We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
But you desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being. Psalm 51:6 NLT
“The moral inventory is a cool examination of the damages that occurred to us during life and a sincere effort to look at them in true perspective. This has the effect of taking the ground glass out of us, the emotional substance that still cuts and inhibits.”
- Bill Wilson founder of Alcoholics Anonymous
Recovering a Healthy Relationship with Ourselves
No matter how we may rationalize it differently, our addictions have been destroying us. Part of the insanity of addiction is how we tend to minimize the damage that our addictions do. To whatever degree that we have brought pain into the lives of other people, we must admit it. But it is likely that we are the ones who have been hurt the most by our addictions.
This section of Step Four is an attempt to see how our addictions have hurt us individually. It is important that we be as objective as possible. We are not the focus. What we are looking to do is to recognize the causes and the conditions, and the thinking and believing that have promoted the growth of addiction in our lives. We look ourselves over much like we would examine a part of our body that is hurting. We do it with care, in a nurturing way. Friendly, respectful, objective detachment is one way to look at it. We don’t want to deny how we feel at any moment in time but, at the same time, this is not a sentimental journey, either.
We sift through our life, past and present, in order to identify the selfish thinking, the corrupted beliefs and the ineffective emotional maladjustments that promote our addictions. We need to understand that addictions grow because of self-centeredness. Addiction is not the cause of moral failings nor is it a moral failing in and of itself. Addiction, and any subsequent moral failings are caused by spiritual and emotional longings that have gone unmet. Because of this, it is critical that we see how we have contributed to our own spiritual and emotional deprivation. For you see, our addictions take hold of us as we seek to meet needs that we cannot meet and escape pain that is too much for us to handle on our own. Sadly, in addiction, the very things that we have used to escape our pain actually increase our pain. Then, addictions grow and deepen all the more.
Most certainly, some of the pain we have experienced in life has come from other people. For now, let’s just do our best to take a non-emotional look at what these people did to us and how it made us feel. For the sake of our recovery, it’s important that we don’t judge other people’s motives. That is God’s job, after all. He is the only One who has all the facts. We should just look at what they did, not why they did it. Let them work out their own troubles with God, just like we are doing. Any resentments that we have against others should be listed and cataloged. We will discuss them later, at the appropriate time and place.
As we move forward, God will give us courage. We will see things with a better focus. We may not be all that we thought we were. And that’s okay. Whatever we are, God says that He loves us. In time we will grow to love ourselves, too.
• Describe how you feel about yourself right after you have acted out in one of your addictions?
• How has your addiction affected the way you think about your life and your future?
• Describe the pain you feel when you consider the relationships you have lost because of your addictions.
• How have you objectified yourself financially, sexually or emotionally?
• Do you remember your first sexual experience? What was it?
• How have you violated your own sexual ethics?
• How have you been a hypocrite religiously, sexually or socially?
• Why and how do you feel sorry for yourself?
• How have you manipulated yourself with self-pity?
• Are you mad at yourself? Why?
• How have your addictions affected the goals and plans that you had for your life?
• Why would you sacrifice long-term health for short-term gratification?
• Do you work too much? Why?
• How have you exaggerated your successes?
• Have you ever asked yourself why you would ever do certain things?
• In what ways have you repeated dangerous experiences?
• How and why have you minimized your addictions and your mistakes?
• What are you avoiding?
• Do you like yourself? Why not?
Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Four Segment Two
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
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