Step Four

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.


Hi friends.

My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater.

Let me say a few words about the need for a thorough analysis of our part in the events that led to our resentments.

I once tried a shortcut and did only the first three columns, thinking that since I realized the damage I was doing to myself by having resentments, I could get rid of them by prayers, and by trying to avoid retaliation and argument. It didn't work. The moment I thought I got rid of one resentment, another one came up.

It was really similar to what I once did with food. I understood the harm in my bingeing, and I found out what my trigger foods were. I made a food plan, turned it to my sponsor and to God, I prayed to God to help me with my commitment, and went to meetings. I really used all the tools talked about in meetings like writing, reading, talking on the phone, giving service, and still I could not stay abstinent. I didn't know the reason then. I know it now.

I had not worked all the steps. I didn't really have a spiritual awakening. I was not freed of my obsession and therefore I could not remain abstinent, no matter how much I tried and prayed. The change comes when we build new relations with God, ourselves and others by working all the steps, and I didn't do that. I got temporary relief, but then the obsession overcame me and I fell flat on my face.

Something similar happened with my resentments. I knew they were wrong. I tried to get rid of them by avoiding retaliation and argument, I knew I could not deal with them and therefore prayed to H.P. for help, but it didn't work, since I didn't bother to identify the source of the resentments inside me. I didn't identify my character defects. I didn't analyze how they affected my basic inner self and therefore I could not change.

In this post we are going to look a bit more deeply into the nature of our character defects, and the way they manifest in our life.

According to The Big Book, the root of our spiritual disease is self-centeredness. Till now we identified five major manifestations of self -centeredness, namely: selfishness, self-seeking, inconsiderate, frightened and dishonest. Now we are going to see how these major manifestations are expressed in our life in more detail by manifestations of less complex defects that have their roots in those five.

We do this further analysis since we are asked to look "Where were we to blame?" page 67.

And in step 5 we are asked to admit "...the exact nature of our wrongs."

The Big Book gives us some information on that. Sometimes it is explicit and sometimes implicit.

"... he is sure other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self pitying ... is he not really a self- seeker ... Is he not a victim of delusion? ... are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity?

"Selfishness - self centeredness! That we think is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self pity, we step on the toes of our fellows...

"... The compulsive eater is an extreme example of self-will run riot. ...

"... We had to quit playing God." pages 61, 62.

"We avoid retaliation and argument." page 67

"We pocket our pride [false pride]..." page 75


"Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort..." page 64.

This is a clue to the defects of procrastination and laziness.

The Big Book also tells us what assets we should cultivate with God's help to replace the character defects that we ask God to remove.

"We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity and patience we would cheerfully grant a sick friend.... How can I be helpful to him?...

"... God will show us how to take a kindly and tolerant view..." page 67.

"We have begun to learn tolerance, patience and good will toward all men, even our enemies, for we look on them as sick people." page 70.

So we are shown what assets we have to cultivate and this also informs us of the defects of intolerance and impatience.

Let me write down a liabilities and assets table based on those quotes and add some more liabilities from my personal experience. This will of course be a sample list since not every liability on it manifests to the same degree (if at all) in everyone's life. You are free to add or subtract from it as you see fit.

Just to give an example, I have the defect of procrastination, but I know a lot of compulsive eaters who don't have this defect. Some even go to the opposite extreme and become workaholics not only at their job, but in a lot of other areas in their life.

It is interesting to note that an asset can turn into a defect if it is taken to the extreme. For example determination can be turned into stubbornness, frugal into stinginess, etc... We are an example of self-will run riot, which also means going to extremes.

This program teaches us moderation and balance in all things.

Now to our liabilities and assets list.

self-centered putting God at the center and seeking to do God's will
The above defect is the root of our spiritual disease.
resentful forgiving, loving
fearful having courage, which stems from having faith
hurting others acting in consideration of others
The above liabilities are the basic manifestations of our
spiritual disease.
selfish thinking about the good of others
self-seeking acting for the good of others
inconsiderate considerate of not hurting others by my actions and words
dishonest honest
The above defects are our grosser handicaps, which make us resentful, fearful, or hurt others.

