Step Four

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.


Dear Friends,

I'm Tami, a COE and your Step Study Leader this Quarter. I am grateful to have done my fourth step inventory and to have found the courage, honesty and willingness to complete my Fourth Step. I didn't want to do it, but I was willing to do it.

I heard about the Step 1-2-3 Waltz and that to recover I had to work all the steps, not leaving any of them out, especially the difficult ones. Nonetheless, the thought of doing the fourth step the first time was frightening and overwhelming.

The decision I had made earlier to turn my life and will over to the care of my Higher Power was demonstrated in the surrendering to the footwork of doing Step Four. It began with a commitment to start and then to work on it everyday. I sought the help and guidance of God to help me to be fearless and searching. This kept me mindful that I was not alone. My finite power tapped into the infinite power of God.

As much as I dreaded it earlier, and started over several times, the process of the fourth step eventually got ahold of me and I HAD to do it. It became too uncomfortable to not write it down, to do it. In time, it became a very spiritual experience for me. I experienced the transformation of my fear into courage and my faith in action and trust as I took the risk and persisted. I felt very connected to my HP as I wrote and examined my conscience.

I began by writing on resentment, then fear, greed, honesty, procrastination. At times I felt detached and businesslike. Other times, I relived it and I grieved some, even shedding tears. As tough feelings came up, I became experienced first in allowing myself to feel the feeling, identifying it and then releasing it to God. It was the only way I could continue and not give up.

Other times, I found it necessary to write on my assets. Writing only about liabilities is only a portion of the inventory, and can be demoralizing and discouraging. This is a picture of all of me; talents, skills and abilities that I have. They were included, too.

They say we are as sick as our secrets. I had felt so much shame and unexplained guilt in the past. I began to find that not everything was my fault, nor was I all wrong as I'd felt I was before my recovery. I examined my part, what was my motivation. Survival skills used as a child were no longer working in me as an adult. I needed a better way to live....and the self knowledge I've gained in Step Four has helped me to find the balance between my part and other's.

I was learning that I could love myself unconditionally, just as my HP does. That became a grace that I could ask for as well in my life. And I learned an important truth about me. I was neither the best or the worst. I was human. A very complex mixture, but now faced honestly.

Step Four helped me to get in touch with my frozen feelings. I began to see the patterns and the tendencies to resent, to fear, to protect myself through pride and selfishness. All survival skills gone awry because I did not know a different way to react. But, now I had made a conscious decision to turn my will and my life over to God and I would be guided one step at a time, one day at a time as I worked the Steps and kept seeking my HP's will for my life. Now, I had a starting point of self knowledge the fourth step had begun in me to act in wise ways that I could consciously choose.

I found what was unconsciously driving and controlling me. This step is just one to being restored to sanity. But, first we must discover what is not working. And we write it down.

There are many formats for working the Fourth Step. If you are a person who likes structure and questions, the AA BB gives a good explanation in Chapter 5 How It Works. OA has a booklet titled The Fourth Step Guide of Overeater's Anonymous. Your sponsor will have suggestions to aid you. But, ultimately, you must Just Do It! Don't analyze it, utilize it. Don't wait until you want to do it, become willing to do it. Pray, meditate, then go for it.

Some suggestions that are helpful:

Commit to doing it on a regular basis until you have completed it. Don't be brutal, self condemning, or harsh on yourself. This is about what you have done and how you acted or reacted to events in your life. Write on YOUR part, this is your inventory. We are uncovering our self defeating behavior and negative thinking.

We discussed in the first few steps how to take good care of ourselves when we feel unstable, or have food thoughts. This is when we are needing to use the tools to make ourselves feel better without resorting to misuse of our trigger foods. Take good care of yourself while you are doing it. Use your support in your OA friends, sponsor and meetings.

