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Taking the Fourth Step in Alanon

4296591_sThis blog post was written by Recovery Help Now’s, Amy Margolis, MSW.

Step 4 states: “We made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves.” In taking the fourth step in Alanon there are a lot of options available. You can use the traditional Big Book method used by generations of AAers, you ou can do the Blueprint for Progress, an Alanon 4th step workbook, or you may do the questions at the end of each chapter in Paths to Recovery, a hardcover Alanon book. It will be best to figure this out with your sponsor. Here are a few pointers before you tackle your fourth step…

1. TAKE YOUR TIME. Most Alanons are Doers to the Nth degree. They want to jump right in, do the work and get done! That is not how Alanon works. Good advice for the newcomer would be get to three meetings a week and live your life. As you get to know people, choose a sponsor “who has what you want.” Then take your time in Steps 1, 2, and 3 before embarking on Step 4.

2. TRUST THE PROCESS. A fourth step is not meant to be completed overnight. Immersing yourself and/or putting your life on hold to get it done is not the answer. Whether you go fast or slow has no bearing on whether your alcoholic gets sober. If you have taken your time with the program thus far, you will know it’s about your quality of life. Doing it slowly keeps you in the Alanon recovery conversation and focused on yourself. Remember all of life is about the process not the destination.

3. LET GO OF PERFECTIONISM. Many Alanons believe “If I am just perfect, do it right etc., the alcoholic will love me, clean up, fill in the blank.” This thinking often pervades all aspects of their lives. Let this go when it comes to your fourth step. Perfectionism breeds procrastination. “If I can’t do it perfectly, I can’t start.” Just start! It’s okay if its chicken scratch or if you miss something and come back to it later. Just do it!

4. DO NOT GET OVERWHELMED. It can feel monumental to look back at your whole life of resentments, faults, wrong doings, assets, etc. Just remember, “being in the doing” itself will enhance your life and recovery. Maybe commit to writing your fourth step inventory three times a week for 15 minutes. Or maybe work on two character defects a week. Your past is not going anywhere. Any work on it will increase your consciousness and power of choice.

5. LET GO OF THE SHAME! Alcoholic families are full of secrecy and shame. There is no space for anyone’s feelings but the addict’s, so family members often feel numb or ashamed for even having feelings. They are embarrassed and often traumatized by the things that have gone on behind closed doors. They also may be ashamed of the maladaptive coping skills they have used to survive, which often include addictions of their own. If you have taken your time in Alanon before getting started you will understand you are not alone or terminally unique. Essentially, all human beings are the same and it is our frailties not our strengths that bind us. I can assure you, when you do eventually read your fourth step to your sponsor (Step 5), you will be amazed at the lightness, freedom and utter lack of shame you feel.

I hope this was helpful and I wish you well as you “trudge the road of happy destiny.”

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