STEP FOUR

Made a searching and fearless
moral inventory of ourselves.







Essay

When I came to OA the second time back in the mid 80's, I was only willing to do those things in program that were "comfortable" for me to do. Working Steps Four through Nine were in no way a comfortable thing for me to do. I knew the program was not working for me; I simply did not know the reason was that self-will and fear were holding me back from doing the IMPORTANT things in program. So I left OA and did not return until 2002.

This time I joined OA online, and somehow working program on the computer was easier for me than facing real, live people. (I lead a local step study now with actual real, live people.) RODAT (Recovering One Day At a Time) was an online OA group that was starting an extensive step study so I joined. I had to get a sponsor, which I did, and I attended that step study one hour a week for sixteen months. That is how long it took us to complete all Twelve Steps. That experience was invaluable to me! We took our questions from the OA Workbook, and that is how I did my Step Four and how I have done it twice more. Those questions were intrusive, thought provoking and a learning experience I never want to forget. Since I was doing the Step Four with a sponsor along with five other women, I wasn't so scared. We were all in this together. It is the first place that I began to understand that I was not a bad person doing bad things, but an unhealthy person acting out in a sick manner due to a progressive disease.

The kind of experiences I had had in life were uniquely mine, but they were also quite similar to what others had experienced in a life led by a disease of addiction. For 35 years of my adult life I had felt shame and guilt and remorse over many things I had done in life. I "used" those experiences and those feelings to convince myself that I was hopeless. It was the emotional and spiritual part of my disease that made me feel so completely and utterly unfit to be amongst humanity. I spent all my adult life shoveling food down my throat to cover the pain I felt from all that shame, guilt and remorse.

Step Four is difficult and quite painful, and I needed all the support I could get simply to make it through. The pain I had tried so hard to cover with food was now having to be faced. I took the hand of my sponsor and those wonderful five other women, and together we did what we could not do alone. I faced my pain and I faced who I am and what I did and I survived. It was the beginning of my emotional and spiritual healing. As I faced the person I had become, I began to let go of all that shame and all that guilt and all that remorse. In listening to the shares of the other women, I began to see that I really was not as unique as I had supposed. Some of their shares were worse than mine, some much better. It didn't really matter because we totally accepted each other for exactly who we were and not for what we had done.

Let your healing begin by facing the pain that causes you to continue to want food MORE than you want recovery.

Love in recovery,
Cindi L




Prayers

Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

FOURTH STEP PRAYER:

Higher Power,
It is I who have made my life a mess. I have done it, but I cannot undo it. My mistakes are mine and I will begin a searching and fearless moral inventory. I will write down my wrongs, but I will also include that which is good. I pray for the strength to complete this task.


Principle of Step Four:

In Step Four, we learn courage as we faced the truth about our defects of character. Applying these principles in all our affairs means that we are no longer ruled by a fear of admitting our mistakes.

The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
of Overeaters Anonymous: Page 104




Study Guide:

To help comprehend the questions, please read The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA. Read the chapter on Step Four, then answer the questions, go back and reread the Step Four chapter and add onto your answers if needed.

You might also like to read, in the BB of AA (Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous), the chapter titled How It Works, pages 63 to 71. (Fourth Edition)




Instructions

There are many different ways of working through Step Four. Some of you have already done Step Four Inventories more than once and some have never done any. To me, it doesn't matter which method is used as long as we face who we are and what we have done so that we may let go of the pain and begin to heal. If you wish to do your Step Four in a different manner, that is perfectly fine with me. All I ask is if you do it your way, do so with the help of your sponsor.

For those of you who wish to follow my lead, here is my suggestion on working your way through Step Four:

In the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Step Four is divided into four different sections: Pride, Fear, Resentments and Honesty. Fear and Resentments will have exercises to do and Pride and Honesty will have a set of questions to answer.

We will be doing Step Four as a two parter over a period of two weeks. The first part will be Step Four: Fear Exercise and Pride questions. The second part will be Step Four: Anger Exercise and Honesty questions.

As I always instruct my local step study, DO NOT SHARE with us anything that is too personal, too private or you will regret later. Share only a few examples of what you feel comfortable in sharing. You will share ALL of your inventory in Step Five with another person (preferably your sponsor, but it can be a therapist, minister or priest or an understanding OA member or friend.)

REMEMBER TO SHARE WITH US ONLY A FEW EXAMPLES OF WHAT IS COMFORTABLE FOR YOU TO SHARE. WE DO NOT NEED YOUR ENTIRE INVENTORY. THANK YOU!



I admit this will take some time for each of us to complete. Take it section by section. That seems the easiest way to handle it. If you have any questions, please ask. I am here to help.

Love in recovery,
Cindi L





FIRST SECTION: FEAR

Fear Exercise: Make a list of people, places and things that you fear and why you fear them.

Here are some examples of my own fears:

People Example: I am afraid of people in social settings like parties because I am not good at conversations and I am afraid they will think me stupid.

Places Example: I am afraid of going to the dentist because my teeth are very important to me and I am afraid it will be bad news and cost me money.

Things Example: I am afraid of the phone because I do not hear very well and I misinterpret what people say and it causes me embarrassment.


SECOND SECTION: PRIDE

Questions:

1. Are we power hungry? Do we enjoy controlling and/or manipulating others? Do we intimidate people?

2. Are we jealous of others including our mates or friends?

3. How do we react when we do not get our way? How do we react when others do not agree with us? Are we intolerant of differences?

4. Do we try to smooth stormy waters or are we troublemakers? Do we need to be the center of attention?

5. Are we status seekers and/or snobs? Do we treat people differently according to what they have?

6. Have we belittled others? Do we put people in their place? Have we ever played a mean trick on anyone? Do we condemn others for things we are guilty of? Are we hypocrites?

7. Are we over sensitive? Or do we brush everything off, pretending it doesn't hurt us?

8. Are we selfish with our time? Our energy? Our money?

9. Do we take on the responsibilities of others? Do we let the needs of others govern us?

10. Can we admit our mistakes? Do we accept our own failings? Or do we criticize, condemn and complain?

11. Are we bigoted? Do we acknowledge that others are sometimes right? Do we accept that others have failings? Or do we criticize, condemn and complain about them?

12. Are we people pleasers? Do we need everyone to like us? Are we afraid to say no to others?


THIRD SECTION: RESENTMENTS

In this section, please follow this format which is described in The Twelve Steps - A Spiritual Journey:

I resent ______ because ______. This affects _____. This activates ______. This makes me feel _____.

Here are some examples of my own resentments.


My example: I resent my mother growing old. This affects my sense of security. This activates fear. This makes me feel like I will be left alone in the world without any emotional support.

My example: I resent not getting a college education. This affects my self-esteem and my economic security. This activates anger, self-pity and fear. This makes me feel less than I am when I cannot support myself well.

My example: I resent not being able to be open emotionally with my family and friends. This affects my sense of security. This activates fear and anger. This makes me feel left out and unloved.

My example: I resent my physical pain and the limits it places on me. This affects my sense of security. This activates fear and anger. This makes me feel very vulnerable.


FOURTH SECTION: HONESTY

Questions:

1. Have we ever stolen anything? Make a list of each incident we can remember in which we have taken money, food and/or other things which did not belong to us.

2. Have we kept money or items we found instead of returning them to their rightful owners? Have we ever damaged anyone's property and not paid for the damage? Have we ever cheated anyone out of money or property? Make a list of each incident we can remember.

3. Dishonesty is a form of self-deception. Do we dwell on the dark side of things? Are we grateful for what we do have in life? Are we optimistic or pessimistic? Do we indulge in self-pity or do we play the martyr?




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