Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Working on Step Four

I'm continuing my work with my sponsor on Step Four. The Al-Anon way of working this step is similar to that of AA in that the focus is on me. Thus, I'm not taking an inventory of another person or what is wrong with them. Instead I'm writing down information about my character traits that could be called "defects of character" and determining how these have become ingrained in my life and which ones need to be gotten rid of.

Because I have a very wise and kind sponsor, I feel comfortable taking a good look at myself with total honesty yet without self recrimination. The Al-Anon book that I'm using in this process is called Blueprint for Progress. It's a sixty-two page booklet that has a series of questions on topics such as fear, resentment, anger, honesty, etc. Here's an example of the ones on resentment which is a big one for both AA and Al-Anon members:

1.Are there any people or organizations from childhood that I stilll feel angry with today?

2.With the people I resent the most, what part did I play in the original events that happened?

3.How did I feel about the way my family dealt with angry situations?

4. Who are the people in my life that I resent the most?

5. What bothered me about the people I resent most?

6. How do I treat those that I resent?

Plus, many more questions about personal conduct, etc.

My findings on resentment were that I know that I have expectations of others that are unrealistic.I expect them to be mind readers and do things as I have planned.But they have a mind of their own and I can’t impose my will on others.I need to have respect for others and realize that they have their own lives to live.

So far, I've found my work on Step Four hasn't been hard for me. The inventory is supposed to be both searching and fearless. I'm not being asked, at this stage, to judge or to change anything, just to notice and record what is. I've answered the questions as honestly as I can bringing up some very painful things but also a lot of good things as well.

Although my behavioral adaptations have undoubtedly been influenced by alcoholism, I can't blame everything on that. My mother's severe depression, my own genetic makeup, my relationship with other family members, and my life experiences have all shaped me. For me, this step is about identifying what I need to work on to become a contented person who is happy within my own skin. I certainly have more than an inkling of defects that I have. I don't mind being totally honest about these things.

" Referring to our list again. Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? The inventory ur faults we listed them. We placed them before us in black and white. We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight." from Alcoholics Anonymous


  1. You brought back a memory of my first experience with Step 4 with this particular sharing. I could hardly believe that another individual (my sponsor) actually insisted on my speaking ONLY of my own experiences - - -I had always been taught to try to be less bold, and allow others to talk first, that my stuff could wait, or simply wasn't important enough. This, in itself, brought about a character defect in me - - - one of drowning out everyone else at the dinner table or any where else in order to be heard: overbearing, boisterous, obnoxious, and just plain rude! It was very painful for me to see that I had become that person.

    So, when presented with the taking of the 4th step, I was overwhelmed with gratitude to another - that my experiences were to be told, and that only I could complete this step, and do so selfishly, with no worry of interruption or interference of others. It was a magical experience for me; I wrote and wrote and wrote - - - and was able to figure out things for myself that I had brought about in making me the person that I did not particularly like.

    Thank you so very much for all your messages. This one, however, was the most poignant for me! I totally identify and remember how special I felt when I did mine!

  2. I've done my 4th Step differently.
    Hope this works for you.

  3. I've had my Blueprint for coming up for 2 years now. The first time I got it out was my first summer in Al Anon, 2005. As I went through the questions I knew very few of the answers, especially about my childhood, about which I had very little recollection. I got it out again about 9 months later and could see, from my pencil jottings, how some things had changed, some were the same and some gaps started to be filled in. With my sponsor I had a serious attempt on Step Four last august, partly with the blueprint, partly starting with a list of resentments, then tracing them to people and emotions, from which I built a kind of balance sheet which described qualities and then their good and bad side. And then somehow I slid back down the snakes and ladders again to Step 1 and am arriving for the third time at Step 4. I'm going to get my Blueprint out, talk through the Step 4 in Pathways to Recovery, try going to more step meetings and burn through it this time to go onto Step 5, knowing always that I can come back and do it again. It is the witnessing of self with acceptance and honesty and without judgement which is so powerful for me in this programme, and Step 4 (the first of the confessional steps 4 - 7) and even that very act of witnessing changes things without me needing to take any action. I've read, recently, a book on happiness which talks of the subconscious as an elephant and the conscious as the mahoot. It takes a lot to change the direction of an elephant and its only by changing deep rooted patterns that you change the direction. That, for me, is what Step 4 really allows me to do. I'm altering the course of the elephant.

  4. I have no RESENTMENTS anymore. I realized I only had resentments when I said YES, when I should have said NO.

    I don't have resentments about my childhood because I know my parents were ILL and I did Detach physically from them (and had a moral value to myself to do so).

    I don't resent my two adult children because I asked them to leave home (one each summer); and that is how it should be. If they want to have aDDictions and not get HELP.. then NOT in my HOME.

    Aww serenity. I lose it; have slip-ups.. but I know what it is NOW and I quickly seize it again.

    No Resentments.


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