People who choose to follow a 12-Step program of recovery will, sooner or later, find themselves at the infamous Fourth Step. Despite its towering reputation as a fearsome Step to take, Step Four and its companion, Step Five, are really, for many people, the most freeing of them all. When done correctly with a sponsor, Step Four begins to clear away the wreckage of the past and set the recovering person on “the road of happy destiny.”
Fear of this step stems largely from the overwhelming amount of information accumulated around it over the years. A quick Google check of Step Four inventory formats will return several pages of worksheets designed, in theory, to make writing your inventory easier. The problem is, all of these sheets come in different layouts and different themes. The process quickly gets confusing, leaving many people unable even to start the process of writing.
While it should go without saying that none of the Steps should be done without a sponsor, attempting to do a Fourth Step inventory alone is never a good idea. Step Four asks you to look back at behavior patterns, including specific actions and events, some of which are painful and humiliating. Since you may be fairly early in the recovery process the first time you do this Step, the feelings that arise from thinking about these events can quickly overwhelm you. Your sponsor will tell you which format you should be using, undoubtedly based on the format their sponsor used with them.
Even with one set of sheets, however, you may still feel stuck when it comes time to put pen to paper. First and foremost, it is important to remember that this will not be your only Fourth Step; you don’t graduate from recovery. You will be working on these steps for the rest of your life, so in all probability, you will be doing another Fourth Step down the road. This one doesn’t have to be perfect. Just get it started.
Here are a few tips for getting the pen moving:
There is so much freedom in doing a “searching and fearless moral inventory.” All of the wreckage of your past, long sunk to the bottom of your emotional sea, can gradually be brought to the top, sifted, and put into categories. You can begin to look at things objectively and see where you played a part in the disharmony and bad feelings. This is the beginning of the repairing process.
When working at a 12-Step program of recovery, arriving at your Fourth Step feels like a momentous occasion. Frequently, though, for many people, it is also intimidating. There are so many stories out there, many of them from people who have not yet done this step! When you have guidance from a sponsor who has a working knowledge of the 12 Steps, you can start sifting through the debris of your past, looking at your relationships, resentments, and fears. You will be able to see where you played a part in the strife, and you will have the ability to own that. If you feel like you need a little extra motivation, the Personal Recovery Assistants at Hired Power in Orange County can help you work with your sponsor on a thorough 4th Step. Call them at (714) 559-3919. You can never have too many people on your recovery team.
“I have worked with Hired Power extensively in collaboration with Clearview Treatment Programs’ individualized outpatient program. I am always impressed with their effectiveness and professionalism.”
“Thanks again for being there for us and guiding us through some rough waters. Your kindness and genuine concern deeply touched my soul and we are all grateful our paths crossed when they did. You are a truly gifted professional, keep on doing what you do so well.”
“I just want to thank Hired Power for the PRA. He was a perfect match and I can’t say enough…. He was intensely committed. This is the first time I have been clean in over 30 years. Thank you again.”
“I don’t look at you (Hired Power) as hiring a service, I look at you as saving my life.” (referring to his ability to stay sober after returning home).