posting today, I was struck by the fact that the last line of this step tells it all: ".... of OURSELVES." Not just me; we, compulsive overeaters recovering through these 12 Steps, have done this together, and I know that I am not alone with any of these feelings.

What I have to share is this: I have been recovering in AA for 8 years and now in OA for 7 years. I have worked the 12 steps and know that the Promises do come true; I have recovery and a life second to none today and am committed to living the 12 steps to continue growing and healing.

I can also tell you that I have done the Steps every which way! My first 4th Step inventory was a many-times xeroxed "Inventory guide", I know not whence it came, and though I was roughly 3 months sober from drugs and alcohol I was binging my brains out when I did it. I have used many different forms since then (always written), but I'm here to tell ya folks, it just works.

Doing it while still actively overeating helped me to realize that I was not truly sober while still in the food, and helped me get abstinent. Doing it abstinent has given me clarity and relieved me of shame and fear that could paralyze me.

I've used legal pads, spiral notebooks, post-it notes, fancy bound journals, word processors. I've written pages at a time and just a single sentence. I've written daily and had times of weeks or months where not a word went down. And through it all I worried I wasn't doing it right.

And it still worked.

I never did it alone. I always had a sponsor to help me, even if I wasn't looking to them to tell me exactly how to do it. I also had the marvelous example of those who had done it, and the unmistakable glow of recovery and freedom in their eyes.

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Step Four ~ Part 1

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

Now down to it! This is STEP FOUR, not STEP ONE: we've laid a lot of groundwork. We know our methods of running our lives haven't worked; we know that there is a Power that can run our lives, and we have made a decision to rely on that Power to do just that. I read the abundant descriptions of these HPs, and the beautiful ways you turn your will and lives over to that Power, in our fantastic Step 3 discussion. This Power can now be hired to conduct our inventory *for* us! I'd like to hear what we have to share on these questions.

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Step Four ~ Part 1: Questions

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

  1. Am I commencing this step in a FEARLESS or a FEARFUL way? And where does my Higher Power stand in relation to that? (Bonus question for those who have done a 4th step: Were you afraid, and if so, when you were done had your fears come true?)

  2. What does it mean to me to do a SEARCHING inventory? (For me it brings up reluctance - if I cant do it PERFECTLY I don't want to do it AT ALL)

  3. What comes up for me around that word MORAL?

I hope these questions will be of benefit and I am very much looking forward to the discussion! I welcome suggestions (one-to-one please) about future questions. I do not propose to ask people to post their inventories to the list - after all we all have jobs, families, personal hygiene, etc. that would not be well served by the 24 hours a day that we'd be glued to our monitors! And certainly not everyone is going to actually write an inventory this month.

That's it for now.... thanks again for letting me do this priceless service! Love to you all, {{{{margaret}}}}

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Step Four ~ Part 2

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

Good ___ morning ___ afternoon ___evening (check one) my precious loopies!

You can't believe the change in my heart in posting this Part 2! Eagerness in place of fear. Your wonderful sharings on the Part 1 questions has truly lifted me up. Thank you and this is just like doing Step 4 - leading a step I mean - I was reluctant going in but the payoff is so far INCREDIBLE.

Onward: Imagine going back into your stockroom. In front are the clean shelves with your finest stock - your kindness, your generosity, your cooperation, the current inspection sticker on your car. No problem there.

Then there's the darker shelves farther back. Impatience, intolerance, dishonesty.... doesn't anyone ever dust back here?! Not pleasant, but nothing you don't expect to see.

Then there's.... the Vault. Door creaks... rats scuttle. No, don't want to go back there. Even though the rats are eating the good stock up front... even though the leaks are corroding the pipes.... yes, we know we have to go to the Vault, too.

I look in my Vault and, here's an example: I am a bully. Yes. This I truly don't want to see. I have observed people's weaknesses and used them against them, imposing my will, pushing past any need to push, being CRUEL.

But I remember what I have read in the Big Book and the 12 & 12: all my character defects started as ASSETS. Qualities that served a purpose and over time twisted out of balance. At one time I used my keen observational powers to find weaknesses so that I could protect myself against being hurt. As time went on, the bondage of self grew to strangle me and my desire not to be hurt, to protect my fragile self-image, went wildly out of balance and slopped over into hurting others. Not wanting to see myself as a bully, I had to paint myself as a martyr to myself, to rationalize my behavior: I'm fat. I'm unfairly treated. My behavior is justified. This sent me to the food time and time again until food no longer worked and I was forced to seek refuge from food. Now I must bring my Self back into balance so that I can live comfortably. I need help.

Now that I have turned my life over to God, I can know that I am entirely acceptable and dear to God EXACTLY AS I AM. I believe that God made every part of me - God stocked the shelves and now God is going to clean, with my help. God turns on the light; I stand ready to write down what the light shows. I find that the scene is not monstrous, and poses me no danger - what is there has already caused me as much harm as it's going to. I can look without judgment, without shame, without humiliation - but with humility.

