Step 4 of AA states as follows:
“[We] made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
The fourth step in the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps to sobriety requires the member to recognize their weaknesses. This action frequently demands exceptional courage and humility.
People report using alcohol or substances for different reasons. Substance abuse is compelled by various emotions, including guilt, anger, fear, resentment, depression, and excitement. Only by understanding these emotions and our shortcomings can we hope to defeat them.
Step 4 reflects the moment when a person is required to confront the truth, which can be painful. It’s difficult to accept and confess that we are not perfect and are sometimes tragically flawed. For some, this can be a humbling experience. We can, of course, take comfort in the fact that we are not alone and that most others have many faults.
We can also remind ourselves of one crucial fact: the devil you know may be better than the one you don’t. It is usually the perils we can’t see that are the most hazardous. To correctly assess a situation and respond appropriately, we must first turn the spotlight on ourselves and confront our misgivings and failings.
We must ask ourselves several essential questions. For example, what is it, precisely, that prevents us from becoming abstinent? What character flaws or feelings build a barrier between ourselves and success? What are the emotions, actions, and events that have contributed to our downward spiral? Which relationships are toxic? Begin with the obvious, then keep examining inward in more detail.
Taking Responsibility for One’s Shortcomings
Unfortunately, the ego is often an obstacle to accurate self-evaluation. Self-importance and false justifications obstruct the path ahead. Simply put, pride impairs progress.
Many deny to themselves and others close to them that they have character shortcomings. Moreover, in the end, we find it simpler to place blame other individuals for contributing to our alcoholism. We point the finger at every person, and everything, except ourselves.
During step 4 is the time when all these justifications must fall away, and we begin to hold ourselves accountable for our behaviors. Fortunately, no AA participant has to handle this task independently. Instead, they have other peers to lean on for support and sponsors to hold them responsible for their sobriety.
The truth can be unpleasant but also freeing. It can allow us to free ourselves from our old habits and beliefs and replace them with healthier ones. Indeed, this is when we begin to break away from the chains that shackle us to alcohol.
How to You Complete This Step
1. Be honest with yourself about your moral failings—you can learn from them. In addition, they can afford you insight as to why you began drinking in the first place.
2. Admit that the issue is within yourself and discard the word “blame” from your lexicon. You and you alone are responsible (solely) for your behavior.
3. Work intimately with your sponsor. They will share their weaknesses with you as well as solace and security.
Examples of a Moral Inventory
- “I deceive those I care about, and I’m hurting them.”
- “I have estranged those close to me with my selfishness.”
- “I bring other people down with my self-loathing and shame.”
- “I am self-sanctimonious and judgmental of others.”
- “I have a terrible temper and have taken it out on the ones I care about.”
Tips for Completing Step 4
1. Don’t hold back. This step won’t help you if you don’t own up to your faults, wrong decisions, and poor behavior.
2. Trust yourself and your sponsor. Always remember you are far more than the totality of your mistakes.
3. Be thorough and write down an inventory. This document may be the first physical evidence of your recovery.
Myths About Step 4 AA
Some individuals erroneously believe that this step is meant to tear you down. However, AA members who complete this step often report feeling renewed confidence once they’ve confronted themselves and their behaviors. They are ready to start the next chapter of their lives as sober and improved versions of themselves.
Treatment for Alcohol Abuse
Although support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous can be beneficial for people trying to recover from alcoholism, for some, they are not enough on their own. Complete sustainable recovery sometimes requires professional help and long-term intensive treatment.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to alcohol addiction. Our programs include beneficial therapeutic care, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group therapy, and much more.