WTS ~ WORKING THE STEPS

2009

STEP FOUR
Made a searching and fearless
moral inventory of ourselves.



We are beginning to turn the corner here so hang on to your hat! Up to this point, we have been concentrating on our Higher Power and what that relationship can mean to us in our life and death situation.

We have opened ourselves up to the possibility of a miracle in our lives. Be it a slow educational variety or a profound and sudden psychic change, this miracle can be the difference between a happy, joyous and free way of life or a life on death row.  We may not even realize yet how much of a change is truly needed.

Step four will help us with that! In the OA 12x12 it states that this is one of the most loving things we ever did for ourselves because we began to understand ourselves better.

Step four will help us with that! In the OA 12x12 it states that this is one of the most loving things we ever did for ourselves because we began to understand ourselves better.

Regardless of our concept of a higher power, this is a crucial step for us. Understanding of ourselves will affect every other relationship in our lives. As we understand ourselves better, we do understand our higher power better as well as those around us in daily life. To the degree we take a thorough inventory, to just that degree will we gain the ability to face life on life's terms.

The main thing I have gained from my inventories is this:

I am far sicker than I ever dreamed.

And most people are far more ill than
they appear to be on the surface.

I have a lot of compassion for others because
I have grown in compassion for Linda.

This understanding is not of the analytical variety. It is an understanding of the heart. It is a very deep awareness of where we were wounded, possibly at a very young age, and why we took the path we took to cope with that wounding. Whether our wounding was mild or major, the new path is the same. However, the path for those with the major wounding (grave emotional and mental disorders) may involve more footwork and more faith and alot more compasssionate, intuitive and intelligent support. It will not be helpful to underestimate how wounded we really are because then we may underestimate the amount of footwork and faith it will take to recover. These wounds to our spirit/soul are our blocks to higher power. We have learned to "defend against" any further wounding and we are hurt, angry, scared, and indignant as well as confused about it all (unaware?). Unfortunately though, when we defend against anything painful, we also block the good as well. May we "open" gently to the pain so that we can experience the good as well. I am told that nothing is impossible if I a) feel safe enough and b) have enough support. So to do this inventory, consider ways to feel safe and ways to gain more than enough support.

On a less serious note - I believe compulsive overeaters are like belly buttons. There are "innies" and "outies" and the "innies" far out number the "outies"!!! I am an "innie" but I can at times go the opposite extreme as well. Today I am going to write this share from the viewpoint of an "innie".

This means as I approach my share I will approach it quite a bit differently from the very direct approach in the AA Big Book. I prefer the Big Book approach. However, due to my background of abuse, and I know many of you share these issues, a gentler approach helps me keep working toward freedom because I no longer dread 4th steps or 5th steps!

This approach will involve starting with reading the assignments from a very loving type parent voice. Make that a grandparent voice if you need to. I will give you an example from the AA Big Book -- page 64-- "First we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure. Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered it common manifestations. Resentment is the "number one" offender. ...From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick."

Imagine, if you will, that you are sitting in a very quiet and tranquil spot with a person who wouldn't hurt you for the world. Someone who is very sensitive, knows your past has been difficult, knows vaguely what you have been through, knows you are literally dying of an addiction whose only hope is a spiritual experience. Imagine hearing them say to you that they care about you and would like to see you be free from everything that has ever harmed you, disappointed you, betrayed you, or limited you. That they would like for you to share your deepest pain with them so that you can finally let it go and be free. Imagine them saying that they are totally available to listen unconditionally and let you pour out your grief, your anger, all your fears and dreads, and yes, even your confusion and disillusionment.

They ask you to just list all these "troubles" (resentments) on paper and write how deeply these issues have affected you and to pray about each one before they hear your story. They also ask that you gently consider if there was any part of these issues where you were partially at fault in the way you either set the ball rolling or you responded negatively and have never taken responsibility for your part in the situation. They offer to help by giving feedback and telling their own experiences if that will help you find "closure" with the past.

For me, this makes inventory fearless. Fear of emotional pain is my biggest fear. Letting go of food as my medicator is impossible if I do not face and "FEEL" this emotional pain so that I can release it into the universe instead of storing it in my body as stress. (And we have heard that 90% of physical illness is stress related, right?)

So with that example in mind -- here are the reading assignments this week:
Choose one of the 3 texts below to do your inventory.

