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4th Step Progress

Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:29 am
by RustyS
Hi all, I'm Rusty and I'm an alcoholic.

I'm currently working on my 4th step and I am here to report that it works. I just did what it says in the Big Book. I wrote down a list of people whom I had resentments about. I wrote a simple sentence or two about what I resent that they did. I wrote down a word or two of how that hurt me. It took a few minutes, really. I then thought about that these people are spiritually ill, and how they are hurting. And I prayed for God to give them peace, serenity, and happiness one at a time, individually so I could think about them individually, not as a group.

At first, I was just going through the motions. It felt stilted. How can I feel compassion for these heartless people? What I found was that I could intersperse my list of people I didn't love with people I do love and pray the same things for them. And something happened. I started really feeling real compassion for the people I have resentments for.

A good example is my daughter's boyfriend. She's in rehab now. The boy is the one who encouraged her to do drugs and get hooked on coke. Long story short I hated the kid. I wanted him dead. At the time I found out about my daughter's drug use I was still an active alcoholic. Now, in my recovery, I can see that this kid, who is probably an addict himself is also hurting just like me. He probably does drugs to kill the pain inside himself the same way I drank to deal with my own problems. How can I *not* feel compassion for him? I don't have to get to know him, or be his friend, or anything like that. Just praying for him and telling God something like, "God, this young man, Kevin (not his real name), is hurting. He does drugs for the same reasons I drank. He needs your help. Please, give him peace, serenity, and happiness." And I really mean it. I'm no longer just going through the motions, it's sinsere. And I don't hate him anymore. Hating him was killing me. This guy was the very first name on my list.

The simplicity is remarkable. The 12 steps work people. I'm still new, I'm barely on step 4, and it's amazing.


Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 8:39 am
by leejosepho
You bet. When I first got sober, I talked a lot about how a certain someone had once done me a great wrong, and I had been running on that resentment for a very long time. My sponsor then told me to begin praying for that guy, and he told me I could not pray for him to be run over by a truck!

Many years later, I finally found a way to let that guy know of my hope all was well with him, and I have just recently heard of his death and that in his last year or so he had been rather vocal about having had a spiritual transformation of his own. I have no evidence to suggest my prayer actually made any difference for him, but it sure had helped change me.

Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:47 am
by ann2
Thanks so much Rusty for sharing How It Works. yes, it does. I was astonished when I started writing about my horrible, cruel, awful mother and found not only forgiveness but compassion and understanding. Today she is one of my role models! Honestly! i am so very grateful to AA for giving me her back.

I was going to share about the young men who introduced me to drugs, and the way I inflicted my disease upon them, when I was perhaps your daughter's age, but I guess I'll just leave it at the mention.


Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:34 am
by Tosh
The pattern of 'self' (ishness, self seeking, self centredness, dishonesty, and fear) were all to apparent in my Step 4, but even on paper, all this produced in me was a kind of 'So what?' effect. Intellectually, I knew what my inventories were telling me, but by doing a Step 5, it kinda hit home at a heart level (or at least it did for me) what it really is all about.

Also, through our own investigation, we find our own 'truth'. No-one really points out our character defects - the stuff that caused the state of our unmanageable lives - (however our sponsor's job is to point them out if we miss it); and I find something about that extremely clever.

When I got to Steps 6 and 7; there was no question, I was willing to change for the better and have those defects removed - Steps 4 and 5 had softened me up for it.

I think Steps 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9 are extremely powerful, and a very clever process. (My sponsor did my Step 8 for me; so I kinda missed doing that one :mrgreen: ).

What didn't look logical to me - the 12 Steps - on reflection are just perfect.

Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:08 am
by RustyS
I think what makes this part of the 4th step work for me is knowing that I need it or I'm going to die. I have no doubt in my mind that if I start drinking again I will die from it. I want this program to work and if I don't make it work I have no hope left. It's amazing to me that the people who wrote the Big Book and the 12 steps really knew way bach then what is going on in my mind right now. All that resentment, fear, and stuff is all what would make me drink again and the way to get rid of it is so simple.

