Step Four suggests that we make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, yet many of us found that fear caused us to postpone this inventory. We were afraid of what we would find, afraid that shedding light on ourselves would uncover so many shortcomings that we could not bear the truth about ourselves.
This Step is about an honest examination of our true nature, good and bad; a process of self-discovery guided by our Higher Power. This process can be painful at times, particularly when we see that we, not others, are often the source of many of our problems. On the other hand, it is rewarding and enlightening to see the personal strengths that our inventory reveals. Many of us have noticed with irony that a consequence of not doing this Step is generally a continuance of the very pain we originally wished to avoid.
Our Fourth Step inventory also helps us develop the humility that lays a necessary foundation for our growing Twelve Step recovery. Each time we look at ourselves and our problems in the light of the Fourth Step, we put to the test the critical attitudes of honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. For example, many of us were able to justify to ourselves a great deal of procrastination when we thought about working this Step and Step Five. In fact, some of us thought that “thinking about it” would be sufficient. We found, though, that working this Step as outlined in our literature was just what we needed when we felt stalled in our recovery or when we thought “this program isn’t working for me like it works for other people.” When we took the time to write out our inventories, our resentments, and our reflections on questions like the ones listed in S-Anon Twelve Steps, our self-examination began to pay off. It helped us to see and accept things we had hidden, even from ourselves. As one member put it, “Believing in the Steps gave me hope, but working them gave me the promised results.”
Reprinted from S-Anon Twelve Steps, page 47-48.