I had such a good feeling of accomplishment when I finished my first inventory. It was my most thorough one, I had nearly 50 years of my life to inventory. And my faith in my HP deepened and expanded. I also found I could trust myself. It was the beginning of a growing self confidence that is rooted in my connection to my HP.

I also found it helpful to set a date to do the fifth step. This helped me to avoid procrastination and to meet my goal. And there is always the option to change the date, if more time proves to be needed.

It is important to work with a sponsor. They have done it and will answer your questions and cheer you on.

Are you ready to get rid of the unnecessary baggage of the past?

WTS Step Study Leader


A template for working Step Four from the OA Fourth Step Inventory Guide. DO NOT SEND TO THE LOOP. This is a suggested format for your personal use.

Hi, I'm Tami, your WTS Step Study Leader.

Resentment is labeled the "number one" offender. It destroys more COEs than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. (AA BB)

List people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry. And why?

Are you holding onto a grudge because at one time or another someone threatened or damaged your self-esteem, security, ambitions or relationships? Have you tried to get even with people who hurt you? Do you make a point of never forgetting when someone has done you harm?

Do you hold a grudge against anyone due to jealousy? Are you envious of other people's appearance, wealth, sex life, popularity, possessions or position in society? If so, list these jealousies in your inventory. Do you carry grudges against yourself for things you did or failed to do, or for the fact that you are a compulsive overeater? If so, include yourself on your grudge list.

Looking at your anger, ask yourself whether you tend to be harsh, unforgiving and self-righteous.

Do you misdirect your anger? Do you lash out at those closest to you, rather than telling the person with whom you're really annoyed why you're angry? Have you abused others verbally and physically? You need to list each incident you can remember in which you verbally or physically struck out at another person. Have you ever taken anyone's life because of your anger, fear, carelessness or another reason?

How has greed affected your life? Are you generous or selfish? Are you satisfied when your needs are filled, or are you always wanting more, seldom content with what you have? Are you obsessed with money? Do you believe more money would solve all your problems? Do you spend money faster than you can make it? Are you a responsible manager of the money you have? Do you pay your bills?

In what ways have you been lazy and slothful? Have you been a procrastinator? If so, write it down, along with incidents inw hich you have procrastinated. Are you a perfectionist? Do you delay starting things you are afraid you can't do to perfection? Or, on the other hand, do you carelessly rush into things without due thought? Are you impatient?

Do you do your share of the work in groups you're a part of, or do you sit back and wait for someone else to volunteer?

Are you overly dependent on others? Do you expect them to protect you from the consequences of your actions, to make you feel good or to take care of things you should be doing for yourself?


Honesty, open-mindedness and willingness have been described as a key to success in a Twelve Step Program. Honesty may have been a problem in the past. Do you trust people, or do you have faith in no one, including yourself? Perhaps you have not been able to trust because you haven't been trustworthy. A willingness to be honest is essential to recovery in OA. How often do you tell the truth? How much do you lie? To whom have you lied and under what circumstances? What have you lied about?

Have you been sneaky or practiced deception? Have you taken advantage of someone's ignorance instead of telling the full truth? Have you kept money or items you found instead of returning them to their rightful owners? Have you ever stolen anything? List each incident you can remember in which you have taken money, food or other things which didn't belong to you.

Did you ever damage anyone's property and not repair or pay for the damage? Have you ever cheated anyone out of money or possessions? In what cases have you borrowed things and not returned them? Have you ever broken a confidence?

Have you ever cheated on tests, in games, or contest? Do you make a habit of cheating? Have you cheated and lied to yourself? Have you lived in denial about your eating, your character defects or your need to change?


Take a look at your fears. For many of us, fear, worry and anxiety have played a key role in our lives, robbing us of joy and keeping us from fulfilling our dreams. It is not until we take inventory in Step Four that we begin to realize that we don't have to live with fear. First list the people, places adn things that have caused you fear. Then look at other ways fear has affected you.

