A GUIDE TO THE FOURTH STEP MORAL INVENTORY
The Truth Shall Set You Free
We feel that a guide to fourth step moral inventory is a long overdue necessity in the G.A. program.
The adjectives that describe the seriousness and intensity with which to approach the action demanded in the fourth step of the recovery program are “searching” and “fearless”. This means that we must examine, evaluate and categorize every department of our lives. The very nature of the word “inventory” is to make a detailed list of articles or ideas and to determine their worth or value.
It is with this thought in mind that we approached the writing of this “guide to moral inventory”. We have tried to be as far reaching and searching as possible, so as to keep in tune with the true spirit of this most important step in our recovery. There are no boundaries, nor are there any short cuts in the search for the truth. In searching for the truth we must continue to pursue, regardless of where that search may take us. We must do this fearlessly for there is noting to fear in finding the truth. The results will be quite the contrary for the truth shall set us free – free to choose the many alternatives and opportunities that life presents and free to be a contributing and integral part of the wonderful community of mankind.
This guide to fourth step inventory is divided into three sections. They are:
- PRIORITIES, PRINCIPLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
- FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS
We herewith submit the following suggestions for the use of this guide to moral inventory:
- This guide is designed to be most effective if the moral inventory is written. It can then be reviewed by the person who is taking it for its content, thoroughness and truth.
- This inventory is not designed to be taken in an hour or two. We suggest you take an hour each evening, in the hopes that you can complete it in two to three weeks.
- Take it alone without prompting or coaching from anyone.
- Upon its completion, and at your option, you may want to share it with someone you can confide in.
- Everyone in G.A. regardless of the number of years in the program should take this written moral inventory at least once a year.
- Save your completed inventory and compare it to ensuing inventories you may take.
- A new member of G.A. should take this inventory after being in the program at least three months.
- Be as honest and thorough as you can, for if you are not, you are only “short-changing” yourself.
- Search for the truth and come to know the truth, for the truth shall set you free.
When we speak of character, we are speaking about distinctive traits, qualities or attributes of an individual’s pattern of behaviour, personality and moral constitution. Character, then, is not something we are born with, but rather, something we have become.
Character plays an important role in a person’s destiny. Character determines how one will deal with feelings and emotions. A person’s character will determine a person’s standing with his peers, and finally, character plays the ultimate roles with the individual themself. Character is the key to all departments of one’s life and has a direct effect on the parts of life covered by the ensuing sections of this guide to moral inventory.
Step 6: “We’re entirely ready to have these defects of character removed.”
Comment: This step specifically deals with character as a whole.
“The most difficult and time consuming job with which a person is faced is that of bringing about a character change within themselves.”
It is necessary at this time, and for the sake of this inventory, to show the basic difference between personality and character, so that we may put each in its proper perspective.
Personality: Applies to such personal qualities as voice, hearing, cordiality etc., that determine the way a person acts in his/her social and personal relationships.
Character: Applies to distinctive traits, qualities or attributes of an individual pattern of behaviour, personality and moral constitution.
Again, we can readily see that personality is only a part of character. With this thought in mind let us now being to inventory our whole character makeup with as much honesty as possible.
Remember, there are three distinctive parts that make up our character. They are:
- Behaviour – A way of acting.
- Personality – A personal or individual quality that makes one person be different and act differently from another.
- Moral Constitution – In agreement with a standard of what is right and good in character or conduct.
Strengths of Character
Tolerance: Indulgence or forbearance in judging the opinion, customs or acts of others without necessarily agreeing or sympathizing.
Promptness: The state of doing what has to be done, without delay or excuse.
Communication: Ability to transmit and receive information and feelings and understanding through talk, gestures or writing.
Charity: Being kind and generous in the giving of help, understanding and compassion to those in need.
Dignity: A state of worthiness, honour and self-respect about one’s general appearance and manner.
Humility: Regardless of ability, fame or fortune, the state of mind that one is not better than another person.
Industriousness: The giving of an earnest, hardworking, diligent and steady effort to all challenges undertaken.
Optimism: The tendency to take the most hopeful view of matters or expect the best outcome regardless of circumstances. The practice of looking on the bright side of things.
Forgiveness: To give up the wish to punish or get even with. To pardon or excuse.
Responsibility: Obliged or expected to account for; ability to tell right from wrong.
Consideration: To be thoughtful of others and their feelings.
Friendliness: On good terms; not hostile. The quality or condition of being friendly.
Defects of Character
The following is a list of some of the defects of character for your review. Read them carefully.
