STEP FOUR

Made a searching and fearless
moral inventory of ourselves.







Essay

Made a searching and fearLESS moral inventory of ourselves (not fearful).

Open your diary/notebook and write the step 4 sentence.

After answering these questions shortly in your diary, please read the following;

BB: Chapter 5 "How it works", start -> "Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action..." (p.63,3.edition) and finish this chapter.
OA: Step 4 + read all the questions in the end of this step, and answer them in your mind. Be honest.
AA: Step 4
Listen carefully to our brother Gary:
gary-a-12steptrmntcntr2003.mp3

(To listen, left click on link, the file should begin playing automatically, This will take a few moments, patience.)
To download and save the file to your computer, Right Click and choose: "Save Target As..." a new window will open, and you can Save the file to anywhere you wish to on your computer.


While reading, take 3 colours of your own choice.
1. colour underline everything that you recognize in yourself,
2. colour underline everything that you find important, and
3. colour underline everything that you can die from.


Daily exercise for diary:

Daily powerlessness list
Daily gratitude list
Daily surrender list (with motives included)

Pray the 4rd step prayer of your choice;




Light a Candle
O God of my understanding,
Light a candle within my heart,
That I may see what is therein
And remove the wreckage of the past.

Dear God,
It is I who has made my life a mess.
I have done it, but I cannot undo it.
My mistakes are mine & I will begin a
searching & 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 the task.




Talk to your sponsor everyday!
If you think you have "nothing to say", write her/him anyway!


This is a step of courage! This is a step of freedom, itís time to let go of secrets and thoughts and bad feelings. Let it all out. Donít listen to the frightening stories about this step -- it is not bad -- itís a strong medicine.

Step four was a boogieman.

Once I got to it, instead of the pain-racked, fear-producing task that it had been made out to be by people sharing in meetings, it turned out to be one of the most gratifying and joy-producing things I had ever done in my life. Web blogger, Danny S)

You are free from self-will because youíve stopped fighting, become honest, found hope and have faith. Now itís time to show some program in ACTION, and we need our courage to change what we can. Now, letís get to work with a growth step.

Source: see bottom, Understanding step four

If we lived alone and were unable to see, we would be faced with a number of special needs. For example, we might find if difficult to clean our home thoroughly by ourselves. We might ask a sighted friend to come over and help. This friend would see areas in need of cleaning that we had missed. Our friend would point these problems out and then, we hope, help us clean them.
In step four we realize there are areas of our lives that need attention. We also realize that we cannot see all those areas. Denial has kept us blinded to the dirt in our corners. Low self-esteem has kept us ignorant about the beauty and worth of our lives. In this step, our Higher Power comes to us as a caring friend. God opens our eyes to the weaknesses in our lives that need changing and help us to build on our strengths.

Working step four
Just as any business would take inventory of its stock, we take inventory of our lives in Step Four. With clipboard in hand, we walk down the aisles of our lives and note areas of weakness and strength. When we come to relationships, we take stock of the resentments and grudges, but we also examine our loving and healthy relationships. When we come to our communication, we note the lies, but we also list the positive ways we share with others. In this process we can ask for help from our Higher Power, who knows the contents of our warehouse far better than we do.

Preparing for step four
We prepare for Step Four by recognizing that denial has been operating in our lives. We prepare by asking our Higher Power for the courage to face those areas that have been protected by denial. And we prepare for Step Four by planning to nurture ourselves during and after the inventory process. This nurturing can take a number of forms, but the goal is the same: to support ourselves to assure a thorough inventory and our continued progress. Our need for nurturing should not be underestimated. The Twelve-Step process is not easy, and Step Four is particularly demanding.

Denial is not a river in Egypt! So what is it?

Denial was one of the many ways we protected ourselves as children. It has many faces and can be easily masked. It appears in different ways and operates in various fashions. Some recognizable forms are:
Simple denial (pretend it does not exist), minimizing (refuse to see itís severity), blaming (blame someone else), excusing (that is because..), generalizing (easer to talk about everybody than myself), dodging (change the subject to avoid threatening topics), attacking (be angry or irritated).