I fear: It's Effect:

Are you anxious about the future? How much of your time do you spend worrying? Are you afraid of people? Do you isolate yourself from your friends or society? Are you afraid to reach out to new people? Have you held back from others, waiting for them to come to you? Do you repeatedly get into relationships with the kind of people who mentally or physically abuse you? Are you afraid to end existing relationships which are destructive or inappropriate for you?

Have you delayed seeking new jobs or careers, held back by worry and fear? Are you so afraid of change that you remain in situations that are not good for you? Are you afraid to express yourself, to tell others how you feel? Are you so afraid of conflict that you accept abuse rather than risk asserting yourself?

When has fear held you back from taking other actions you should have pursued? Have you stood by and allowed another person to be hurt when you could have done something to prevent it? Did you ever let another person get blamed or punished for something you did? Have you ever abandoned a person you had a responsibility to help?


Ask yourself if you have been prideful. Have arrogance and false pride characterized you behavior? If so, list them in your inventory. Then, illustrate the characteristic of pride by listing examples of how pride has caused you to act.

Examples of my prideful behavior:

Are you power hungry? Have you enjoyed controlling others? In what ways have you tried to control your spouse, parents, brothers or sisters, children, friends, employers, colleagues, teachers, or others? Do you manipulate people? Do you intimidate them?

Have you been jealously possessive of a mate or friend? How do you react when you don't get your own way? How do you react when people disagree with you? Are you intolerant of differences? Do you try to smooth stormy waters, or are you a troublemaker?

Have you insisted on being the center of attention? Have you acted offensively just to be noticed? Are you afraid that you won't be recognized, respected, or loved? Do you fear that you won't get your share or that you won't be listened to? Do you push to be the first in line? How has prideful self-centeredness caused you to act?

Are you a status-seeker? How much money, time and energy have you spent trying to impress or show yourself to be better than others? Are you a snob? Do you pay more attention to the "VIPS" than to "ordinary" people? Have you sought to put people down or put them in their place? Have you repeatedly belittled anyone? Have you ever played a mean trick on anyone?

Have you condemned others for things you are also guilty of? Are you a hypocrite, even as you denounce the hypocrisy of others? Have you ever deliberately defamed someone? Do you indulge in gossip yourself, or listen to and enjoy the gossip of others? Are you oversensitive, quick to take offense at what people say to you? Or do you laugh everything off, pretending nothing hurts you?

Are you selfish, letting your own desires govern you while you ignore the needs of others? Have you spent money your family needed in order to feed your illness or gratify your own desires? Have you been unavailable to your children or your mate when they needed you? Or do you let the needs of others govern you while you ignore your own? Do you take on other people's responsibilities, doing for them the things they should be doing for themselves?

Are you willing to claim responsibility for the problems you've caused, or have you tried to shift blame to others? When have you rationalized your misbehavior?

Are you bigoted? Have you ever denied anyone fair treatment because of race, religion, politics, gender or disability? Do you tell ethnic, racist or sexist jokes? If not, are you afraid to say that you enjoy such "humor"?

Can you admit your mistakes and acknowledge that others are sometimes right? Are you teachable or complacent? Do you accept your own failings and those of others as natural, or do you criticize, condemn and complain?

Are you a people-pleaser? Do you need everybody to like you, so much so that you make it your goal to find out what people want and give it to them, no matter the cost to yourself? Are you afraid to say no to others? Are you defiant, either openly or secretly? What is your attitude toward laws, rules and people who have legitimate authority over you?


Negative thinking is another form of self-deception which plagues many compulsive overeaters. Do you tend to dwell on the dark side of things? Are you thankful for what you have or do you ignore your blessings and focus on what you lack? Are you optimistic or pessimistic? Do you concentrate on working for good, or do you become obsessed with bad things which might happen to you?

Has your negative outlook made life bleak for others, who live or work with you? Have you been cynical and critical? Have you indulged in self-pity? Have you played the martyr?

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