Great discussion, y'all. It's interesting to hear how local some of the methods and attitudes can be. There are many just here in Houston
My ideas come, of course, from my sponsor as well as discussions with several other sponsors - very large group.
First, as Geoffs said, most are terrified of step 4. They hear all the joking in the meetings about how hard their sponsors were on them. Fine. They need to be willing to go to any lengths. It's ok to be timid, but willing.
SO we spend a lot of time on steps 1 through 3 making sure they are totally committed and "let go with complete abandon", "...asked His protection and care with complete abandon".
If they have adequately done step 3, THAT is where the "fearless" comes to from ... actually beliveing in the "PROTECTION and CARE" of their HP. If step 3 is for real, there's no fear. I'm glad the steps come in order. Done that? I'm not afraid of myself or what I'll find.
Beginning step 4, I explain a few things to my sponsees:
1. Step 5 is coming - You will have to "confess" to God and another human-type-person.
2. You should choose a person you trust with your confession, who understands your purpose, who you relate to your Higher Power, and who has your best interest at heart as does your HP.
3. I offer myself as the person most interested in his recovery, most sympathetic, and, as a fellow alcoholic, most understanding ... because that's the way I treat myself now.
4. HOWEVER - being an alcoholic, I am also subject to relapse. I can keep a secret while I'm sober. If I'm not, all bets are off. If you trust me and MY Higher Power and if I have what you want, I'm here for you. I'm willing if you are.
That sets up HOW we work step 4:
1. Do we discuss his lists? Does he want my help deciding what's wrong with him? Help knowing when he's not being honest with himself? Reinforcing the intent of what the BB says about our character? When he's "balking"? (not readily apparent to some ... like ME. Thank God for my sponsor.)
2. Or does he prefer for me to just prod him to do the list and trust him to get that help from a spiritual advisor or shrink? (I trusted my sponsor. I didn't trust ME.)
So far, all have used me. They trust my sobriety and my honesty. AND they see that I have a close relationship with my HP. They judge what the steps have done for me and whatever I did might just work for them. But it's their call.
After we pray the 3rd step prayer together, I tell them to re-write the 3rd step prayer in their own words - terms meaningful to them, but expressing all the points. I tell them to memorize it and pray it each time they sit down to work on their lists. (It's also very handy any time of day they have to "handle situations that used to baffle them".)
In story 8, Dr. Bob did the 6 steps in 3 or 4 hours. HE told the guy what his defects were. They did the whole thing together. But, of course, AA was in the early days and there was no other resource. Nobody else understood. They apparently found reason to suggest differently by the time they wrote the Big Book.
To me, it's not the speed, it's the depth. I tell them it takes as long as you want it to. But you'll have to convince me that you get it before I get off your back about it. It's your job to work make me work. Not the other way. I'll work with whoever is working.
Great exercise, y'all. That's my take on it. Please let me know where I'm wrong. I'll promptly admit it.
PS: From my own experience, I'm not sure psychs aren't too into building "self-esteem" to really help alcoholics deal with the necessary humility, self-responsibility, and admission of character defects. Too much "I'm ok, you're ok" there. A good priest, preacher, pastor, or minister might be better. But that's just me, I'm sure.
However, there are shrinks now who have been through the program and know what we're talking about. Find a sober one if you need one, not just a "normie".