When we first saw the words "moral inventory", we had recoiled in alarm. Surely such a task would be too massive or too unnerving! However, to our surprise we found that there came a point when we approached this task without fear, because we had come to terms with Step 3. As we surrendered to the God of our understanding, we found ourselves having "intuitions": staying away from here, call this friend, go here instead of there and so on. We came to trust the guidance that was helping us navigate away from the old addictive patterns. If God was helping us manage our external lives, it was easier to become open to clearing out the inner debris, to trust Godís guidance for the inward journey.

But how were we to accomplish this inventory? Our shared experiences showed us that no two people would do it exactly alike; there was no one, single "right way" to go about it. What we were really after was not just the relief of confession, of having completed a specific checklist or narrative of our lives. What we needed was to achieve some real understanding of ourselves, as much as possible without fear, pride or reservations. We needed to find some bedrock from which to essay, without illusion, who and what we had been in the world, what we had held ourselves up to be to others and to ourselves. Furthermore, we needed to see the motives behind the roles we played and image we presented, to understand the payoffs we had derived from our addiction.

Most of us found that writing down our inventory was very helpful. Looking at what we had done in black and white was a valuable aid to honesty and objectivity. The very qualities that helped us to build the addiction - pride, resentment, and self-justification (among others) - were the things that could prevent us from seeing it for what it was. As we read our own version of what happened, we could often see through our excuses and our need to blame others: we clearly saw the progression of our spiritual malady, and how "convenient" our memories could be in seeking to minimize our roles in our more painful debacles. (What was "between the lines" of our written inventory was often more important than the lines themselves).

As we looked at our current lives and at our past, we saw that virtually everything we did and everyone we knew was exploited to satisfy our addictive needs. We may have started our inventory with the relationships that were particularly troublesome in our lives. But we soon began to see the patterns: we gave away our lives to food, we sought people we could rescue, or who would rescue us, we ate what we didnít want to eat and so on and so on.

The process was something akin to peeling an onion. We could only do it one layer at the time, and there were often many bitter tears at the cutting of each layer. As we looked deeper, we found that many aspects of our relationships that we had labelled as "healthy" or at least "harmless" were in fact less obvious expressions of our addiction.

At first we saw only the events and the patterns that repeated themselves. Then we began to identify the emotions and motives that flowed underneath in a vile current. We now saw how dishonesty had prevented us from really seeing the progression of our disease. We had not let ourselves think about the money we had wasted on excess food, about the risks of disease, about the signs of powerlessness over being driven by addiction and obsession, about the many lies we had told to cover up our activities. Self centeredness and pride seemed to be at the root of our difficulties.

At this exhaustive inventory of ourselves continued, we came to understand why we were addicts. This was not abstract psychological theorizing about whatever influences might have "made" us this way. It was an honest look at some of the payoffs we had derived from our addiction: the comfort of self-pity, the luxury of self-justifying resentments, the apparent insulation from having to take authentic emotional risks and assume real responsibility to others. We were not merely people who had done "bad" things: we were what we had done.

Yet even as we realized how dishonest and self-centred we were, and had been, we also saw that we ourselves had often been done in. We had not consciously chosen to be compulsive overeaters. Often our normal, right-sized human needs had somehow never been met during the formative period of our lives. We realized that there was a basic loneliness which had made us afraid to be alone. So we had made food and eating our companions. The fear that we were not or could not be deserving of real love led us to make excessive sacrifices and to lie to impress others. Our fear of facing pain or making commitment drove us into relationships with people we did not like, or to stay in destructive or empty relationships. Through the fourth step process, we realized that pride and wilfulness had hidden the yearning of a lonely and fearful child, an emptiness that cried out to be filled. We did not cause it, and we could not control it. In this realization was the beginning of compassion, our first glimpse of self-forgiveness. (Source end: see bottom)




Summary questions:

