Step 4: Alternative using the 4 Absolutes
The 4th Step Inventory is a moral inventory, not an in-depth analysis of our entire life history. When we do our 4th Step, we are asking God to awaken within us the ability to see where our lives have been out of alignment with His will for us. The goal is to rid ourselves of our selfishness and self-seeking behaviors which block us off from God.
How the 4th step is completed depends on where you are at this moment.
The Back to Basics Step 4 Assets and Liability Inventory format examines our resentments, fears and harms done to others. It can be done with the liabilities as they apply to the specific resentment, fear or harm; or, the liabilities can be addressed in a more general way: where and to whom have you been dishonest, selfish, full of false pride……?”
Occasionally, however, you might share a 5th step with someone who does not have any resentments.
Below is an alternative Step 4 and Step 5 Back to Basics Inventory using the 4 Absolutes: absolute purity, absolute love, absolute honesty and absolute unselfishness.
HONEST: Is it true or is it false? (The opposite liability is dishonesty)
- How have I been dishonest with others and with myself?
- Have I lied, manipulated, cheated and stolen from others? List the big ones.
- Who was hurt by my dishonesty?
- How did this hurt my relationship with God, remembering that God is Truth?
UNSELFISHNESS: How will it affect others? (The opposite liability is selfishness)
- How has self-centeredness shown itself in my life and who has been hurt by it?
- Are there people, institutions or principles that still anger me?
- If so, is there a role I played either bringing it about or holding on to my resentment?
- How have I put my own self-interest ahead of God’s plan for me to be of service to others?
PURITY: Is it right or is it wrong? (The opposite liability is resentment)
- What past or present behaviors, thoughts or feelings make me feel guilty, isolated, or ashamed?
- What are the areas of my life that I don’t want others to see?
- Remembering that my sex powers are God given and good, where has my sex life strayed from what I believe God’s will is for me?
- How has fear dominated my life?
- Who or what am I afraid of? Why?
- What have I done to cover my fear?
- How have I responded negatively or destructively to my fear?
- What do I most fear looking at and exposing about myself?
- What do I think will happen if I do?
- How have I cheated myself because of my fear?
LOVE: Is it ugly or is it beautiful? (The opposite liability is fear)
- How was I self-seeking?
- What did I do in pursuit of my selfish desires?
- Did I manipulate people?
- When my ego was hurt, how did I act out in response?
- Did I slander or gossip?
- Justified or not, what harms did I cause, and what self-serving behaviors did I engage in?
- Has my life been isolated – a lonely life of “taking” rather than “giving’?
- Now, with God’s help, am I ready make “love and service” my code?
Fears: For each (current) fear: why do you have that fear?
Harm: Did your fear, anger, dishonesty, self-seeking or selfishness harm someone?
If a harm has been done, cross the check as an indication that an amends needs to be done.
A harm is: something that has caused someone actual suffering or loss, something that you did have done that has had a negative effect on another.
The Turnaround: Assets, Forgiveness, Faith, Amends,
List your assets. Identify the character assets: those items with the least number of check marks.
We grow by our willingness to face and rectify errors (liabilities) and convert them into assets.
What corrective measures can I take to grow towards aligning my will with God’s will?
How would God have me be?
For example: If we are acting in a dishonest way, we strive for honesty, etc.
We strive to be honest, unselfish, pure, and faithful.
Amends: We overcome harms with amends. Ask: Do I owe an amends?
If you have an outstanding apology, it must be made as soon as practicable once the review has been completed. “We ask God’s forgiveness and what corrective measures should be taken.” Ask: Are you willing to make amends for the harms you have done?
We ask: Are you willing to have God remove the defects of character that are blocking you from Him? Are you willing to ask God to help you let go of them?
Pray to have the character defect removed. (Step 6)
Say the 7th step prayer.
Have you knowingly omitted writing down anything you have done or left undone that makes you feel guilty, ashamed or separated from God, from people, or from myself?
If your answer is an honest “NO!” then we have completed Step 5.
Dr. Bob left his blessing on the Four Absolutes to help us find our way back to God whenever we get lost. He also left a warning to his fellow co-founder, “Bill, let’s not louse this thing up. Let’s keep it simple.” (DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, p. 343).
11-27-2020: the reference from recoverytoday.net is no longer active. They had an article called “a simple but not easy fourth step guide.”
I was able to find a copy of it included in this document. It was written by Rev. Bill W.
This is from a wonderful site called “rumradio.org.” It also includes a great explanation of how to do a 4th step using the assets and liabilities format.