Leader's Share and Step Questions
"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves".
FOURTH STEP PRAYER:
It is I who have 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.
Principle of Step Four:
In Step Four, we learn courage as we faced the truth about our defects of character. Applying these principles in all our affairs means that we are no longer ruled by a fear of admitting our mistakes.
The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous: Page 104
My Step Four:
Hi, I am Cindi, a compulsive overeater.
I joined OA in the mid-eighties and joined a second time in the late eighties. Both times, fear held me back from completing the steps. Both times I gave up and quit rather than try to continue. I was in my thirties at the time. I joined OA for the third time in January of 2002, but I did it online. For someone who has a people phobia, online program was the exact thing that I needed. I joined an online step study and began to work my way through all Twelve Steps.
This is the way to work the steps if you are scared to death like I was. Step studies! There were six of us – meeting in a private chat room, one hour a week on Monday nights. It took us sixteen months to work our way through the OA Workbook. But that step study was one of the most valuable experiences in my entire life. We each shared one question at a time and we were all as honest as we could be. I felt so at home there. It was the first place were I finally understood that I had an actual disease and that my obesity and overeating was not my fault. I was not to blame.
When we got to Step Four, we were all scared. Pride, fear, resentments and honesty were the topics for our moral inventory. We began, one question at a time, to share our past. Because we felt so safe with each other after working our way through the first three steps, we were able to allow ourselves to be vulnerable in our honesty. And it worked! When I listened to others telling me they had done many of the things that I had done, I kept telling myself, “We are all one and the same person, only the details are different.”
And that thought is still true today. We are all food addicts - trying ever so hard to find freedom from food obsession. Yes, we all have sordid pasts. And yes, they can be embarrassing and shameful. I used to steal from my employers. I took money that was not mine. I took merchandise that was not mine. My explanation at the time was that I needed it. They didn’t pay me enough. I slept with far too many men in my early twenties. The first time a man had sex with me and held me, I thought I was in heaven. It never occurred to me that he was using my body and even if it did, I didn’t mind. I had someone holding me for those few minutes. To me, that was priceless - until I got a STD (sexually transmitted disease) and called a halt to my promiscuous behavior. I cheated twice on my husband - both one nighters. I was acting out in part of my fear that I no longer could tolerate my husband’s alcoholism. We ended up divorced. I was a bully at times, especially at work. I was a perfectionist and I expected others to live up to my exceedingly high standards. And when they did not, I got furious at them.
These are just a few things that were on my moral inventories these past sixteen years. So, you see, I am not perfect either. I did things that were wrong and that I regretted deeply. And before the Twelve Step program, these things lived inside my mind and the addiction used them against me, over and over and over. I spent the better part of my adult life playing the blame/shame game. Addiction made sure that I knew I was worthless and unlovable and that nothing would ever make it better except food.
Until I came to program for the third time and began that very first online step study. There I found the steps working for me – to make me believe and understand that I had worth. That I could let go of my past by facing it and working through it, so the past would no longer haunt me. The steps allowed me to begin to live a life that offered me how to be a better person. It was through the acceptance and support of my sponsor and those other members at that first step study that I began to be able to love who I am - no matter what I looked like, no matter what I did, no matter how much I weighed.
This is what I want for you. To be here to help guide your through the steps and now your moral inventory. I want you to be able to face your past, work through it and then let it go so that you will be able to find your own self-worth. You are worthy of recovery, of abstinence, of weight-loss, of freedom from food obsession, bingeing, purging and anorexia.
I am here and I do care so very much.
To help comprehend the questions, please read the Step Four chapter of The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA.
You may also read, in the BB of AA (Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous), the chapter titled How It Works, pages 63 to 71. (Fourth Edition)
Instructions to Step Four:
Step Four in the 12 Steps & 12 Traditions of OA is divided into four different sections: Pride, Fear, Resentments and Honesty. Fear and Resentments will have exercises to do and Pride and Honesty will have a set of questions to answer. This section will have the fear exercise and the pride questions. Part Two next week will have the exercise for resentments and honesty questions. These questions are taken from the 12 Steps & 12 Traditions of OA book, pages 34 through 43. There is also an asset exercise after the Pride questions so don’t forget that one.
As I always instruct any step study, DO NOT SHARE with us anything that is too personal, too private or you will regret later. Share only a few examples of what you feel comfortable in sharing. You will share ALL of your inventory in Step Five with another person (preferably your sponsor, but it can be a therapist, minister or priest or an understanding OA member or friend.) I am available to be your Step Five if you need me at CindiLou62@hotmail.com.
REMEMBER TO SHARE WITH US ONLY A FEW EXAMPLES OF WHAT IS COMFORTABLE FOR YOU TO SHARE. WE DO NOT NEED YOUR ENTIRE INVENTORY. THANK YOU!
FIRST SECTION: FEAR
Fear Exercise: Make a list of people, places and things that you fear and why you fear them.
Here are some examples of my own fears:
People Example: I am afraid of people in social settings like parties because I am not good at conversations and do not hear well and I am afraid they will think me stupid.
Places Example: I am afraid of going to the dentist because my teeth are very important to me and I am afraid it will be bad news and cost me money.
Things Example: I am afraid of the phone because I do not hear very well and I misinterpret what people say and it causes me embarrassment.
SECOND SECTION: PRIDE
1. Are we power hungry? Do we enjoy controlling and/or manipulating others? Do we intimidate people?
2. Are we jealous of others including our mates or friends?
3. How do we react when we do not get our way? How do we react when others do not agree with us? Are we intolerant of differences?
4. Do we try to smooth stormy waters or are we troublemakers? Do we need to be the center of attention?
5. Are we status seekers and/or snobs? Do we treat people differently according to what they have?
6. Have we belittled others? Do we put people in their place? Have we ever played a mean trick on anyone? Do we condemn others for things we are guilty of? Are we hypocrites?
7. Are we over sensitive? Or do we brush everything off, pretending it doesn't hurt us?
8. Are we selfish with our time? Our energy? Our money?
9. Do we take on the responsibilities of others? Do we let the needs of others govern us?
10. Can we admit our mistakes? Do we accept our own failings? Or do we criticize, condemn and complain?
11. Are we bigoted? Do we acknowledge that others are sometimes right? Do we accept that others have failings? Or do we criticize, condemn and complain about them?
12. Are we people pleasers? Do we need everyone to like us? Are we afraid to say no to others?
As with any inventory, we must list not only the liabilities but also the assets. This exercise is meant to give you a more balanced view of yourself as a person.
Name six character or personality traits of yours that you really like and why. Please do not list physical attributes. Although having beautiful blue eyes is great, it does not define who you are.
Example: I am grateful that recovery has allowed my gift of writing and sharing to surface and be used in this step study. To have such a gift has given me much needed self-esteem.
I admit the exercises and questions will take some time for each of us to complete. My suggestion is to work on one section at a time then give yourself a break before moving onto the next section. That seems the easiest way to handle it. You have the entire week so use it. If you have any questions, please ask. I am here to help. You can email me at: CindiLou62@hotmail.com
Love in Recovery,
First Quarter, 2018 WTS
The Twelve Steps
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