The Importance of the Fourth Step

The fourth step in a 12-step program involves truth and self-awareness. Specifically, it requires that one take a “searching and fearless moral inventory.” This inventory becomes the fundamental underpinning for recovery, insofar as one cannot move forward and make improvements without having a true sense of self. Otherwise, program participants are attempting to improve someone who they do not really know. It is a fundametal adage that one needs to know where they came from to know where they are going in the future.

It is vital in the recovery process that one not attempt to pull the wool over their own eyes. The ultimate goal is to make peace with yourself, and to do so, one should be fully in tune with who they are. This includes both strengths and weaknesses and areas where one has succeeded and failed. A fearless inventory involves knowing what is important. The fourth step is where one really begins to get into the specifics and what is behind their problem. It is only when one can recognize that they are morally deficient in an area that they can understand exactly why they find themselves in their present situation.

It is when one can admit their personal faults that they can begin to rebuild their life. At the same time, this moral inventory could also involves recognition of strengths and areas where one has risen to the occasion and succeeded. Generally, one is not the sum of their moral failures alone. One can have some solid bedrock values and still be in a situation where they are addicted. Then, it can be those values that can come into play to help break the addiction.

Addiction can be thought of as a vicious downward cycle. This cycle, however, does not occur in a vacuum. Instead, it is fed by various beliefs, experiences and personal inputs. In order to break the cycle, it is essential to know what is going on in one’s own psyche that is contributing to the addiction. This is not an easy step to take and involves admitting some painful truths. However, without this step, one is destined to keep repeating mistakes without understanding what may be behind the problem. Without the requisite self-awareness, one will end up continuously on autopilot and, when the autopilot involves addiction, they will end up in the same place where they began.