Woman working aa step 4 in addiction treatment

How to Work AA Step 4

Working through any 12-step program can be not only life-changing but, more commonly—life-saving. The twelve steps, combined with a supportive treatment environment, can be the catalyst you need to change your life completely. You may already be familiar with steps one through three: admitting that we are powerless and our lives unmanageable, believing in a power greater than ourselves and turning our lives over to that higher power as we understand it. 


In the third step, we receive our first call to action. Here, we become active in the recovery process. At that time, the steps ask us to decide to allow outside guidance: to accept and follow a new plan, armed with the knowledge of how our own plan turned out (unmanageable). In Step Three, those in recovery from addiction turn over willful behavior and control to the collective entity to whomever/whatever forms our higher power. 


Step Three prepares us for the following action step we’ll need to take. It readies our hearts and minds for the truth of what we’ll find as we embark on the next challenge: creating a searching and fearless moral inventory. In reality, Step Four is just the beginning of a lifetime practice of self-reflection and assessment.


While writing out the self-inventory in Step Four, you will get to examine tendencies toward:

  • Fear
  • Pride
  • Resentments/Anger
  • Self-will and Self-pity
  • Guilt/Shame
  • Relationships
  • Sex/Abuse
  • Secrets
  • Assets


Step Four begins the process of strengthened sobriety, increased connection with a higher power and mending relationships with others and even self. Step Four includes a fearless moral inventory to discover emotional deformities and move toward correction of them. 


During Step Four, the opportunity arises to gain a new perspective on the bigger picture, patterns of interaction, selfishness and our responsibility to make amends. This process builds up a more accurate self-appraisal with true self-worth as the reward.


The four sections to AA Step Four’s personal inventory are:

  1. Resentments
  2. Fears
  3. Sex Conduct
  4. Harm Done to Others


Resentment is a “number one” offender and destroys more individuals living with alcohol addiction than anything else. Start by listing people, institutions or principles that fuel resentments within you, against whom you carry anger. Then ask why you are angry and how that anger manifests. Then comes the most challenging part, considering your role and responsibility in the damaged or severed relationship. 


Recognizing your Fears and how they affect you is an essential reflective experience that moves you closer to healing. Both pride and fear can hold you back from genuinely looking within yourself. 

Sex Conduct & Harm Done to Others

While preparing the Sex Conduct portion of the moral inventory, begin by listing those whom you’ve hurt sexually, the cause, and thirdly, what you should have done instead. Looking back at these specific situations may trigger powerful emotions, so be prepared to reflect candidly. The final section of Step Four is Harm Done to Others and should flow similar to the Sex Conduct worksheet.


When the thought of working Step Four and the searching and fearless inventory of yourself feels overwhelming—know you are not alone! Remembering the past may be painful but remember that healing can propel you into a new life of peace. Learn how to look back without staring and keep your focus on the future.


Be prepared; when finishing a Fourth Step inventory, you can feel a few different ways, often a mix of exhilarated or uncomfortable. Either way, congratulate yourself on a significant accomplishment; you now have the foundation for your freedom. Every step taken forward starts with the first. Whether you’re working Step One or Step Four, stay close to your support team and reach out for more when you need it.

Whether it’s to support your loved one or find addiction treatment that works for you, The Ranch Tennessee is here to support you every step of the way.

Call us at 844.876.7680

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