“How I Discovered the Answers to All My Problems”

Affirmations reach upward

Thought for today:

What if there was a way to discover everything that was causing us problems with relationships?  Wouldn’t that be an incredible tool?  Enter Step Four…

Step 4:

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

A personal share:

“When I was ready to take Step Four I made the list just like they recommended in the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, chapter 5).   Only in addition to the three columns: ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘Affects My’, I added ‘Exact Nature of My Wrongs’, and ‘Opposite’.

(See this Fourth Step layout here.)

“I completed one column at a time before moving on to the next one.

“Under ‘Who’, I listed all the people I resented, and there were a lot. This surprised me, because I didn’t think I was an angry person.

“After I listed all the names , I went back and did the ‘What’ column.  Next to each name, I described what happened. Abusive creditors, family members judging me for my debting, especially if I owed them money. Injuries I felt I had suffered.

“I moved on to the ‘Affects My’ column, entering each of my hurt injuries – to my self-esteem, financial security, sex relations, social standing, my pride.

“In the ‘Exact Nature of My Wrongs’ column I put down the defects that applied. (I used the acronym ‘PALES-GG’ to remember them – Pride, Anger, Lust, Envy, Sloth, Greed, Gluttony.)  I also put (Fear) next to the ones I could trace back to fear, and there were a lot of them.

“The ‘Opposite’ column was easy.  I just wrote the behaviors I wish I had done instead.

“In the end, I felt enlightened. While some people had wronged me, usually I was repeating “defects of character” with different people – a case of ‘different faces, same situation’. I was the common element, and I finally knew it.

“My sponsor helped me see my good qualities, too.  It’s important to include the things I do right.  But my character defects were what caused me pain, and taking Step Four was the beginning of a new way of life, walking away from pain, into light.”

The awareness we get from the Fourth Step helps improve our lives. Once we learn them, we never have to go back to old ways of thinking that got us into fear and despair.


“May I have actually been an active participant in the situation I was upset about?

Meditation for today:

“Restraint of pen and tongue” is a great motto for avoiding hurt feelings.  When tempted to speak or write in ways we will later regret, it helps to remember that we may need to look at our problems in a different light.

Affirmation for today:

“Just for this day, I will be grateful for the abundance in my life. I will recognize that there is enough money, enough time, and enough love.” (From Debtors Anonymous’ “Just For This Day” Bookmark, P-129.)

Recommended Further Reading:

Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book Trade Edition

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