Intro Step 4 | 12 Step Meetings and Anonymous Groups

Intro Step 4

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    This is an online Step Study. Each of the 12 steps will have its own thread, so you can participate at whatever level you are comfortable and discuss your own experience with concepts in each step. It’s a combination and compilation of step studies – some from Al Anon, some from Nar Anon and some from CODA.

    Sources include Paths To Recovery, Al-Anon’s Steps, Traditions and Concepts ©1997and How Al Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics ©1995, along with some readings from Courage to Change, One Day at a Time in Al Anon II ©1992.

    Each of us works the steps in our time, and in our own manner. Most often, step work is done by those who attend face-to-face meetings and have a sponsor. That doesn’t mean that you MUST, it’s just a suggestion. Please don’t feel as though you must rush thru these steps… it took some of us a few years in the program before we began, and we found ourselves stuck on at least one of the steps for a year or more. The questions and postings here will be an outline, a framework from which you can begin your journey. If nothing else, the questions will provoke some thought and self-reflection, and some great discussions and dialogue.

    Others who have worked the steps before may find that they wish to do the steps again. Many people who work one step per month every year – 12 steps for 12 months. The more you learn about yourself, the more you know, and the more you wish to learn!

    Step Four – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

    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.


    Tai Chi

    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.


    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?


    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.


    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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