Step Four

Made a searching and fearless
moral inventory of ourselves.

Leader's Share and Step Questions

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Recovery,

Here are the questions that pertain to step 4. Because this is such an important step, there are a lot more questions this week.

I want to personally thank each and every person who has shared. Reading everybody’s shares has really touched my heart in a very special way. I love each and every one of you as my own brothers and sisters.


    1. Discuss one, or more, thing(s) you have turned over to your higher power during the last week.


    2. Were you wanted at birth? Did your parents want a child of the opposite sex when they had you? Were you adopted? In general, what did your family think of you when you were a child?

    3. List the first time you ever stole anything as a child. Inventory all your thefts during your childhood. Did you think you had less than everybody else?

    4. Do you remember starting school? What were your feelings? Try to remember each successive grade in school and, as you do, write out the resentments you felt towards teachers, pupils, anyone else. Describe any fights, slights, hurts, and embarrassments. Put it down on paper. Did you resent your church, relatives, 'parents, or friends of parents? If so, list your resentments. No resentment is too small to mention. The AA Big Book states, "Resentment is the number one offender."

    5. Did your appearance (looks, dress, etc.) embarrass you? Did you feel that you were different from your classmates?

    6. List all feelings of guilt, fear and resentment you had as a child (not your feelings now) toward each person in your life.

    7. How old were you when you first masturbated? Were you ever caught and made to feel guilty? Did you feel guilty even though you weren't caught? In what other sexual curiosities were you involved as a child?

    8. Were you subjected to physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual abuse as a child?

    9. If you have any photos from your childhood, look at them and write down any feelings that come from the photos.

    10. As a child, were you teased or subjected to bullying. Write about all of your childhood experiences about this. Write about how it made you feel and how it affected your life as a child.

    11. Were you a bully to others? Sometimes when a person is bullied, they become a bully to someone else.

    12. Write down any other childhood memories that were or are painful.


    13. As an adolescent, did you have friends? What kind of friend were you? Were you undependable as a friend? Did you break off relationships without any explanation when something or someone who seemed better came along? How was your social life? Did you resent not being part of a crowd? Or not being a leader? Or not being "in"? Were you shy or outgoing? Did any particular type of person make you shy?

    14. Did you feel you were a coward because you didn't want to fight? Or did you like to fight? Were you a bully? Did you feel embarrassed because anyone made fun of you or avoided you?

    15. As an adolescent, were you teased or subjected to bullying. Write about all of your adolescence experiences about this. Write about how it made you feel and how it affected your life as an adolescent.

    16. Did your parents compare you to other family members or to friends? Did you resent them for wanting you to be like someone else? Were you ashamed of your parents? Were they too old, too fat, too sloppy, too drunk, too whatever?

    17. Did you have the kind of clothes that other kids wore? Was there enough money for the things you needed or, if not, were you resentful of that? If there was enough, did you take it too much for granted? Did you feel any sibling got more than you? Write out your adolescent feelings about money.

    18. List all feelings of guilt, fear and resentment you had as an adolescent (not your feelings now) toward each person in your life.

    19. Were you exposed to other children in gym class or the restroom that were more developed physically than you were? Did this make you feel inadequate? Write about your feelings.

    20. List in detail any homosexual experiences, masturbation fantasies, and any other sexual activity you particularly remember during your adolescence. How did the experience make you feel? Writing about this releases all of the associated shame.

    21. Were you subjected to physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual abuse as an adolescent?

    22. What were the best and worst experiences you had as an adolescent?

    23. If you have any photos from your adolescence, look at them and write down any feelings that come from the photos.

    24. Write down any other memories from your adolescence that were, or are still, painful. Even the simplest, most nit-picking things are important if they troubled you.


    25. Marriage and Family:

    1. Do you resent the responsibilities of marriage and family?

    2. If married, do you allow your family to come between you and your spouse?

    3. If you are divorced or getting divorced, what are your negative feelings about the situation and the people involved? Do you have resentments, fears and guilt's concerning your relationship with your spouse and your children? Have you set up a situation where your children are forced to take sides?

