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

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Step Five


Step Four ~ Introduction

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



Dear WTS Loop Members ~

My name is John, jomarst1@aol.com, and I will be your step leader for Step Four this April. I am a gratefully recovering compulsive eater, and this April 9, I hope to celebrate seven years of abstinence. For me, working the steps is the way of recovery.

In our first three steps we have come to rely on our Higher Power to keep our compulsion at bay one day at a time, so that we can next begin the process of relearning life in ways that do not feed into our compulsions. The purpose of steps four through nine is to provide us with a mechanism to reprogram our lives in the direction of recovery rather than disease. In these six "middle steps," the fourth one is essential to the rest. Without a good fourth step, we simply cannot do the rest very well. The questions that I will ask, the answers that I give, are to serve only as examples of how I do the step at this moment. For your fourth step, do whatever is necessary to make it work for you.

Not long ago someone said that the proof of having completed the third step is to be working the fourth step. Alas, I hear so many people say they have done the first three steps, but haven't done the fourth one yet. By the light of what this person said, they really cannot say that they have done the first three. This isn't, of course, a test of any kind. It is simply that I have not turned my will and my life over to the God of my understanding if I can't trust my Higher Power to lead me through the next phase of my recovery, which is step four. I'm reserving my will for myself, if I don't move on. Let me urge you to take this inventory, whether with my questions or any other process.

For me, and I suspect for all of us, a true moral inventory would go beyond all the news that fit to print. Therefore, I am asking my questions with the realization that there must be some postings to our loops, and there must be some things that are reserved for step five.

If a make a thorough moral inventory, will it reveal good things about me as well as bad? Will it show that much of what I do is morally indifferent?

With my first sponsor, in another city, I came to believe that this question wasn't just asking for my "immoral" inventory. The right assessment of myself would include the good, the bad, and the indifferent. Coming to know my own goodness has been a precious part of my recovery. It has enabled me to see the goodness in others, and there is so much of it. But a large part of not seeing myself as "bad" has been to realize that much of what I do really morally indifferent. This has helped me to quit making large issues out of nothing, which, in turn, has helped me "even out" the emotional roller coaster I once seemed to be riding in my life.

Once upon a time the word moral could conjure up a great deal of fear for me. Being moral was to obey the tapes that had been set to play in my head. These tapes included many dire and fearful threats and punishments, and very little of love or attraction. Buttons were wired so that if I did not maintain a certain sort of rigid approach to life, I was fearful of the results. So much of the time life consisted of covering up mistakes, denying things that seemed to defy the tapes, and not enjoying very much. I used food and drink to help me hide from the truth.

1. If I make three columns for my inventory, what things about me would fill the good, the bad, and the indifferent?
2. What, in terms of the steps, does the word "moral" mean?
3. Where did my moral definitions come from?
4. Are my tapes still playing old untruths that make me fearful to find my own reality?
5. Which need to be erased, and which need to be kept?
6. Where are the buttons that are being punched?
7. Do I want to keep them or unwire them?
8. What does my list look like now?




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Step Four ~ Part 1

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



I am hardly fearless. Fear has driven so much of my life, has greased the skids for me into my compulsion. How can I now become fearless? Tell me, "don't be afraid," but tell me how not to be afraid. My hyper vigilance is driven by fear. My antennae quiver constantly to try to catch the drift of my world, so I can get out of the way of trouble. I am very much afraid.

The very things which I fear that are a major key to a successful, helpful inventory. What do I really fear? Perhaps it is that I will be punished if I don't guess what some insane parent tape is going to play before it is played. The tape is not in a parent, it is in my own head. It is my internalization of reality. Right there, I have made progress. Perhaps the tape reflects a reality I once knew, but now it reflects my reality, for it is playing in my head, and not that of another. My inventory is not to fret about the origins of the tape, but to acknowledge its existence as a part of me. I may need to erase that tape. If my response is to blame those who seem to have helped put it there, I waste valuable time. My problem is not finding out who put it there, but how I can erase it. My inventory does not discuss others, it discusses me. I am afraid, and I ate to calm my fears. But they are MY fears. Just owning them is progress. Eventually, I will find a way to erase the tape, and another shortcoming will be removed. Right now, I put it on my inventory list.

I have to go as far as necessary to get to the bottom of things. Where are my resentments? What are they really about? I married a truly wonderful person. Why do I have resentments about her? Is it because she doesn't always measure up to my standards of perfection? When was the last time I measured up to my standards of perfection? Perhaps she is in fact a great human being, with some faults as are common to humanity, but they are hers to deal with, and she is mine to love. She has no vicious habits, which is more than I could say for myself for much of our life together. Searching this out leads me to the discovery that my resentments tell me more about myself than about others.

