Step Four-Part Five

Made a searching and fearless
moral inventory of ourselves.

Leader's Share and Step Questions


My name is Shlomo, I am a compulsive overeater, and leader of this workshop.

Let us continue with our step four. In this last part of step four I will deal with harm done to OTHERS. Some people want also to deal with harm that others did to them, forgetting two important points. The inventory is ours not the other persons. We dealt with harm done to us when we wrote the resentment table. Our resentment, their harm. We work on changing ourselves not others

An inventory of harm done to others deals with our relationships with other persons. The Big Book divides it into two parts. Intimate relationships (sexual relationships), and general relationships. The Big Book deals with relationships on pages 68-71. We will begin with an inventory of intimate relationships with people we had or have sexual relationships with. The Big Book instructs us to review our sex conduct over the years past and present, by answering a bunch of questions. So here are the directions for writing a sex conduct inventory. We take our notebook and write a list off all the persons we had and have Intimate relations with even if they are now out of our life or dead. We write one name to a page and leave the other side blank, since we may need both sides of the page for each person.

We answer the following questions in detail for each person on our list:

1. Where have I been selfish in my conduct? We write down our selfish and self centered actions feelings and thoughts with regard to that person.

2. Where have I been dishonest in my conduct? We write down our dishonest deeds, like lying, stealing, borrowing and not returning, Hiding parts of the truth, gossiping, posing as another person than what we really are. Etc…

3. Where had I been inconsiderate in my conduct? We write down all our inconsiderate deeds with regard to that person.

4. Had I hurt that person (Emotionally, physically or financially)? We write down in detail all the harm we caused that person.

5. Did I unjustifiably arouse jealousy in that person? Be specific and write in detail.

6. Did I unjustifiably arouse suspicion in that person? Be specific and write in detail.

7. Did I unjustifiably arouse bitterness in that person? Be specific and write in detail.

8. Where was I at fault? We write down what our responsibility was in this relationship, and why we were in it in the first place.

9. What should I have done instead? We meditate on this question and write down what were the right things that we should have done instead of what we did.

We look at what we have written. We read it carefully and pay special attention to our answers to the ninth question.

Next the Big Book tells us that we have to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future sex life. How do we do that? First we ask ourselves about each relationship if it was selfish or not. Then we turn to God and pray:


After praying and meditating we write down our sex conduct ideal on a blank page. We are helped in the writing by our answers to question 9.

We remember that our sex powers are God given and therefore good. Neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and loathed. After writing our ideal we have to be willing to grow toward it. We must be willing to make amends (restitution, repairing the damage that I have done.), provided we do not bring about still more harm in doing so.

We must treat sex as any other problem. When we have a specific problem we turn to God in prayer and meditation: "God, please show me what I should do about this specific matter." Knowing that the right answer will come if we want it. We have to realize that only God is the final judge of our sex conduct and not people, though we may ask for their advice.

Now what happens if we fall short of our ideal, will we relapse? The Big Book says that "It depends on us and our motives. If we are sorry for what we have done, and have the honest desire to let God take us to better things, we believe we will be forgiven and will have learned our lesson.If we are not sorry, and our conduct continues to harm others, we are quite sure to relapse". The Big Book sums up about sex in the following (page 70):

"We earnestly pray for the right ideal, for guidance in each questionable situation, for sanity and for the strength to do the right thing. If sex is very troublesome, we throw ourselves harder into helping others. We think of their needs and work for them. This takes us out of ourselves. It quiets the imperious urge, when to yield would mean heartache."

After writing our sex conduct inventory, we write a general conduct inventory in exactly the same way. This is written on page 70. "We have listed the people we have hurt by our conduct, and are willing to straighten out the past if we can".

So how do we make an inventory of the people we have harmed by our general conduct? Exactly the same as we did our sex conduct inventory. Since the Big Book says that we "treat sex as we would any other problem". To do the general conduct inventory I have to have a list of people I have harmed by my general conduct.

It may be physical harm, financial harm, emotional harm, or a combination of all the harms. To find the people to put on our list we first look over our resentment inventory and pick up the people we have harmed in that list.

Remember that resenting someone does not necessarily mean that I have harmed him. We resent him because he/she harmed us , but a lot of times we harmed the other person too. In order to harm someone I have to act in a way that causes him physical harm, or financial harm or emotional harm. To the list that we pick out of our resentment inventory, we add people and institutions that we had harmed without resenting them. Like stealing from the place we work in, or from other places or persons, not returning loans, not paying debts. Etc…

When we have our list we write the general conduct inventory the same way we wrote the sex conduct inventory.

We write one name to a page in our notebook, and answer the nine questions for each person. After we answer the questions for every person on the list and pray and meditate , we write a general conduct ideal, and have to be willing to grow toward it.

Now let us turn to SECRETS. There is a custom in some twelve step fellowships to add to the inventory, a list of secrets that we thought we will take with us to the grave. Secrets that we are so ashamed of or frightened of that we want to keep till we die. There is some reference to this in the Big Book when talking about step five on pages 72-75. "…they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone their entire life story" "We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world." "We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past. Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted…"

I agree with that custom. My personal experience and my experience of working with others, has definitely shown me that the saying 'We are as sick as our secrets' is very true. So find a blank page on your inventory notebook and write on it a list of all your secrets that you wanted to take to the grave with you. You may write it in code so that no one except you will be able to read and understand it.

The Big Book says on page 71 that our inventory is an inventory of our grosser handicaps and it is a good beginning. That by writing our inventory and acting as suggested with what we have found out, we have swallowed and digested some big chunks of truth about ourselves.

As you can see doing step four according to the big book teaches us also how to do step 6 and 7 and and gives us a list for step 8

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT INVENTORY. and there is no such thing as a perfect step. As the Big Book says on page 60: "No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to those principles (steps). We are not saints. The point is that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection."

I say amen to that.

Since the big book talks on page 71 about swallowing and digesting, I wish you all Bone Appetite.

Now to the ASSIGNMENTS . Do step 4 as I explained here and in my previous posts. Now to additional assignments

ASSIGNMENT 1: Read pages 68-71 write down the sentences that you identify with, contemplate and share with us.

ASSIGNMENT 2: Write and share your sex conduct ideal with us.

ASSIGNMENT 3: Divide your general conduct ideal to several ideals, like conduct with my family, conduct with my friends, conduct with at work conduct with my neighbors etc... share your general conduct ideals with us

ASSIGNMENT 4: Write down on a blank page all the secrets that you wanted to take to your grave with you. You may write them in code so that only you can understand what you have written. DON'T share with us.

ASSIGNMENT 5: Make a list of all the different character defects that appear in your fourth step inventory. For each character defect write down how it manifests in your life, what do you think you benefit from it ( why you hold on to it ), and what is the harm it does to you.

This is the last post on step four. comments and questions are welcome . send them to: Send your answers to the sharing assignments to:

Have a nice and fruitful day


Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Step Four-part1
Step Four-part2
Step Four-part3
Step Four-part4

WTS Home
The Twelve Steps
Recovery Home

© Copyright 1995 ~ 2017 THE RECOVERY GROUP All rights reserved