A tourist who asked a local for directions got the reply, “If I wanted to get there, I wouldn’t start from here.” But the way forward for anyone, not least the addict seeking recovery, must begin wherever you are right now. You can’t wish or pretend otherwise. To map your path, you must know very clearly where you are at.
Do not journey alone
You should read about Step 5 before you begin Step 4. Step 5 will ask you to share this self-assessment with someone else and puts someone at your side as you tread this difficult road.
Making an objective assessment of yourself is very challenging. It’s difficult and confusing and threatened by guilt and shame. So, it’s tempting to put it off until tomorrow … and tomorrow. When you choose the person with whom you will share it and set a timescale you accept an expectation which sets a limit to procrastination.
Your searching and fearless moral inventory will make you angry, with yourself and with other people who you blame for making you who you are. Then you will feel guilty and ashamed about trying to offload onto others the responsibility for the choices you made, and about the hurt you have caused to those you love and others around you. You may be fearful that you have gone too far and can never rebuild your life (but, with help, you can!). You may begin to feel quite alone.
You should not begin Step 4 alone. You need support!
Our strategy for coping with this difficult, often painful task may be to examine just one aspect of our life at a time. How to I behave at work, to my partner, to my children, to my friends?
‘The good is oft interred.’ Media today make monsters of people who make mistakes. Do not do the same! Your moral inventory of yourself must be searching and fearless but not one-sided. While being clear about your flaws and limitations is essential if you are to rebuild your life, understanding your strengths shows you the foundation on which that reconstruction can begin.
‘Addicts take risks.’ They rely on being clever and resourceful to cover their addiction. And in these and other attributes you can identify strengths on which to build your recovery. The ability and potential that sustain wrongdoing can be directed to doing good as well. People are not all good or all bad, not pure in their holiness or beyond redemption from their wrongs.”
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 4 Questions
- Do you take responsibility when things go wrong, especially when you know it’s your fault?
- Everyone gets angry sometimes. Are you unfair and disproportionate when people annoy you? Can you harness anger appropriately to challenge what is wrong?
- Does fear make you careful about yourself and others or does it stop you doing what you should?
- How do you deal with disappointment and loss?
- How much of yourself do you try to keep hidden from others and why?
- What makes you so ashamed that you have never told anyone?
- Do you like yourself?
- Are you able to recognise your achievements and your inner strength and potential?