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THE FOURTH STEP AND HOW
TO DO IT
made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
is the first of the cleansing steps. This is a wonderful opportunity to
get out of the mind and onto paper, all of those guilty, resentments, fears,
unthinkable thoughts (that are thought of continually), angers, feelings
and thoughts about sex, your opinions of yourself, as well as an inventory
of your assets. In short, this is a written work-picture of the status of
your internal state.
This step is most prone to procrastination. Probably this is due to the
anticipation of having to confront all of that accumulated emotional garbage.
This is especially so if you have made a lifestyle out of consciously denying
its existence and avoiding that confrontation.
If you find you are putting off doing this step, you might find that doing
it a little bit at a time will lessen the fearful massiveness of it. It
is a lot easier to knock down a brick wall, one brick at a time, then by
throwing one's body at it.
I am about to present a rather complete guide to doing this inventory. It
is in the form of questions to be answered. The easy way to do this is to
decide to answer just the first part of the first question, the first time
you sit down to do it. Let that be the equivalent of the first brick. The
most important thing is to get from stop to go. Just start writing. You
might be pleasantly surprised to find that you end up answering more questions
than you set out to do. That's fine.
Here are some basic guidelines and suggestions to keep in mind when doing
this kind of writing:
- Get yourself a
notebook to write in. I find that what works best for me is a 9 ½
X 6 college ruled spiral notebook. I usually pick one that has
dividers for three subjects and start my writing in the second section,
leaving the first section blank. If I forget to put the notebook away
and someone happens to see it, the chances are that after flipping through
a number of blank pages in the front they will conclude that it is an
unused notebook and put it down. For me this size spiral is really convenient
to carry around, put in a briefcase, and have next to my place setting
when I am eating, which, I find, is a good time for me to write (actually
while waiting for and after my meal).
- If you do use
a spiral notebook, I would suggest using only the right hand page. This
way, if you should later think of any additional things about some previous
writing, there is room to add it. Also, if you should think about some
information that is extraneous to the question you are currently answering,
but important to a future question, it too can be jotted down on the
left side. That will free it from your mind so you can get back to answering
the current question.
- This kind to writing
is train-of-thought-writing. It is also called automatic writing. What
your mind thinks, your hand records. Your conscious, critical mind ought
to be an idle, non-participating spectator. The most important thing
is to get the thoughts on paper. Spelling is not important. Grammar
is not important. You can use outline form, incomplete sentences, run-on
sentences (my favorite), shorthand, hieroglyphics (as long as you know
what they mean) , what ever it takes to capture your thoughts on paper.
If you feel that what you just wrote is inaccurate or incorrect and
you just must change it, put a single line through the old version,
do not erase or obliterate it ,and write the corrected version next
to it or above it. I suggest doing it this way because much of the time
the first version was quite accurate, with the new edited version emotionally
more palatable. Reading it later, it will be the original version that
will have the greater impact.
- Even though you
know that in the next, the fifth, step, you will be reading this inventory
to another human being, for right now make believe that you don't know
that. Write it as if you are only writing it for yourself, which is
the truth, anyway. You want to be writing your thoughts and feelings
as they are, rather than as You think You would like to have others
hear them. This is very important. If you write this step as truthfully
as possible, there will be portions of it that won't be very pretty.
If you pretty them up, you will be robbing yourself of the opportunity
to grow, which is prosumedly why you are doing this. Remember , the
cheater cheats him/herself !
- Some of the questions
for this step will start off with Write about each incident in
your past that.... When answering this kind of question, you do
not need to spend weeks gathering information to make the answer as
complete as possible. What pops into your mind as you are answering
the question is sufficient. If later you think of more information,
jot it down on the left hand page next to the original answer. (The
left hand page will be blank if you followed my previous suggestion.)
- To help the person
who will listen to your inventory in the next step, either put the question
number in front of each answer or start off each answer by restating
the question. For example: Question - What do you like least -about
sex? Answer - What I like least about sex, is .......
- Feelings are not
rational. There are no right or wrong feelings, there are just your
feelings. When a question asks for you to write your feelings on a particular
subject, just write it the way You feel it.
- There are two
categories of feelings and mental information; active and historical.
Active feelings are those that are either on or just below the surface
in your mind. They are the ones that you keep thinking about or which
quickly surface when a similar incident occurs. Historical feelings
are those that have been resolved in your mind and are now in the memory
banks of completed events. For example, let's suppose that you were
having an argument with someone on the phone and that person restated
his opinion and then before you could state your opinion, your phone
went dead. Because you didn't get to express your opinion, what you
would have said will continue to replay in your mind until you get to
say it. That is active information. When you re-establish the call and
get your message out and end the conversation, the whole event will
be filed in the completed action (or historical) memory banks. When
answering the questions in the following guide, only active feelings
or information need be recorded. Note that if you have never dealt with
something that happened to you at age five, it is probably active information.
