The purpose of a searching and fearless moral inventory is to sort through the confusion and contradiction that we have experienced in our lives. We have begun a new way of life and need to rid ourselves of the burdens and traps that controlled us and prevented us from growing. Through step four, we will begin our journey of finding out who we really are. Up to this point, we have been experts at self-deception and rationalization. By writing an inventory, we can overcome these obstacles. Honest self-assessment is one of the keys to our new lives.
The fourth step is the beginning of a new era in our recovery. Working steps 4-9 can be thought of as a process within a process, where we use the information we learned from the previous step to help us get through the next. This method of learning about ourselves is as much about learning our character assets as it is about learning the nature of our wrongs. It will help us to highlight the unresolved pain and conflicts of our past so that we are no longer at their mercy. It provides us with a choice and a measure of freedom.
So you might wonder what it means to take “searching and fearless” “moral” inventory. Within this step, the word “moral” has nothing to do with specific codes of behavior, societal norms, or the judgment of an authority figure. A moral inventory is something we can use to discover ourselves morally, our own morals, principles, and values. They don’t have to relate in any way to the principles, morals, or values of others. A searching and fearless inventory involves continuing with the inventory despite our fears. It means having the courage to be honest, no matter how we feel about it, even if it makes us cringe inside. It requires determination to be thorough, even when it seems as though we have written enough. Finally, it means having enough faith to trust the process and trust our Higher Power to give us the ability to make it through.
Ultimately, an inventory becomes a sort of relief, because, as you will learn, the pain of doing it is less than the pain of not doing it. Through step four, we learn that pain can be a motivating force in recovery. It can motivate us to remain sober so that we no longer feel the need to isolate or let the things that are bothering us build up. When issues surface, we acknowledge them. We begin to really enjoy our recovery because we have discovered a way to resolve shame, guilt, and resentment. By acknowledging them, we have released the stress that was once trapped inside of us. We have developed an ability to survive our emotions! Today you can have relief from the stress you have been carrying around. Today you can become or remain motivated to overcome your past. Today you can remain sober!