RA offers hope, sanity, and recovery, especially to those who, despite their best efforts, have yet to find full recoveries, no matter what their problems or behaviors may be and their family and friends.
 Part 2: Formally Going Through Steps One through Eight
4. Formally Going Through Step Four


“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

1. If you have followed the "clear-cut directions" in the Big Book, you have already done all of the groundwork for the Fourth Step. You have examined your life and listed incidents that were caused by your defects of character.

2. You are now going to formally go through the Fourth Step. This means that you will use what you have written so far to make an actual inventory—a list—of your defects of character.

3. Let us start by going over the wording of the Fourth Step. We need to start by looking at what the Fourth Step actually says.

4. The term "searching" is clear enough. It simply means looking for something.

5. The use of the term "fearless" in the Fourth Step is often misunderstood and questioned. People read this step and wonder how a task as daunting as examining their past can be done without fear.

6. However, if someone has followed the "clear-cut directions" in the Big Book, then they have begun to develop a new relationship with their Creator.

7. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 28, in the fourth paragraph, it says:

"As you feel new power flow in, as you enjoy peace of mind, as you discover you can face life successfully, as you become conscious of His presence, you begin to lose your fear of today, tomorrow, or the hereafter. You will have been reborn."

8. In other words, when we become conscious of God's presence in our lives, we start to lose any fear we might have about today, or tomorrow. We can look at our past, our present and our future without fear. We can do a fearless Fourth Step inventory

9. Next, let's look at the word "moral." If we look it up in a dictionary, we will see that one of its definitions is "relating to the character."

10. In A.A. Comes of Age on page 160 is a description of what was to become the Fourth Step. It says:

"We made a moral inventory of our defects or sins."

11. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, in the Second Edition Stories section, on page 292, is the story, "He Sold Himself Short." In this story, it describes how Dr. Bob led someone formally through his inventory. In the third paragraph, the second sentence says:

"At the moral inventory, he brought up several of my bad personality traits or character defects, such as selfishness, conceit, jealousy, carelessness, intolerance, ill-temper, sarcasm, and resentments."

12. When this is added to the fact that the Fifth Step, Sixth Step, and Seventh Step all refer to defects of character, it is clear that the "moral inventory" we make is of our defects of character. Therefore, we believe that the Fourth Step would be easier to understand if it said, "Made a searching and fearless inventory of our defects of character."

13. Next let's look at the word "inventory." Notice the metaphor the pioneers use to describe it.

14. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 29, in the first paragraph, it says:

"Therefore, you start upon a personal inventory. This is step four. A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke. Taking a commercial inventory is a fact-finding and a fact-facing process."

15. The pioneers chose one of the most mundane metaphors possible to describe the Fourth Step inventory. They could have chosen something heroic such as charging into battle, but they didn't. They chose a relatively dull activity, making a commercial inventory—making a list—to describe what needs to be done in the Fourth Step inventory.

16. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 29, in the second paragraph it says:

"We do exactly the same thing with our lives. We take stock honestly. First, we search out the flaws in our make-up which have caused our failure. Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, is what has defeated us, we consider its common manifestations."

17. So, we now understand that the first part of the Fourth Step inventory is to search for the defects of character that caused us to behave as we did. We did this by making a list of incidents that were caused by our defects of character.

18. Now, as we formally go through the Fourth Step we are going to look at the incidents we have written. We are now going to use what we have written to make a list of the defects of character these incidents show that we have.

19. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 32, in the second full paragraph, it says:

"In this book you read again and again that God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. We hope you are convinced now that He can remove the self-will that has blocked you off from Him. You have made your decision. You have made an inventory of the grosser handicaps you have. You have made a good beginning, for you have swallowed and digested some big chunks of truth about yourself. Are you willing to go on?"

20. Please note that they are not calling for us to list each and every defect of character we may have, but simply to list the "grosser handicaps you have."

21. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 33, in the first paragraph, it says:

"Having made your personal inventory, what shall you do about it? You have been trying to get a new attitude, a new relationship with your Creator, and to discover the obstacles in your path. You have admitted certain defects; you have ascertained in a rough way what the trouble is; you have put your finger on the weak items in your personal inventory."

22. Once again, please note that they are not saying that we have to do this perfectly. They say that, "you have ascertained in a rough way what the trouble is."

