Step Four

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.



STEP FOUR, PART 7

Hi friends.

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

Before I begin dealing with fears I want to add a few words about resentments. Sometimes people have some very deep-rooted resentments. The most prominent cases are victims of abuse or incest at the time they were small children. The resentments seem entirely justified since it was all the other person's doing. Justified or not our resentments continue to make us victims now, and drag us back into our disease. So we have to get rid of them for our sake. This does not mean that those who abused us were not wrongdoers. It means that the only way we can heal is by getting rid of our resentments since they damage us.

We have learned how to fill a resentment table and say the step 4 resentment prayers, can we do more? Yes we can, by taking all the steps. There is also a nice suggestion that we can add to our work, that does help and I suggest using it. It is presented in the story, "Freedom from Bondage," page 544 BB, Third and Fourth Edition.

"As I said earlier, self-pity and resentment were my constant companions and my inventory began to look like a thirty-three year diary, for I seemed to have a resentment against everybody I had ever known. All but one 'responded to treatment' suggested in the Steps immediately, but this one posed a problem.

"It was against my mother and it was twenty-five years old. I had fed it, fanned it and nurtured it as one might a delicate child, and it had become as much a part of me as my breathing. It had provided me with excuses for my lack of education, my marital failures, personal failures, inadequacy, and of course my alcoholism and, though I really thought I had been willing to part with it, now I knew I was reluctant to let it go.

"One morning, however, I realized I had to get rid of it, for my reprieve was running out, and if I didn't get rid of it I was going to get drunk." pages 551-552.

A very thorough presentation. Her resentment was her crutch and excuse for the wrong things in her life now. But still she had to get rid of it or be dragged back into her drinking.

Now to her suggested way of helping us get rid of the resentment.

"... 'If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don't really want it for them, and your prayers are only words and you don't mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it for two weeks and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.' " page 552.

All I can say is that as an addition it works. I think the reason is that by praying this way, even if at first we don't mean it, we are doing an action of practicing forgiveness. Repeating this action is like strengthening a weak muscle. After enough action it will become stronger.

Now I want to give an example of how I fill the resentment table as an abuse/incest victim when I was a small boy. I don't have any problems with the first three columns since they describe what was done to me and how it affected me. But then come the "Where was I column" and the "What was my part" column and I say to myself I was a young boy then. I did not do anything wrong, and exhibited no character defects, so all I can do is leave these columns blank. Right?

Wrong!

It is very true that I did not do anything wrong then, and exhibited no character defects, but that was then. We are dealing with the NOW. I have resentments now, which means that I use those resentments as an excuse. It can be an excuse to be selfish or self-seeking or inconsiderate or be dishonest. Everything is permitted to me since I was a poor victim, and in my mind I continue to be the poor victim. So in the "Where was I column" it is possible that I may write selfish, self-seeking, inconsiderate, and maybe even dishonest and of course frightened. And in the "What was my part" column it is possible that I will write self-pity, manipulative, self-justifying, avoiding responsibility, etc. Quite a surprising conclusion don't you think?

But what about my abusers you may ask? What about them? By having resentments we are punishing ourselves not them. I think it is time to stop abusing ourselves by our resentments - don't you agree?

Now let us deal with our fears. I think we will need much shorter explanations, since we are now quite proficient in filling the resentment table, and the fear table is similar.

This is the way the Big Book discusses fears.

"Notice that the word 'fear' is bracketed alongside the difficulties with Mr. Brown, Mrs. Jones, the employer, and the wife [the example on page 65]. This short word somehow touches about every aspect of our lives. It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune we felt we didn't deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling? Sometimes we think fear ought to be classed with stealing. It seems to cause more trouble." pages 67-68.

The Big Book tells us that we are so full of fears that "the fabric of our existence was shot through with it." Fear is at the base of all our character defects. All addicts are very fearful people, since our illness twists our perception of the world into a very hostile one. We may not realize how full of fears we are till we take step 4.

"We reviewed our fears thoroughly. We put them on paper, even though we had no resentment in connection with them. We asked ourselves why we had them. Wasn't it because self-reliance failed us? Self-reliance was good as far as it went, but it didn't go far enough. Some of us once had great self-confidence, but it didn't fully solve the fear problem, or any other. When it made us cocky, it was worse." BB page 68.

Those are the instructions for writing our fear table. We will elaborate a bit on these instructions. The fear table that we will use will be similar to our resentment table and we will fill it in the same way.

The first column will be headed "What am I afraid of." We deal first only with this column. We copy into it all the fears we identified in our resentment table. Those fears appear in brackets in the "Affected my" column and as "frightened" in the "Where was I" column.

Then we list in the first column, all our fears that do not appear in our resentment table. We may use the following prompt list as a reminder.