What's weird is that I prayed when I was drinking for God to make me happy. But it never happened, I guess because I wasn't approaching it the right way. I had to give up the drink first, then I had to actually turn my life and my will over to God and do it his way not my way. The 12 steps are ingenious.


Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:41 am
by leejosepho
I think it is somewhere in the 12&12 where Bill said something like, "Here (in the Steps) is where we learn what makes us tick."

All human beings have basic needs for social interactions (and the accompanying instincts to try to have our inherent needs satisfied) for the sake of security of various types ... and then "Charlie & Joe" also talked about sex! And as an aside, it can be interesting to note how Frank Buchman's (Oxford Groups) having been influenced by Sigmund Freud or whoever ultimately resulted in Step Four having a section just for sex. But in any case ...

Absolutely everything we ever do in life is done for the purpose of getting/having our inherent needs and/or instincts met, but that never ultimately works well while we are practicing "constant thought of self", as such, and how we can get *our* needs met ... and that is simply because other people do not like being used any more than we do. And so, Step Four is where we begin to learn this:

"Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs." (page 20)

The overall dynamic there is truly a simple one: Where I am thinking about Tosh and how I can help meet his needs while he is thinking about you and how he can help meet your needs while you are thinking about someone else (or even both of us) and how you can help meet the needs of others while others are ultimately also thinking about us and how they can help meet our needs, everyone is being thought about and all needs and instincts are being met and satisfied!

Caution: Some folks might try to tell you we need to love ourselves before we can love others, but love of self at the expense of others is what had actually been killing us! So, here is a place where we do well to be "quick to see where religious people are right [and make] use of what they offer" (page 87):

"Thou shalt (continually think about and try to do things for) your neighbour just as (you have already been continually thinking about and trying to do things for) yourself."

At the very least, I would guess the distribution there should be relatively equal ... and we can begin by praying for the people we resent.

Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:47 am
by nprather
Hi Rusty and others!

Thanks for posting your update on the 4th step! The 4th step and my daily spot check inventories
have helped keep me sober for over 15 years now and I'm extremely grateful to AA!

I too no longer have the victim mentality. I can still slip back into this but it's easier and easier
as time passes, going to meetings, and working the steps to recognize my part in my resentments.
Which as the Big Book says, are the number one offender!

I'm also working on an application to help myself and others do our nightly inventories, 4th steps,
and spot check inventories in a secure online application and/or smart phone app. I've set up a site here
to see if anyone else would be interested in using such an app:
(Link deleted per policy)

If you or anyone think this sounds like a useful web application please register on the (link deleted per policy) and I will let you
use it for free when it goes live.

Thanks and keep it up!

Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:10 pm
by LadyByrd
I am at the point of getting ready to tackle the 4th Step. I've read Chapter 5 a few times now, and think I have an idea of what to do (I've also requested a temporary sponsor to help me) so I am going to start making the list in the meantime.

The only thing in all this is that I do seem to have developed a forgiving nature and understanding of late anyway (for example I would like to think I have forgiven the two people who attacked my husband a few years ago and caused us much distress and hassle) but am I mistaking calmness and the passage of time for forgiveness? Rusty's great example made me think of these two people first but as I write there are other people including my estranged family and people I went to school with, ex-friends who affected my confidence and self-esteem. who I could include.

I feel that the passage of time and having a more laid back nature than I used to has made my resentments to these people fade somewhat, but I guess I still need to put them on the list to do Step 4 properly, and that someone must have to go on the list because they are a big reason for my drinking?

Thanks for starting this thread Rusty and everyone else for their posts here, it has given me some direction and food for thought in the meantime!

Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:23 pm
by Lali
LB, if in doubt, I would include the people you asked about. Or if there is any chance that these resentments may rear their ugly head later, as sometimes happens, do include them.

Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:34 pm
by Mike O
Include everything no matter how trivial it may appear to you now on the surface. You may be amazed at how it all comes out once you get at it.

Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 5:26 am
by leejosepho
LadyByrd wrote:I feel that the passage of time and having a more laid back nature than I used to has made my resentments to these people fade somewhat, but I guess I still need to put them on the list to do Step 4 properly, and that someone must have to go on the list because they are a big reason for my drinking?
Offered just as a bit of guiding perspective for now, here are some questions to be answered later on ...

"Returning home (after Step Five, an oration of things discovered in Step Four) we find a place where we can be quiet for an hour, carefully reviewing what we have done ...
"... Is our work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? Have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation? Have we tried to make mortar without sand?" ("A.A.", the book, pages 75-76)

stones: "... listed and analyzed our resentments.
cement: "... begun to comprehend their futility and their fatality ... their terrible destructiveness.
mortar: "... begun to learn tolerance, patience and good will toward all men, even our enemies, for we look on them as sick people.
work: "... listed the people we have hurt by our conduct, and are willing to straighten out the past if we can." (page 70)

I have seen people write pages and pages of stuff in Step Four and still end up missing virtually all of it, and I have seen some very sketchy writings that ultimately did not miss a single thing.

The fact that I no longer resented someone did not keep his or her name from appearing on my own lists in Step Four -- resentment, fear, sex, harm -- and that is because I needed to see how I had been affected and/or harmed by just about everyone I had ever met. One of my favorite examples there is of a time when my grandmother had "hired" me (at about age 12) to paint her barn ... and then she had docked my pay after I had spilled a little bit of her silly paint! I was hurt ... but at Step Four, I had long ago seen I had carried that "resentment" (to re-feel and re-hash) and self-pity around for many years even though she had actually done no wrong ...

... and those are some of the kinds of things we really need to be sure to not miss in Step Four. Step Four is not a rap sheet to be later held against us, it is a fearless and thorough review of what makes us tick and why we had been dying even amidst at least some people who had really only been doing their very best to actually nurture and edify us.

Wanna make your lists easy? Go get one of those baby-name books at the supermarket checkout and then just cross out the names of the people you do *not* know! ;)

Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:37 pm
by BigD
This is Lame. What does the people whom I have had sex with have to do with why I drank? I didn't drink because of sex. I drank because I wanted to drink. Sheesh.

Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:50 pm
by Karl R
What does the people whom I have had sex with have to do with why I drank?
It may not. but......many of us needed to treat this portion of our life as we would a resentment, a fear, a harm we'd done to other words....a manifestation of selfishness which blocked us off from a Power which could help keep us sober and give us Power for sober living.

From the book. Alcoholics Anonymous p. 69 copyright AAWS
Where had we been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate? Whom had we hurt? Did we unjustifiably arouse jealousy, suspicion or bitterness? Where were we at fault, what should we have done instead? We got this all down on paper and looked at it.
In this way we tried to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future sex life. We subjected each relation to this test - was it selfish or not?
If your sex relations were never selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate; if you never harmed anyone; if you never unjustifiably aroused jealousy, suspicion, or bitterness;

then by all means skip over this section of your 4th step. It's your sobriety. :-)
In other words, we treat sex as we would any other problem. (p. 69)
kind regards,

Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:10 pm
by PaigeB
was it selfish or not?
This was something I went over with my sponsor in my 5th Step... Sex was on my 4th, no matter whether or not I thought it was selfish. My thinking got me no where.

Re: 4th Step Progress

Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:18 am
by ann2
I addressed my sex harms after my resentments and after my fears. I found them very much on point as far as my inventory goes. I saw the selfishness in previous experiences that was still present even lately. I am really, really glad that the sex issues were addressed in step 4.

"someone who had no resentments and could never have hurt anyone in sex" ha ha ha ha