Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Principles - Action and Courage

Personal Inventory

This is the step that separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls. :)

This is the first "action" step in the 12 steps: it requires one to act, and that action involves taking an assessment of one's character defects and writing that information on paper. We write our own life story - honesty is the key that breaks denial. We learn about resentments and our role in our problems with people, places, and things.

What is a searching and fearless moral inventory? Basically, a moral inventory is an assesment of one's life up to this point, a taking stock of the goods in one's life and noting those characteristics that are troublesome. The step asks that one be searching and fearless, meaning that one must be thorough to the best of their ability and memory, not omitting any incidents or events that they recall and that one must also be courageous in facing one's past, as it is easy to bury such memories deep beneath us, and online gaming happens to be one way of pushing down such memories. Examples of troublesome characteristics and traits (also termed "character defects") that would belong in an inventory are: pride, resentment, gluttony, guilt, lust, envy, sloth, fear, etc.

There are numerous formats for writing one's inventory. The Alcoholics Anonymous text provides an example. However, the method that I will describe is one that I have used for about 13 years; it is simple and has worked for me and I still use it to this day. I have also taught this format to numerous 12 step members, and it has worked well for them.

The format basically involves writing one's resentments and fears from as far back as they remember. For each resentment, list the people, place, institution or thing at which you are resentful, then write the reason for your resentment. Then think of what the fear is behind that resentment and write that down, as well. Keep writing your resentments and the fears associated with each, starting as far back as you can remember and ending in the present. There will be incidents, events and situations that would involve only fear. Write those fears down also, even though they have no resentment in connection with them. When you feel like you have thoroughly listed all of your fears and resentments and that no memory or incident has been overlooked, then your inventory is complete and finished.

Working guide for Step 4. Read and share your personal story about Step 4 here:  Step 4