The following lists defects that are a simpler (less complex) manifestation of our grosser handicaps.

conceited humble
controlling let go, esp. of other's lives
critical nonjudgmental
envying generous, thankful for what I have got
gluttonous moderate
gossiping praising
greedy generous, sharing
impatient patient
intolerant tolerant
jealous trusting
judgmental tolerant
justifying honest
lying honest
lazy industrious
manipulative non-controlling
people pleasing self-caring, acknowledging my self worth
perfectionist setting realistic goals
prejudiced open-minded
procrastinating acting promptly, not delaying
self-pitying grateful for what I have
self-righteous humble
stealing honest
treacherous trustworthy
ungrateful grateful
vengeful forgiving

Now let us finish our resentment table.

We add another column. The heading of this column will be:

"What was my part?"
(The nature of my wrongs)

In this column I write, for each resentment, what I did in this situation. We write in bullet sentences (short and to the point) and describe the different manifestations of our grosser liabilities (the grosser liabilities are selfishness, self-seeking, inconsiderate, dishonest and frightened). To help us write in such a way we may use the liabilities and assets list that was given here as an example.

Examples of bullet sentences are:

Lied to mother, cheated on my spouse, procrastinated, gossiped, people- pleased, etc...

Let us turn to the Example on page 65 BB and write this column for the first entry. I will first repeat here the example I gave in my previous post just for continuity.

Let me assume that the table on page 65 is mine, and do the procedure for Mr. Brown.

I read why I resent him in the second column, and see in the third column how my sex relations, self-esteem, and security were affected. Reading all this brings up my resentments again, so now I say the prayers.

"God, help us show Mr. Brown the same tolerance, pity, and patience that I would cheerfully grant a sick friend."

"God save me from being angry. Thy will be done."

Now I put a star mark * in the prayer column.

Then I go over to consider my part in the "Where was I" column.

I ask myself the following: Was I selfish? YES, thinking only of my sexual pleasures (affects my sex relations). REMARK: I write in italics my basic instincts that were affected. Was I self seeking? YES, I acted selfishly by neglecting my wife and having an affair (sex relations). I acted selfishly by telling Mr. Brown about my mistress (self esteem). I acted selfishly by neglecting my job (self esteem, security).

Was I inconsiderate? YES, I had no considerations for my wife's feelings and how she is being hurt by my affair (sex relations, self esteem).

Was I dishonest? YES, keeping secrets from my wife (sex relations, self-esteem).

Was I frightened? YES I was afraid that my wife and my mistress will leave me after my wife found out about my affair (sex relations, self-esteem). I was afraid of losing my job (self-esteem, security),

Now all I have to write down in my column is the following:

Ss, S, I, F, D

I don't add anything to that. All the above was done in my head.

Now let me look again at my YES answers and see what I can write in the "What was my part" column.

I don't repeat the character defects that I listed in my previous column. In this one I write the various manifestations of those defects. So here is what I write:

I was disloyal to my wife, I gossiped (told Mr. Brown about my mistress), I didn't do my job properly (procrastination, stealing , etc...), I tried to control my wife.

Before we finish with this example let us consider the mirror effect. A lot of times we resent others because they exhibit character defects that are identical to our own. This is called the mirror effect.

In order to see it let us look at the second column on page 65, "The Cause."

Let us see what character defects Mr. Brown supposedly exhibits here. Flirting with another woman, gossiping, manipulative at the office. Now I ask, "Do these fit me?"

YES, they do. In this way I can be reminded of defects that I missed. I see now that I can add manipulative to my last column.

I also see now that Mr. Brown has the same defects that I do. This makes it easier to look at him not as an ogre, but as a human being with the same flaws I have, and realize that my resentment is a bit superfluous.

Now, let us ask the following:

Will my step 4 be perfect if I take it this way? The answer is NO!!!! There is no such thing as a perfect inventory. Let us be satisfied in doing whatever we can at this stage. If we miss something, or are not aware of something, we can always add it in our future step work.

Next question. Is this the end of step 4? No. We will deal with the fear table in our next post.


1. Finish your resentment table by adding the "What was my part column." Use the liabilities and assets list and the mirror effect to help you fill this column.

2. Share all the columns about 4 people with us.

3. How do you feel after finishing your resentment table? Were some of your resentments removed or lessened?

See you in the fear table.

Have a nice day.


Step Three

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