    4. How do you feel about your spouse and children?

    5. Are your spouse or children living up to your expectations? What are your expectations? Are they unreasonable?

    6. Do you say, "I give my family everything they want, but they aren't ever satisfied?"

    7. How do you think you would be different if they were out of your life?

    8. If there was rejection or coldness at home, did you use this as an excuse for promiscuity? When your spouse turns cold, do you spend more time with him or her, or do you turn to someone else who is more understanding?

    9. Are you involved in a love affair that could harm yourself or others?

    26. Self Image:

    1. Are you ashamed of your body or the way you look? What do you dislike about your body?

    2. Are you proud of your body and or the way you look? What do you like about your body?

    3. What are the other things about yourself that you are ashamed of or proud of?

    4. Do you feel superior or inferior?

    5. Do you avoid looking at yourself by comparing yourself to others? For example, do you say, "At least I'm not as bad as that person," or "At least I'm not that color," or "At least I'm not that flaky?"

    6. Are you a tightwad? What are your fears concerning money? Do you spend with no thought of tomorrow?

    7. Is your personal appearance particularly careless or prideful?

    8. Do you worry about another person's Higher Power being better or worse than yours? Do you compare yourself to others in spiritual growth? Do you feel spiritually superior?

    9. Do you think you are superior to the general run of people? List in what ways you are different.

    10. Do you think you are inferior to the general run of people? List in what ways you are different.

    11. Do you compare the outside of others to your insides?

    12. Do you overvalue yourself?

    13. Do you undervalue yourself?

    27. Your Job:

    1. What are your resentments toward bosses and co-workers? Do you feel jealous of them? List all the negative feelings you have about the people in your work life.

    2. Have you been discriminated against at work? Were you excluded from after work parties, get-togethers, or social events? Were you excluded from lunch time get-togethers? Write about your feelings about this.

    3. Have you been passed over for promotion at work by someone seemingly less qualified than yourself? Write about your feelings about this.

    4. Have you ever stolen from work? Don't forget to include an employer's time.

    5. Are you indifferent and careless of your job? Do you think you should be boss? Do you think because of your weight changes the expectations of your boss and your co-workers change?

    6. Do fear and inferiority about fitness for your job destroy your confidence and fill you with conflict?

    7. Do you try to cover up those feelings of inadequacy by boasting, cheating, or evading responsibility? Do you complain that others fail to recognize your truly exceptional abilities?

    8. Do you have such unprincipled ambition that you double-cross and undercut your associates?

    28. Are you extravagant? Do you recklessly borrow money, caring little whether it is repaid? Are you a penny-pincher, refusing to support your family? Do you try to cut corners financially? What about the quick- money deals, the long-shot sure thing that would rocket you to riches?

    29. Do you write bad checks?

    30. Do you feel that the world owes you a living?

    31. Do you gossip about others?

    32. Do you think laws are made for other people? Do you think you have the right to make up your own laws as you go along?

    33. Do you use sex as a punishment or a reward? What is your sex life like? Is it as mature as you might want it to be? Are you careless of your partner's feelings? What is your idea of a healthy sex life?

    34. Do you engage in sex in order to build you own ego by a feeling of conquest?

    35. Do you feel guilty about masturbation?

    36. Write on all your sexual experiences not previously discussed, especially those, which made you feel uncomfortable.

    37. What is your greatest fear?

    38. Do you judge or make fun of people who appear to be less fortunate mentally, physically, or morally than you think you are? As an adult, have you bullied other people?

    39. The only person you can adequately compare yourself to is you. How were you five days ago, five weeks ago, five months ago, at your first meeting? How are you now?

    40. In what ways are you a responsible person?

    41. Do you tell others how bad you have been or are? This is pride in reverse, a good tool if you like self-pity or depression. Or do you go to the other extreme and tell people how great you were or are? This is a good way to give your ego a false sense of security.