I always was amused by an example in the Big Book of a resentment against someone who was thought to have told the wife of the person who was having an affair. The resentment always points back to the person who has it. In this case, it was he who was having the affair! How often we search out the speck in the eye of another, while ignoring the beam in our own. How often we fail to observe that the pointed finger results in four pointed back at ourselves.

I have to search for the things in me that lead me to the resentments of others that I have. That is often quite a search, since I don't want to face myself like that. But if I am to move on, I must.





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Step Four ~ Part 1: Questions

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





1. The big question is, how do I make my moral inventory "searching and fearless"?

2. How can I make a fearless moral inventory?

3. How far do I have to go to be searching?





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Step Four ~ Part 2

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



Denial, or De Nile, is not a river in Egypt, as we say. When I was into the food, I was into denial in any number of ways. I denied being in pain, and needing my "fix," and I denied that my eating problem was a "fix." And I denied a lot of other things. The addiction process with food is terribly complicated. Besides food in general, there are specific trigger foods, or foods toxic to our recovery. There is the problem with quantities – too much for some, too little for some. Eating itself, the act of mastication, chewing, produces calming chemicals in the mind. That is why gum and tobacco o are popular, not counting sugar and nicotine. There is satiety, the feeling of fullness, which so many of us know. It makes us truly dopey, sleepy. An d then there is the obsession with size, in one way or another. I know I used my size as a way to hide from relationships. I really didn't love myself, and the size gave me the self fulfilling prophesy that no one else did either. Denial is so powerful that whole families are into it at once.

I believe that when I have completed the first three steps I have reached a place where I no longer need my systems of denial. True, habit dies hard, and every year when I come back to this step, I find that there are things I had not realize before. But the point is to be honest with myself, honest with my Higher Power, and as we know, in the next step to be honest with another human being. My moral inventory is as fearless and searching as I can allow myself to be when I have surrendered the care of my life and my will into the care of the God of my understanding. I got this way by trying to survive alone in a fearful world. I know now that I am not alone, and there is much love both within me and within my fellow recovering Compulsive Eaters.

There are two ways to do it wrong. One is to try Fourth Step Lite. The other is Fourth Step Enriched. Too little, and too much. When I dialogue honestly with myself, sometimes painful things do come up. My pain avoidance tendencies are well established. I must not let that stop me from carrying through. At the same time, I will trust my Higher Power to give me this time around only what I am able to deal with at this point in my journey. God willing, next year I will be back, and that much further along the road to recovery. Perhaps some more things will be ready for me to deal with then.

For now, I will trust that when I feel the relief that comes with the cleansing of this step, I have done what I need to do. I will not avoid the painful, and I know that I will not be overwhelmed either.






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Step Four ~ Part 2: Questions

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


1. How can I be sure that my inventory is not another expression of denial?

2. When do I know that I am done with this step for the time being





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Step Four ~ Part 3

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




A story for this week, then some questions to see if you paid attention!

My friend said that he had decided to quit drinking. It wasn't that he was an alcoholic. He wasn't addicted to alcohol. He could just walk away. What made him decide was a Fourth Step Workshop. He had come to realize that even though he had allowed himself a moderate amount of alcohol in his food planning, and had never been bothered with a desire to keep on drinking, something was very wrong. Only a little alcohol left his mind somehow clouded. He had made many terrible decisions with only a glass or two in him. He had never quite gotten on a roll with his abstinence, either, and he had come to realize that his binges always seemed to start after a drink. He hadn't written the alcohol down; it, in itself, presented no issue. He had just come to see a pattern in his behavior, and was convinced that he could not drink at all and lead a sane life.

He had good abstinence for a while, but lost it because he thought he had solved his problem, and didn't need to work the Steps anymore. He had forgotten that it was in working the Steps that he had found an issue in the first place. He was thankful that we can always make a new beginning, but rueful that he had not continued daily to take inventory, and work the Steps.






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Step Four ~ Part 3: Questions

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



1. What was going on when I made bad decisions?

2. What was going on when I made good ones?

3. What was going on in my life when I ate compulsively?

4. Where was my Higher Power, and what was my relationship with HP at these times?

5. What is my HP trying to tell me about my behaviors?

6. Are there patterns in my behavior that emerge as I look at my inventory?

Save your inventory. You will need it for several months to come. We have defects to deal with and amends to make.





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