- A step 4--NOW HAS ALL 4 COLUMNS

A step 4--NOW HAS ALL 4 COLUMNS




12 Steps: Discussions related to the 12 Steps and using them as a treatment to recover from alcohol and drug addiction.

A step 4--NOW HAS ALL 4 COLUMNS

Postby GeoffS » Sat Nov 08, 2008 7:41 am

Hi all, here goes. I'll try to run through a step 4 using examples and illustrations of how I've been taken through it, and how I take others through it. I like to try to stick to the instructions in the big book.

Step 4 gets a lot of people nervous in AA when they are coming to do it. The first thing I had to know about doing step 4 was that I needed to have grasped steps 1-3 first. If step 4 gets too much, then maybe I had not digested 1-3. How did I know I was ready? My sponsor (who has way more experience in these things than me) said I was.

We read the next section of the BB from the last couple of lines on page 63-"Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action"- that suggested to me that I start step 4 right after 3, not next month, not next year, now. The BB lays out what we need to do in Step 4 from page 63-71.

Step 4 is a strenuous effort to face and be rid of the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.

In step 4 it is suggested we carry out our moral inventory in 4 columns. We complete each column in turn, we do not enter anything in the second column until we are sure we have completed column 1.

In column 1 we list all the people, institutions or principles we were angry with. Currently or re-curringly angry with. Not things we remember we were once angered with. This is about our stock in trade. We need to list the things that make us feel the anger again as we think them over. Thats what resentment means...to re-feel. When we were happy we knew the things that we were looking for, we understood the instructions in the BB, and had discussed it and asked our sponsor any questions we picked up a pen and paper and began to write:

I'll make a list of examples here under the column 1 heading: these are just that, examples they are not real, so don't ask details!! Hopefully they cover the many types of resentments we find within ourselves.

Please feel free to make any points where I have missed out anything above. Please make any comments you like, or ask any questions. Questions are always good, and there are no daft ones. Hopefully the questions can be answered by one of the members here. I'll come back and add column 2 in a couple of days when people have had a chance to read.

Ok column 1. People and things I re-feel anger about/with:

My ex-partner

The tax office

My former boss

My current partner

The men who burgled my house :idea:
Last edited by GeoffS on Mon Dec 01, 2008 12:19 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby Dallas » Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:02 pm

Not things we remember we were once angered with.


I have them include things from the past that they don't think they are still angered with. If they can still remember it... chances are they're still angry and don't know it -- they only think they're not angry with it at the time.

When I met with my first sponsor to do my 4th, I told him "Gee. I'm just so happy to be sober and to get another chance at sobriety... I have no resentments towards anyone.

He told me -- "In that case... I want you to make a list of everyone you've ever known or come in contact with -- you're probably still p-sst off at all of them and don't even know it!" :lol:

He was right.

Anger is what we feel when we first feel the emotion over the thing that angered us.

Resentment is feeling the old anger. We're not always still angered by it but we're still feeling it... thus, a "List of our Resentments."

Naturally, there was no way I could remember every one I ever knew... Maybe it was a test to see if I was really willing to go to any length. So, I started my list reading the white pages of the telephone book! :lol: :lol:

When my sponsor saw that I was willing -- he let me off the hook of what could have taken me a lifetime to complete... with just listing the names! :lol:

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Postby garden variety » Sun Nov 09, 2008 5:29 pm

I know different "regions" use different words to describe things like this. I thought feeling "resentment" and being aware of it was one thing that wasn't unhealthy. But the way it was explained to me that made all the difference in the world was that they said it was the same thing as my "grudge list". People that I had a "grudge" against.

Buddy let me tell you what! I didn't know much about that "fancier" word called "resentment", but I knew full-blown what a "grudge list" was. I knew because I ALREADY HAD ONE WRITTEN DOWN! I literally had a list of men and women and even "institutions" that I was going to "get back" one day or another. Ha! I wrote that "resentment" list while I was drinking - and I wrote it so I wouldn't forget their names. Shoot - I even had some of their addresses!

I also found out after I did my 4th that EVERYONE, alkies and non-alkies alike, has or had a "grudge list". It is totally unavoidable unless you can walk on water!
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Postby GeoffS » Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:42 am

Thanks for the additions guys. Funny you mention the white pages, I was tempted to bring that to my sponsor too.

I guess the thing is with us alcoholics, once we get started on a grudge list can we stop?!?!? :?

Would you agree that the bottom line should probably be if the person/institution/thing etc. comes up when you're thinking, get it down on paper. Doing that and discussing it with your sponsor can't do any harm?
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Postby garden variety » Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:48 am

That's a tough call Geoff.

Why I say that is that there are some things that don't come to mind until the pencil hits the paper. That's how it was for me. People came to mind as I was writing that I hadn't thought about in years. I think the writing process itself starts a "catharsis" with many unexpected outcomes.

Maybe I don't understand what you mean by "when you're thinking". The ones on the "grudge list" can sometimes be like a "suit" you put on every day. Other times they come to mind when certain conditions "trigger" the memory. I know that probably sounds like I'm complicating the process, which I probably am doing.

I guess for me the bottom line was what came out when the pencil hit the paper. Maybe it doesn't matter as much in this step because the result of this is coming up with a list of character defects that gets admitted to God, ourselves, and another human being. If I forget about a person, place or thing in this inventory, there probably is another person, place or thing I feel the same way about that will come out as I do this, so the character defect will come to light.

I think it's also important to set a time limit to finish this for the protege' so they don't get stuck. When they start, I tell them get it done in two weeks, and as it approaches the "deadline", I tell them that I'm calling "so and so" to do their 5th step - which I don't really do - they make the calls when they finish with step 4. If it takes more than 3 weeks, then I thnk they're procrastinating or unwilling.