FOURTH STEP GUIDE
In this first section you have the opportunity to examine and record your
resentments. Resentments are caused by happenings in your past that did
not turn out to your liking, especially where you felt an injustice was
done. The resentment is directed at the person, place, or thing that caused
or was responsible for the injustice.
The resentments that are important to this section are those that are still
unresolved in your mind, where you still harbor ill feelings towards that
which you perceive to be the cause of the situation. In other wards, active
resentments. One last thought, don't forget to include resentments you have
- Write about unresolved
incidents in your life that have resulted in your having a resentment
for the cause (persons, including yourself, places or things) of the
unpleasantness or injustice. If you periodically replay the incident
in your mind, or similar incidents in the present trigger a replay of
the incident, you can bet it is still active and is unresolved and needs
to be written down.
- For each on
of these incidents that you are recording include the following:
that you had the ability to change the outcome of past events,
would this one be important enough to change?
- Did this
incident have a profound influence on the future course of your
life? Write how it effected you and how it changed your life.
- What part
did you play in this incident?
There is an old saying, Guilt Kills! It is true. Guilt is
self-induced bad feelings. It is the feeling of having done something that
is wrong. Guilt has a direct effect on behavior. The two primary ways it
shows up in behavior is through avoidance and through over-compensation.
For example, if a person felt responsible for the collapse of the last relationship,
he/she might avoid getting into another one. If that same person thought
that the relationship's collapse was due to his/her not being there enough
for the partner, he/she might over-compensate in the next relationship by
paying so much attention to the partner that the partner gets smothered.
I have found that until people are willing to deal with and resolve the
feelings of guilt and resentments, they will stay stuck in their loser behaviors.
- Write about each
of those events, omissions (things you neglected to do) that have resulted
in your having unresolved guilt. Include:
- How each of
these effected your life?
- If you could
do it over again, what would you have done different?
- What part
did you play in the event?
Anger is a legitimate feeling and as such it ought to be responsibly
expressed. Anger, like all other negative feelings will stew and fester
like a cancer if not resolved. When angry feeling are pushed aside or rationalized
away, (Oh, it's not important enough to get upset over.), it
doesn't go very far away. It just sits right below the surface. Each time
a similarly caused bit of anger is dealt with in the same manner it adds
to that which is already accumulated. Eventually, it causes resentments
and the ability to keep them unsaid and unimpressed diminishes. People who
are said to have a short fuse are people with lots of unexpressed
anger. This also accounts for the straw that broke the camels back
phenomenon - that one little comment that got the full blast of a thousand
accumulated mini-angers that were left unexpressed from a thousand previous
such little comments. As with all other feelings, if you do not deal with
them regularly, they will deal with You.
The following is a partial list of things that people react to with anger.
Reading over it might jog your memory:
- being talked down
- being the target
- being the target
- being publicly
- not getting your
- being called demeaning
- people with more
power, money, fame, etc., than you
- letting yourself
- the police
- the government
- your procrastination
- your computer
- For each person,
place, or thing that gets you angry or irritable, describe what happens.
- What actions,
key statements, situations lead up to your getting angry and setting
- Which one
of your buttons or triggers gets pushed?.
- What part do
you play in it?
FEAR AND ANXIETY
for having completed your first inventory!
Fear is living in the
past. Anxiety is living (worrying about) the future. If we have had a bad
experience in the past, reliving it in the mind produces fear and worrying
about if it is going to happen again in the future produces anxiety.
The following are a list of fears or fear causing situations. It is all
right if some of them do not apply to you. They are examples of what other
people have experienced and are listed here to assist you to remember your
- being alone
- meeting new people
- people of the opposite
- people of the
- Write about each
of your fears. Write enough about each one so that it adequately describes
it. For each one:
- Name the fear,
i.e. fear of_______
- Describe the
- If you can
remember the situation that started it or the first time it occurred
- describe it;
- What does
it prevent you from doing?
- What part do
you play init?
This is a subject that had given most people problems. In this section
you will have the opportunity to explore the feelings and emotions that
are generated by, and associated with, the conflicts between your attitudes
and beliefs towards sex and the actual ways you have sex. When the ways
that you have sex, or fantasize having sex, is different from the ways
you were brought up to believe sex should be practiced, the chances of
acquiring unrealistic guilt and shame are great.
Remember when answering the following questions that there are no right
and wrong answer. There are only your answers honestly written down from
your experience. As the famous television detective, Jack Webb, used to
say, Just the facts! Temporarily suspend your judgements -
just record the feelings and the facts.
- When you dream
about your ideal relationship, what is it. After you have
described it, write how close your real life relationships have come
to your ideal ones.
- Describe your sexual
fantasies. Write about both the ones you have actually done and the
ones that are only played out in your imagination. What is preventing
them from becoming realities?
