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Step 4: Made a Searching and Fearless Moral Inventory of Ourselves.

Taking a 4th Step can be *one of the most life changing events of one’s life

                                            *terrifying, emotional, soul-searching

                                           * enlightening, uplifting, calming

Regardless of the feelings involved in devoting oneself to this process, it ALWAYS results in personal growth and deep insight into life as it was and as it is. It brings answers to the “whys” that those struggling with addiction/mental health symptoms have, and Step 4 is the rough draft of the map that will lead to life as it can be.




a complete list of items such as property, goods in stock, or the contents


 “Searching and Fearless ” is how the Fourth Step describes its Inventory . It is counting- and accounting for many traits in character, both positive and negative . It is assessing the thoughts and behaviors that drive actions and have led to outcomes and consequences. The Inventory is simply an honest and thorough list of specific attitudes, people, situations, and reactions to life that have caused problems.  Each 12 Step program highly encourages members to take this step quickly, often assisted by a Sponsor, and retake the Inventory as sobriety, recovery, and serenity emerge. It is amazing the changes that can be observed by  realizing that old “go to” or “automatic” assumptions and replies do not always serve one well. This self awareness promotes responsibility for ones own thoughts and actions, and this is reflected by progression all areas of life.

    Each 12 Step program has its own version and guidance on exactly which traits are inventoried, according to the presenting issues . This blog will discuss two of these guides: Alcoholics Anonymous and Alanon. There are some similarities, but due to the differences of the “symptoms” (ex) addiction in AA vs. co-dependency/controlling nature in Alanon, the inventories (traits of self) also vary.




AA Fourth Step Guide-

The four sections to the personal inventory are:

1.Resentments 2. Fears 3. Sex Conduct 4. Harm Done to Others


“ANGER- I’m not getting my way today

FEAR- I won’t get my way tomorrow

RESENTMENT-I didn’t get my way yesterday”


    AA literature states that Resentments are the number 1 offender, and destroys more alcoholics that anything else! The fallout from holding resentments toward others is far-reaching and destructive. This step encourages one to make a list of EVERY-SINGLE-PERSON, PLACE, THING, IDEA, or PRINCIPLE that has caused anger resentment or hurt. Next, identifying WHAT HAPPENED, HOW IT AFFECTED ME, AND “MY’ PART IN THE SITUATION.

    Next, a person addresses All fears in the same way, listing fears of all people, places, things, ideas,  or principles and how it affects/affected them. For example, a person who is fearful of social events may have had their pride or self esteem affected at one point during an outing

    Third, sex conduct throughout life- relationships. The fourth step asks 3 simple questions: WHO did I hurt, WHAT was the cause, and WHAT should I have done?

There are many character traits involved in this area including dominance, pride, and control.  It is important to dissect each encounter and find the truth about oneself, ones motives, and recognize any future improvement that may need to take place.

    Last, this Inventory asks a person to document any and all harm done to others.

As done previously, fearlessly addressing WHO was harmed, WHAT caused the harm/behavior and WHAT should I have done helps a person to look at life from a less emotional and more neutral point of view . In this way, in the privacy of one’s mind, the “real self” is uncovered.


Alanon Fourth Step Inventory- A Blueprint for Progress   




   Alanon approaches its inventory differently, but requires much openness and honesty with oneself. Those who are affected by another’s drinking often have difficulty recognizing their own role and  behaviors that have contributed to wellness or dysfunction.

The Alanon Inventory asks that 6 areas be assessed: attitudes, responsibilities, self-worth, love, maturity, and character-traits.

     This guide clearly defines each area, and provides many questions to help ascertain behaviors and thoughts related to the areas. After these questions are honestly answered, the “findings” are documented: positive findings, negative findings, and any ideas that the area brought to mind. The Inventory is completed by completing a “Summary of findings” in which all discoveries, realistic goals, habits to improve, positive character traits and negative character traits are realized. This powerful step , although emotionally challenging, truly can lead to breakthrough and change.

    Step 4 requires diligence, brutal honesty, introspection, and acceptance. It offers insight, hope, and self awareness that will allow the walls of resentment and anger to fall, will allow relationships to build and self esteem to rise. This step is about coming to terms with SELF.




      (JH HARD)

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