Spring Cleaning: Making a Fourth Step Inventory

As the weather warms and new life awakens around us, many people turn their focus to renewal, both in their homes, their jobs and their personal lives. For those who are struggling with addiction, spring is an excellent time to tackle their Fourth Step.

Renewal, rebirth and reawakening are all around us at this time of year, and it can be a powerful motivating force in seeking personal change. The Fourth Step can be one of the most intimidating aspects of sobriety, as it involves taking an unflinching look at the true nature of one’s character.

Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves is never a simple matter, and is not something that should be rushed or taken lightly. But this is the time to throw open the curtains, shake out the rugs and leave no surface untouched as we seek a sense of cleanliness and order.

Should Fourth Step Work be Written?

Many people believe that one’s moral inventory should be written down. Thinking about these topics is important, but having a tangible list of points and reflections gives an individual a customized inventory, and one that he or she can reference, add to, or study as needed and use in future steps.

There is a multitude of ways to structure your personal inventory, including worksheets, outlines and even spreadsheet formats. What is more important than the format itself is that whatever format you choose complements your personal style. A person who is most comfortable writing in prose is ill-suited to try to complete his or her inventory within a complicated spreadsheet, just as a born number-cruncher may struggle with writing out lengthy passages.

Resist the Urge to Skip Steps

Many people become deeply uncomfortable when faced with the need to look closely at their own choices and behaviors. When it comes to the Fourth Step of a 12-step program, however, it is vitally important to give your full attention to each and every aspect of your personal inventory.

This includes those topics that cause you discomfort or pain. In fact, it could be said that those are the areas that require the most focus. It may be tempting to skip the steps that force us to consider choices or events that are unpleasant, but it is essential to include those aspects of our lives within the process of creating a personal inventory and working on recovery.

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