Step Four


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


Step Four Contents:

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


Step Navigator:


Step Three
Up
Index

Step Five



 
 

Step Four ~ Introduction

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




Dear WTS Loop Members,

Happy April! My name is Lee. I'm a compulsive overeater and honored to be your step leader for this month.

As you know, we will be working on the 4th step, often referred to as the first "action" step; In Step 3 we "made a decision [underline is mine] to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him." In this step we begin to act on our decision by making a "…searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

We are all incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work through this step together; Though I have been in hundreds of step meetings where we shared about the step, I've never been in a group where we were working on the same step at the same time; And what a time! I think it's wonderfully appropriate to be doing this interior "house cleaning" at the beginning of Spring.

Hopefully by now you all have sponsors; It really makes a big difference in this step; If you do not yet have a sponsor, I would recommend, at the least, getting a temporary sponsor; If anyone needs the current list of online sponsors, please e-mail me privately.

I am a believer in working the steps as a continual process; Each time we cycle through the steps, we reach deeper levels of understanding; This step takes a lot of courage to begin and follow through to the end, but the payoff is tremendous.

I very much look forward to reading all of your shares each week!

Love in recovery,

Lee


Up
Return to the top





Step Four ~ Part 1

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


My name is Lee and I'm a compulsive overeater. I was first exposed to 12-step programs in January 1991, shortly after meeting my husband. He had been attending AA for about 4 years and thought it was important in our relationship. (He was right!) Though my food addiction (especially sugar) was active by the time I was 4 years old, it took me four years of being a "guest" in his AA meetings, as well as some time of my own in and out of OA, to realize that I am an addict.

I am one of those people that wants to learn everything vicariously. You name it, there's a good chance I've read it. I somehow exempted myself as one of those who has to roll up her sleeves and apply elbow grease to get the most out of my life. I glided through a lot of my early life, because on the outside I looked fine. The reality is that I "checked out" a good deal of the time.

When I was exposed to 12-step groups, I had a similar attitude. I knew the twelve steps by heart and thought they were "wonderful tools" that "everyone could benefit from." My arrogance is almost embarrassing, but so typical, I think, with my level of denial.

When I had that moment of clarity, it was because I saw a reflection of myself in my mother. I was 32 years old, visiting her, and had the sudden realization that she was an addict (active alcoholic), and probably had been my whole life. In the next instant I realized that I was also an addict and that she and I only differed in our substances of choice. (Another major difference is that she died an alcoholic, and never sought recovery.)

So I dived in. I went back to OA, introduced myself as a compulsive overeater and an addict, and starting working on my 4th step. Though I went to meetings, read the literature, talked program with my husband, and made occasional phone calls, I still was attempting to work the program without a sponsor. Also, for some reason I thought I had already taken the first three steps. I had done no more than read and memorize them.

In retrospect, this was a valuable exercise for me. It was a great catharsis and when I gave this step away, I became a lot more accepting of others because I had been accepted myself. The main problem was that I was still doing MY version of OA, still isolating, and doing the 4th step in the way that I did, did not set the groundwork for the steps to follow.

Therefore, I would like to focus the first set of questions on getting ready. I'd like all of us to think about the steps we've taken so far, as well as our hopes and expectations about this step. This is not to delay getting started - this is simply ensuring that we have set aside the time and space for this work. I mentioned sponsorship in my introduction. Together with our sponsors, we want to come up with a plan of action.

The first time I did the Fourth Step, I wrote about all of the relationships in my life, and used this journaling to uncover my assets and defects. (Yes, it was very long.) My subsequent fourth step work has been searching for ANYTHING that blocks me from having a clear, honest and open relationship with my Higher Power. As it says in the Big Book (p.66) anything that causes us to "shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit."

There are countless ways that the Fourth Step can be done.
The important thing is that we do it.
We ARE worth it!



Up
Return to the top




Step Four ~ Part 1: Questions

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


1. Do you feel complete about your work on the first three steps?

2. What are your hopes and expectations for this step?
If you've gone through this process before, how did it benefit you?

3. What are your expectations from your sponsor?

4. Have you and your sponsor come up with a plan of action?
Do you have a specific approach?
How about timeline?

5. What do the words "searching" and "fearless" mean to you?

Thank you for participating in our 1999 Step Study

Love in recovery,
Lee

Up
Return to the top




Step Four ~ Part 2:

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


Dear WTS Loop Members,

Hi, I'm Lee. I'm a compulsive overeater, and the leader for the month of April as we work through our Fourth Step.

