I'm your WTS Step Study leader this quarter and also a compulsive overeater.

This is a practical Step Study. It is designed to use what Iíve been taught are the directions from the Big Book to recover from compulsive eating, and to maintain that recovery on a one-day-at-a-time basis for the rest of your life.

Donít forget to go to www.oabigbook.info to download (for free, of course) some forms and documents Iíll be referring to in this Step Study, as well as a book Iíve written, based on a 2005 Step Study I did for WTS, which provides the theoretical background for this 2008 Step Study.

If youíre offended by anything I write, please donít be critical until you have read the book Iíve written to see where Iím coming from. In this Step Study I am deliberately getting to the nub
and not trying to justify and explain everything Iím saying.

This is the third part of a discussion of the instructions for Step Four. It will make little sense to you unless you have read the first and second parts of that discussion and followed the directions there, so I encourage you to look at the first part of the discussion.

Where We Are:

Weíve filled out the Resentment Form (found at www.oabigbook.info) and are now ready to fill out the Fear and the Sex Conduct form (also found at www.oabigbook.info).

In the Resentment Form we discovered that we have four character defects:

  • Selfish-we want our way, regardless of the motives
  • Dishonest-we deceive others, ourselves, and/or donít tell the truth when the truth should be told
  • Self-Seeking-the impact on us is whatís important, not the impact on others
  • Frightened-we are full of fear.
By the time we reach Step Nine, those character defects will be removed to the extent necessary for us to be useful to our highest values (our god or God) and to other people. The Fear and the Sex Conduct Forms are an important part of the process.

Consider a Resentment. Itís basically that the past didnít go our way.

Now itís time to deal with the future and with the present. We will see that these forms do that.

A Fear is basically simple: The future wonít go my way. The Fear Form will deal with our Fears. Whatís interesting is that we are promised that we will outgrow fear by filling out the Fear Form. Already we will be outgrowing one of our character defects.

Sex Conduct issues are basically difficult relationships. We will see that this form deals with the remaining three character defects-selfishness, dishonesty, and self-seeking (whose symptom, of course, is inconsiderateness)-in difficult past relationships in order to get guidance on how to have good relationships in the present without being selfish, dishonest, or self-seeking. Consider the Sex Conduct Forms as being a dress rehearsal for all your conduct issues when you make your amends.

I hope you'll see how both forms make it simple -- take away the complexity of any issue -- and give us clear guidance to do the right thing.

Letís start!

Fear Form, column one:

On the form, or on a piece of paper, write down in the left-hand column, each of your fears. You already have a list of them from the "Frightened" section of the fourth column of the Resentment Form.

If, for instance, I filled out "It could happen again" under "Frightened" next to Hitlerís name, I would put Hitler down in the first column of the Fear Form. Or if I filled out "That my shoes wonít be fixed well next time" next to the shoemaker, I would put the shoemaker down in the first column.

In addition, you may have many other fears which didnít make it onto the list of resentments because theyíre not things you think about all the time. "Death" may not have made it on your resentment list. "Dark Places" or "Downtown at night" or "The Bogeyman" may not have made it on your list of resentments, but they may be things you fear.

So you list all your fears.

Fear Form, column two:

Have you listed all your fears in column one on as many pages as it takes to list them? Okay, now you can fill out column two.

Write out, in point form, why you have fear relating to the thing youíve written down in the first column. Itís entirely possible that youíll write down more points than you originally listed on the resentment form; thatís fine and natural.

Under Hitler, I may write down "It can happen again", "Anti-semitism", "Racism", "Misconceptions and Angler". Under Death, I may write down "Long debilitating suffering", "What will happen to the survivors?", "What happens afterwards?", "I wonít have finished my novel" and things like that.

Iíll bet that in some cases youíll be surprised what you put down. Some of the reasons will look entirely reasonable, but some will surprise you. You might put down "the death of my spouse" as a fear, and then put down as reasons for the fear not only "How will my children take her/his death" but also "Iím afraid Iíll feel unburdened and therefore guilty".

Just be as honest as you can.

Fear Form, columns three and four:

Have you listed all your fears in column one and the reasons for having them in column two on every page youíve filled out? Okay, now you can fill out columns three and four.

Column three: in dealing with this fear, were you relying on Infinite God or your finite self?

For persons who believe in a personal God, the answer will come easy-clearly relying on your finite self. If you rely on your God, you wouldnít have that fear.

