Step Four Overview: A Searching and Fearless Moral Inventory

a woman sitting in the grass writing her moral inventory

Step Four Overview: A Searching and Fearless Moral Inventory

At this point, we have put our faith and control of our lives into the care of our Higher Power. We have sincerely asked for guidance as our lives have become unmanageable under our direction, and now begin to look at all of the things in our lives holding us back. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests we launch ourselves on a vigorous course of action, which is achieved by doing some personal housecleaning with a moral inventory.

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

As we start the personal inventory of our lives, it is important to remember that we must be fearless in doing so. We have to ensure we are looking at all of the things throughout the course of our lives that have acted as roadblocks. The drugs and alcohol are only symptoms – it is the roadblocks we have not faced that continue to keep us sick. While making our inventory, we take a long, hard look at ourselves. We look at things that have taken place in our lives that we are harboring resentment over.

What is a Moral Inventory?

It starts with a list as we write down all our resentments towards people, places, and things. Then we take a look at what about these situations made us angry. Often we find it is our self-esteem, finances, or relationships (personal or romantic in nature) that were affected. As our inventory takes shape, we expand the list to what has been affected by the situation we are resentful towards. When the list is complete, we take time to analyze it. It is important we don’t focus on the wrongs we perceive to have been done to us, but rather understand those who may have wronged us could possibly be spiritually sick as well. This can be a difficult task for addicts. We have to believe we cannot control the actions of others, only the actions of ourselves.

I See my Wrongs, But How Does a Moral Inventory Help?

When we know this to be true, we have to identify the role we played by keeping the wrongs of others out of our minds and looking at how we may have been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, or scared. Once we identify our role in each situation, we put pen to paper so that we can see our role.  At this point, we have to find the willingness to honestly and openly admit our wrongs in order to set these matters straight. While this can be a difficult task, it is imperative if we wish to recover. An unwillingness to address these issues has the potential to lead us right back to the drink or drug.

If we have honestly and thoroughly examined our lives, we are now ready to move to the next step. We take our list to another alcoholic or addict and our Higher Power to begin the next phase of our recovery.