PARTIAL FEARS PROMPT LIST:

FEAR OF...
God, dying, insanity, insecurity, rejection, loneliness, diseases, alcohol, drugs, relapse, sex, sin, self-expression, authority, heights, unemployment, parents, losing spouse, losing a child, animals, insects, police, jail, doctors, stealing, creditors, being found out, homosexuals & lesbians, failure, success, weight loss, becoming sexually attractive, responsibility, physical pain, fear, drowning, men, women, being alone, people, crying, poverty, races, unknown, abandonment, intimacy, disapproval, rejection, confrontation, sobriety, hospitals, feelings, getting old, hurting others, violence, writing inventory, being alive, government, gangs, gossip, wealthy people, guns, change, insecurity, food, gambling, discipline, water, dark, being mugged, claustrophobia, public speaking, accidents, impotence, frigidity, obesity, suffocating, being laughed at, war, end of world, lightning, work, fifth step, electricity, Internal Revenue Service

REMARK, since we are persons of extremes we sometimes fear two opposite extremes.

For example, if I fear success I may also fear failure; if I fear getting fat I may also fear getting thin. So when I fill the first column it is suggested I check and see if I fear both extremes.

After we finish filling the first column we fill the second column. this column will be headed "The Cause." Here we will write for each fear what OTHER people and the world around us did to cause our fear. We DON'T write what we did in this column. If for a certain fear we don't know what to write, than we leave the space blank.

After finishing filling the whole second column we begin with our third column.

The Big Book says that we are afraid because self-reliance on our basic parts of self failed us. So we will call our third column: "What parts of self have I been relying on which failed me."

Those are the same parts that appeared in the resentment table, namely self-esteem, pride, emotional security, physical security, financial security, ambitions, personal relations, and sex relations.

We fill in the relevant basic parts of self as we did in our resentment table. You probably remember that from here on we filled the table by the lines and the next column was the prayer column.

Let us see what the Big Book says about it.

"Perhaps there is a better way - we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.

"We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our Creator. We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness. Paradoxically, it is the way of strength. The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear." page 68.

The Big Book tells us that reliance on our finite selves is the cause of our fears. We have to rely upon infinite God. Only God can free us of our fears.

As you can see in this program, our method of dealing with every defect including fear, is to pray to God to remove it.

Here is the fear prayer suggested by the Big Book.

"God please remove my fear of ____________ and direct my attention toward what you would have me do."

When we pray, we begin to outgrow fear.

So when we continue with our table we continue by the lines. We read what we have written about our first fear, then we say the fear prayer and put a mark in the prayer column, and then we continue with the next column "Where was I." Here we fill in the pertinent defects out of those four: selfishness, self-seeking, dishonest, inconsiderate. We can use the initials to make it shorter. Then we go over to the next column, "Where was my part," and use our liabilities and assets list from the previous post, and the mirror effect, to help us fill this column. After finishing with the first fear we begin with the second fear and so on till we fill all the table.

Now to an important remark.

Some fears may be called traumatic fears, like fear of heights, fear of closed places, and other fears that are not the result of something we or others did, at least not to our knowledge. For those fears we fill in only the first and third column, and say the fear prayer. The rest of the columns will remain blank, since we don't have anything to write there.

The other fears are of the kind I defined in a previous post. Here is the definition again.

fears: fear about some future event, expecting something that I have (money, family, job, freedom, love, etc...) to be taken from me, or expecting not to get something that I want (money, family, job, freedom, love, etc...), also fear of being found out, afraid of future results of something I did that I shouldn't have done (or something that I didn't do and should have done) in the past.

Now to an example.

Let us look at page 65 BB again. I consider it as my table and I just copy the fears mentioned in the brackets, into my fear table.

What am I afraid of:

losing my wife
losing my mistress
losing my job
being committed to an asylum
my employer
losing my house
----------------

Let us add a traumatic fear:

fear of closed places

Now let us fill all the fear table for the first fear.

I am afraid of losing my wife; "The cause" Mr. Brown told her about my mistress, he pays attention to her; "Affects my" sex relations and self-esteem; * (Said fear prayer); "Where was I" selfish, self-seeking, dishonest, inconsiderate; "What was my part" cheated on my wife, gossiped, tried to manipulate her.

Now let us fill the table for a traumatic fear.

I am afraid of closed places; blank; "Affects my" emotional security, self-esteem, personal relations, pride; *(prayer); blank; blank.


INTO ACTION AND SHARING SUBJECTS:

1. Make a fear table. Copy all your fears from the resentment table into the first column "I am afraid of" of your fear table. Add other fears that do not appear in your resentment table. You may use the fear prompt list to jog your memory.

Fill the second column, "The cause." What others did to cause your fear.

Fill the third column "affects my."

Now begin filling by the lines for the first fear. Say the fear prayer and put a mark in the prayer column.

"God please remove my fear of ____________ and direct my attention toward what you would have me do."

Saying the fear prayer makes it easier for me to see my part.

Fill in the "Where was I" column for the first fear, then fill the "What was my part" column for the first fear.

After you finish with the first fear continue with the second fear, etc...

2. Share the table for four fears with us.

3. How do you feel after completing the fear table?

See you in the sexual conduct table.

Have a nice day.
Shlomo



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