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Step Study - Step Four

Old 03-16-2007, 07:28 AM
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Step Study - Step Four

In the recent forum crash, I think we lost our ongoing step study. I will start again where we left off, at Step Four. If you want me to post the information from the first Three Steps, let me know and I can do that as well....

The following is from Paths to Recovery, Al Anon’s Steps, Traditions, and Concepts. pp 38 and 39.

Steps One, Two and Three taught us about the disease of alcoholism, that we are powerless over the disease and that a Power greater than ourselves can return us to sanity if we so desire. As in climbing a staircase, we are at the next Step – a Step for spiritual self-discovery. In nine simple words, Step Four challenges us to take a thorough look at ourselves, the positives as well as the negatives.

The decision to turn our life and will over to the care our Higher Power is demonstrated when we follow it up with the action of taking our moral inventory. The word “searching” has an important impact. This word tells us that it is going to take some research into our past, looking for all the personal issues that are a part of our makeup. When we lose our keys, we will search for them until they are found or until we are satisfied that they are gone forever. Similarly the search through our moral character must be equally thorough. This is where we begin to learn that it is important to write out this Step. If we need to make a list before grocery shopping, doesn’t it seem logical that, in something as important as the personal study of our lives, we keep documentation as well?

In studying the wording of this Step, we now examine the word “fearless”. Some members say fear stands for false evidence appearing real. What better way to find out if we fear reality or an illusion than to plunge into the fear itself? With a phone call to our sponsor or program friends, we find that beginning to list our fears is another way to start our inventory. Until we take our inventory, we don’t’ know which character defects blocked us from recovery. “Just do it” we are repeatedly advised. We don’t’ need to do it perfectly, there will be time to do it again. If we don’t make a start, nothing about us will ever change. When we courageously and carefully examine where we are, the door to change is opened.

Finally, we read the last phrase, “moral inventory of ourselves”. The self-analysis required in a fearless moral inventory is an essential step toward recognizing our responsibilities and find appropriate, healthful release from our physical, emotional and spiritual experiences. We can begin by writing about the events and people we resent or distrust,. Writing becomes important because few of us can remember the many incidents and people that affected us. Writing also helps us to step back and gain a little detachment before we explore our behavior and the characteristics it reveals about us.
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Old 03-16-2007, 07:33 AM
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Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

As we begin to consider the questions below, we need to remember to keep it simple and pray for guidance and courage. The following are not all-inclusive, but rather point to a beginning.


IN PREPARING TO TAKE AN INVENTORY:

Am I willing to look honestly at myself? What stands in my way?

Have I sought help from my Higher Power, my sponsor or other Al-Anon members?

What suggestions have I tried to see if they might work?

Do I understand the spiritual principle of an inventory?

What do “searching” and “fearless” mean to me?

What does a “moral inventory” mean?
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Old 03-16-2007, 07:39 AM
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Step Four is truly where the rubber meets the road. It's where we MUST become brutally honest with ourselves. It helped me a LOT to understand that the "fearless" part was as integral as the "searching".

I heard a speaker once describe taking an inventory. Her grandmother lived near a river and the entire area flooded. The family went in and did an inventory. They carried each thing out of the house, and examined it. Was it ruined? Was it salvagable? Was it necessary? Could it be fixed? Should it be replaced? Was it something beloved that had served its purpose, but could now be discarded? It wasn't right or wrong, good or bad, it just WAS.

It's the same when we do our own searching and fearless moral inventory. What we learn about ourselves isn't necessarily good or bad, it just IS.

Courage to Change, Feb 24

Isn’t it exasperating to go to the grocery for an item, only to find the shelf empty? Fortunately, grocers can correct that situation by taking inventory to learn which shelves need replenishment.

The same is true for me. A Fourth Step inventory illuminates my own empty spaces, my shortcomings. This doesn’t have to be a painful or scary experience. I don’t have to pass judgment on an empty shelf, but unless I take the time to become aware of it, I won’t do anything to fill it, and the problem will continue. By taking inventory, my empty spots can be filled with the help of the remaining Steps. I experience the healing power of these Steps whenever the formerly hurtful circumstances recur while the pain that I once felt does not.


Today’s Reminder

When I can’t find a solution to a problem, when I have nagging doubts, fears, or frustrations, when I feel lost or confused, a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself can make a tremendous difference. Whenever I work the Steps, I tell my Higher Power that I am willing to heal, to find a solution, to feel better. The energy that would have been dumped into worry, tears, and obsession can be turned into positive action.

“We all wish good things to happen to us, but we cannot just pray and then sit down and expect miracles to happen. We must back up our prayers with action.”

Freedom From Despair
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Old 03-16-2007, 08:24 AM
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Step 4 is often a dreaded step because it means digging deep within ourselves to find our resentments, who we resent, how it has affected us and what our part in it is.