  • Make a list of good characters about yourself, and a list of character defects in yourself. The two lists should be the same length!
  • What has been your survival skills? Do you admit, to having no choices at that time?
  • How has denial in various forms kept you from recovery?
  • How has resentments in various forms kept you from recovery?
  • How has fear in various forms kept you from recovery?
  • How did we avoid personal responsibility in our lives?
  • How did we take personal responsibility in our lives?
  • How did we misuse anger?
  • How did we positively express our anger?
  • When were we paralyzed by fear?
  • When did we have healthy respect for fear?
  • When did we try taking a healthy risk (for your own growth)?
  • Recall a few shameful events. Why were they shameful?
  • Remember a few times when you achieved great things; were you proud of yourself (positive)?
  • Make a list of positive self-affirmations and hang then where you can see them daily, like on the fridge. At least 30 positive characteristics about yourself. I am kind, I am helpful, I am a good mother, I am a trustworthy friend..
  • Do you have a sponsor and do you communicate? If not, you MUST pick up a new sponsor today! Go to the WTS list and write anyone now, please.
  • Who will listen to your fifth step?
  • Are you agree that resentments are like ulcers and make us sick, bitter and full of hate, self-centeredness and must be washed away if we want to grow in spirit and be free of compulsive eating?
  • Are you willing to write down all your resentments, anger, fear and problems with sex? Are you willing to admit your jealousy and shame also?
  • Do you agree that this action of writing down what we like the least in our lives, can and will set us free from shame, secrets and self suffering?





Find a paper and write down this list (do not share this lists to WTS).

Persons I resent - Why/what happened - how I would have liked it to be
Institutions I resent - Why/what happened - how I would have liked it to be
(Principles I resent - Why/what happened - how I would have liked it to be)

Persons I am angry with - Why/what happened - how I would have liked it to be
Institutions I am angry with Why/what happened - how I would have liked it to be
(Principles I am angry with Why/what happened - how I would have liked it to be

Problems with sex - Why/what happened - how I would have liked it to be
Persons, institutions or principles.

DO NOT SHARE THESE LISTS ON THE WTS LOOP! THEY ARE PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL AND MUST BE SHARED WITH YOUR SPONSOR ONLY. THIS QUESTION NO. 21 IS NOT TO BE SENT PUBLICLY.



Step 4 guarantee:

- You will experience how brave you are!
- You will be free from these painful memories that keeps you locked in self-pity and thought of revenge.
- You will learn to live TODAY, not yesterday and not tomorrow.
- You will see how everything in life happens because of various reasons and ideas, not necessarily because of meanness.
- You will learn to stop keeping emotional book-keeping. He owed me.. I deserved.. etc
- You will learn to acknowledge, accept and practice healthy personal boundaries.
- It hurts to be honest and to discover how we think, act and behave, but now itís time to set yourself free.
- Remember no one are better than others, we are ALL sick compulsive overeaters, and self centeredness and feeling sorry for ourselves is part of disease, not how we REALLY are.
- With the help of your Higher Power and your sponsor, buddies and telephone friends/angels, you will come to understand you need NOT be ashamed.
- We all have feelings, itís part of being human. Itís not wrong.
- You will learn that you, from now on, always have a choice.
- Donít be discouraged, however short or long your list is, this is the current status for you today. It will not be tomorrow, this belongs to the PAST.
- Please know that with this list, you had no other options but to compulsively eat. Who could survive these emotional battles without? This is WHY WE MUST CHANGE; "a total change of personality must take place".

Donít overdo it, this is no exam or perfect 4th step, this is an honest effort to start getting to know ourselves. 30 minutes every day is enough. Be good with yourself, God loves you and we love you too. If you ever forget that, tell us, so we can remind you.

WE ARE JUST LIKE YOU, AND THESE STEPS CAN AND WILL SET YOU FREE FROM THE PAIN OF THE PAST. AND WE DO CARE AND WILL HELP WHEN YOU ASK FOR IT AND WANT IT, AND

WE LOVE YOU, NO MATTER WHAT YOU DID!

All the best to you,
Mariam

*note: I have borrowed a few extracts from other 12 step literature, and combined with my own step questions.
The proper sources of these are:
"The 12 steps, A way out" A spiritual process of healing Friends in recovery,
"A gentle path through the 12 steps" Patrick Carnes,
"Basic text for the Augustine Fellowship, Chapter 4: the 12 step program"






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