I’m in the middle of yet another 4th step inventory. I’ve done them in many different ways. So today, I just want to give you some tips from my own experience. The most profound lesson I learned about doing my inventory was from the Joe and Charlie AA workshop (you can listen to the entire workshop for free on the fabulous XA-Speakers website). I went somewhere around 1997 or 1998, which is around the time of these recordings.
Joe and Charlie were two long-time AA members in recovery who went around the country doing three day step studies where you would go through all the steps in that time. Yep, they didn’t believe in dawdling.
They used to come to my town on Mother’s Day weekend. And, by the way, I think there were a couple of Joe’s, but only one Charlie, as far as I know.
Joe and Charlie kept things simple and stuck to the Big Book. And it was a life-changing weekend for me. There is also a book that is nearly a transcription of the workshop called, “A Program for You,” that is not conference-approved, but is from Hazeldon and I strongly recommend it. I asked Charlie about the book and he said that they did ok it (though their names are not mentioned as authors).
I find their approach works best for me. And I will do a separate post on the other steps using their philosophy.
I agree with their 4th step concept of just following what is in the Big Book as far as instructions for doing the 4th step. I know there are whole books written about the 4th step with all kinds of complex exercises, etc., but I became overwhelmed and bogged down when trying those approaches. Plus, that is not at all how the Big Book suggests doing your 4th step and I take my instructions from the Big Book.
If you are interested, you can download this Word template with all forms created using their method from the Big Book.
The DA H.O.W. program has their own set of 4th step forms in PDF, but I found them unwieldy. However, the suggestions are good and you may be told to use them by your sponsor. I only have the Resentment and Fear forms.
Here are just a few tips for working on your 4th Step:
- As someone suggested, think about this process like a car mechanic fixing a car. No need to get overly emotional when dredging up the past. It’s ok to be numb or completely dispassionate. Doing a thorough inventory has nothing to do with emotional angst. In fact, what a relief to know that you don’t have to dig down to feel the pain. Knowing it is enough
- Don’t procrastinate. Get started on it as soon as possible. There is nothing to be gained by waiting once you have done Steps 1-3. The sooner you start, the sooner you will find relief as most everyone does who moves on to the rest of the steps.
- Don’t dawdle. I found myself doing that, just dipping my toe in, so afraid of the boogey man around the corner. Last night, I dove in and just moved along.
- CRUCIAL! Do each column one at a time. DO NOT go across the sheet. In other words, First, list all the people, places, principles that have you resentful or riled up. Don’t list one and then go to the next column to write about what happened to make you riled up. This has been universally accepted as the easiest and least painful way to work your 4th step.
- Don’t take forever and a day to work on this. Set a deadline. Just do the best you can. Remember, everyone in recovery does this process more than once. If you miss something, you’ll surely come around to it next time. Plus, we have the 10th Step for doing essentially mini-4th steps daily.
I’m sure I’ll have more to say about all this, but this should get you started if you feel timid or unready. No one feels ready, but you don’t progress in recovery without the courage to move forward through the weeds to get to the flowers.