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".

Step 4 is a true challenge. It terrifies newcomers, and many stumble, picking up rather than complete it.

I want to stress a couple of essential points.
1. It is unavoidable. We must understand what are called "causes and conditions." This step undergirds the rest of the steps.
2. It is imperfect. It can be repeated as you grow in self-understanding. I have done several 4th steps, and each one has been precious to me.
3. I will talk about the principles behind Step and do my best to provide you with an overview of the different formats that I am aware of, but you must be guided by your sponsor. It is not expected that you will share your 5th step with the loop. You need to be working with someone one on one.

The OA 12 & 12 reminds us of the value of increased honesty and self-awareness. It's very important to realize that "being willing to do the inventory, and wanting to do it are two different things."

A couple thoughts about the word "inventory". An inventory is not a complete history of the enterprise. It doesn't have to be a narrative. It can be a list. The process that is described in the Big Book beginning on pg. 64 is well known, and there is a series of worksheets that can jump start the process. There is also a series of questions in the OA 12 & 12 that is focused on character defects (pgs 34-43).

There is no perfect method for doing an inventory. The main point is to do it.

Consider carefully the paragraph on the bottom of pg. 64 of the BB. Discovering our resentments is often one of the biggest revelations of the inventory. The other very common element is fear. Read the bottom of pg. 67- the middle of 68. For me fear was the major breakthrough of my first inventory.

Remember that the inventory is not really a biography. An inventory looks not only at what happened, but why it happened. It introduces one of the basic parts of the program. Why did it happened? What's my part in it?

An Important Principle (this is described in the OA 12 &12 in step 5, but is worth mentioning twice)

For some people doing an inventory will expose old traumas, that require the help of a licensed professional to deal with. If your inventory has exposed memories of abandonment, abuse, or any acts of violence, please get "outside help" in addition to doing the steps. This is very common in OA, you are not alone, but you will need additional help.

One approach:

Have you begun your inventory? What format have you selected? Have you discussed your plans for your inventory with your sponsor?

Robin B

Replies to the assignments are to be sent to

Robin Brown

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