With the help from my AA sponsor, I launched into my fourth step inventory.
This moral inventory is different than writing down your life story. The point is not getting down every detail, but finding the defects that contribute to our drinking problem. The key is honesty — admitting on paper to yourself things you have tried to ignore.
I’ve been listening to the Joe and Charlie Big Book Studies and they had this advice:
Now there are three common manifestations of life run on self – will , and we’ve already talked about them . The flawed thinking processes in our mind resentments fear, guilt and remorse associated with the harms done to other people . And as long as our mind is occupied with those thoughts then God’s thoughts can’t come in . It ‘s just that simple.
Here is Dr. Harry’s paraphrase of AA step 4 from the book Being Sober.
Using examples from your life, understand that your actions were controlled by selfishness, dishonesty, fear, and resentment.
So I began by listing my…
- Guilt Feelings
For each of the above, I followed the process in the BIG BOOK.
- Person – I named the situation or person.
- Reason – Why was I resentful, fearful, or feeling guilt?
- Affects my – Then I wrote specifically what how it was affecting me. What was harm or threat to my person?
- My defect – How does this reveal some fault in my own character?
In addition, I listed random other character defects as mentioned in the BIG BOOK.
This process took me a few hours at first, then more ideas came to me later. The end result was the just about all the negative thought patterns I could discover in myself. It was a load of nastiness. That’s the sum of step 4, this document becomes the basis of the next few parts of the program.
For me the process was incredibly helpful. It was a struggle to just admit some of my resentments, because I had imagined I was somehow “too good” to have those negative feelings dominating my life.
Now it’s on to step 5.