The Fourth Step in the program of recovery
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
Step Four directs us to “Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves,” but without the steps immediately preceding this step and the steps that follow, we are surely to experience the ‘nil’ results indicated in the instruction portion of the book aptly named “How It Works.”
Step One is just the beginning of understanding and identifying the problem. Step Two is the admission that “something” may restore us to sanity if we complete the remaining steps. Step Three is simply the commitment to that “something” that we intend to go through with the remaining steps. Step Four is the start of the commitment to actually perform some sort of action. If “our troubles… are basically of our own making” and the only way to overcome “the root of our troubles” (selfishness & self-centeredness) is to “launch out on a course of vigorous action,” then Step Four has to be the launching pad. And, although the Step Three “decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face and be rid of the things in ourselves which had been blocking us” from God and those about us.
As part of the spiritual journey and our recovery, it is imperative we constantly seek to further deepen our relationship with the “something” that is keeping us clean and sober. The best way for us to seek and experience God is through analyzing our conduct and interaction with all of God’s children. We face our resentments, fears, and gross misconduct towards others in relationships and see how our selfish, dishonest, self-centered, and fearful behaviors dominate our lives and lessen our ability to experience God and his children. Step Four makes this possible.
If we are unable to see and experience how our behaviors impact those about us (on a consistent and regular basis through repeated inventory), our hope for “the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience” which may be necessary for a happy and contented life may never be realized. An on-going analysis of the first three steps and repeated inventories smash the ego and keep it in its right proximity — present and necessary but not running the show. Regular inventory is vital if we are to invoke, maintain, and deepen conscious contact with that “something.”