Step Four

Made a searching and fearless
moral inventory of ourselves.


Leader's Share and Step Questions


Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Principle behind Step Four is courage.


Hi again my fellow travelers on this recovery journey with me. First of all I know many of you are very apprehensive when doing this step as it's a really big one, so we will be doing it over two weeks. I know I was terrified of doing this step at first because I had so many skeletons in my closet, and of course I believed that if you knew the real me and not the mask I presented to the world, you wouldn't like me. Fortunately for me when I came into the program I'm the kind of person who has to do things straight away, and so I worked the first three steps in record time because being a perfectionist I had to get things done quickly. I only realised much later that I'd never be finished with the first three steps or in fact any of them, but back then I still believed I'd work the steps and graduate and be fixed.

Of course I wanted to do this step perfectly and there really is no perfect way to do step four. The main thing is that we just do it. The first fourth step I ever took was merely a saga of my life and all the terrible things I'd ever done, because at that point I really thought I was this dreadful person. Besides all the things I'd done or omitted to do, where food was concerned I was a disaster and had spent money that should have been spent on my family. There are various ways to do step four and any way is right, because the housecleaning we do in this step is an ongoing process and we never really get finished. But what that first fourth step taught me when I shared it in step five was that I was a worthwhile person despite all I'd done. My sponsor at the time was away and I just wanted to get it over with so didn't want to wait, so I shared it with a very dear friend who was a Catholic nun but who knew 12 step programs. At the end of this whole sorry tale, she simply told me that I was still a wonderful person and that she still loved me, and I really needed to hear that. For me it was an example of the unconditional love we experience in the program.

The next fourth step I did was with my current sponsor at the time, and I did it the way the Big Book described with fears, resentments as well as answering a whole lot of questions from the OA 12 & 12. That one helped me see a whole lot of my character defects some of which I didn't want to own up to. I mean I knew many of them like perfectionism and being critical, judgmental and intolerant, but I discovered some others I didn't like such as self pity which is a huge one for me and feeds into my depression.

Each time I've done a fourth step I peel more of those layers of the onion, and whilst it's scary finding more defects and other things about me that I don't like, at the same time it's teaching me that I don't need to be perfect and it's OK to make mistakes. That's not easy for a perfectionist like me, but I've learned that as it says in the literature if I make a mistake I'm not that mistake.

I've also learned from various step fours is firstly that I do have assets as well as bad qualities, because in the past I just always saw the bad and never the good. The other thing I've learned when doing resentments was that I needed to own up to my side of things rather than always thinking that it was the other person's fault. In the past my thinking had always been that the reason I compulsively overate was because of what the other person had or hadn't done. I mean if you had a mother, ex husband, child or whatever like I had, you'd also have to eat. So it was all about poor me and as they say in AA, "Poor me, poor me, pour me a drink". Except for me it was to go and attack the fridge or the cupboard or the shops for more binge food. According to the Big Book resentment is the number one offender and boy did I have a long list of people and things I was resentful at in the beginning, but the good news is that just recently when I did another fourth step, the list wasn't nearly as long. As for the fears, that also seems to have gotten better so I know that this program is slowly making me a better person, but it's a slow process. Here are two great quotes regarding resentment and fears.

"Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."
~ Carrie Fisher

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.
~Dorothy Bernard

As it says in the Big Book, "Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny." p.163. Note it says trudge not run so this can be a slow process. I know it took me a long time to get to where I got to when I found this program, so it doesn't get better overnight.

This week we'll make a start in doing the housecleaning necessary in step four and we'll do the rest next week.


Read step four in the OA 12 & 12 if you have it and Chapter 5 in the Big Book, in particular pages 64-71.


    1. Are you ready to be searching and fearless?

    2. How will you know if you are ready?

    3. What fears do you think you still have about taking this step?

    4. Have you ever taken an inventory in another area of your life?

    5. Before looking at some of the negative things list all the assets and qualities about yourself that you like.

    6. Now do a resentment list using the format in the BB p.65

    7. Now do a list of your fears (in p67-68 of the Big Book) and how that affects you.

    Because you'll be sharing this with a sponsor in step five, he/she will probably be able to help you discover what character defect underlies various resentments and fears. But you may also get some insights as you write all the positive and negative things down.

In recovery,


*Note: You can find each of the WTS first quarter shares here.

Hi again friends on this recovery journey with me and Iím sure as most of you will have already found, this step may seem rather scary and daunting at first as well as time consuming in having to unpack all that stuff that weíve kept hidden for so long. But donít despair seeing that weíre doing this step in two weeks, and in any event, this is a step that we do need to keep going back to so we can peel away more layers of the onion so to speak. I know for me I keep going back and discovering some more stuff about me, some of which I donít always like. But I guess Iím realising thatís what makes me human.

Hopefully if youíve finished doing the resentments and fears, you may have found that quite a lot of stuff has come up around them. For example you may have seen how some of the fears are totally irrational, and in addition you may very well have even been able to pick up a whole lot of character defects that underlie each fear or resentment.

I know that for me many of the resentments I had listed when doing step four were ones that were current at the time, but there were also lots related to my past. I had spent so much time in the past feeling sorry for myself and being angry at people and so I had lived my life always blaming others as well as feeling a lot of guilt about stuff from my past. Many of my resentments from way back were against my mom who sadly had passed away before I found program. Once I was able to look at that stuff when working the program was that even though for example I had been resentful at my mom for not being the kind of mom I thought I should have had, in reality she was only doing the best she knew how at the time. And of course when I looked at stuff in the more recent past I realised that like my mom, I was also doing the best I knew how at the time in bringing up my kids. Luckily for me I have had a chance to make amends to them and do things differently and so will you.

I think for me once I started doing the action steps of the program starting with step four, I began to see my part in many things and began taking responsibility for my actions. Instead of feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self pity, I realised that I could do something positive for my recovery which enabled me to start the healing process in my life, not only around the food but in all the rest of my life and especially in my relationships, an area of my life at which I struggle. Today I have a chance to improve on those with the help of the program which has been a great blessing for me.

Assignment and more questions on step four

    1. Do you take other peoples' inventories; in other words have you been so busy looking at othersí faults that you donít see your own?

    2. Have you been arrogant and prideful and tried to control others?

    3. Do you take responsibility for the mistakes youíve made?

    4. Have you been self righteous and unforgiving of others?

    5. Have you ever stolen anything to feed your addiction?

    6. Have you ever been selfish in your relationships?

    7. How has negative thinking affected you; in other words have you often talked yourselves out of doing things you werenít sure you could do?

    8. Are you willing to pray for those who have harmed as well as being willing to learn tolerance and patience towards them, in that they are also struggling in a difficult world much like you are?

    9. Are you open to the possibility of being able to make amends to those whom you have hurt at some time?

FOURTH STEP PRAYER: Dear God, It is I who has made my life a mess. I have done it, but I cannot undo it. My mistakes are mine and I will begin a searching and fearless moral inventory. I will write down my wrongs. But I will also include that which is good. I pray for the strength to complete this task.

In recovery,


Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Step Four

WTS Home
The Twelve Steps
Recovery Home

© Copyright 1995 ~ 2014 THE RECOVERY GROUP All rights reserved