STEP 4 - MADE A SEARCHING AND
FEARLESS MORAL INVENTORY OF
Please don't let this title (searching, fearless, moral) scare you. This step is both interesting and beneficial beyond anything you can imagine. It's also very easy when the attached worksheets are used.
It's clear that God's Will (which is what you decided on in Step 3) is for you to proceed with Step 4 which not only looks at issues which block you from Him, but removes a lot of them too.
The attached Step 4 worksheets were taken from the instructions contained in Chapter 5 of the Big Book and from Step 4 of the "12 and 12". Following are some helpful comments:
1. All Step 4 requires is time and honesty.
2. Completing the worksheets requires uninterrupted quiet time - no phones or people should be disturbing you. Ask God for guidance on this. If you have a very busy schedule, a longer period on weekends may be better than trying to squeeze small amounts of time during the weekdays.
3. If you have a fear of doing Step 4, go first to the "FEARS" worksheet and put this fear down - when you get to the third column, sincerely ask God to remove this fear.
4. The first worksheet has you look into your resentments (1: RESENTMENTS). Columns 4 and 5 are prayers and will aid immensely in reducing or eliminating your resentments.
If you have a resentment against yourself or against God, put these down. (By the way, both of these are quite common.)
You will likely have more than 8 resentments - simply add extra pages as necessary. (This is true of all the worksheets.)
You might really want to make some amends at this point - please don't. As a rule, you are not ready for this until you get to Step 9. Talk to your sponsor if you think otherwise.
5. Worksheet "2: FEARS" is real simple. The answer to the second question of Column 2 is usually 'yes', self-reliance failed me. In Step 3, however, we decided to rely on God rather than ourselves so the solution to any fear problem is contained in Column 3. Sometimes you'll get suggestions from your sponsor or others to do something to help overcome a fear. Since God works through people, seriously consider such input and pray with regard to it.
6. Regarding worksheet "3: HARMS TO OTHERS", both sexual and non-sexual harms should be included. If it's easier, you can have 2 separate worksheets for these 2 classifications.
The Big Book suggests that we ask God what we should do about each specific harm; hence, the prayer included in column 3. In the majority of cases, amends for past harms will be done when you get to Step 9. In some cases, however, some earlier amends are important – for instance, if you are living or working with someone to whom you had caused serious harm. When considering any such preliminary amends, it is important that you discuss your intentions with an experienced AAer, usually your sponsor.
If you carry guilt over something you did but where no one else was harmed, you have harmed yourself and any such activities should be included (here or as a resentment against yourself or as a fear that you might do it again).
7. Worksheet "4: SEX CONDUCT." Part [A] of this worksheet, where you are asked to list your uncomfortable sexual experiences, is recommended in the last paragraph on page 50 of the "12 and 12" which begins with "When, and how, and in just what instances, etc.…?"
Parts [B] and [C] will provide you with a plan for your future sex life, which, as far as you know, will be in accord with God’s Will for you.
8. Two important final comments: (a) Don't even think about doing a perfect 4th step because there is no such thing; and (b) This Step 4 material forms the basis for your discussion with your Step 5 sponsor. If you plan to take something to the grave and never tell a soul, change this plan - it must be shared for your sake (in all likelihood, you will drink again if you don't share it with another person and, for an alcoholic, to drink is to die).
Please have fun looking at yourself!
Additional comment on resentments - These are things which “rent space in your head” so peace of mind is elusive at best. The most difficult ones are often found among persons closest to you. As a result of your past drinking, these people often have resentments against you too. It has been found that the best way for you to help such people is to “not drink” “One Day At A Time”. Forgiveness (letting go of resentments) can, like recovery itself, take a long time for some of your resentments but God and AA are here to help you if you try.
Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5
I am resentful at – With ‘who or what’ am I angry?
The cause or causes – Why am I angry?
Disregarding the faults of the ‘who or what’, where was I to blame?
Pray: “Dear God, Save me from being angry, and/or How do I forgive the ‘who or what’?” Pray for the ‘who or what’; e.g., “Dear God, Please let Sam have peace of mind, health and happiness like I want for myself.”
Columns 4 and 5 – “We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity. and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, ‘This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done’” (page 67 of Big Book)
Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
Who or what do I fear?
Why do I have this fear? Is it because self-reliance failed me?
Pray: “Dear God, please remove this fear or direct my attention to what else I need do to overcome this fear?”
3: HARMS TO OTHERS
Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
Who did I hurt?
Where was I at fault? What should I have done instead?
Pray: “Dear God, what should I do about this specific matter?”
4: SEX CONDUCT
First, look at your past uncomfortable sex experiences. These can be considered your past mistakes. We want to avoid these in the future. As stated on page 69 of our Big Book: “In this way we tried to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future sex life.”
Now, go back through your life and describe your uncomfortable sexual experiences:
Now, using common sense, including a desire not to harm yourself or anyone else, asking God for help, set down your plan for your future sex life:*
Thinking about your plan (from [B], above), ask: “Dear God, is my plan okay?” If not, modify it accordingly:*
* “We asked God to mold our ideals and help us to live up to them.” - page 69 of our Big Book.