For persons like me who are agnostic or atheists, or who donít have a personal God, we might have to do a little translating. If you recall, the concept of a "god" for people like me is the issue of our highest values-ideas, concepts, values, that are more important than we as individuals are.

So translate column three into: "Were you relying on the infinite power of your highest values or on your finite self?" The answer will come just as easy-clearly you were relying on your finite self. If you relied on your highest values, you wouldnít have that fear, since they are more important than you are, and you would be concentrating on them and not on yourself and your finiteness.

So you will always put a check-mark (tick) under "Finite Self" in column three.

And in column four, you will put a check-mark under No to show that clearly relying on your finite self didnít work, because you still have the fear.

Fear Form, column five:

Have you filled out all the column one, two, three, and four, on all the papers where you listed your fears. Okay, now look at column five for each one of those fears.

Say for each one of those fears: "God, please remove my fear of __________ and direct my attention to what you would have me be." For the agnostic, atheist, or those with no personal god, translate the prayer into: "I ask that my fear of ___________ be removed in the light of my highest values, and that my attention be directed to what my highest values would have me live according to."

Note that the prayer is not "what you would have me do" but "what you would have me be". We're looking at the kind of person we should be, how we should live, not necessarily what we should be doing.

Say the prayer for each one of the fears on all the papers.

Fear Form, column six:

After youíve said the Fear Prayer for each of the fears on all of the pages, now itís time to start meditating-listening-for an answer to the simple question "What would God have you be in relation to this particular fear?"

(For agnostics and atheists and those with no personal god, translate the question into "In relation to this particular fear, what is the way for me to live (to be) in accordance with my highest values?")

Then write down whatever answer occurs to you in column six. You may not get an answer for each fear; thatís okay-youíll be discussing it with someone in Step Five and may get an intuition there.

But Iíll bet, for the most part, your answers for column six will be a variation of:
  • To be the best employee/boss/father/mother/son/daughter/husband/wife/etc. I can possibly be.
  • To be tolerant, have pity, and be patient
  • To be a person who holds onto his/her principles regardless of what people think
  • To be a recovered compulsive eater who has worked the Twelve Steps
  • To be a person who thinks of others rather than him/herself
  • To be careful
  • To be a person who takes into account dangers and risks but still does what is necessary

What the Fear Form has accomplished:

You are beginning to outgrow your fears, just as promised by the Big Book. You now know your strategies to deal with the things you fear, and you know your limitations. If you are worried that your kids will die, you know that the best you can do is to be a careful, good, parent. If you are worried about your job, you know that the best you can do is to be a person who does his/her job as best as can, is honest, tolerant, loving, patient.

Your fears have turned into strategies based on your highest values. You need not fear now because you have no expectations. Life will go on. You will do your best. Your guiding light (or your Guiding Light) will be your highest values (or your God). So long as you exist according to those values, you can do no more!

Sex Conduct Form:

Now itís time to turn to the Sex Conduct Form. Sex Conduct deals with any relationship you have had in which there was some physical attraction, you for the other person or the other person for you, and in which you hurt another person (not necessarily the person with whom there was some attraction).

The people youíve hurt have probably been put down on the resentment form. You probably have thought about them and have put them down. The purpose of putting them down again is not to go over and over the same resentment. Youíve dealt with your resentment concerning them and have already uncovered your four character defects in relation to them-selfishness, dishonesty, self-seeking, and fear.

The purpose of the Sex Conduct Form is to move from the remaining three character defects in relation to those people and to figure out what you should have done instead. The purpose is not so much to deal with those people but to get some guidance from what you did wrong in the past as to how you can now live in the present in relationships with anyone. It is also, as I've already said, to provide a "dress rehearsal" for the kinds of amends you might be making with respect to some people.

If you can figure out what you should have done in relation to those very difficult relationships, then you can figure out how to have any kind of relationship.

Sex Conduct Form, column one:

Write down in column one (on the printed form, itís the box under column one) the names of anyone you have hurt as a result of physical attraction, you for another person or another person for you.

You will probably write down some ex-boy- or girl-friends, but not necessarily all of them-just those in which you hurt a person. (But note that when we dealt with resentments, we discovered that remaining in an unhealthy relationship hurts the other person. A person who does harm to you also does harm to him- or herself. So if you stayed in a co-dependent relationship, thinking that love would overcome, and the other person hurt you, then you also hurt that other person by staying in the relationship.)

You will probably write down a current significant other.

You might write down people you have crushes on or whom youíve flirted with.

