Step 4

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves” 

I  Make a searching inventory

When I first started attending 12 Step meetings, I thought that the ‘steps’ could be done in a day or two. Little did I know how demanding step four was going to be; it required a lot of my time and energy. Like looking for a lost set of keys, every corner of my mind and heart needed to be examined. I could leave no stone unturned.

A.  A vigorous and strenuous search

a) Face the painful truth about your actions (futility & fatality)

• Have you done anything to hurt someone else? Who? ___________________________________________________
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Have you done anything to hurt yourself? ___________________________________________________
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b) Peel back the emotional layers – discomfort / anger / fear / shame / sadness / loneliness

• Much of our anger is rooted in resentment. Can you see how this could be true for you? Why? ___________________________________________________
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• Have you been sober (abstinent)? Have you noticed any other feelings (sadness / loneliness) come up during this short time period?
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B.  A thorough search

a) Look below the surface – (the addiction is only a symptom)

• Anger can also stem from fear. Can you see how this could be true for you? Why? ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________

b) Causes and conditions

• What sort of pain from your past (distant or recent) are you still dealing with? Your mother? Father? ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________

• Is there some unfinished business that you need to attend to? ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________

II  Make a fearless inventory

Did you think this was going to be easy? If you’re like most people in recovery, you will find step four to be one of the most difficult. We would rather put it off until we are ‘ready’ – we would prefer to procrastinate, or just skip over it altogether!

A.  Accept Responsibility

a) A personal inventory (self-assessment)

• Are you having difficulty getting in touch with your ‘feelings’? Why do you think that is? __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________

b) An honest inventory (willing to let go of the things that hold you)

• Can you see how you may be responsible (not to blame) for your shortcomings? ______________________________________________________
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• Are you willing to accept your part in all of this?

______________________________________________________
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B.  Overcome Procrastination

a) Feel the fear and do it anyway

• What am I trying to avoid? Is this something I am willing to take a look at now? ______________________________________________________
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b) Know that it is a grieving process

• Is there something I am unwilling to give up? What am I afraid I will lose? ____________________________________________________
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III  Take a moral inventory

Perhaps the greatest fear of doing a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves is finding out that we are bad people… we’ve been weighed in the balance (scales) and found wanting (not enough). But this is not the purpose of a moral inventory. The reason we take this snapshot of ourselves is so we know where to begin our recovery work. It is not meant to slow down the work of recovery, but to speed it along and move you forward.

A.  Personal Shortcomings

a) Resentments (anger, pride, envy, jealousy)

• Who am I angry with?

___________________________________________________
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• Why am I angry? What is the cause of my anger?
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• How does this affect me? (How does it threaten, hurt or interfere with my life? ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________
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• Where am I at fault? What are my mistakes?
___________________________________________________
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b) Fears

• What am I afraid of?
___________________________________________________
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• Why am I afraid? What’s the cause?
___________________________________________________
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• How does this interfere with my life?___________________________________________________
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• Where am I at fault? What are my mistakes? ___________________________________________________
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c) Hurts

• Who have I hurt by my conduct?                   ___________________________________________________
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• How did I affect them with my conduct?  ___________________________________________________
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• Where am I at fault? What are my mistakes?                                                                              ___________________________________________________
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• What should I have done instead?                                    ___________________________________________________
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B.  Personal Strengths

a) Attitudes (willingness and openness to help others)

• Have I ever felt compassion for others?  ___________________________________________________
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• When did I ever feel willing and open to help others?                                                                                ___________________________________________________
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b) Actions (the good you have done in the community)

• What have I done in a practical way to help others?  ___________________________________________________
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c) Achievements (setting goals and reaching them)

• What have I accomplished so far?                    ___________________________________________________
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• Have I ever set a goal and achieved it? Explain: ___________________________________________________
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• What have I done that I am really proud of?
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• What are my special talents?                             ___________________________________________________
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