“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves” Step 4 is a pivotal step and one of the most difficult steps for people to complete. Once one admits to be powerless over the addiction, comes to believe there is a higher power that can restore one to sanity, and decides to turn their life over to that power, the next piece is to do a searching inventory of oneself without fear but with moral authority.
This is a difficult process even for those that have no addiction issues. No one likes looking at themselves “Warts and all” as they say and certainly no one likes making an accounting of these things to self or anyone else.
This step is important though because one needs to know oneself in order to live without the addiction. Many people become addicted to things that started off as an escape, for example people often drink to forget something or another and then spiral out of control. In general people don’t wake up one morning and decide to become an alcoholic or addict of any other kind.
When one takes an inventory of oneself through the good, bad, and ugly one is able to determine what the behavior issues are that are involved and also one can determine what will need to change to lead a more spiritually fit life. This will also help with making amends, which comes up later in the program.
Making an inventory of oneself can bring up all kinds of issues for shame and guilt, but it doesn’t have to be that way. One can change the definition of things that they are operating with. For example if you started drinking after you were raped, instead of blaming yourself for the rape you can take a different approach by following this model.
Write down the event that happened or the comment that was made. In this example the sentence would read, “I was raped by x” with maybe a date and time if you remember.
Followed by sentences about what you made that mean until you can no longer fill in the blank, this is an exercise that can also be made out loud but needs to at least be written down so it will leave your mind. Here’s an example dealing with the aforementioned event:
“I made this mean that I am dirty, damaged, and used.”
“I made this mean that I am unloveable”
“I made this mean I deserved it.”
So on and so forth until nothing else can be written when you start the sentence with I made this mean. Sometimes people do this and then burn the list, but I encourage people to wait to burn it. It’s ok to burn it and ultimately that is a great ritual in moving forward with your life, but it is important to LOOK at the list and see the belief system that is present.
This is true even if you were the one who initiated the wrongful act, maybe you began drinking after you raped someone and even though you got away with it your mind started to plague you, or maybe you started doing drugs because your parents got divorced and mom or dad wasn’t there to tell you not to.
Whatever the reason it is difficult but important that you take an inventory of yourself and your belief systems so that you can change these belief systems and change yourself to be more spiritually fit. Many people have success doing these things in the context of a 12-step program, others need more intensive therapy.
Whichever modality works for you is the one you should explore, some people do both and there are also addiction specialized life coaches as well.