Step Four

Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves


Step 4 Part A
Step 4 Part B
Step 4 Part C
Step 4 Part D




My Dearest Companions on the Journey of Recovery,

We have come a long way in this Step Study already and have done critical recovery work. Heartfelt thanks for your moving shares on surrender and your experiences with the Acceptance Prayer and the Third step Prayer. I learn so much and deepen my recovery by reading your reflections.

I wanted to share a story with you that encompasses the first 3 steps for me. I have an Ecuadorian friend who was once caught in a rip tide and carried out to sea. (Don't worry...The fact that he could share his experiences with me tells you that the ending is happy!) He said that at first he swam and fought against that powerful current until his strength was completely spent. (Step 1) When he realized that he could not extract himself from this current that would take his life, he prayed for something more powerful than himself to intervene. (Step 2) Then he got into a back float position and surrendered (Step 3) Getting into that back float was neither passive, indifferent, nor apathetic. It kept him afloat while he waited for aid. And it came! He was saved by a passing fishing boat.

He got out of the water with the help of others and by using his own strength. The rest of the program calls for deeper action in favor of our recovery. Step 4 is labor intensive and emotionally exhausting. But it is SO worth the effort in terms of the deepening of the quality of our recovery. At this point, some people, especially if they are working the Steps for the first time, fall behind. Please do not get discouraged. My shares will be on the web at www.therecoverygroup.org/wts/2010/ for you to review long after the study is over. If you do not finish in 12 weeks, you can continue with your sponsor. Indeed, since this is a lifetime endeavor (One day at a time) you have the rest of your life to keep working. Onward!

Step 4 -   Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves.

I will be sending you Step Four in 4 parts, one a day this week. The manner in which we will work Step Four is close to the way it is presented in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous with a few tweaks that were beneficial to me the first time I completed a Fourth Step inventory.

I was a co-coordinator for WTS for a year, so I am aware of what I call the “Fourth Step Phenomenon.” This Step requires a tremendous amount of labor and self-reflection. Many people become discouraged at this point. I encourage you to hang in there. Even if you fall behind in the Step Study, it doesn’t matter. What is critical to your recovery is that you continue to work the Steps at a pace that is beneficial to you.

A man who has long-term recovery in both AA and OA once told me that things really start to happen when we worth the 4th and 5th Steps. I didn’t comprehend this at the time, but understanding entered my heart when I completed these Steps. I had to learn through experience. I invite you to find out for yourself!

The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous explains that, “The Fourth Step calls for us to examine our lives up to the present day, writing down all important actions and events of a moral or ethical nature, our feelings about them, and the character traits in us from which these actions stemmed.” The Step itself exhorts us to be searching and fearless.

I have worked with sponsees who quiver with fear in the face of this task. I myself found it quite daunting and intimidating at the outset. How can I write down all my secrets that cause me shame and chagrin? One thing that was helpful for me to recognize was that whether or not I write them down, the events of my past happened. I cannot change that. But placing them in the light of the Spirit will facilitate my healing. So get plenty of blank paper and a writing utensil and let’s go to it!

The first area of our lives that we will examine is resentment. The AABB states, “Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics [food addicts] than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have not been only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.”

Harboring resentments was one area of my life that caused me tremendous distress. I have heard that holding and nurturing resentments is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Clearly, the path to wholeness and healing requires rooting resentments from our hearts.

But how is this done? The most powerful method I have encountered for doing so is praying for those who have done us harm. It is described well in the AABB (4th Ed.) on page 552, first full paragraph, beginning with, “If you have a resentment…” Doing this Resentment Prayer has been so effective for me that I now sometimes resist doing it if I have a really juicy resentment I insist on nurturing!

To write the resentment portion of your inventory, take a piece of paper and place it before you horizontally. Make 4 columns:

Column 1---List all the people and institutions with which you hold a resentment.
Column 2---Write the reason why you hold the resentment.
Column 3---Write your character traits that represent your part in the conflict.
Column 4---Write the belief or motivation behind your resentment.


For Example:

Person/Institution

Why?

Character Traits

Belief or Motivation

My clarinet teacher

Constant criticism

Over-sensitivity, Lack of confidence, Perfectionism

I was lazy and deserved reprimand. If I am criticized, I am no good.

 

Please do not send your inventory to the loop. This will be between you, HP, and your sponsor or the person with whom you will choose to share it in Step 5.

Questions for Reflection and Sharing

  1. How are resentments affecting my physical, emotional, and spiritual health?
  2. Am I willing to pray for those who have done me harm? Why or why not?
  3. How did I feel as I worked on this section of the inventory?

Suggested Readings

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous (Big book) (4th Ed.) pages 63 (bottom) -67.

  2. The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous - Step 4

  3. The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous - Step 4



My Dearest Companions on the Journey of Recovery,

The second area of our lives that we will examine is fear. Fear is a pervasive reality in the lives of all human beings, especially those of us suffering from addictions. The AABB tells us, “This short word somehow touches about every aspect of our lives. It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our lives was shot through with it.”

