We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:4,5 The Message
“Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.”
The people around us get hurt by our addictions. But in recovery we can benefit the lives of others, too. Step Four is as much about people as it is about addiction. What we do in Step Four is personal, both to us and to others. This is because of the personal nature of our relationships. Relationships are personally organic because people are organic. We all impact the lives of others. We can’t help it; it’s the way we are. People are both blessed and cursed by one another.
Next to God, our relationships with other people are the greatest influences in our lives. This doesn’t mean that everything will be great all of the time. When we look at other people in a realistic way, we’ll see that they are tremendous sinners. And we’ll see that they look a whole lot like us because we are tremendous sinners, too. Above all of this, what becomes amazingly clear is a subtle yet profound goodness in each of us. As we come to grips with our profound sinfulness, and the fact that God loves us anyway, we are able to recognize a God-given dignity and worth inside of all people. We’ll recognize that no one can really be defined in terms of good versus bad. We all have an original worthiness that is completely human, as shown through our obvious flaws and shortcomings, and more than human at the same time. Instinctively, it seems, we all want more out of life than what we can provide for ourselves. We fall short. We are sinners who are reaching out for something that we cannot get on our own.
Step Four is not about making judgments. It is about getting an honest awareness of who we are and how we have lived. We want to see how we have damaged our relationships with other people. Working through Step Four will help us learn to live in such a way that we won’t be so easily influenced to do things that hurt us or others. God is our strength. He is working to build us up according to His will. So we don’t need to worry about what other people say or think about us. It’s not like we have any control over them anyway. We just live our lives with God, honestly. We let God take care of others. We don’t need to feel pity for them, or for ourselves. However, we do need to develop a keen awareness of how we have allowed others to influence us in the past, sometimes for good and other times not so good.
We can approach our personal and moral inventories in different ways but there will probably be some common characteristics. We bring our willingness to the table and we face some tough questions about how our attitude and our behavior have affected those around us. Then we write down what comes to mind. We write down everything about our families that we think is important. We write down every thought, every memory and every feeling, the best we can. We write about the people who have harmed us and we write about the people who we have harmed. We write a great deal about our sexual experiences as well as any experiences that we have had with drugs, alcohol, money, gambling, food and/or anything else that has been a problem for us at any time in our lives. We write about why we did the things we did. We write about how we felt when we were doing them, and how we felt after we did them. We write about love, what we desired for love to be like and how we have been disappointed by those we loved. We write it all. We write everything.
Questions That Need to Be Answered
• How have you disregarded or abused those weaker than you?
• Who were the people that you hurt in this way?
• How have you envied the talents and resources other people had that you did not have?
• How has your addiction affected your relationship with your religious family?
• How have you been selfish?
• What makes you feel entitled to do things that you know are wrong?
• How have you valued your addiction more than your spouse and your children?
• How has your family, your employer or others been hurt by your moral failings or your insensitivities?
• What are some of the things that others have been denied because you were absorbed in your addiction?
• What are some specific ways that you have exhibited selfishness?
• How have you been careless with your spouse, your children, your employer and your neighbors?
• In what ways have you put your own needs and interests above the needs and interests of others?
• How and why have you lied to your loved ones?
• How has your employer been hurt by your addictions?
• How has your family been ashamed because of your attitude and behavior?
• When and with whom do you feel self-pity?
• What do you feel guilty about?
• What do you like about yourself?
• What do other people like about you?
• Why do you lie?
Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Four Segment Four
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
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