I want to thank ALL of you for participating in this Step Study. I have especially appreciated the honesty in all of your shares. For me, honesty was the launching point for noticeable recovery. I wasn't able to get any lasting abstinence until I was able to admit that I was in the food. I believe that I got the courage to be honest by hearing others share honestly.

I was in a meeting a couple of weeks ago where the woman talked about how much easier it is to recover once we KNOW WHO WE ARE. To me, that's a big part of the Fourth Step - uncovering our secrets - the parts of ourselves that we've been afraid to look at. We do this honestly and to the best of our ability at that particular point in time. And we cycle back through the steps because as we grow in our recovery more is revealed.

There is a statement in the OA 12& 12 that really spoke to me this time around. It says, "When we face the guilt that truthfully tells us, "You made a mistake," we're freed of shame that falsely tells us, 'you are a mistake'" (page 43). What this means to me is that, though it's important in my recovery that I know that I'm a compulsive overeater and that I have faults, and even that I have positive attributes. these are all characteristics about me, they aren't ME.

I can't remember who, but someone responded to my question about the meaning of "fearless" saying that his/her interpretation of "fearless" was acting "as if" he/she didn't have any fear. That really struck a chord with me. Most of us do have fears when we do this step. Usually in doing this Step, we spend quite a bit of time looking at our fears. The Big Book says, "This short word somehow touches about every aspect of our lives." So my feeling is that doing a "fearless" inventory is our first major act of faith. We will be okay. In fact, we are okay even if we are uncomfortable, and even though we're not perfect.* Our secrets lose their power once we allow ourselves to look at them.



Up
Return to the top




Step Four ~ Part 2: Questions

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



1. What kinds of feelings are coming up as you work on this Step?

2. Do you find that you have barriers to being "rigorously" honest? If so, what tools do you use to overcome this reluctance?

3. Do you notice a difference in your character defects when you're abstinent vs. when you're not?

4. Do you see the function of some of these "character defects" in your life? How have they served you in the past? Has that changed?

Thank you for participating in our 1999 Step Study

Love in recovery,

Lee



Up
Return to the top



Step Four ~ Part 3


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



Dear WTS Loop Members,

Hi everyone. My name is Lee. I'm a compulsive overeater and the leader for the month of April.

From the flood of private inquiries, and the number of posts to our group, I gather that many of you are well into this Step. Others are just getting started. Some of you are feeling "stuck." Several people have commented that they had previously started Fourth Steps and had not finished.

I would like to focus our discussion this week on staying with it. I do not mean this in the context of being hard on yourself, but in the context of gentleness, patience and persistence.

As I've shared before, the first time I did Step Four, I was driven. It was one of those times that I was inspired, and I wrote every chance I had. However, each time I've gone back through this Step, I've encountered a lot of resistance within myself which manifests itself in a number of different ways - procrastination, boredom, busyness, sleepiness, restlessness, etc. And, this time around, when I am answering questions, it is so tempting for me not to write out complete answers, not to really search. What I realized is that we can all use other areas of our lives as examples of how we draw from our inner resources to get the job done.

Over the years I've been an outdoor adventure enthusiast. Though I seem to have been born with a naturally tendency to build strength quickly, I'm not a particularly gifted athlete. The important thing for me is being out there doing it - i.e. the journey, not the destination. But I have also found that keeping the destination in mind is an important part of the journey. So, here's one example of an "adventure" that was a difficult journey, that I finished, and from which I learned some principles that are relevant to this program, and, I think, particularly to Step Four.

I climbed Mt. Shasta (14,162') a few years ago with my husband and another male friend. We hiked to the "base camp" on July 4 (about 10,000') and spent the night. (I mention the date because I had the unique experience of watching fireworks from above and they were TINY.) The next morning, we got an early start, were full of energy and started off on our journey. We were well prepared, had had a good breakfast, gotten a decent night's sleep, had the appropriate gear etc. (There was snow at this elevation.) Everything was fine until we got to about 12,500 or 13,000 feet. Then I really noticed the altitude and was having trouble exerting myself. My limbs felt so heavy, I could take a maximum of 10 steps and then I'd have to stop and rest while I caught my breathe. Though I was very uncomfortable, I wasn't getting any of the known danger signs of altitude sickness and decided to continue, ONE STEP AT A TIME. And though my goal was 10 steps, sometimes I did have to stop and rest after only one step. It's possible that those last 100 feet took an hour, but I couldn't focus on that. All I did was kept putting one foot in front of another as long as I could.

