Made a searching and moral inventory of ourselves.
Fearless Moral Inventory
Some people fear the action of the fourth step inventory. Even though this is referred to as a fearless moral inventory, it can be scary. In many people's experience, the fourth step brings peace and calmness when complete. In recovery, we are asked to take action that most people never do in their lives. Through this process, we gain a new perspective through rigorous honesty.
The fourth step is where we get to write down all our resentments towards people, places, and things. This is a crucial step in our recovery. It can bring serenity, peace, and a closer connection to your Higher Power.
How to Begin A Fearless Moral Inventory Step 4
Find a safe place where you are alone and can concentrate fully. Ensure you have a support system to guide you through the 4th step. Your support system might be a trusted friend, your sponsor, or your AA recovery group.
There are several options on how to start the fourth step. Meditation, prayer, calling a friend or sponsor and praying together, or just going for a brief walk to clear your mind.
You can say the Fourth Step Prayer:
"God, please help me to honestly take stock. Help me to search out the flaws in my make-up which caused my failure.
Help me to see where resentment has plagued me and resulted in spiritual malady, but more importantly help me to understand my part in these resentments.
Help me to resolutely look for my own mistakes and to understand where I had been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened.
Please help me to be searching and fearless in my endeavor to write my inventory. Amen.”
There are more prayers found in the Fourth Step Prayer blog post.
Remember to keep an open mind and heart. You want this to be an honest inventory. All of this work helps with your recovery process.
Resentment is the number one offender. pg 64 AA Big Book
Don’t hold back anything. The purpose of this step is to reveal your anger and resentments as best you can. We are going to look at our own lives and how we may have wronged others. In this program of recovery, we take this important step with a trusted friend or sponsor. We look at our character defects and character flaws. And we can also look at our character assets and positive traits.
You can only do the best you can. Your 4th step doesn’t have to be perfect. Reach out for help. Ask your sponsor and friends in recovery for tips on starting and completing the 4th step.
Writing Your 4th Step Inventory
There are several ways to write a 4th step. Your sponsor might give you an outline or information to fill out. There’s also an Excel spreadsheet available to write your 4th step.
Some people will write it out journal style, while others will use a more formal approach like the Excel spreadsheet. The key here is to do what feels right for you with the guidance of a friend or sponsor in recovery. And no need to worry about your writing style. Keep it simple. Just get your thoughts down on paper.
Try not to spend a long time completing this step. You want to experience spiritual growth, and that is achieved by completing the steps.
Examples of a Moral Inventory
There are different ways to work a 4th step in AA. Here we give you some general guidelines. There’s the AA Big Book example, journaling, the Sober Speak Worksheet and there’s an Excel spreadsheet 4th step workbook.
Following are some examples of a 4th step.
Simple 4th Step, Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Version
I’m Resentful At
She didn't invite me to dinner
He wasn't attracted to me
Self-esteem, Sex Relations
Lady at the grocery store
Cut in line
I’m Resentful At
In this first column, name the person, place or organization that you are resentful. This could be a friend, a bank, a law in your community or country, etc.
In the second column, write why you have this resentment. What happened? What makes you angry?
In the third column, think about how does this affect you? Some options to choose from are self-esteem, security, ambitions, personal or sex relations.
Journal Style 4th Step Example
Begin to think of situations and people that you have anger towards. Write these incidents down like a story.
My first memory is of my mother and father fighting over paying the bills for our home. I remember being confused and scared. I instantly wanted not to feel confused and scared. There was no one there to comfort me. Both parents were enraged.
I took my first drink at the age of 16. I was having negative feelings about my life. Once I took that first drink, I found my escape. It was instant. That night, I drove drunk for the first time. I hit a tree in my neighborhood and wrecked my car.
The Sober Speak website's fourth step worksheet has its own method of writing a fourth step.
What Resentment Do I Have
Who or What Do I Resent?
Why Do I Resent It?
What Effect Does the Resentment Have?
I feel disrespected
He doesn't listen to my ideas
Makes me hate my job
Strategies for Finishing Step 4
What happens if you start the 4th step, and get stuck with feelings of fear or confusion? It’s okay. Go to an AA meeting, talk to your sponsor, and put a note on your calendar for a day and time to finish the 4th step. We want our fourth step to have an honest look at ourselves and to go at our own pace.
The purpose of this step is to remove negative thoughts from our minds and improve our emotional well-being. We take a look at the root of your addiction in past behavior. In looking at these things, we can get tired and weary. Be easy on yourself. Take breaks. And take care of yourself during this process.
Benefits of the 4th Step Inventory
The fourth step is a spiritual step of our personal inventory. Of the twelve steps, it can be the most time-consuming. Once we finish the 4th step, we can feel good about having all of that information organized and ready to share however we choose.
We might see ourselves in a new light. We might gain some insights into why we do the things we do and are the way we are. We can see our own mistakes and see how we can be better members of the community. We have found a new way to live and are on our way to solving our drinking problem.
We have begun to learn tolerance, patience, and goodwill toward all men, even our enemies, for we look at them as sick people. AA Big Book pg 70
This is a good starting point for your AA 4th step. There is no best way to do a 4th step. You just need to do what feels right for you.
Next Step: Step 5
Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Helpful Links for the 4th Step