Now keep in mind we have this Akron/Cleveland thing going on in this region where it has been "our custom" to have a priest, holy man, or CDC counselor "take the 5th" for the protege'. That is so he feels that his "secrets" will be in the hands of a "detached stranger" instead of his sponsor. This is important here, at least, because there have been instances when the sponsor has gone back out to drinking again, and they "spilled the beans" about their protege's 5th step.
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She was shocked.

Postby sunlight » Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:19 pm

I read once that writing activates a part of the brain that is not utilized in talking or thinking. Pretty cool that our founders realized this.

Page 66 in the book came to mind when I read your post, Geoffs. "..the wrong-doing of others, fancied or real, had power to actually kill." Heavy stuff! So even if I just THOUGHT they'd wronged me (there's my thinking again) I'm holding a loaded gun to my head.

I also took part of my 5th step with a priest & I always love to tell this story:
My 1st sponsor was a tough biker & she told me when we began the 5th step, "I've heard it all, so there's nothing you can say that will shock me." So I'm cruizing along with the 5th step & she shrieks, "You did WHAT???!!!" :shock: :shock: :shock:
I had to laugh. She was shocked. And I didn't feel she would be closed mouthed about it. But I knew being honest with someone was vital for me not to drink again, so I found another servant who could be more trusted.

Keep it up Geoffs! It's great that you're asking as you go. It's exciting! :D :D
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Postby Dallas » Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:58 am

GeoffS wrote:Would you agree that the bottom line should probably be if the person/institution/thing etc. comes up when you're thinking, get it down on paper. Doing that and discussing it with your sponsor can't do any harm?


I think it's most important if we are thorough and searching... fearlessly, doing the best that we can do to go to any lengths at being vigorous and complete.

It isn't what we put on to our inventory that we could drink over -- it's what we leave out that can nail us. (as our book warns).

There is a reason that it's referred to as "the work"... because it should take "working effort".

The biggest thing is that we're thorough -- listing in a general way, what our adventures were.

I would hate like heck to work all day cleaning my house -- and then leave a rotten egg hidden under the coach! :lol:

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Postby Dallas » Fri Nov 14, 2008 2:15 am

GardenVariety wrote:Why I say that is that there are some things that don't come to mind until the pencil hits the paper.


I had something from the past come up at five years of my sobriety.

I hadn't neglected to do it -- it was just stuffed so deep that consciously -- my mind couldn't deal with it at the time. Interesting though, now that I think back on it -- because some similar events that happened to me when I was about eight years old came to mind -- and I saw the guy before I took my 4th Step... I wanted to kill the guy... or at least embarrass him with it in front of his wife and kids... to see how he would like having to live with it. By the time I got to my 4th Step, I didn't mention it. "I withhelld something" but, I didn't do it intentionally.

I've helped many alkies with their 4th and 5th... and I've never had any one of them... that didn't come back later... with something that was left off their list. They've all came back with something that was left off. Nearly all of them was un-intentional... and a few were intentional.

Did those that intentionally left something out drink? Most that I remember did drink again. And, a couple that intentionally left something out came back within a couple of days to fess up. They wanted sobriety and they wanted freedom.

I've heard mind doctors tell me that something about us (could be a part of the Ego) will not let some traumatic events from the past -- come to conscious mind -- if it judges that we are not able to deal with it, if it would threaten our survival. Who knows? Maybe it's that "Inner Resource" or "Higher Self" or... "God." I guess that should be for a different topic so we don't confuse anyone on the 4th Step, though.

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Postby Dallas » Fri Nov 14, 2008 2:28 am

Sunlight wrote:I read once that writing activates a part of the brain that is not utilized in talking or thinking. Pretty cool that our founders realized this.


I've been told something very similar as this, by the head-honcho of a VA Mental Health hospital.

However, in regards to our founders realizing it... I seriously doubt if they knew about it when they were doing it. It was probably one of those "more will be revealed" moments.... "if" they ever did realize it.

Our founders and pioneers in AA didn't seem to put too much time and effort into trying to figure out "How it worked"... they focused more on "How to work it."

They may have known the dangers of theorizing on "How it works: The Therapeutic Mechanisms and Processes of the 12 Step Program" rather than taking action and doing the program. There is an interesting article by Dr. Tiebout, on the subject, in the back of the book "AA Comes of Age."

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Re: A step 4 intro and column 1 (resentments)

Postby GeoffS » Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:52 am

Don't know how this will work formatwise? Hopefully it will. I've put column 1 then column 2 underneath for each example, hope people can follow...

Time to add the second column to my mini-list of resentments-

The cause of my anger/resentment. Now here I was always taught to cut to the chase...5 pages of story on each are perhaps details that can be discussed later, sponsor willing.

So here goes_

Column 1
My ex-partner
Column 2
Threw me out the house with nothing including lots of items from my family, sentimental things now that my parents passed on. Didn't return any even after divorce

Column 1
The tax office
Column2
Relentlessly bill me for tax based on one year I made more money than usual. They take the interest on it then pay me back at the end of the year

Column 1
My former boss
Column 2
Sacked me after a charade of a review and did not realise I had problems outside the job

Column 1
My current partner
Column 2
Overly critical, expects me to be perfect now I've put down the drink

Column 1
The men who burgled my house
Column 2
They took valuables, both financial and sentimental and violated my space, I want them dead.


Hopefully these examples cover some common ground with people.

Thanks for the discussion and points above, very useful. Hopefully we can follow some of the themes through this and the next columns.
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