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Step Four ~ Part 2: Questions

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

  1. Imagine a dear beloved one: a child, friend, partner, one for whom you want only happiness. Imagine them coming to you in incredible pain over something they had done. Imagine yourself being with them, listening lovingly, with compassion and comfort, without judgment. Can you turn to your HP in the same way with the most painful items in your Vault?

    Seeing our assets can be quite as difficult as facing defects. I may have trouble seeing my good points because they're not good ENOUGH, or I may give them a slight acknowledgment and then immediately jump in with YEAH, BUT... (I'm kind but it's people pleasing; I'm creative but lazy... etc. etc.). In fact it is HUMBLING! If this is a problem for me,

  2. What do I think I gain by resisting admitting my qualities, or by minimizing them? Or what do I fear it will cost me?

Be well my dear loopies, and thank you for sharing your recovery in these miraculous Steps with me.

Love & standing by! margaret

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Step Four ~ Part 3

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

Can there be a more appropriate day for writing on Step 4 than the first day of Passover, celebrating liberation from bondage? (Please tolerate reference to specific religious event)

For we have been imprisoned in Self and these steps are leading us to The Promises Land! (OK, now Im gonna let it drop. I promise!)

WE have looked at our stockroom, everything it contains, with the guidance and assurance of our HP who loves and accepts us unconditionally. Having seen where our personalities have been out of balance, with traits that have caused us suffering, let us see how this has unbalanced our relationship with the world outside our Self. Big Book, p64:

"Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its various manifestations."

Remember, this is Step 4. We are just looking now. Admitting, becoming willing, asking, listing, and amending are YET TO COME. Now we are going to see where we stand in relationship to others by looking at our resentments.

This has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with right or wrong. It is a private process - we needn't convince ourselves or anyone else that we deserve to have this resentment, we needn't judge its merit in any way. We, our individual selves, are moving parts in a larger whole - a machine, if you will, and as we got more out of balance, more friction resulted, and you know what happens to a machine part that is out of round, off its axis, misshapen - it rubs, pinches, heats up, and eventually breaks down, affecting the performance of the whole machine. We want to run smoothly again.

The Big Book on pp 64-66 sets out the instructions for this examination of resentment. We list the resentment - whether against a person, institution or principle; the cause - the hurt that lead to anger; and its affect on us - where on our Self it chafes. Most of these affects seem to boil down to fear of some kind - loss of personal security, injury to self-esteem, threat to relationships - how we view our rightful place in the world.

The Big Book urges us to set aside any considerations of blame or fault in this process, but to look only to our side of the street. Resentment, anger and fear have been the wardens of our prison; before we can be free, we must see things as they really are.

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Step Four ~ Part 3: Questions

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

  1. Can I see how resentments of all shapes and sizes have harmed me? (For example, and please forgive me if you're a fan, I resent Madonna. Without going into why I resent Madonna, this harms me because the resentment brings up feelings of self-righteousness, less-than, and general ill will, feelings which as recovery progresses I am less able to live comfortably with; they poison me spiritually.) (I really liked Evita, though.)

  2. What would it be like to be free of anger and resentment when confronted with injustice, cruelty, abuse?

    I recall being astonished when introduced to the idea of FEAR as part of my character defects. I always thought myself a helpless victim.

  3. The idea of these resentments being lifted may be overwhelming and even terrifying. Without judgment or rationalization, what am I afraid of?

OK. I intend to post one last set o' questions before the end of the month, like by the weekend. I am heartily sorry not to have posted last week but I have been waaaay too blessed with a full rich life that involved leaving the house early, returning late, laden with Tupperware. If you'd looked at the interior of my car by Sunday it looked like someone was living in it.

I'm not insecure.... am I?

love and light to all my {{{{{{{dear}}}}}} loopies, margaret

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Step Four ~ Part 4

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

Dear loopies,

Well, I promised one more set of questions before the end of the month, and here it is.....

It's been a blessing to lead this step. I have badly needed the contact and the time spent reading shares, thinking about what the Fourth Step has done to liberate me from the bondage of self and particularly from the prison of compulsive overeating.

These questions have been meant not as the actual doing of a Fourth Step Inventory, but as a way of looking at some of the different angles our searching and fearless moral inventory might take, and at some of the challenges that come up when we undertake it.

To me, that word "moral" is about balance: so is that idea of being "restored to sanity," that I will come in to a balanced relationship with ... everything, myself included, starting with food.

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Step Four ~ Part 4: Questions

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

How has the disease of compulsive overeating unbalanced the ways I have been in relationship

  1. sexually?
  2. financially?
  3. responsibly (meaning doing my part)?

Thank you dear ones for allowing me to do this service. If you have given any thought to leading one of these steps, I STRONGLY encourage you to do it - I genuinely feared whether I was "good enough" and now know it has nothing to do with being "good enough," it's just about sharing what E/S/H I have to share and asking you to share yours.

love & light, margaret

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