Step 4 of the 12 Steps is where we start to really have an honest look at ourselves.
We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 4 is the start of finding out who we are. It is the beginning of the process of self-love and acceptance of ourselves. Steps 4 through to 9 is a process within the 12 steps that will lead to comfort, happiness and love.
If you think of Step 4 like an onion, each time we do Step 4 we remove a layer of the onion. In the core of the onion is the pure and healthy version of us. Each layer we remove represents a layer of denial, our character defects and the harm we have caused.
Our goal in recovery is to have a spiritual awakening. Each time we do Step 4 we get closer to achieving this goal.
We need to learn about ourselves, discover ourselves again. The fourth step is not just about learning about our defects of character it is also about finding out what our assets are.
During this step we learn that our problems most likely started long before we started using drugs or alcohol. We will probably find that we felt isolated and different long before we started using any drugs. The desire to change how we feel led us to take our first drink or drug. The seeds of addiction were planted long before we touched any addictive substance.
This inventory will bring to the surface old conflicts and unresolved pain from our past.
The Narcotics Anonymous Stepwork Guide has two distinct sections for Step 4. The first takes you through the motivation for working the step and the second part guides you on taking your moral inventory.
For me personally Step 4 was very emotional the first time I did it. I have also found that every sponsee I have worked with has found Step 4 hard too.
Just the words moral inventory scared me. During my active addiction I did terrible things, to myself and others. My moral compass was broken and it was hard to be honest and face those things. I struggled to deal with my feelings of guilt and shame. I felt a lot of anger when writing down my resentments, all the old pain, hurt and anger came bubbling up to the surface. These are all the feelings I used drugs and alcohol to numb so I didn’t have to face them.
That is the scary bit about Step 4. The beautiful part about completing this step was that afterwards I felt light, like a load had been lifted from me. There was a spiritual change in me. I had shared some of the darkest and most humiliating moments of my life, about my character with my sponsor. She didn’t look at me like I was some sort of monster, she accepted what I told her without judgement and shared some of the things she did in her active addiction. I started to feel like I was not alone anymore, somebody understood me and had done similar things.
She also helped me with my assets. I had no problem writing pages and pages of things that were wrong with me, but I could not seem to write any assets I had. I could not see anything good about myself. She saw things in me that I couldn’t see and she helped me to see myself as I truly am.
This was truly a difficult step for me but the gifts that followed far outweighed the pain of facing this step.
Please leave a comment if you have any questions or feedback!