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A Study of Step 4

The 12 Steps of A.A. and Al-Anon


Updated February 10, 2014

There is a saying in the 12-step programs that recovery is a process, not an event. The same can be said for Step 4 -- more will surely be revealed.

Step 4
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Whether we come through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon Family Groups chances are we bring a lifetime of "stinking thinking" with us. Frankly, it takes awhile for the "fog" to begin to lift, so that we begin to see ourselves and the world around us more clearly.

If we have sincerely completed the first three steps and have truly made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him, then it is time to put that principle into action. We must find the courage to take a fearless look at ourselves and become willing clean up the garbage we find.

In order to proceed, we must identify the problems and get a clear picture of how our behavior effected ourselves and others around us. That picture is not always in focus for newcomers early in recovery, but as we continue to hang around the rooms, listening and learning from others, and keeping an open mind, we find more layers of the "onion" being peeled away.

Tools to Help

We are not perfect, and never will be in this life. That is the reason there are no graduation services held at 12-step meetings! But if we continue to participate, carrying the message to others, and listening to what they have to share, we can continue to grow and make spiritual progress. That's why they say, "Keep Coming Back!"

There are tools available to help in the 4th step process. There is a 4th Step Guide available online for all 12-step members and Al-Anon has its Blueprint for Progress: Al-Anon's Fourth Step Inventory which can be ordered online.

But the greatest help available in doing Step 4 is available from a power greater than ourselves, as visitors to the bulletin board here at the About.com Alcoholism site have demonstrated in their shares on this step, as our study of the 12 Traditions and 12 Steps continues:

More about Step 4

Ask for Help
"Leaving God out of my plan was my mistake, with His help all is possible."

Humble Yourself
"It is worth every second of pain I had to go through to come out on the other side... out of the darkness."

Being Honest
"Looking in the past has made me understand now more than ever why I did marry an alcoholic."

A Journey
"I went to that ACOA meeting, and after only 10 minutes the brick wall had fallen down."

Daily Inventory
"Once we take these steps it doesn't mean that we are done, I have to take a moral inventory of myself everyday of my life."

Index of 12 Steps and Traditions Study

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Alcoholism
  4. 12 Step Recovery
  5. Step Study Tools
  6. A Study of Step 4 of the 12 Steps

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