Working the Steps – Step 4
Most individuals struggling with addiction victimize themselves to justify his or her alcohol and drug abuse. They’ll say things like, “my home life is a disaster. The alcohol makes me feel better and deal with it.” Or, “My job is worthless and my boss is a jerk, so why show up sober.” The list goes on, but with each negative thought or excuse, the addict is feeling sorry for him or herself and fueling his or her alcohol and drug addiction.
Step Four is the process of stopping that way of thinking and starting to make a positive change.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
The Big Book by Alcoholics Anonymous explains Step Four with business. “A Business which takes no regular inventory goes broke.” When businesses take an active inventory, they are both fact-finding and fact-facing the discrepancies in their inventory. In business, one objective to taking inventory is to find damaged or unusable goods and get rid of them.
We did exactly the same thing with our lives. We took stock honestly. First, we searched out the flaws in our make-up, which caused our failure.”
– A.A. Big Book, p. 64
In Step Four, we learn to become businessmen of our own destiny. We begin to understand the importance of taking a self-inventory and with the help of our higher power; we have the strength to rid our lives of the inventory that can hinder our success.
Working Step Four
The common goal for however you take your self-inventory in Step Four is to walk away from it – or move into Step Five – understanding how you have been an active participant in your addiction. Developing an understanding of your own role in your addiction is the first step to ridding your life of these attributes and moving towards an alcohol and drug free life.
Below, you will find one of the most commonly suggested methods to working Step Four:
- List ways you have avoided taking personal responsibility for your own actions. Examples of this include: blaming others for problems that have occurred in your own life; blaming, or using the actions of others to justify your own bad behavior; lying to cover up actions you really did, or to avoid the consequences of your actions; partaking in behaviors that can cover up or divert attention from your bad behavior. List as many items as you can. You can generally describe these events, but being specific can be more helpful.
- List ways that you have become unreasonably angry. Examples of this include: Lashing out if you have been caught in your addiction, and/or harboring grudges or resentments. List as many items as you can, both specifically and generally.
- List ways that fear has taken over your actions. Have you failed to act on something even when you should have? Have any conversations or occurrences put you off because you were too afraid to move forward? Continue to list as many items as you can, and remember, you can generally describe these events, but being specific can be more helpful.
- List things you have done that you are now ashamed of. This list should include all instances that you feel you didn’t live up to your own values, or “practice what you preached.” These are things you normally keep secretly from others, so listing your secrets is a good starting point. Be both specific and general, and be sure to list as many items as you can.
Step Four is far from easy. It forces us to look ourselves in the mirror and admit to all the things we have tried so hard to keep a secret. Our lies, fears and bad behavior are now out for everyone to see and that’s a scary thought; but it’s a very important first step in stopping our addiction, discontinuing the blame of others and no longer hiding secrets—it’s an important first step to recovery.
For more information on working the 12 Steps please refer back to our blog series and don’t hesitate to call if you or a loved one are in need of drug rehab treatment – we will work the Steps with you!
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