I just began writing for this step, about people and events in my life that I felt had left scars. I ended up with about 15 pages and amazed myself at how much garbage I had been carrying around for so many years.

Also, my sponsor reminded me that this was an inventory, and that I should also list the good things in my life and about myself. Strangely, I could only fill about 4 pages with that and comparing it to my other list I realized that I really did have a lot of work to do.

With my sponsor's help, I spent probably two or 3 weeks taking at least an hour each day to work on this. It was not the kind of thing that I wanted to spend a lot of time at one sitting. And that gave me time in between to think on what I had written.

As I prepared to discuss it with God and one other person (my sponsor) that would follow in my Step 5, I sat and re-read what I had written and felt like a huge burden had been lifted from me.

For me, this step is not to be feared. It is an opportunity to do some deep personal housekeeping and prepared to dispose of old garbage that has been taking up way too much space.

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Old 03-16-2007, 08:47 AM
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this has been kind of a painful but healing step for me, as an addict, it showed me that i was much too focused on what someone else had done to hurt me and not realized the part that i played in the offense. helped me to recognize my fears and how i could address them inorder to be free of them.

as a codie, i am also able to channel through the hurts and resentments caused by others, and to focus on finding my own faults in the situation, bringing about a sense of forgiveness and compassion for those who i feel have hurt me.

in working step 4, i gain a lot of peace, forgiveness and compassion for others, and as an addict i was able to recognize and rid myself of a lot of past hurts and resentments, taking away the pain of my addiction and any excuses that i thought i could use as an excuse to continue to medicate with drugs.

i find that for the steps to become a way of life is so beneficial in everyday living.
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Old 03-16-2007, 08:56 AM
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WE CONTINUE BY EXAMINING OUR ASSETS

An inventory is not just our faults; we must also assess our positive traits and accomplishments. If we are stymied by this task, it can be useful to think about qualities we like in others and whether we may possess that same trait.

In what ways am I caring? How do I empathize with other people? Am I kind to myself? Am I kind to the elderly? Children? My family? My friends? Those in need of my assistance? Am I agreeable and courteous?

How am I tolerant?

Am I open to another’s point of view?

Do I listen in meetings and accept that others have needs different from mine?

Do I practice patience with a newcomer?

How am I trustworthy? Do I pay my bills? Am I prompt? Do I fulfill my commitments? Do I act responsible in my job? How much can my family and friends depend on me?

How am I honest? Do I tell the whole truth? If not, what stops me from telling the truth?

In what ways do I take care of myself? Do I make needed medical appointments? Do I dress appropriately? Do I eat healthy foods? Exercise? Meditate?

How am I respectful? Do I take care of material things, whether mine or others? Do I show respect for the law?

How am I generous? Do I contribute to my group? To the World Service Office triannual appeal? Have I contributed by volunteering to be a trusted servant?

In what ways do I look for the good in others?

How am I kind? Am I considerate of other people? Do I listen patiently to a friend in need? Do I offer help when asked? Do I think to point out the good in others?

How do I open myself up to others?

How am I practical? Do I have a budget? How often do I recognize what needs to be done and then do my share?

How am I dependable? How often do I meet work deadlines? Do I organize well and carry out what I decide to do?

What are my talents? Do I have any artistic gifts? Do I beautify my surroundings? Do I have mechanical skills?

Do I make friends easily? Why or why not?

Do I have trouble with intimate relationships? Why or why not?

In what ways do I express myself clearly and concisely?

How do I see the humor in life and express it?

How am I optimistic?

How do I practice my faith in a Higher Power? In myself? In others? How do I share my faith? Do I have an attitude of gratitude?

How am I humble? Do I ask God for guidance and follow it to the best of my ability? When have I allowed others to share their wisdom with me? Do I ever admit mistakes? How patient am I with myself?

We should now have a list of good qualities to fortify us for the rest of the inventory. With each and every good quality we surveyed, we may have considered a quality we find uncomfortable to acknowledge. A thorough inventory, as we stated in the beginning of this chapter includes our positive as well as negative behaviors and thoughts.
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Old 03-16-2007, 09:00 AM
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When I worked the Fourth Step this way, I was surprised. Assets? WHAT ASSETS? Wasn't the whole point that I was a terrible, messed up and unworthy human? And I was terrified that taking a 4th Step was just going to confirm my worst fears about myself.

That's where that "fearless" part comes in again. This is only an inventory. And these steps are written in a particular order FOR A REASON. If we have worked the first 3 steps, then we have a connection to a Higher Power that will walk with us thru the scary and unknown parts of our life.

