Spiritual principles behind Step Four: Courage

What are the spiritual principles behind Step Four?

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

The overriding spiritual principle for Step Four is courage.

Other spiritual principles important for working this step include honesty, willingness, and humility.

In taking Step Four one must exhibit the courage necessary to honestly and thoroughly examine oneself. One must really hone in on how one’s perspective has been very skewed; we find that our views are/were certainly not based on an accurate view of reality. Our past is riddled with dishonesty – with self and with others – in our repeated, befuddled attempts to justify our selfish, sick, addictive behavior. Making an honest assessment of yourself and your interactions with others is a requirement for progress. This action requires honesty, willingness, courage, and humility. Courage also includes perseverance and patience.

One must be brutally honest when it comes to the moral or character defects we displayed every day. Such an examination can provide some insight into why the boozing and the drugging started in the first place.

We must accept that all of the things that happened were created by us, and we can begin to eradicate the word blame from our vocabulary. The truth is, you and you alone created the misery; you are solely responsible for your behaviors, regardless of what others might have said or done.

Step 4 is known as the Inventory Step. This simply means taking an honest appraisal of all of your good and bad character traits. We peel back the layers of the onion and expose all of it. When we take inventory, we write it all down in the manner we were instructed by our sponsor.

You may be thinking, You mean I have to document all of my negative character traits? My defects and shortcomings? I have to admit that I hurt others? I have to own my insanity? I have to take responsibility for all the times I manipulated, lied, didn’t show up, and on and on?

Yes! Believe it or not, this process – when genuinely performed – allows us to embark on a journey of solid and life-changing recovery.

Courage is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation in spite of our fears. Physical courage is bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, death or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement, or personal loss. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is making a decision that something is more important than our fear and acting on it. (Wikipedia on courage)

None of the previous steps seem as daunting as Step Four. Folks that are new in recovery often dread the Fourth Step so much they relapse over it. In comparison to the first three steps – Step One where we were admitting powerlessness, Step Two when we come to believe our sanity can be restored, and Step Three in which we made a decision to have faith in a higher power – Step Four is quite substantial, requiring more time and effort. To be searching and fearless requires a great deal of courage as we delve into our past and document each and every resentment, list our fears, and review all of our sexual behavior.

What is a resentment, exactly?

The word resentment is derived from the Latin word sentire which means to feel, and when re in front of any word, it means again. Therefore to resent means to feel again. When we perceive that someone has wronged us, we usually experience some level of frustration or anger. Later, the event plays in our head, and not just once – causing us to re-feel anger, frustration, and anxiety again and again. Now we have a resentment. Often, after many repeated replays, the story we tell ourselves can become twisted to the point we heap all the blame on them. Selfish alcoholics and addicts seem to have the tendency to keep score.

Your sponsor will guide you through it.
We work this step closely with a sponsor who will help guide us through the process; we soon realize there is nothing to be afraid of here. We just do it. Working closely with one’s sponsor is a must, and it helps tremendously. One’s sponsor will share some of their stories with you, and admit their defects to you, too; this provides comfort and security with the realization that we are not alone in our sick behaviors.

Here we begin the process of determining the causes and conditions of our drinking and using. Patterns of selfishness and self-centeredness emerge, allowing us to examine our behavior, our character defects, and our many errors in thinking in order to prepare ourselves for a life of sobriety, one day at a time.

Thanks for visiting, and stay tuned for the principles behind Step 5.

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