3 | Step 5
"Made a searching and fearless personal inventory of ourselves."
|A core principle behind the Fourth
Step is to identify our assets and liabilities for recovery. Things
that will help us in dual recovery and the things that will harm our
dual recovery. It's an opportunity to start identifying and healing
the pain from the past and to stop the progression of our illnesses.
IN OUR OWN WORDS: Members
share their thoughts on the Fourth Step
I like DRA's concept of
writing out our Assets and Liabilities for recovery. When we get them down
on paper we have a list of Strengths or Assets to build our dual recovery
on and a list of Liabilities which are targets for personal growth and
change. It's really easy for some of us to get into beating ourselves up
over this Fourth Step business. That's why when I sponsor somebody and
help them with their Fourth Step inventory, I tell them to list one Asset
for every Liability they can think of to keep the columns balanced. I
don't think being unnecessarily hard on ourselves is working an honest
program. Everyone has lots of Assets and they need to practice recognizing
was carrying around a lot of pain and shame from being abused when I was a
kid. I wasn't really ready in early recovery to deal with that. It
triggered my symptoms in a big way and I kept getting stuck there. I
talked to my counselor about it and he suggested that I leave the
childhood stuff out of my Fourth Step. To deal with it in therapy latter
when I was ready. He said I
needed to look fearlessly at myself though, particularly the last few
years--with honesty and an attitude of self-care and love. Then he
suggested that knowing about this trigger and how it affected my symptoms
was an Asset to my recovery.
I had no idea how many
resentments I really had. Doing my Fourth Step was a real eye opener. I
was blaming lots of people for lots of things but never resolving any
issues. Things just kept building up inside. There is a saying that says
"resentments are like taking poison and expecting the other person to
die." That's exactly how I felt, poisoned by my own resentments.
It took all
of the faith and trust I developed in the Program by working the first
three Steps, to get enough courage to be honest and really search for the
truth about myself in the Fourth Step--to be able to face and walk through
my fear--to be able to reach out and ask my sponsor for advice and
support. I recommend to anyone that they do the Steps in order. They are
numbered for a good reason.
most of the things I wrote about in my first couple of Fourth Steps was
Fear. Once I began to honestly evaluate the various resentments and
relationship problems I was writing about, I began to see a pattern. I was
a terribly insecure person inside who tried to project the image of a
strong secure stoic guy that really didn't need anybody. Inside, a little
scared boy--outside, a Clint Eastwood wannabe. I had built a protective
wall or facade around my self so no one could get in and hurt me. The
other side of that coin was that no one could get in and help me or meet
my needs for true bonding, trust, or intimacy.
several grudges against people who I was sure had treated me rotten in
various personal relationships, but under it all when I properly
inventoried my part in the situation, I had been far too demanding of
them. I had driven them away by demanding that they make me feel secure
and loved. Now I know that's an area I have to keep working on.
Fourth Step isn't about a list of every bad thing we ever did, though it
may start out that way. Mine did, but then I started looking for patterns
and so I rewrote my Fourth and grouped items that were of a similar
pattern. Under those groupings I tried to distill the particular pattern
or defect of character I found down into a line or two. For the most part,
it's those patterns, inappropriate coping mechanisms, and mistaken beliefs
that I want to discuss with my sponsor in the Fifth Step.
3 | Step 5
*Adapted from the Twelve Steps of
*The Twelve Steps of AA are
reprinted and adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services,
Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt the Twelve Steps does not mean that AA has
reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that AA agrees with
the views expressed herein. AA is a program of recovery from alcoholism only -
use of the Twelve Steps in connection with programs and activities that are
patterned after AA, but that address other problems, does not imply otherwise.
THE FOURTH STEP OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS* 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step Discussion Booklet - This is a printable booklet of this Step
Discussion section of the web site in Adobe Reader (PDF) file format.