Series continued from January 29, 2009
The Infamous 4th Step
Since the beginning of our work-in we have been doing a lot of work, good work to, on our inner self, keep it up. This is the first major effort we’ll make at formal self-examination. Self-examination, and the resulting self-knowledge, is critically important to building our inner strength. It is also a vitally important component of all spiritual disciplines. It’s time to own our shit. In order to move forward you have to own up to your mistakes and stop blaming others for them. Without doing this we are bound to continue to repeat those old mistakes over and over again.
I honestly look at the effects of my actions on others and myself.
Original wording (AA):Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
When things aren't working well, the temptation is to hunker down, feel defensive, and try to prove why what you're doing should work. Of course, this won't magically make things work.
Step 4 is about stepping away from the heat of battle, and taking a non-partisan look at your own actions.
Does it mean that you were bad, and we now have to become good?
No, you're certainly not trying to become an angel (or to convince yourself that you’re one). In fact, if you try to go that route, your life somehow becomes even more unmanageable. All you have to do is try to not be so defensive. That is, try to just face the reality of what you do without jumping to justify it in the same breath. The original 12 steps called Step 4 a "fearless" moral inventory. The fearlessness lies in that you accept to face reality, whatever it is.
Beyond good and evil
What makes this kind of honesty possible is removing the notion of judgment - that is, the potential for blame and shame. Step Four is about looking at facts - as opposed to adding overlays of judgment and blame onto them in such a way that the facts become obscured.
There is a big difference between being in Criminal Court and doing Step 4:
- In Criminal Court, the rule is for the indicted person to avoid responsibility.
- In Step 4, your goal is to work toward taking responsibility for what you do.
Why would you do that? It is a logical continuation of the leap of faith described earlier. Your hope is that, whatever you find out about yourself, it will be something that you can live with. This will lead you to eventually get to know your true self - - and that this might turn out to be a better person than you thought you were!
Now it’s time to stop reading and start writing.
Get to work! You have an inventory to write.
If you are not sure how to begin your work-in or need some guidance please feel free to post a comment or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, I will response as soon as I can.
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(Usual disclaimer applies: The suggestions on this blog are just that “SUGGESTIONS.” My words cannot heal your pain and or addictions. Nor can I change your life. Only you can.)