The following is my fourth entry in a series about the 12-step spiritual program of recovery.
Step 4: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
Step 4 is found in Chapter 5 (How It Works) page 63, last paragraph, through page 71 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. We are to take a personal inventory in order to “face, and be rid of, the things in ourselves which have been blocking us. Our addiction is but a symptom. We had to get down to causes and conditions”. Searching and fearless means thorough and honest. We cover our entire life, past and present, leaving nothing out, exhausting everything we can bring to consciousness. Having set a firm foundation in Step 3, we now have the courage and strength to look within and shine light on the true causes of our problems. What we discover we write down. We search through every emotional aspect of our lives, resentments (anger), shame/guilt (I am a bad person/what I did was bad), fear (stress, tension, anxiety, terror) and all of our life situations: relationships (sex/people/institutions), work/career (people and institutions), finances (beliefs and fear around money), spiritual (God/religion), health (physical/mental health problems). We look at our life events, real and imagined, how and why we were threatened by what we believed was happening, and how our actions and reactions created or contributed to the destructive outcome for ourselves and others.