4th Step on one specific issue? | 12 Step Meetings and Anonymous Groups

4th Step on one specific issue?

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    Looking for some advice on how to handle a sponsee…

    He is ready to do his 4th step, but hasn’t started yet. I suspect it will be long, he’s in his 40s and has a lot of stuff. His steps are always a process, he’s very analytical and needs time, which is fine, as long as he keeps moving forward I am very patient.

    Here’s the issue:

    His GF broke up with him about 5 days ago; it was inevitable, even though he has been working a good program; there has just been too much hurt and she has her own stuff, too.

    He’s in a ton of pain and right now is sitting on a lot of self-hatred about his part in the hurt and breakup. I’m glad to see that he has moved from blaming her to seeing his part, but it’s really hurting him.

    Should I have him work a 4th step just on this one issue? I know how I did it, by the book, which is to do all of column 1, then all of column 2, etc., but I am concerned that if he doesn’t dump this stuff NOW, before he can finish a whole 4th step, he will drink. He walked into a liquor store yesterday and came very close.

    I think it might help to just do a mini 4-step on this one issue, then of course a 5th step and perhaps even 6&7 on the character defects around his behavior in the relationship.

    Any advice? I’m a by-the-book type of person, but it occurs to me that he should not have to sit in this much pain and self-loathing.

    Appreciate any advice.



    My role as sponsor is not to try shield any alcoholic from drinking.

    I give sponsees 24 hrs to make a list of resentments.
    I do it by the book, not by a sponsee’s wants.



    Haven’t got any sponsees of my own yet but if I was the sponsee I would find myself starting on the points around what you call the one issue, but I would find they spread to other issues – people places and principles – of their own accord.

    Broadening ones outlook as one goes is emotionally healthy anyway.

    If one starts with one issue there will be lots of fears around that person to begin with. Then similar fears around other persons. Resentments around persons and circumstances (principles beyond my control). & so on & so forth mushrooming. Remembering that working down the columns is the most important thing because one can’t effectively work across them until one has got the perspective that comes from working down the first column first. (This is what I am coming to understand from my current Step 4 experience)

    The ‘issue’ is the people places & principles – as many as possible. The findings on the right hand side are findings.

    When tidying my flat after working on Step 3 the latest time, I found about half a dozen batches of sheets filled in at previous periods (between 2 and 10 years ago, in the ‘time’ of previous sponsors) on which I had worked across the columns after having first gone right down column one. (There are an overlapping series of names between the sets.) With the agreement of my sponsor I took them to him and discussed the findings so far. I am now going to extend the column one list a lot more, not forgetting fears, principles and places, of which I think everybody has a lot. I am not advocating working across the columns before exhausting column one. Because I had dipped my toe in the water in the past my sponsor thought it appropriate I got a little feedback from him on the start I had previously made (and it was only a little feedback at this point). My life has accrued a huge amount of damage (six figures in finance, colossal impact on health) from just my last one year’s drinking out of 25 years of drinking. So I am ready to proceed further on this refreshing journey.

    I don’t seem to be able to hold one day just on fears and another just on resentments. I find fear crops up every time and resentment most times. It can be a resentment about having a fear. So I list it!

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