Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:40)
Have you ever seen the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” particularly the end scene in the movie? This is the scene where a warehouse caretaker slowly rolls the Ark, now placed in a wooden crate, down an aisle and over to an unmarked section of a gigantic warehouse full of other wooden crates. It is a great picture of the warehouse we have stored inside. I’m sure the caretaker has written down every crate, it’s location, and its content and can easily find the needed crate when required. Can you imagine if the caretaker did not write down this information and only did it by memory? The Ark would be lost forever!
In understanding Step 4, we need to realize that Step 4 is a written inventory, not just one we think about. We take time to write down all this information we discover about ourselves with the help of the Holy Spirit and our friends in recovery.
A great Step 4 format I like to use is available in our resources section on Castimonia.org. It is taken from royy.com and was produced by various Alcoholics Anonymous members. I will discuss this format of working a proper Step 4.
Click here for the Step 4 PDF file
The first part of the inventory is our checklist of Flaws and Assets. We select which flaws (also known as Character Defects) we currently are aware of and ask others to help us determine other flaws they see in us. We also select our character assets as seen by ourselves and by others. It is important not to bury ourselves in the negative of our character flaws; we must understand that we also have character assets! Typically, we select double the amount of assets as we do flaws so as to not beat ourselves up over our defects of character. The sheets have room for 12 flaws and 24 assets.
We then begin with the review of our flaws. We list the specific flaw (or group of flaws if synonymous) and then we give an example of when this flaw came up in our lives. For example, if we were impatient, we clearly describe when we were impatient, what happened, why we reacted with impatience. The more thorough the description, the better the results.
After we write in our top 12 character flaws, we begin with our character assets. Again, we list the asset and then give a clear description of how we used that asset and the circumstances surrounding it. Perhaps we list brave as a character asset. In giving an example of this asset, we can describe the first time we attended Castimonia or another sexual recovery meeting! Again, the more thorough the description, the better the results.
In the next section, we tackle what is one of the most important issues we will face in working our recovery – our resentments! In working a Step 4 inventory on our resentments, we are able to properly list out the resentment, give specifics about why we are resentful, and then in Column 3 describe in detail how it affects us personally (self-esteem, security, ambitions, personal relationships, sex relations). However, Column 4 is perhaps the most important column in this Step 4 resentment inventory. In Column 4, we describe where we are wrong in holding onto this resentment. We list where we were being selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and frightened and thus held onto this resentment. A thorough explanation can be found on the worksheet linked at the beginning of this post as well as from your sponsor.
After writing down all of our resentments and why we were wrong in holding on to them, we begin our list of fears. Fear can be a very strong driving force in our addiction. I once heard fear used as an acronym – Future/False Events Appearing Real. In other words, things that have not yet occurred in real life, will definitely occur or have already occurred – in our minds! There is a list of fears written on the preceding page, however, you can list others if you need. I used the image of the creature from the movie Alien to represent something absurd I fear, something totally and completely in my mind. I fear this creature even though it never existed. There are of course, more realistic fears in life, financial, health, family, relationships, but again, most of our fear comes from our own minds and are things out of our control and can cripple us if we allow it.
Finally, we reach the last section of the worksheet. This is something we are very familiar with in that we have looked at this problem in our 1st Step. However, here we can tie in more specific reasons or feelings surrounding our sexual misconduct. This will help us when we make a list of persons we had harmed in Step 8 and make amends in Step 9.
For today’s topic, I read through two books, The Twelve Steps for Christians and the Sex Addicts Anonymous Green Book as well as reviewed the Step 4 Inventory Workbook. I like to read from both books because they are both extremely insightful. The Twelve Steps for Christians touches my Christian roots and the SAA Green Book deals specifically with my sex addiction recovery. The Step 4 Inventory workbook is one of the better, free, workbooks I have used. I use this workbook whenever I need to work Steps 4 and 5.
Take what you like and leave the rest.