- The following
is a list of ways that people have sex. Most likely you can relate to
some of them because you have done them, fantasize about them, are threatened
by them, or just have strong feelings about them. For the ones that
you are attracted to but they make you feel uncomfortable, are threatening
to you, are afraid of, or feel are unnatural, abnormal, or amoral write
about your attraction to them and what prevents you from following through
on your feelings and making them a reality. If you actively engage in
them, what gives you bad or guilty feelings of doing them?
The list is not a complete one, so if there are other acts or things
that you do or fantasize and feel negatively about them, include them
in this writing.
|| AIDS as
it effects your sex
|| phone sex
(or group) sex
- Are there things
you have not yet written about that you have either done or fantasized
about doing that you felt sorrow, shame, an/or guilt later on.
- What sexual situations
have caused you to be upset, frustrated, anxious or sad? For each one
describe what was your part in it and what part was caused by your sex
partner(s). Did you have a problem accepting the way your partner(s)
acted? How did you feel about situations you couldn't control?
- Have you pursued
sex in a compulsive, addictive or obsessive manner? What effect has
that had on you and the people around you?
Most of this inventory had been concerned with the negatives in your
life. To get an accurate picture of yourself you need to also include the
positives about you.
- List, with as much
description as you feel necessary, your physical assets, such as your
appearance, singing voice, strength, smile, etc.
- List and write
about your abilities such as being a good actor/actress, good business-sense,
a great mother/father, good sales person, great conversationalist, intelligent,
- List and write
about the positive parts of your character such as; honesty, sense of
humor open-minded, generous, loving, as well as, trustworthy, loyal,
helpful , friendly, courteous, kind, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean,
true and reverent (where did I hear these before?)
- List and write
about anything else about you that is positive.
Write as much as you need to on the following questions:
SHORTCOMINGS AND CHARACTER
- How do you think
other people see you? Is that the same as you see you? If not how do
you see yourself?
- Are you working?
If so, what kind of work do you do? What do you like the most about
your work? The least? If you could make a negative free change of professions
today, would you? If yes, to what?
- Besides work, what
else would you like to do with your life?
- If you used to
use drugs and /or alcohol, are there things that you could do better
then than now? What about things that you can do better now than when
you were under the influence?
- To boost the image
of oneself to others (as well as to oneself), people sometimes develop
a set of lies about events from the past that are said so often they
begin to seem like they actually happened.. Have you included any of
these pseudo-experiences in this inventory? If you don't know for sure,
do you suspect any of your answers? Which ones?
- Another way people
enhance their image to themselves and others is by conveniently forgetting
to include unpleasant or ugly details of the past. Are there things
you have conveniently forgotten to include or purposefully left out
of this inventory. Remember. You are doing this inventory solely for
your growth, so the person who gets cheated by such omissions is you.
- has not been covered.
in your answers so far, that you think is important to include to get
a full picture of yourself?
- For a lot of people
, writing an inventory like this can be a scary process. What kinds
of feelings and/or problems did you experience during your writing?
Now that you have written most of your forth step it might have occurred
to you that in some areas your life has not measured up to what and where,
by your own definitions, it ought to be. This area between where you feel
you ought to be and where you actually are, is your shortcomings and character
I like to separate them into tangible and intangible ones or real world
ones and ethical ones. The real world (tangible) ones are ones like not
handling finances very well, procrastination, oversleeping, being too trusting
of strangers or not trusting enough of friends and the like. Ethical (intangible)
ones include honesty and spirituality (trusting your higher power).
To jog your thinking, the following is a list of some other shortcomings
or character defects:
Tangible - Real World ones: Low self-confidence; self-centeredness; self-hate;
poor business achievement; lack of Patience; gluttony; greed; people pleasing;
striking out physically or verbally when you feel threatened or scared (i.e.
The best defense is a good offence.}
- ethical ones: intolerance; false pride; not trusting your Higher Power
to take care of the results.
Remember that these are only problems if they area problems for you.
The judgement as to what is the optimum in any of these areas needs to be
yours, not your mothers, your ministers, or your friends or associates.
If you feel that where you are or what you are doing is what is right and
you can't buy other peoples ideas on the subject, then this is not a shortcoming
for you and therefore not a subject that needs to be written about in this
- List your shortcomings
and character defects and for each one, describe what would be optimum
(if you were operating at this level it wouldn't be a defect) and where
you are presently in comparison to where you would like to be.
Download Your Copy
of This Guide Here
If you want to download
a copy so that you can work on it, off-line, on your computer, you can download
it by clicking the "download" link below. This download is written as an
MS Word form. What that means is that you will not be able to change any
of my text, but you will be able to type your answers to the questions by
clicking anywhere in the body of the question. The curser will automatically
move to the space where you can write your answer.
Once you click on the link below, it will automatically download and open
up as an MS Word document. Click on "File"/"Save" and then save it to your
hard drive and then if you close MS Word, will be right back here!
your Fourth Step Guide