Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
The principle behind step four is courage. Why courage? Well it takes a fair amount of courage to see the truth about oneself. I spent most of my life in victim-mode, taking a most thorough inventory of everyone BUT me: who did me wrong, how they were wrong, why I should be excused for any and all my behavior as if the universe owed me something, etc.
Steps one, two and three are about coming to believe that we can’t, a Power greater than us exists that can and letting that Power do it. Step four is when we put the pedal to the metal and take action. It requires great courage and that is why I think so many people in the rooms don’t recover, but stay stuck in the step 1-2-3 waltz. The way we demonstrate our faith is by acting in spite of our fears with action.
Some things to consider about this step and the principle behind it:
· I can talk and talk and talk until I am blue in the face, but if you don’t see me taking action, you won’t believe I am really willing to change. Think about it: if you know someone in your life who is always saying he/she is gonna do something, but never doing it. Until action is taken – in this case the action of writing a moral inventory of ourselves and practicing courage in our daily lives– there is no real demonstration of a willingness to change.
· Courage is most certainly not the absence of fear. It is about feeling the fear and doing it ANYWAY. In other words, courage means HP is deciding how I will behave, not my fears.
· Doing a fearless and searching moral inventory can feel frightening. But what many have found is that, when I notice and put a boundary around my failings by seeing them clearly, it also lets me feel good about the rest of my behavior. In other words, it’s like a boundary on a food plan: by deciding what I WILL eat, I automatically define what I won’t eat (i.e., whatever isn’t on my plan). So similarly, when I identify where I am wrong, I allow myself to feel good about whatever is left over and most of the time, that is quite a lot!
· Notice the serenity prayer speaks of the “courage to change the things I can.” We don’t ask for the power to change or the strength to change but the courage to change. Think about that for a moment.
For the past few weeks, you have endeavored to practice the principles of honesty, faith and hope. This week we are going to seek to practice courage in all our affairs. While our literature speaks specifically of the courage required to honestly and candidly look at ourselves in a written inventory, courage can be demonstrated in our affairs in a variety of ways. For example:
· Courage is required when we pick up the phone to call a fellow from a meeting or email someone on TRG that we don’t know. Risk is involved and that requires courage.
· When we clearly state our food needs or other self-care needs without expectation or demand that they be met by anyone other than ourselves, courage is required.
· When I tell someone that I love how I really feel and make myself vulnerable, courage is required.
· When I am willing to follow my HP’s guidance rather than what seems popular or expedient, courage is required.
· Admitting my failings and weaknesses without attempting to justify or cover them up with excuses requires courage.
In this step study, we are focusing on practicing principles. That does not mean, however, that you should not work this step. Indeed, recovery demands a fearless and searching written moral inventory. There are many, many ways of doing it: the Big Book way, by writing your character assets along with your liabilities, by answering the questions in the OA 12 and 12 in the chapter on step 4. My personal favorite is doing an inventory the Big Book way using columns and asking where am I selfish, self-seeking, dishonest and frightened. What matters isn’t so much how you do the written inventory what matters is that you honestly and courageously do it. So please do yourself a favor and just do it!
So many of you have demonstrated great courage by writing and working on these steps during the past few weeks. I have been blown away by your courage and willingness to change. Please continue to do so and let the over-blown fear of the fourth step fall away as you incorporate courage into your daily life.
Here are some questions and assignments for you this week:
· Which format will you use to do your written inventory and why?
· Why do you think the serenity prayer calls for “courage to change”?
· How did you practice the principle of courage in your affairs today? This week?
· Why does abstaining from compulsive eating require courage?
· How is it courageous to admit to your part in a conflict and accept responsibility? Can you give an example where you did this?
· How will you know when you are acting courageously in your life?
· “Courage is most certainly not the absence of fear. It is about feeling the fear and doing it ANYWAY. In other words, courage means HP is deciding how I will behave, not my fears.” What do you think about this? How does this apply in your life?
· Read step 4 in the OA 12 and 12, the AA 12 and 12 and “How It Works” in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Wishing you a sane, abstinent week!
The Twelve Steps
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