“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

Step four is an action Step. This Step grates on the alcoholic nature. We begin the process of reversing many of the survival behaviors necessary to sustain an active alcoholic/addict. We do no enjoy these self-destructive behaviors, but we have become accustomed to using them.

Made…This Step demands positive action.  It is not accomplished all at once, but gradually.  There are two theories about taking this step:

1.  Don’t take it until you are absolutely ready.

2.  Take it right away.

Possibly the combination of these two ideas holds more value.  Ease into it, remember to be gentle on yourself.

Searching and fearless means being as honest as you can be at the moment.  We are used to rationalizing, so sincerity is mandatory.

In doing a moral inventory we want to take advantage of our assets in order to work on our liabilities.  Our behavior indicates attitudes and personalities, but don’t get stuck in details.  Try to see through the phony behavior.

This is not an examination of conscience.  We are not only looking for sins and evil deeds we might have done in the past.  We are looking for personality traits and conflicts that cause us distress.

Inventory is from a Latin word that means to find. We are looking for character defects and shortcomings that cause us problems.

We are all endowed by nature with certain wonderful and powerful instincts; otherwise, we would not have survived.  Our problem is that in our disease we have exercised some of these instincts to the extreme, and it has become a way of life that we now see as destructive.  The Steps address these misdirected instincts.

Step Four is a vigorous and painstaking effort to discover what these liabilities in each of us have been and are now.  By discovering what our emotional conflicts are, we can move toward their correction.  We cannot do this without taking a good look at ourselves.

The alcoholic cannot live with discomfort for great periods of time without eventually seeking relief in alcohol.

There are many ways to take Step four.  Do it in whatever way appeals to you.  Make sure it is written down, however.  You must believe no one will ever read it-not even when you do the Fifth Step.  It is the only way we can be completely honest with ourselves.

The Little Red Book Study Guide©1998 by Hazelden Foundation