This is what applies to the Fourth Step for me. It's that sense of knowing that the completion point is there and having it so close, yet so far away. It was about continuing even if I didn't know when I'd be done. It's about being uncomfortable and knowing that it's okay to be uncomfortable, and that the only way to is through. It's focusing my energy in each tiny step. It's not racing, accepting that this may take me a while. It's not feeling bad that others were passing me and passing me again on their way back down. It was knowing that I was doing the best that I could. I'm sure I could go on and on.

So, here we are working on our Fourth Step. And though we know we'll be coming back to it as we cycle through the steps, right now we want to complete this step to the best of our ability, keeping in mind, "progress, not perfection" but also keeping our intent to be "fearless and thorough."
 
 

Up
Return to the top

Step Four ~ Part 3: Questions


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


1. What ideas do you have about how to stay motivated? If you've done this Step before, what has worked for you in the past?

2. What experiences do you have in other areas of your life that you can draw from in order to continue working on this Step until you are finished?

3. When do you ask for help working this Step?

4. How do you nurture yourself while you are doing this Step? Are you able to be gentle with yourself? Are you able to be compassionate with yourself?
 
 

Up
Return to the top

Step Four ~ Part 4


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



Dear WTS Loop Members,

Hi, my name is Lee. I'm a compulsive overeater and the leader for the month of April as we work through our Fourth Step.

I have felt very humble in reading all of your posts. I have read so much stark honesty, courage, vulnerability and willingness. And I have strongly felt the impact of two things: 1) how powerful this disease really is and 2) that we are all recovering.

A few weeks ago (first post of the month) I talked about this being our first action step. This is where we learn to exhibit faith whether we feel it or not. We trust that by muddling through the muck within, we can begin to sort it out. We learn to accept these parts of ourselves, and we get ready to move on.

One of the surprising things I uncover when I do this step is that I'm actually a good person. There is no doubt that I have many, MANY faults, AND some of the defects I thought I had released, still recur. But, as someone said in a share, there is a beginning and an end. I also know that pure cruelty is not a motive for any of my behavior. That is not to say that I have never been cruel.

Several years ago I had an enlightening experience about the contradictory characteristics that reside within all of us. I was in a parking garage in a major city, and it was the only centrally located garage with reasonable prices. This place had 8 floors - and it was a battlefield. People were cutting each other off left and right, swerving around other cars and stealing the parking space that the other driver was waiting for etc. I felt compelled to go into defensive-aggressive mode, an after about 15 minutes of this insanity, I found a space.

The garage had two elevators. I got into one that was full of all the people with whom I'd just competed for a parking space. Several people gave me a friendly smile. As the doors were about to shut, we all saw three people at the very other end of the garage starting to run towards us. Someone held the "door open" button (remember there was a second elevator that was probably available) and we all waited patiently until these people were safely inside. They smiled and said their thanks. All of a sudden it struck me and I said aloud, "Phew! Now that we all found our parking spaces, we can afford to be considerate!" A couple of people chuckled uncomfortably, everyone else kept their eyes focused on the doors.

The amount of fear, or the lack of willingness to look at our "dark side" is so common and it was so palpable in that elevator! We are all full of contradictions and we all share many of the same character defects.

I just want to remind us that what the work we are doing in the Fourth Step is absolutely incredible. Please, everyone, pat yourself on the back. Feel free to do so any time you need or want it.

HP bless us all!

Love in recovery, Lee
 
 

Up
Return to the top

Step Four ~ Part 4: Questions


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


1. Has working with the WTS loop on this step, helped? If so, how?

2. What does the statement, "We are as sick as our secrets" mean to you? Have you discovered that as you've worked Step Four? Have you felt any relief?

3. As you do this intense interior work, do you find yourself feeling differently towards yourself? Do you feel differently towards others? If so, how have your attitudes changed?

4. Can you seen any humor in your past behaviors?

5. What are you like when you feel the best about yourself?
 
 

Up
Return to the top

Step Navigator:<


Step Three
Up
Index

Step Five




Flowers

WTS Recovery E-mail

Copyright ©. 1998, The RECOVERY Group