You might write down those who have relationships with people youíve flirted with, if youíve hurt those people.

Sex Conduct Form, column two:

Beside Selfish, Dishonest, and Inconsiderate, fill out where you have been selfish, dishonest, and inconsiderate, in relation to that person. "Selfish" and "Dishonest" have the same meanings as in the Resentment Form. Think of "Inconsiderate" as being the actions a person who is Self-Seeking would take-thinking only of him- or herself rather than of the other person, clearly being inconsiderate.

Under Selfish, you might put down things like:
    Wanted to change the person
    Felt attractive because I was with that person
    Used that person for my own pleasure or to make someone else jealous
    Thought of my needs rather than that personís needs

Under Dishonest, you might put down things like:
    Lied to myself about the personís ability to change
    Lied to the other person about how committed I was to the relationship
    Cheated on the person
    Didnít tell the person the truth about how I really felt

Under Inconsiderate, you might put down things like:
    Thought only of myself
    Wasnít sensitive to the personís needs
    Was always late
    Took the person for granted

Sex Conduct form, column three:

Put check-marks (ticks) beside each relationship where you see that you have aroused Jealousy, Suspicion, or Bitterness. You may not have, but if you have, note it.

Sex Conduct Form, column four:

Hereís the most important column! Where were you at fault? What should you have done instead? You can now look back at the relationship and see how your selfishness, dishonest, and inconsiderateness have hurt another person, and how you may have aroused jealousy, suspicion, or bitterness. In that perspective, you can now figure out what you should have done instead.

Generally, there will be a few generic kinds of answers:
    Got out of the relationship earlier
    Invested more into the relationship
    Been more honest
    Look to the other personís needs rather than my own

Can you now see how significant a guide you are getting about your current relationships, whether involving physical attraction or not? You are seeing how important it is to look to another personís needs, how you have to be honest, how you either get out of a relationship or invest more into it. You now see what life can be like if you are not selfish, dishonest, and self-seeking!

You also see how simple some of the answers will be. Most relationships have basic solutions. But we compulsive eaters are always so complicated! We are learning how to act on intuition according to our highest values without trying to have our wish to control complicate matters.

Sex Conduct Form, column five:

Put a check-mark (tick) if the relationship was Selfish. Chances are it was.

Sex Conduct Form, columns six and seven:

Say "God, please mold my ideals and help me to live up to them. God, please show me what to do about the problems that have occurred with respect to this relationship."

For the agnostic, atheist, or person with no personal god, you can translate this into: "With my highest values in mind, let me live up to my ideals and my highest values. Let me gain insight into what to do about the problems that have occurred with respect to this relationship."

The first prayer (column six) helps you look at your current relationships. The second prayer (column seven) begins to help you figure out the nature of the amends you might have to make, and whether youíll be able to make any amends without harming the other person.

Sex Conduct Form, the Earnest Prayers:

These prayers are to be said if sex is a problem for you now. Theyíre very helpful.

Weíre Finished!

Thatís it. Thatís Step Four! Itís taken three weeks.

You havenít written a book. You havenít beat yourself over the head.

Youíve overcome your resentments about other people and learned to look at people who have harmed you or others as sick people for whom you should feel tolerance, pity, and patience.
Youíve isolated four character defects, outgrown one of them (fear), and received guidance about how to act without the other three (selfish, dishonest, self-seeking).

Youíre done.

For the moment, anyway. Weíll find out in Step Ten that youíll be filling these forms out for the rest of your life. But youíll be welcoming them, because they will give you guidance in tough situations and help you clean house with a minimum of fuss and bother. They are time-saving, rather than time-wasting, forms!

Assignment for the Week:
  • Have you kept abstinent? Itís never too late!
  • Have you made an appointment yet for your Step Five? Make it a week and a half from today, after youíve filled out the Fear and Sex Conduct Forms and read the instructions for doing Steps Five, Six, and Seven.
  • Have you filled out the fear forms and realized what you should be in order to live according to your highest values?
  • Have you filled out the sex conduct forms and realized what you should have done in relationships with people youíve hurt?
  • Do you see how your four character defects can be removed if you learned to live according to your highest values and made up for the harm that youíve done to others?

Closing remarks:

Next week, weíll be discussing Steps Five, Six, and Seven. Youíll find how simple they are, and how quickly they can be accomplished. You do Steps Six and Seven within a few hours of doing Step Five, and they hardly take any time at all.

Youíre on your way to recovery!


Your Step Leader

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