Step Four

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

STEP FOUR, PART 4: Not closing the door.

I'm Penny, a compulsive eater and food addict and your 2nd-quarter WTS leader.

We are at the end of our writing. We have written down the times in our lives that disturbed us (and perhaps some that brought us great joy). We have determined who the players were, and we have explored the basic instincts in ourselves that were affected and impacted by these moments. We have been willing to look at where we were at fault - or at least where we played a role. We are now going to add one more item to our list - and make yet another list.

Remember that we are looking at *ourselves* and the role we played in each situation. We are taking *our* inventory, not anyone else's. Remember that while we may think that others have "done us wrong," chances are very good that we had something to do with the conflict, sometimes wittingly, sometimes unconsciously. The point of Step 4 is to get at the root causes of our conflicts, and those involve our own behavior, beliefs and attitudes.

My sponsor told me that character defects are symptoms of instincts gone awry and out of balance. She described it as the four wheels on a car. When one wheel goes flat, there is an effect on the other wheels. If we believe or sense that an instinct - a basic human need - is not being met, a defect pops up that causes us to act in a certain way to compensate for the lack of that wheel, that instinct. Assets, on the other hand, are times of moral excellence that develop through conflict and in the face of temptation.

We are going to explore our list and make a note of what defect - and corresponding asset - arose as result of the instinct that was tapped and became our of balance. For each item on our list, we are going to label the defect. Here is the list of defects and corresponding assets my sponsor suggested.

Anger/Resentment - a violent and passionate feeling of displeasure; holding on to grudges, re"feeling" anger for an extended period of time.
Temperance - the ability to be moderate, calm and self-controlled.

Gluttony/greed - an excessive appetite for anything; doing/eating/wanting more than is good for us; overwhelming desire to have in excess of what is required or needed; the inability to let go.
Prudence - careful, frugal, discrete.

Lust - obsessive desire or craving.
Justice - conforming in conduct to principles of right (as right applies to you). Adhering to truth, reason, fairness.

Pride - an exaggerated sense of one's importance, a delusion from the truth both better and worse. Includes Self-seeking and selfishness, although these may be considered separate defects.
Humility - knowing that we are one with the universe; recognizing our value (and our limitations).

Sloth - habitual laziness, procrastination or desire to not take action.
Determination - willingness to follow through and accomplish goals.

Fear - belief that we will be hurt emotionally, mentally or physically.
Faith - practical dependence on a person, thing or statement; hope or belief.

Envy - selfish grudging or dislike that someone else has something we want.
Gratitude/Charity - ability to overlook faults; spiritual attitude and behavior that shows care and concern for others.

There are others that I added on my own: Controlling vs. letting go; dishonesty vs. honesty; impatience vs. patience; perfectionism vs. setting realistic goals. And there may be more pairs that you may think of. There are some defects that defy one-word definitions; each of us is free to word our "wrong" the best we can.

We are going to go through each item on our list and write the defect that was active in each experience. For example: that music teacher that gave me a failing grade? Well, I was stubborn and closed minded and unteachable; I thought I was a brilliant musician, and no one was going to tell me otherwise. Additionally, I had looked to this teacher as a kind of Higher Power, and she let me down ... hence, the resentment. The major active defects/assets: pride/humility, overdependence/ dependent thinking.

There is one more list we need to make: a list of our fears and the instincts that are affected by those fears. We may be afraid that our partner will leave us (social and emotional), we may be afraid of heights (physical safety), we may be afraid to lose our jobs (shelter, clothing, social). Fear makes us act out in destructive ways - and most fear is related to not getting something we want or believe we need. As our literature says, we find that fear is usually present when we depend on our finite selves rather than our infinite Higher Power. Does this ring a bell as you make this last list?

Thoughts for journaling/sharing:

1. Write the defect/asset entries into your list. Do you see a pattern?

2. Write your fear list. Do you see a pattern?

3. How do you feel as you approach the end of your 4th Step?

Another nudge: if you don't have a sponsor, please, please get one. And if you haven't written an inventory, please bear in mind that the Steps are not meant to be self-abusive, but rather to be self-freeing and liberating. As we say, "don't quit before the miracle!"

See you in Step 5.

Yours in recovery,


Step Three

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