We should now have a list of good qualities to fortify us for the rest of the inventory. With each and every good quality we surveyed, we may have considered a quality we find uncomfortable to acknowledge. A thorough inventory, as we stated in the beginning of this chapter includes our positive as well as negative behaviors and thoughts.
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Old 03-16-2007, 11:23 AM
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Thanks Cat
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Old 03-16-2007, 01:29 PM
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Gosh, I hate to admit this....but...
it took me 7 MONTHS to complete this step! (I think I dawdled...LOL)

IMO, you have to remember this step is not about beating yourself up.
And let me tell you, I think it's a cleansing of the mind and spirit to do this step.

If you need help doing this step, there is a booklet you can order from Alanon called "Blueprint For Progress"

Hugs,
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Old 03-16-2007, 02:11 PM
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WE CONTINUE BY EXAMINING OUR LIABILITIES

Now our task is to deal with the difficult issues of our lives, past and present. Nothing will be solved by hiding from the truth. Justifying and rationalizing our actions and blaming others for all the problems in our lives will never produce serenity. Remember, we are only asked to take an inventory, not to do anything about what we learn. If we trust in our Higher Power and the guidance of our sponsor, these issues will be dealt with in a loving way as we continue to work the Al-Anon program of recovery.

In what ways am I resentful? Do I harbor grudges? Why?

Whom do I resent from my past? Why? What is my part in it?

Whom do I resent in my immediate environment? Why? What is my part in it?

Do I resent authority figures? Why? What is my part in it?

When do I judge other people harshly and resent their not doing what I think they should?

Do I hold everyone and everything to an impossible standard of ideal perfection?

How do I judge myself?

Am I fearful? What do I fear? Why?

Am I dishonest? Am I holding secrets? Do I lie rather than “cause a scene”? What dishonesty have I hidden from others?

Do I feel sorry for myself? Am I filled with self-pity? How do I feel I have been made a victim? What is my part in it?

Am I a fixer? Do I like to be in charge? Do I get upset when I don’t win? What consequences have I had from taking care of others instead of myself?

In what ways do I trust myself in dealing with others? Do I go to safe places? Do I remove myself from potentially dangerous situations? Even if it’s my own home?

In what ways am I comfortable with my sexuality? Do I enjoy sex? If I am having sexual difficulties, do I know why? Have I sought professional help?

Do I have a God of love or a God of fear in my life? How can I change my attitude toward my Higher Power?

Do I take on responsibilities that are not mine? Why or why not?

Do I feel responsible for someone else’s learning, marriage, or sobriety? How?


In Step Four we have begun the journey to self-trust through self-knowledge. As we continue the journey through the Steps, we gain trust in ourselves, our Higher Power, in other people and in life. The path to recovery using the Twelve Steps – one Step at a time- continues. Before taking the next step, congratulate yourself, call your sponsor, and share at your next home group meeting the excitement and relief you feel from doing your own personal Fourth Step.
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Old 03-16-2007, 03:09 PM
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Oh Diane, I sooooo have you beat, girl.

I joined Alanon in May 2004... that would be nearly three years ago.

I have done a mini-4th on my marriage, and the beginnings of a 4th & 5th at last years' 4th step workshop. You might call that a "mini-4th" on my dad.



Until now? Naaaaddddaaaaa.....

So, my second annual 4th step workshop is in May, again. I plan, again, to do some of the work of trying to REMEMBER what the hell happened in my life.

Most of it is there... I just can't get to it. "Repressive Memory" I've heard it called. I can access stuff - but it is at random, sometimes by surprise and always difficult. Even the good stuff.

But I keep working on this.. because each time I find something. Each time I write down -

Who
What Happened
How it Made Me feel
How I responded

And then TELL someone... a weight is lifted.

My "NOT-an-OA-Meeting!" (smile... group conciousness on the name of the meeting) which is using all the OA materials, is just coming up on the 4th step in our group study.

Another freakin' 4th step.

This may be "the year of the 4th step". And I may just be "ready".

((hugs))
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Old 03-16-2007, 03:15 PM
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PS... I am intrigued by the difference between the Anon "Blueprint for Progress" (92 pages) used in Alaon and the "BigBook" page 64 used in Alcoholics Anonymous.

The Anon way seems very.... comprehensive.
The AA way seems very .... efficient.

Both are effective.

And since *I* wrote 4 freakin' pages just trying to write about the first page of the Blueprint for Progress... I think I NEED to stick with the "Big Book" way of conducting a 4th step inventory if I want to have ANY hope of finishing it in this lifetime!

But there are many ways to skin a cat.... to each his own!
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Old 03-16-2007, 03:55 PM
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Oh good gracious!
I forgot the MOST important part!!!!!

I had a wonderful sponsor, (yes you know who you are...) who took their time, dedication, knowledge, and compassion and gently nudged me along....

I wrote it down, and saved it in Microworks, and continued to add, add and did I say add?.... to it. Still have it, so maybe next time will be easier?

