Admitted to God, to ourselves
and to another human being
the exact nature of our wrongs.


Set Aside Prayer

"God, I offer myself to Thee -- to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!"

Please notice that it does not say that we just admit our wrongs, although that is part of the process. It says that we admit the exact nature of our wrongs. That's why the Fourth Step Inventories not only compile what we did, but draws attention, more importantly, to why we did it. The exact nature of our wrongs or why we did these things is what we need to ask God to help us with in Steps Six and Seven. Also, notice that it says that we are to first admit our Fourth Step Inventories to God. I have experienced giving my inventory away without taking time to do it privately with God first and found it to be less satisfying than doing that step with God first. I have seen some wonderful results in working with people by asking them to first find a place where they feel God's presence strongly and spend an hour or two silently or aloud sharing their inventories with their Higher Power. From doing this, there is a sense of forgiveness, accumulated power, and a little more understanding that is carried into the Fifth Step with the person or persons who will hear it.


Exact Nature of our wrongs

Many times the Big Book will use different words for the same things. So, when we hear the words character defects, wrongs, faults, mistakes, and flaws, we can see them as the same things.

Character defects are manifestations of our spiritual illness and agnosticism. They show how ill our relationship is with ourselves, God, and the people around us. They come from the emotional reactions, thoughts, and actions in our inner world and external world.

The three main character defects that are dealt with in step four are our resentments, our fears, and our feelings of regret and remorse for harming others. Those feelings may be buried but they are there. They eat at us from the inside and feed our obsession which drives us to eating triggers and binging.

In step four we put our character defects of resentments, fears, and harming others on paper. We see not only how the world reacts to us, but also, and more importantly, how we are reacting to the world. We listed some basic defects like selfishness, dishonesty, self seeking, and being inconsiderate of others and harming them. We also listed our actions like lying, stealing, self pity, procrastination, jealousy, envy, criticism, impatience, intolerance, overeating, feeling of being a victim, blaming others etcÖ

By listing them we could see how they are affecting every area of our life and how they became an integral part of our life. By seeing this, we have understood the exact nature of our wrongs. In step five, the Big Book states that I have to admit the exact nature of our wrongs three times (To God, To Ourselves, and To Another Human Being).

What happens when we skip this step?

To admit something to ourselves and to our HP is very different from admitting it in front of another human being. Thatís the part that makes most of us try to squirm out of this step. For example, most people donít give it a second thought that God might see them steal something, but if another person catches them, thatís the thing to avoid.

On page 72 the Big Book says what will happen if we donít complete this step.

"If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking (Compulsive Overeating). Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they (Binged) got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning. They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock."

We donít have to use our sponsor as someone to give our inventory to. Although, most 12 step programs recommend it, it can be given to someone else. The Big Book was written when there werenít that many sponsors, so they offered other people you could use to give the fourth step inventory away.

When choosing a person to share our inventory with, we need to make sure it is with someone who will understand yet be unaffected. The rule is to be hard on ourselves, but always considerate of others.

Receiving an Inventory

To receive an inventory, we need to be a close-mouthed understanding friend. We need to be able to keep a confidence and be understanding and approve of what he is trying to accomplish. We are not to change the sponsees plan, judge him, or to criticize. It isnít our job to approve of the sponsee. So, we donít tell the sponsee that what they are telling isnít so bad. We are to listen without judgment. We are to help the sponsee to see the truth about themselves. We do it by listening. We may draw their attention to points that they donít see clearly in their inventory. It could be a character defect that the sponsee didnít list, or a harm done to someone, where the sponsee over did it, where the sponsee thought they had harmed but in fact didnítÖ etc.

Assignments: (Please Share with us your answers to #3-7)
  • Admit the nature of your wrongs to yourself by reading your written inventory aloud and meditating on it. Pay particular attention to your character defects and harming actions. Observe how they manifest in your life and how they keep your illness alive and active.
  • Admit the exact nature of your wrongs to God. To do this, turn to God in prayer. You may use this example prayer. "God I admit the exact nature of my wrongs to you. As I read aloud my inventory please open my eyes and my heart and let me see and realize how those wrongs kept me away from you and your Power and rendered me powerless. Please give me the insight and the power to do Your will, as I surrender my life to your care and direction."
  • Read pages 72-75 carefully.
  • Copy the sentences that tell us what happens if we skip step five.
  • Copy the sentences that tell us what is required of us in sharing our inventory.
  • Copy the sentences that tell us what is required of the person who listens to our step five.
  • The Big Book tells us that step five is "a life and death errand". Do you agree with that sentence? Write down why.
  • If you have not set up a date to do step five with your sponsor or another suitable person, do it immediately. The Big Book says we should not waste any time. Of course you have to finish writing your inventory before then. A good way to avoid procrastination is to set a date for step five, ten days after beginning writing the inventory and stick to it.
  • After taking step five (sharing with yourself, God, and another human being) read the promises on page 75 and share with your sponsor which of the promises materialized in your life.
  • After taking step five (sharing with yourself, God and another human being), read what you are supposed to do after step five and do it.


Go over your answer to what you wrote on the arch which we pass through for recovery and ask yourself the following questions:

Is your work solid so far?

Are the corner stones and keystone properly in place?

Have you skimped on the cement put in the foundation?

Have you tried to make mortar without sand? Remember that there are two parts to the cement.

Is your foundation solid?

If you can answer all those questions to your satisfaction you are ready for step six.

If NOT, talk with your sponsor and decide together with them what should be done in order to rectify the situation. Then do it. Report back to your sponsor and get to the state where you can answer those questions to your satisfaction.

Step Four

Step Six

WTS Home
The Twelve Steps
Recovery Home

© Copyright 2007 THE RECOVERY GROUP All rights reserved