Phew! I finished yet another 4th step. It is a true journey to be able to clean the slate, when even after few years sober, I have piled on some resentments and fears. I am very grateful that I can do this kind of inventory, that makes me aware of my inner issues, those same issues that lead me to a drink over and over again. In sobriety, I have learned to clean house and make room for peace in my heart and a better, deeper connection with my higher power.
But to go thru a moral inventory can be quite grueling, who cares to look at themselves in such a unfavorable light? - it is way easier to ignore all the hate and anger that we fester inside. For me it was always easier to blame the world for my drinking, after all they have all done me wrong! But here in step 4 we must face our own wrongs! We must be able to be honest about our own behavior and accept our part in our conflicts with others.
"Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face and be rid of the things in ourselves which have been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.
Therefore, we started upon a personal inventory." - AA Big Book, pg 63In the AA 12 and 12, pg 48 it is suggested that begin with the ..."universally recognized list of major human failings:"
- Pride is excessive belief in one's own abilities
- Envy is the desire for others' traits, status, abilities, or situation.
- Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires.
- Lust is an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body.
- Anger is manifested in the individual who spurns love and opts instead for fury.
- Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain
- Sloth is the avoidance of physical or spiritual work.
So, step four is a fact-finding and fact-facing process. We are searching for “causes and conditions.” We want to uncover the truth about ourselves. We want to discover the attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, fears, actions, behaviors, and the behavior patterns - that have been blocking us, causing us problems and causing our failure. We want to learn the exact nature our “character defects” and what causes us to do the unacceptable things we do - so that once they are removed - we can acquire and live with new attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, actions and behaviors for our highest good, and for the highest good of those with whom we come in contact. This prepares us to live a life of purpose - where we can be in maximum fit condition to be of service to others. And, by taking inventory and learning the exact nature of our wrongs - we will be able to recognize when we might be slipping into our old way of life - and headed for new problems, and possibly relapse.
Years of drinking has caused me to develop many of these failings. But the ability to look at my faults and work on my character defects, with the help of a sponsor and my higher power, clears the way to a better, sober life. And as a sober alcoholic I have a chance to become a better person by doing the steps and following the AA program. It's a true gift.
And no matter how hard these steps sometimes seem - "the monster's teeth are never as large as I imagine!" - something my sponsor says!
Click HERE to read the AA Step Four.