Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
What Step 4 Is:
This is often described as the first “action step”. In the first three steps, we (1) come to an understanding of what is killing us (whether metaphorically, literally, or both), (2) come to believe that there may be a power greater than ourselves that can restore us to sanity, and (3) become willing to turn our thoughts and actions over to its guidance.
Another way to think of that is that we come to believe that this program can restore us to sanity, as it has done for so many people before us, and that we become willing to work it so that we and our lives – our thoughts and actions – can be transformed.
Either way, the first three steps are more of a decision-making process. The fourth step is where we, and therefore our lives, truly begin to be transformed.
The purpose of the fourth step is to thoroughly look at everything that is not working, and has not worked, in our lives. (What about what does work? Steps 4, 5, 6, and 7 not only identify, but also clear out the stuff that isn’t working. As we let go of what doesn’t work, we become able to see what does, what is wonderful and lovable and healthy about ourselves and our lives.)
We do this in the same spirit that the business down the street takes an inventory. They have to see if they are missing necessary items; if anything has been stolen; if some of their items are broken; if some items just will not sell and are dragging the business down. By doing this, they can replace stock as needed; track down people or policies that are harming their business; and fix or change what is not working for them.
We are doing the same thing here, except that instead of inventorying physical items, we are inventorying moral ones – parts of our personality, our character, our behavior.
PLEASE NOTE: When it says a “moral inventory”, it does not mean that we are to judge ourselves. It means only that we are finding out what does and doesn’t work inside of us, rather than in the physical objects around us. In fact, shame is one of the biggest harmful things that we can find in that inventory.
So how do we take an inventory of ourselves? There is a wide variety of inventory worksheets out there, each slightly different from the next and none “official”. A truly thorough inventory will at least include resentments, fears, and our past and present relationships. Here is a summary of what we suggest in this workshop:
1. First, we write down everyone and everything we resent.
2. We go back down the list and briefly jot down why we’re angry about each one, what areas of our lives we felt were threatened.
3. We go over the list again and briefly write down our part in each situation.
4. Next, we write down everyone and everything we fear.
5. We go back down the list and write down the causes of our fears as well.
6. We go over the list again and briefly write down our part in each fear.
7. Next, we write down all of our romantic/sexual relationships.
8. We briefly write down any harms that we committed in our relationships, that we have not already covered in our resentment and fear inventories.
9. We go back down the list and write down the causes of those harms.
10.We review what we have learned, and ask higher power to guide us in determining a new ideal for our sexual relationships.
11. And finally, we scour our past for any miscellaneous harms that may not have fit into the above categories, and inventory those as well.