I didn't refer to the BB, maybe next time I'll go that way...
Thanks for the tip Sis...
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Old 03-16-2007, 05:37 PM
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Another note... my sponsor and many of the core group of this 4th step workshop, have been attending for FIFTEEN YEARS.

My last year's workshop leader says every year, she thinks she will have nothing left to work out... but every year, her Higher Power brings something new into her awareness.

My sponsor told me that her step-brother was on her inventory for over a decade, yet felt the pain finally lifted one year... and that was the year she was able to rekindle a relationship with him and heal some deep wounds.

I think this is a life-long process... I am ok with that. I have a long-life planned.

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Old 03-17-2007, 05:21 PM
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I think this is a life-long process... I am ok with that. I have a long-life planned.
AMEN sister! I love that this is a life long process. It's very comforting to know that I don't have to "get it" all at once. As they say, more will be revealed. I peel away the layers, and when it's time, I get to deal with more stuff. Not HAVE to, GET to.

Thanks for the input, everyone!

~Cat
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Old 03-18-2007, 12:25 PM
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Thumbs up

((((Hugs to All))))

Well, No Coincidences again. This very step has been on my heart recently to redo. And don't I open a PM from (((((( Ms.Pj's))))))))) informing me that the steps were active again!
And so now I can no longer procrastinate (a major defect of character BTW).

I've *really* been taking my inventory recently(more than usual)

I've realized that I'm not liking parts of myself lately.

I've had this ongoing relentless nightmare(separation from AH) that I pray will see some finality soon.

When I stop to reflect on my behavior throughout this ordeal. It's not a pretty sight.
This is partly a fifth step for me too...
I realize that I have been running on anger mode for a lot of the time. Although I realize anger is part of grief and it's also necessary for survival, however I have allowed AH to push my buttons to the point of infuriation many times. As much as my recovery told me not to, And as bad as I would feel about it afterward, I would blast him with every ugly thing I could come up with.
Verbal Assassination it's called.


At those times, I forgot about my recovery: I forgot about balance. I forgot about compassion. I forgot about the serenity prayer. I forgot about forgiveness.

I'm still not at the point of forgiveness with AH. That is going to take some time. I suppose I'm not there yet because I'm still feeling the repercussions of his addiction and his behavior and his actions now.

I know for my own serenity I will have to take that deep journey inward and find it in my heart to truly forgive him. Well, At least for now, I'm at the point of considering it. That's progress.

I'm truly not one for taking revenge on anyone.
I try to always to keep in mind that I'm not anyones judge or jury...HP is the only one qualified for that. I do my best to try to take care of my own business and keep the focus on what Iam's doing.
Besides I have to remember, that my A's are sick people. They're suffering too.
None of that means I have to become a doormat or in denial about how their actions affect me. I no longer have to accept abuse or unacceptable behavior. However I don't have to try to blast them off the face of the earth either.
It's all about balance. The only way I can achieve that is through daily Prayer and Recovery.



Well, Cat's PJ's and all who shared, this was a good refresher, and it was good to get that out.
Hugs to all,
Iamunique


Ok it's your turn you *Fearless* person.....
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Old 03-19-2007, 09:09 AM
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From Courage to Change May 4

Who am I? When I came to Al-Anon, I thought I knew the answer to that question, but I discovered that my answers were all out-of–date because I had long ago stopped asking myself who I was. I could tell you about the alcoholics and everyone else in my life – their likes and dislikes, opinions, feelings – but I had no such answers for myself.

Al-Anon gave me Twelve Steps with which to rediscover myself. Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself and sharing it with a trusted friend (Steps Four and Five) were especially helpful. It was the first time in a long time I had paid so much attention to myself! I also learned about myself by listening in meetings – when I identified with others, I gained insight into my own thoughts and feelings.

Today I know that I am a passionate, generous, opinionated, moody, honest, tactful, stubborn person. I know how I feel and what I think on an assortment of topics, and I am aware when these thoughts and feelings change. Al-Anon has given me back the only thing that was ever really mine to keep: myself.


Today’s Reminder

Recovery is a wonderful word. It means getting something back. Today I will try to remember that “that something is me.”

“If a man happens to find himself…he has a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the days of his life.”

James Michener
=====

This reading has always spoken to me. I remember when I was asked what I liked or disliked, and I absolutely no idea. Somewhere along the way I had ceased to exist as a separate person. I could tell you what he liked and disliked, his favorite foods, movies, stores, music, everything was about HIM. In his defense, he didn't make it that way, necessarily - I did.

When I first found recovery, it was such a novel concept to me that I could be my own person. In all honesty, the concept was terrifying.... to get to know myself and understand myself and to be comfortable in my own skin... and to treat myself as I would treat a friend.

The Fourth Step helped me to find myself. I know it sounds corny, but it's the God's honest truth.

~ Cat
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