Fear, of course, serves the constructive objective of protecting us from harm. But when fear is transported into the realm of futuristic thinking or fantasy, it becomes corrosive and damaging. I have often thought I should be a fiction writer because my ability to produce fear about what might happen is prodigious and creative. The type of fictitious fear which stems from anxious projections can be defined as False Evidence Appearing Real. Fears are not facts. Freedom from fear means living each moment as it comes.

One of the most powerful remedies to fear is faith. Fear and faith cannot dwell in the same place at the same time. Fear issues from EGOEdging God Out. When I take my fear to HP, She gives me the desire and the ability to see life more clearly. There is a simple and profound prayer in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous which helps me connect with my Source of Courage.

God, please remove my fear and direct my attention to what you would have me be. (AABB p. 68)

With the support of HP, we can transform False Evidence Appearing Real into Face Everything And Recover!

For the fear section of your inventory you will make 4 columns once again:

Column 1---I’m afraid of …
Column 2---Why?
Column 3---Character Traits
Column 3---Belief or Motivation


For Example:  

I’m afraid of…

Why?

Character Traits

Belief or Motivation

Failure

Others will reject me.

Perfectionism, distrust, self-hatred, self-rejection, people pleasing, lack of confidence, despair

Any mistake is a failure. If I make a mistake, I am a loser and others will reject me.

 

Questions for Reflection and Sharing

  1. How does False Evidence Appearing Real manifest itself in my life?

  2. How do my fears issue from EGOEdging God Out?

  3. How did I feel as I worked on this section of the inventory?

  4. Say the Fear Prayer daily. Do I believe that praying for courage will give me clarity and strength? Why or why not?

Suggested Readings

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous (Big book) (4th Ed.) pages 67 (last paragraph) - 68.



The third area of our lives that we will examine is sex. The word sex is applied in the AABB, but we are going to look at the broader term of sexuality, or all that encompasses who I am and my relationships with others. Human relationships are complex and bring us immeasurable joy and fulfillment as well as agonizing pain and frustration.

There are many ways in which we have done harm to others and numerous actions which cause us guilt, remorse, and shame. These feelings, aroused by our past actions, prevent us from being happy, joyous, and free. Placing them in the embracing heart of forgiveness, compassion, and love will open us to healing and freedom.

For the Guilt, Remorse, and Shame section of your inventory, you will make 4 columns once again:

Column 1---Person or institution I have harmed
Column 2---How?
Column 3---Character Traits
Column 3---Belief or Motivation


For Example:

Person or institution I have harmed

How?

Character Traits

Belief or Motivation

Technical School

I abandoned them when the job became too stressful.

False pride, grandiosity

I am the only one who can do the job. I am indispensable. I am not allowed to take care of myself.

 

Questions for Reflection and Sharing

  1. In what ways do my relationships bring me joy and/or pain?

  2. How do guilt, remorse, and shame prevent me from being happy, joyous, and free?

  3. How did I feel as I worked this section of the inventory?

Suggested Readings

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous (Big book) (4th Ed.) pages 68 (bottom) - 71.



In this section, I digress from the Big Book. One could look at the first 3 parts of my inventory and get a distasteful and distorted picture of a pretty slimy, smudgy, shmucky person. But that is not the entire story. I have dedicated my life to helping others, especially the poor and marginalized. I have numerous accomplishments of which I am justifiably proud.

Some say that it is not our accomplishments, strengths, and gifts that feed our addiction, but rather all that is weighing upon our hearts and souls. While I agree with this, I also believe that humility requires us to know, accept, and love all of who we are—the positive and the not so lovable. An inventory which includes the positive events of our lives is more complete.

My personal experience of adding a section to my inventory entitled Pride, Warmth, Love, and Kindness was that completing this section was extremely fruitful for my self-awareness, self-acceptance and, ultimately, my recovery. It completed the picture of who I am and allowed me to recognize the beautiful woman who was buried beneath the addict.

For the Pride, Warmth, Love, and Kindness section of your inventory, you will make 4 columns once again:

Column 1---What I feel good about
Column 2---Why?
Column 3---Character Traits
Column 3---Belief or Motivation


For Example:

I feel good about…

Why?

Character Traits

Belief or Motivation

Mirna and Tania

They were 2 very poor Ecuadorian students with great potential for whom I secured full university scholarships.

Gratitude, trust, caring, kindness, compassion, supportiveness, sincerity

If I get them scholarships, I will be living my value of helping others and will show my love and respect for them.

 

Questions for Reflection and Sharing

  1. Do I have gifts, strengths, and accomplishments of which I am justifiably proud?

  2. Do I recognize and accept all of who I am, positive and not so lovable?

  3. How did I feel as I worked this section of the inventory?


(((Abrazos)))------Luann






Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Step Four


WTS Home
The Twelve Steps
Recovery Home



© Copyright 1995 ~ 2010 THE RECOVERY GROUP All rights reserved