23. We do not have to do a perfect Fourth Step because we continue this process in our Tenth Step.

24. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 38, the fifth paragraph begins:

“This thought brings us to step ten, which suggests you continue to take personal inventory and continue to set any new mistakes right as you go along. You vigorously commenced this way of life as you cleaned up your past.”

25. The Tenth Step is where we make up for any deficiencies that might occur as we take Steps Four through Nine.

26. The Tenth Step says that we continue to take personal inventory. This means that it is not only for new things that happen today. It is also for things from the past that we have now become willing, or capable, of recognizing today.

27. For example, if three years from now, you recognize something that could have been in this inventory, you don't go back and redo this inventory. What you do is add what you've recognized to your Tenth Step inventory, the day you recognized it, and proceed to give it away, as part of your Tenth Step inventory.

28. The Tenth Step is why we can do the Fourth Step inventory from the Big Book in just a few hours. The pioneers recognized that the steps didn't have to be done perfectly. They only had to be done to the best of someone's ability, for where he was that day.

29. We can't do this step or any of the other steps perfectly, and what's more important, we don't have to.

30. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 27, the first full paragraph is one of the most important paragraphs of our program. It says:

“You may exclaim, "What an order! I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.”

31. If the pioneers could be recovered by working the steps imperfectly, so can we.

32. It was suggested that you read the story "He Sold Himself Short" before starting this process. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, in the Second Edition Stories section, on page 293 (Fourth Edition page 264), in the last paragraph, you saw that this gentleman did get drunk again, only once, six months later, and he attributed that slip to his not doing his daily inventory.

33. If you only go as far as the Fourth Step, you cannot expect to get the same results that you will receive by working all of the steps.

34. We need to go through and work all Twelve Steps for it to produce the entire result.

35. Those of you who have previously done an inventory, but who didn't follow the "clear-cut directions" in the Big Book to do that inventory, will note that the focus of this inventory from the Big Book is probably very different from what you did before.

36. At this point, please be reassured that you are not unique. In the years that we have been holding presentations, we have guided many people through this inventory process, and have heard a multitude of character defects. These character defects were there because these people were spiritually sick, not because they were bad people.

37. When A.A. started, the common perception was that alcoholism was the symptom of a weak will, or someone being a bad person. It was believed that a good person could stop drinking if he or she really wanted to. After all, didn't he have a good wife, or wasn't her husband a good provider, etc.?

38. A.A. shows us that we hurt ourselves, and others, because we were not well, not because we were bad people. The recognition that an alcoholic could not stop drinking no matter how much he wanted to changed the perception of alcoholism. It went from being the symptom of a weak will, to being a disease, with one of the symptoms being an inability to stop.

39. An alcoholic doesn't choose to be alcoholic nor does a diabetic choose to be diabetic. We have no more control over our particular problems and behaviors than we do over the aspects of any other disease. If an alcoholic does not want to stop, it is BECAUSE he is an alcoholic.

40. Someone who has a cold, for instance, usually cannot stifle a sneeze. We don't beat ourselves up when we sneeze, even if it's at an inappropriate time, such as in the middle of a concert. We recognize that sneezing is a symptom of that illness, and there's nothing that we can do about it.

41. It's the same thing with any problem or behavior. We do not have control over our symptoms.

42. Most of us, because we may already be in a negative frame of mind, have very little trouble relating to the negatives in our lives.

43. However, in doing this inventory, we can also note our assets. For every time that we were greedy, there were also times we were generous. There were times we gave to charity. There were times we did nice things for people, putting the welfare of others ahead of our own.

44. In R.A.'s Step Presentation Workbook, please turn to page 17 and look at R.A.'S STEP WORKSHEET “B.”

45. R.A.'S STEP WORKSHEET “B” consists of three columns.

46. Column A, is a list of character defects mentioned in the Big Book.

47. Column B, labeled “Defects which I admit ARE objectionable,” is where you will place a check next to those defects that you accept as undesirable in yourself.

48. Column C, labeled “Defects which I do NOT admit are objectionable.” is where you will place a check next to those defects that you don't accept as undesirable in yourself.

49. At this point we are not going to use the column labeled “Suggested Assets.”

50. You should consider these suggested assets on your own, at a later date. At that time, we suggest that you recognize these assets as the suggested goals, the positive character traits that you can ask God to lead you to. If you feel a different asset is more appropriate, you can, at that time, request it.

