Fourth Step?

by Erika

I am doing a speech on helping people overcome their addictions, and I would like to know what the fourth step of the 12 step program, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”, means because I don’t understand the meaning of it.

Look in the Mirror

by: Ned Wicker

Dear Erika,

This is a huge step. After admitting that we have a problem, after coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves can intercede, and after turning our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him, we face ourselves in the mirror.

This fourth step gives us the opportunity to begin to right the wrongs that our addiction has wrought.

Addicts do a lot of damage to their families, to their friends and to their community. A searching and fearless moral inventory is a self-examination that leaves no stone unturned or probing question unanswered. We look at the sum of our actions and how those actions have impacted other people.

Fearless is the operative word because it’s difficult to be honest with one’s self and a person must be willing to not only acknowledge all the bad behavior, but to list those actions. No sugarcoating is beneficial and that’s where people get into difficulty with this step.

They go through the motion of doing the step, but don’t get under the top layer of their issues. Fearless means I will do this to its fullest extent, regardless of how much discomfort the process may cause.

When people say that the 12 Step doesn’t work, it’s likely that they have not done the fourth step properly.

People get out a piece of paper and write down a few things, then declare the step completed. That isn’t how it works. It might take a person as long as a year to complete this step, because there are a lot of stones to be turned over.

How many relationships have we trampled on, or how many lives have we negatively impacted because of our behavior? It’s necessary to slow down and be thoughtful.

Athletes say, “No pain, no gain,” and that’s the essence of this step and the ones that follow. Steps one through three establish a need for help and a relationship with a higher power. After that, our relationships with others become the focal point.

Good luck on your project.

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