    42. What makes you feel guilty?

    43. Do you pad your expense account or use family food allowances just for yourself?

    44. What do you lie about the most?

    45. What do you waste most time worrying about, the future or the past?

    46. Do you envy people who can eat foods you can't?

    47. Are you hostile because you don't like the hand life have dealt you?

    48. The most common symptoms of emotional insecurity are worry, anger, self-pity and depression. These stem from causes, which sometimes come from within us and at other times, come from without. To take inventory in this respect carefully list all personal relationships, which bring continuous and recurring trouble. Remember that emotional insecurity may arise in any area where instincts are threatened.

    49. List all of your present fears.

    50. What resentments or hates do you have? Because this is one of the key questions, to help you work though this question, create a table with 5 columns. The columns are:

    1. The person - In this column you list the person or object you resent or fear. Go back as far as you can. Resentment is mostly unexpressed anger and fear.

    2. The cause - It is said, "hurt people hurt people." In this column you are going to list the specific actions that someone did to hurt you. What did the person do to cause you resentment and/or fear? This reflective look can be very painful.

    3. The effect - In this column write down how that specific hurtful action affected your life. List the effects it had on your past and your present.

    4. The damage - Which of your basic instincts were injured? (Social - Broken relationships, slander; Security - Physical safety, financial loss; Sexual - Abusive relationships, damaged intimacy; Self esteem - sense of self being or worth) No matter how you may have been hurt, no matter how lost you may feel, god wants to comfort and restore you.

    5. My part - You need to ask yourself, "What part of my resentment against another is my responsibility?" Ask god to show you your part. Please note, in an abusive relationship, especially as a child, you can feel great freedom in this part of the inventory. You can see that you had NO PART, or NO RESPONSIBILITY for the cause of the resentment. By writing the words "none" or "not guilty" in this column, you can begin to be free from the misplaced shame and guilt you have carried with you.

    51. List every act that you swore you would take to the grave, disclosing to no one. Usually the things you are the most ashamed of are the very acts that make you try to grow in to something better.

    52. Have you been subject to bullying as an adult -

    1. At home?

    2. In the workplace?

    3. In church?

    4. In the neighborhood?

    5. In other places or situations?

      Write about your feelings about your experience being bullied.

    53. List any other situations that cause discomforts and with the use of the above questions, analyze the situations and possible solutions or thought patterns that will lead to serenity.

    54. List any feelings from the childhood questions that have affected you as an adult. Be detailed as possible and list all the feelings you carry with you as an adult.

    55. List any feelings from the adolescent questions that have affected you as an adult. Be detailed as possible and list all the feelings you carry with you as an adult.


During the last week, I was unusually busy in my business and I had to turn over my tasks and to do list over to God to take charge over it and to give me guidance. God did show up and saw me through the week and I was able to complete everything I needed to and deliver the final work products to the customers. I learn over and over (and over more times) that when God guides, He provides.

When I was a child, I feel my mother wanted a girl instead of a boy. When I was in the second or third grade, I was asked to wear a dress for the entire evening. The experience really warped my mind in a very big way. I felt like I was something somebody else thought I was not supposed to be. I always thought I had less than everybody else and I did raid other kid’s desks at school until I was caught in the second grade. After that, I was afraid to steal.

When I started school, I was totally confused and I had to learn to follow along to figure out what I was supposed to do. This was because of an undiagnosed 70% hearing loss. During the third and fourth grades, my desk was separated from the others and I was isolated from the rest of the class. I never understood why this was done to me. I was fitted with a hearing aid during the 4th grade and I was ashamed about it. Before starting the 5th grade, my family moved to a new city and I was not accepted by the other kids or teachers because of my hearing aids. Kids would come up behind me and slap both my ears while wearing my hearing aids and the teachers looked the other way. My parents were told that I was taking up a space and that I would never amount to anything in life. This brought my self-esteem from the bottom of the toilet to the sewer. Because I had absolutely no self-esteem, I did not give a whoopee how I looked. I felt as an outcast and nobody wanted or liked me.

I had many resentments as a child, mostly towards the other kids and the teachers. Also, I resented the baseball team I belonged to because the only position I was allowed to play was batboy. Because I felt so alone and out of place and as a freak, I took up masturbation in addition to the excess food starting around the age of 10. I do not remember feeling guilty, yet I kept it a secret because of the shame.

