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Understanding Step Four of AA: A Clear and Fearless Moral Inventory

Josh L

6/12/20242 min read

person sitting on gray stair
person sitting on gray stair

Introduction to the Fourth Step of AA

The fourth step of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step program is a significant milestone in the journey to sobriety. It involves making a searching and fearless moral inventory. This step requires participants to carefully examine their past actions, attitudes, and behaviors to uncover the root causes of their resentments. The goal is to gain a clearer understanding of oneself and to take responsibility for personal shortcomings.

Avoiding Figurative Language

When working on the fourth step, it's essential to use clear, objective language to identify causes of resentment. Figurative language can obscure the truth and hinder the process of self-discovery. Here are some examples of bad figurative language and their corresponding objective translations:

Bad Figurative Language: "They dissaffirmed me."
Objective Language: "They won't think how I want them to think."

Bad Figurative Language: "They won't respect my unresolved trauma."
Objective Language: "I choose to ruminate on upsetting memories, and people won't support my choice to."

Effective Objective Language

Using objective language allows for a more honest and accurate assessment of one's feelings and actions. It helps to avoid placing blame on others and encourages personal accountability. Here are some more examples of effective objective language to use in your fourth step:

Bad Figurative Language: "They made me feel insignificant."
Objective Language: "I felt insignificant because I sought validation from others and didn't receive it."

Bad Figurative Language: "They shattered my dreams."
Objective Language: "My dreams were not realized because I didn't take the necessary steps to achieve them."

Benefits of a Fearless Moral Inventory

Completing a fearless moral inventory can be challenging, but it is a crucial part of the recovery process. By facing the truth about oneself, individuals can begin to understand the underlying causes of their resentments and take steps towards healing. This process fosters self-awareness, personal growth, and a sense of empowerment.

In conclusion, the fourth step of the AA 12-step program is about taking an honest and fearless look at oneself. By avoiding figurative language and using clear, objective terms, individuals can better understand their past behaviors and work towards a healthier, sober future.