Step FourMade a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. The purpose of taking a moral inventory is to expose the harmful character traits of our alcoholic personalities and to eliminate them from the new personalities with the help of the A.A. program as a way of life we now propose to develop. The A.A. use of the term personality deals with the development of new character traits necessary to our recovery from alcoholism. It has no relation to personal magnetism emanating from physical health, beauty, or charm. We gauge A.A. personality by A.A. maturity that is evidenced by such qualities as: strength and understanding from a Power greater than ourselves, surrender of self-centeredness, the practice of honesty, humility, gratitude, forgiveness, promptness in admitting wrongs, making amends, service to others, and the example of a happy sober life. Before we can hope to develop the qualities that will desirable A.A. personalities, we must discover the causes for our powerlessness over alcohol; we wish to know why we have been at war with ourselves; we propose to reveal and to study the limitations that alcoholism has placed upon our lives. We hope to transcend our alcoholic limitations, to straighten our unmanageable lives, so we check our alcoholic personalities. "First, we search out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure."(read pages 63(bottom) through 64 of Alcoholisc Anonymous). The gravity of our drinking problem is deep-seated; it involves self-centered habits, physical health, emotions, and misconceptions acquired over a period of years. They have sapped our mental powers, weakened our physical resistance, and have sponsored irrational thought and action. This has caused us extreme mental and physical hardship and brought anxiety and suffering to others. Arresting our alcoholism is not possible until we have knowledge of our defects; therefore, we take definite steps toward correction of our physical, mental, and spiritual disability. We do this when we make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves; when we do it in a thorough, business-like way; and when we reasonably excuse other people and truly expose our own faults. The beginner cannot fail to be impressed with the array of flaws he or she will uncover and will wish to correct. The caution to be observed in taking this Step is few of us are ready and willing to surrender all our defects. We wish to cherish a few, and by this procedure we encounter future trouble in the form of partial rehabilitation which is not the plan of the A.A. recovery program. This step calls for a thorough inventory; our program is not in accord with halfway measures or efforts; full rehabilitation is our objective. Reservations defeat this purpose. They take the contentment out of sobriety. Let's be wise and employ the inventory 100 percent. A moral inventory of a lifetime of drinking is not quickly recorded, nor is it a record that can be simply stated. We find many complexities that require study and meditation, It must be honest, sincere, and thorough. To be effective it must be a written inventory as it will later be checked against and often referred to. The mental self-appraisal is merely a supplement to the written inventory. It is necessary but not sufficient in itself. Experience has taught us this Step should be started at once and left open for future reference, so during the process of our mental and spiritual cleanup we can add new items that present themselves. The brief discussion of a few imperfections that appears in this book is entirely inadequate, compared to the thought and time you will need in applying this Step to your alcoholic problem. We can refer to the bottom of page 63 through the end of Chapter five in Alcoholics Anonymous, for a detailed discussion of Step Four. From these pages you will learn the manner that A.A. founders advocated for working out our inventories. You will discover various manifestations of self-centeredness are undoubtedly the root of your trouble, and some of these manifestations present themselves in the form of resentment, dishonesty, self-pity, jealousy, criticism, intolerance, fear, and anger.Blind Spots: Despite our sincere efforts to make honest inventories of all "the flaws in our makeup that caused our failure," some defects will not be recorded. Why? Simply because we fail to see them. Our mental and moral vision has been blinded too long by alcoholic reservation and rationalization. It is necessary to reserve space in our inventories for the blind spots we will later uncover. We should not worry about these undisclosed defects but tolerate their existence and let A.A. as a way of life reveal them. We then list them for correction.Summarization: Having decided to let God direct our will and unmanageable lives, we step out of the driver's seat to inspect our alcoholic personalities. We make "a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves," not as psychiatrists but as sick lay people who need simple understanding of our ills and defects-things that God will sublimate or help us outgrown. A.A. personality changes begin from such honest evaluation. Page 64 through 71, Chapter Five, of the Big Book, suggest unnumerable character defects, common to alcoholisc, that should be listed in written inventory. From our inventories we learn the spiritual illness of resentment and dishonesty; the frustration of jealousy, suspicion, self-pity, fear, anger, and false pride; and the harmful nature of criticism, intolerance, and vindictiveness. We vitalize our deadened conscience as we catalog our devastating, self-centered habits. We learn to discern between right and wrong as we make our inventories honest, written records. This written inventory may be the difference between sobriety and another drunk.
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