Getting beat up, teased, and made fun of made me want to hate everybody in the world.

Looking at my childhood photos tells me that I was not overweight and that I was not ugly. I was constantly being told that I was fat and that I was ugly.

During junior high and high school, I did not have any friends. I did not have any social life and I was one who was alone most of the time. I remember wanting the bell to hurry up and ring so I could go to class because I felt so sad from being alone. One summer during junior high school, I spent the entire time in my bedroom to avoid contact with other people. This way nobody could hurt me.

Because I was beaten up a lot from the 5th grade to the 9th grade, I was always afraid of fights or any confrontations. During junior high, kids would shoot rubber bands at my hearing aids.

I hated gym class because of the shower requirement. When I could get away with it, I skipped the shower. When I had to shower, other kids would jeer at me and make fun of me, which made me very ashamed of my body.

Other than masturbation, I had no sexual encounters as an adolescent.

I was subjected to verbal sexual abuse when I worked at a music store during high school. I would be the brunt of sexual jokes when I did not know what most of the words even meant. I was required to be on my hands and knees and simulate sexual acts while everybody jeered and spit at me.

Looking at my adolescent photos, I was not overweight then. Everybody told me that I was fat and I was ugly. Also, I was told to never smile because people might think I was serious. During high school, girls would say ewe when I walked by which made me very sad all of the time.

Being told that I would never graduate from high school back in the 5th grade made me work for good grades and I graduated with honors. When I drove off after my graduation, I gave the school the finger.

Starting college was like being reborn. People treated me with respect, I made friends, women talked to me. It was a brand new life for me.

I got married in 1976 and been married since. I do not resent the responsibilities of family. My wife used to use a lot of sarcasm and wise cracks until I got some recovery and stood up to her. Now it is mostly stopped. I never had sex outside of marriage.

Before recovery, I never cared how I looked. I received comments that I was very sharp and capable, except my appearance held me back. I always felt inferior to everybody else. I always compared myself to others and considered myself “less than” everybody around me. I could be in a room full of people during a social event and feeling totally lonely. I used to totally resent people who appeared to be happy.

Prior to my retirement from my job of over 34 years, I was passed up for promotion so many times. I cared a lot about the work products that were produced by my team. I enjoyed being a supervisor because it gave me a chance to help other people perform better on their jobs. I always took my responsibilities seriously because I believed it was the right thing to do. I did my work as if I was working for God.

During my work years, I was excluded from office parties and lunch time get-togethers on many occasions. Several people over the years even cited religion as the basis for me being excluded. I guess I reminded them of a villain in a children's bible story. In recovery, I learned that their actions were nothing less than bigotry and I had to use the forgiveness prayer in the fifth step to release the hurt from my body, mind, and spirit and to move on in my road to recovery.

I do not write bad checks and the world does not owe me a living. However, the world owes me an opportunity to work hard for a living. Being the victim of gossip, I do not gossip about others. I was always afraid of the law and authority figures so I always did my best to comply with the law.

I never used sex as a way to get what I want or to build my own ego. As stated above, I never had sex outside of marriage. I never felt guilty about masturbation.

My greatest fear was always financial insecurity. This was a big one when I retired from my job of 34 years in January 2009. I am happy to say, no problems in this department for me.

As I look at myself from one month ago, one year ago, two years ago, and further back; I am totally amazed about the progress I made in my recovery. I give praise to God in everything I do.

The biggest lie I said over the years was when I told people that “I was fine.”

I currently do not have resentments. When one crops up, I deal with it right away.

The feelings of being an outcast and a misfit during my childhood and adolescence affected me as an adult in a very big way. Also my experience of being teased and bullied affected me in a very big way as well. First, my self-esteem was non-existent, I hated myself, I hated everybody else. As the result of working the steps over the years, I worked through this and I like myself and I care about others. And I do not resent those who seem to be happy.

Love In Recovery,

Dennis Tisdale

Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Step Four

WTS Home
The Twelve Steps
Recovery Home

© Copyright 1995 ~ 2011 THE RECOVERY GROUP All rights reserved