AA Big Book - How it Works page 63-71 (8 pages)
There are forms available for these areas of inventory and can be found various places but if you want immediate access you can follow this link: http://www.oabigbook.info/

There are 4 main themes:

  • Selfishness and how it manifests
  • Resentment (all the things and people who trouble us)
  • Fear
  • Intimate relationships (whether sexual or not)

    AA 12x12
    Page six summary in the table of contents (Very important!!)
    Step 4 pages 42-54 (13 pages)

    OA 12x12
    Step 4 (16 pages)

    When we read our literature, awareness is our goal. We need to wake up out of our food fog -- or if abstinent we need to continue "awakening" so that we do not become complacent. Contemplating truth regarding our condition may not be what our disease wants us doing. However, it is definitely what recovery requires.

    INVENTORY ASSIGNMENT
    (choose just one of the methods - AA Big Book, or AA 12x12 or OA 12x12)

    AA Big Book approach to inventory (you will not post this online)
    Please choose the assignment that fits!

    1. This is your first 4th step -- please talk to your sponsor and ask for direction. Ask for guidance in writing a 4th step that can be gentle if you are an "innie" and firm but fearless if you are an "outie"!! I would suggest you tackle only a few limited issues in all three areas of resentment, fear, and intimate relationships so that you can complete your inventory this week or early next week for step five. Since this would likely not be thorough, keep in mind you will need to do another 4th step again soon to complete this work. Or, if you are as deeply wounded as I am, you may need ongoing 4th steps to keep dealing with the issues that arise with abstinence and time.

    2. This is not your first 4th step--consider the other ways you have done the step and be open to a new approach. Ask your sponsor for a suggestion or writing assignment that will help you with this step. Be sure and cover resentments, fears, and intimate relationships all three though.

    AA 12x12 (You will not be posting this inventory online.)
    If you are the type of person who benefits more from an intellectual approach the AA 12x12 may be a good fit for you. It is a very reasoned approach to character defects. Do your inventory by writing on the summary issues on page six as well as thoroughly writing on all the issues and questions in the reading. Ask your sponsor for any additional questions that need to be addressed.

    OA 12x12 (You will not be posting this inventory online.)
    Read this chapter thoughtfully and answer the questions presented in the text. Ask your sponsor for any additional questions that need to be addressed at this time.

    This section will be the one you post (not your inventory which is private and to be shared with someone you trust.)

    In addition to this reading and writing of your inventory, please write and share your experiences this week with the group. Answer these questions for the particular approach you used.


    AA BIG BOOK
    1. As you listed and analyzed your resentments (troublesome issues) did you begin to comprehend how futile and fatal they are?
    Why are they futile? Why are they fatal?

    2. How are your resentments destructive to you?

    3. How has your view of other people changed? Describe the way sick people affect you in your daily life?

    4. Are you experiencing an increase in tolerance, patience, and good will, even for those who are more difficult to get along with? Remember, progress not perfection!

    5. Rewrite in your own words a prayer to include the last paragraph on page 66 and the first two paragraphs on page 67 and share it with us.


    AA 12X12
    1. Share briefly any extremes of instinctual reactions you became aware of while taking inventory that you are comfortable sharing in a general way.

    2. Were you inclined to justify these extremes of instinct? If so, were you able to find a balance and if so, how did you find balance?

    3. What are some of your assets?

    4. Do you understand your insecurities better?

    5. Share a prayer regarding page 53 and twisted relationships.

    OA 12x12
    1. As you took inventory did you begin to understand yourself better and if so, did you begin to experience some emotional healing? Please share your experience.

    2. How has worthlessness and feeling insignificant caused you to feel shame? Has that lessened at all? Do you feel any differently?

    3. How has denial and self deception added to your pain over the years? In addition to compulsive eating, what other specific problems are a result of avoiding and putting off facing the truth about yourself?

    4. What are some of your strengths and how can these strengths help you work your program?

    5. Write a prayer regarding how your inventory may have a positive affect on your relationship with yourself, your higher power, and others.


    Optional Visual Journaling assignment
    Draw a picture, create a picture using magazines etc., or create a word picture describing the before and after of taking inventory!

    What a process. I do pray that this process sets us all a little more free from the bondage of self. May we experience emotional healing, freedom from isolation, and an increasing sense of worth and significance that transforms our whole being. May we experience the healing power of love and the warmth and light of the sunlight of the Spirit!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing your lives with me. It is such a blessing to have this opportunity.

    With much love and surrender,
    Linda S



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