Step 4

Soul Searching, Self-Examination, Contemplation
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Summary and how it applies to the 12 steps.

Step 4 of the 12 steps is all about self-examination. A notable phrase of this step is taking a “moral inventory of ourselves”. Taking notes of our convictions and seeing the discrepancies when we are in active addiction can help identify what must change. Trust me, I know it may be painful to do this, but it helps process the large negative impacts of addiction as well as the positive impacts of sobriety.

The 4th step mentions being “fearless” when someone is analyzing the impact on others and themselves. All that one may think, say, or do should be noted and processed. This “moral inventory” of step 4 can help those in recovery to find areas of both weakness and strength, and both are important when one is seeking recovery. Ultimately, this inventory process makes recovery much more attainable.

Step Exercises/Discussion Topics

  1. Have you had any broken relationships? If so, describe them and how they hurt others or yourself. 
  2. Describe any grudges, anger or resentment that you have over these relationships.
  3. Have you ever felt self-righteous? Explain when and the circumstances. Was this justified? 
  4. What events or triggers have caused you to begin your addictive behaviors in the past? Describe situations, feelings, events, food or people that you seem to be a part of your life just before or during your addictive behaviors.
  5. Have you ever held a grudge? Did you try to get revenge? If so, explain the situation and how it played out, including whether or not someone else was hurt.
  6. Describe the faults that you most detest in others. Do you have any of these traits yourself?
  7. What are your fears? How have they caused you difficulty in your life?
  8. Describe your relationship with your friends, co-workers or neighbors. Is there something that you wish that you could do over again? If so, explain in detail.
  9. Describe your relationships with your family of origin. Do you have conflicts with any siblings or with your parents? Are you avoiding these matters in your family?
  10. Describe your relationships with your nuclear family (spouse and children) if that is different now from your family of origin. Is there anything that you wish that you could erase from this part of your life?
  11. Describe in detail any major experiences in your life that you believe changed your life forever afterwards (good or bad).
  12. What is so shameful in your life that you would not want to tell anyone? Who would you hurt if you told this?

Other Steps of The 12 Steps

Step 1
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Step 2
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Step 3
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Step 5
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Step 6
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Step 7
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Step 8
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Step 9
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Step 10
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Step 11
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Step 12
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