4th Step: The Big One

Everyone seems to get a little nervous about the 4th Step, create a fearless moral inventory of yourself. It took a hefty dose of surrender to enter the program. Acknowledging and utilizing a higher power to turn over your self-will, was huge. Now, you’re asked to conduct an inventory of all your resentments. This can be a little daunting. I totally get it!

I’ve found some great tools along the road to help folks organize, complete and give away their 4th Step. Here are some great tools I’ve gained from clients, colleagues and the 12-Step program. The information I list below can be helpful for all the programs. However, I focus on sex and love addiction.

First complete a sexual history timeline. Begin with a sheet of paper and draw a line horizontal from one end to the other towards the top and work down. Under the line list age 0 to 10. Example:

0         1            2          3          4            5          6          7         8          9           10

Then the next line from 11 – 20 and so forth, until you get to your current age. After you complete your lines and ages. Begin to list brief (1 or 2 word) notes of sexual experiences you’ve had. Including sexual messages you gained from your household, first kiss, sexual intercourse, major events and so forth.

After you have completed the time line, take this information and enter it into the 4th Step columns. There is a wonderful AA website that has a description of the 4th Step and worksheets you can use. I’ve included the website, guidelines and worksheets below.

Step 4
4th Step Instructions
4th Step Resentments
4th Step Fears
4th Step Harms
4th Step Sexual Conduct

After completing the sexual time line, I would encourage you to begin with the 4th Step sexual conduct chart (last link listed). Then proceed with fears, resentments, and how you harmed others. After conducting this work it’s important to turn it over to someone you know and trust (such as, a sponsor, therapist or close friend in program). I encourage you to meet with a therapist regularly while going through your 4th Step. It can bring up many emotions and traumas. It’s important you have tools of recovery to support you through this process.

RHN would love to hear from you. Let us know about your process. We’d love to hear about tools you found to be helpful while working on your 4th Step.

Elana Clark-Faler
1 Comment
  • elana
    Posted at 14:59h, 21 May Reply

    We’d love to hear from you regarding your experience of the 4th step. What tools did you find to be helpful?

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