51. Looking through the columns and questions that you have filled out on your STEP FOUR LISTS, search out those character defects shown by your behavior.

52. If any of these character defects that are on this list come to mind as even a remote possibility, place a check in one or perhaps in both of the columns next to that character defect.

53. Please try not to get into a mental debate over whether or not a character defect applies, or which column should be checked; in some instances it is appropriate to place a check in both columns.

54. Many people, for instance, in most circumstances, but not necessarily all, find dishonesty to be objectionable. For example, someone might find stealing from a bank to be objectionable. However, this same person may not find a less than accurate tax return to be objectionable. Therefore, that person would place checks in both of the columns next to “Dishonest.” Please don't worry or debate. If it crosses your mind as a possibility, put it down.

55. As you look at R.A.'S STEP WORKSHEET “B”, you can see that the first character defect listed is Resentment. If, as you look through your STEP FOUR LISTS, you find that there have been times in your life when you've felt resentment, and you now find resentment objectionable, then place a check in Column B, “Defects I admit ARE objectionable,” next to Resentment.

56. If you admit to having resentment, but don't accept it as undesirable, place a check in Column C.

57. If you believe that you've never experienced resentment, then leave both of the spaces next to resentment in Columns B and C blank.

58. You can continue on in this way with each of the defects of character listed.

59. Review your inventory, and your memories. You can, if you wish, add to the list any additional character defects or assets not mentioned.

60. We are now going to allow approximately five minutes for you to fill out R.A.'S STEP WORKSHEET “B.”

61. You should only spend approximately 5 minutes filling out your list.

————————————Approximately 5 minutes later————————————

62. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 32, the first and second full paragraphs say:

"If you have been thorough about your personal inventory, you have written down a lot by this time. You have listed and analyzed your resentments. You have begun to comprehend their futility and their fatality. You have commenced to see their terrible destructiveness. You have begun to learn tolerance, patience, and good will toward all men, even your enemies, for you know them to be sick people. You have listed the people you have hurt by your conduct, and you are willing to straighten out the past if you can.

"In this book you read again and again that God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. We hope you are convinced now that He can remove the self-will that has blocked you off from Him. You have made your decision. You have made an inventory of the grosser handicaps you have. You have made a good beginning, for you have swallowed and digested some big chunks of truth about yourself. Are you willing to go on?"

63. Now, the first question most people usually have is, “You mean THAT'S IT???” Yes, you have now done the entire inventory that is detailed in the Big Book.

64. In case you haven't realized it, in this R.A.'s Step Presentation, we have read every paragraph, every sentence in the Big Book relating to the Fourth Step; we have followed every instruction, answered every applicable question.

65. This is the inventory that was detailed by the pioneers.

66. However, this step is useless unless you share it with someone, and elaborate on your answers. Then, just as essential, you need to move ahead and do the remaining Steps, and start living in Steps Ten, Eleven, and Twelve.

67. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 26, the first sentence says:

“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our directions.”

68. Dr. Bob recovered when he finally added all the ingredients to the recipe. You have now made a beginning in thoroughly following their directions.

69. What you've read, what you've written, what you've done, is to duplicate what the pioneers did to recover.

70. If you want the recovery that the pioneers of the program had, if you want the freedom from the compulsion and the obsession that they had, you can get it by working the complete program the way they outlined it for us.

71. One thing that frequently comes up is the fact that there are many different Fourth Step inventory formats available from other fellowships and organizations.

72. In R.A.'s experience, the inventory format that we just used from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book is very different from most others. Many of the other inventory formats are self-centered by their very nature. They are designed to take us deeper and deeper into ourselves. The inventory that we just used from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book reverses that process, as you will see as we go into the next several steps.

73. The inventory from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book has us take a look at what caused us to be the way we were. It then has us look at how our character defects affected other people.

74. This inventory takes us out of ourselves, not deeper into ourselves. This is because the focus of the Twelve Steps is to get us out of ourselves. So, even though this inventory did not produce a document as long as War and Peace, it is far more effective.

75. You now have an idea of the character defects that are the root causes of your problems and behaviors, rather than simply a list of the times you behaved badly.

76. Next, the "clear-cut directions" for working the Fifth Step from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book tell us what to do with the information we have just gathered.

77. Next, we suggest that you keep following Dr. Bob's example, and, if possible, immediately continue on by formally going through Step Five.


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