Step 4, the most powerful tool?
In the 1935 a fellowship was born. Alcoholic Anonymous started when one alcoholic named Bill W spoke to another alcoholic instead of going into a bar and drinking. They found that if two alcoholics had the genuine desire to stop drinking, speaking about their experiences and relating to each other was sufficient to stay sober for another day.
The 12 steps was also born though these interactions. The first 100 members of AA sat together and adopted some of the principals from the Oxford Group.
To be spiritually reborn, the Oxford Group advocated four practices set out below:
- The sharing of our sins and temptations with another Christian.
- Surrender our life past, present and future, into God’s keeping and direction.
- Restitution to all whom we have wronged directly or indirectly.
- Listening for God’s guidance, and carrying it out.
-sourced from Wikipedia
From those key principals the 12 steps were born. Step 4 is arguably one of the most important steps in the process of finding freedom from the obsession and compulsion to continue destroying our lives.
‘Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves’
Like most of the steps and work that you do in a 12 step fellowship, what you put in is what you get out. If by the time you reach Step Four, you’re not able to be as honest as is required for this crucial step, then you’re going to have to go back to step one. Step One, Two and Three are the foundation steps that make it possible to engage with the rest of the program with honesty, integrity and courage.
Step Four deals with specific areas of the life we used to live.
According to AA, resentment is a key contributor to the reason we continue engaging in unhealthy, destructive behaviours.
Examining our past relationships is key to working step 8 and 9 and also in seeing our part in the destruction of those relationships.
- Self-obsession and Self-centeredness
Many of our behaviours stem from our extreme sense of self. Our character defects and shortcomings are realised through this process.
- Shame and Guilt
During active addiction or alcoholism we hurt many people. We did things that we feel shameful about. We are often guilt ridden and full of secrets. This section is very important to be as honest as possible, as we are cleaning out the garbage of our past.
Many of us have become fearful of life and of accepting responsibility for what we have done and for what we have become. It’s important to know what fears are real and what are made up as justifications for our continual drinking or using.
- Sexual Relationships
Usually like normal relationships, our sexual relationships have been effected by our past behaviour. Often the obsessional nature of addiction latches onto our sexual behaviours and they can become linked. It’s important to be able to see the link as relationships can contribute to future relapse.
Having gone through all the darker parts of ourselves it is very important if not critical to be able to see the good things about ourselves. Considering that these assets are going to replace our character defects.
This process is very important to the continuing process of finding freedom from these destructive behaviours. It’s often referred to as “cleaning house”, “taking stock” or “cleaning out the garbage”. Step Five allows us to let go of the past, to begin a new start, a new future and most importantly a new way to live.