Alibi: To minimize, pardon, or excuse a wrong, a fault, or an action as though it were unimportant.
False Pride (Arrogance): An excessive belief in one’s own worth, merit or superiority that is unjustified.
Phoniness: Presenting oneself to be something he/she is not, manifesting this through his/her actions, words and deeds; an imposter.
Procrastination: The postponement, deferment or delay in saying or doing things that must be done.
Laziness: Not willing or eager to work or exert oneself. Doing only the minimum that has to be done in order to get by.
Coarseness: Not refined in feelings, manners, language or taste.
Self-Deception: The act or fact of deceiving oneself; self-delusion.
Condemnation: To criticize or condemn; being judgmental.
Insincerity: Not honest or candid; deceitful.
Impatience: Not willing to bear delay, opposition, pain or bother.
Other defects of character:
Inability or Unwillingness to Communicate
Having read all the previous information carefully, we now ask you to begin to inventory your character. The following questions are put forth to you to answer in writing, to the best of your ability. Try to be as searching and fearless in your answers as is asked for in step four of the Recovery Program. Remember, this is for you, in your search for the truth.
1. List which character traits are your strengths and which are your weaknesses.
Strengths – Tolerance, Communication, Charity, Optimism, Responsibility, Friendliness.
Weaknesses – Promptness, Dignity, Humility, Industriousness, Forgiveness, Consideration, Selfishness, Consideration, Selfishness, Alibi, False Pride (Arrogance), Procrastination, Laziness, Coarseness, Self-deception, Condemnation, Impatience.
2. Write a description of each of these character traits as they apply to you. For each written description ask yourself the following questions. How does this particular character trait affect your:
Self-Image? – View of oneself.
Attitude? – A way of thinking, acting or feeling.
Performance? – Execution, accomplishment or achievement.
Reputation? – What people think and say the character of a person is.
(It may help you to write some specific examples)
Tolerance – I feel I am a very tolerant person when it comes to everyday life. I am not offended by other customs or opinions, I may disagree with someone but I am aware that everyone is entitled to their own point of view. When I am in a discussion with someone I like to hear not only their opinion but I like to try and see it from their perspective to see if I can learn something. Growing up in Northern Ireland I am faced with different cultures and strong opinions based on religion, The Troubles and the way forward for this country. Over the years I have grown into a more progressive way of thinking as I have had a chance to form my own opinion of things through listening to others and working with people from a different background.
Communication – Since entering recovery I have found my method of communication and that is writing. This is true especially when it comes to how I am feeling or reflecting on my past. Writing my blog has given me the platform and, based on feedback, encouraged me to write more. I am getting better at talking about my feelings because of attending G.A. and my Problem Gambling Support Group meetings via Skpye. If I am talking to people about something I am interested in, say sports, I am able to communicate clearly and feel a lot more comfortable when speaking. Through my recovery groups I feel that I can build on my communication via talking which will be a real positive.
Charity – My compassion for people has appeared since entering recovery, before this would have been a definite weakness but today it is a strength, I reach out to people via Reddit or Twitter if they are struggling with recovery and share with them what has worked for me. I enjoy sharing my blogs and step work as I feel this could potentially help someone. In my recovery groups I am there if anyone is struggling and if they reach out I will offer to help.
Optimism – I look on the bright side of things a lot and I always believe things will work out for the best. This is probably a trait that was strengthened during my gambling addiction as no matter what happened I would always believe my next bet would win or I would be able to get money from somewhere to pay a bill and not be found out. Outside of gambling I have a lot of optimism, I have thrown myself into recovery because I believe it will all work out. I tend to be positive when it comes to difficult situations, mainly because there is no point worrying about something that is out of your hands so just hope for the best. The serenity prayer sums it up, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Responsibility – I’ve taken responsibility for my actions that has brought me into recovery and this is a trait I am going to continue with. I know the difference between right and wrong and I know that it is up to me to be open and honest when it comes to things in my life. For the last number of years I was irresponsible and I accept that, I cannot change the past, all I can do is to continue to be responsible and show people the sort of person I can be and want to be.
Friendliness – I am an easy going person and feel like I am easy to talk to and become friends with. I try to be friendly with anyone I encounter during my daily routine. I am sure my addiction has caused some damage to friendships through a lack of my availability or communication but over time I will attempt to repair that damage.
Promptness – I tend to leave things to the last minute or delay them or make excuses for not doing them. Be it work, housework, meeting people etc., this is a character trait that I need to work on a lot and while I have tried to be better since entering recovery there is plenty of room for improvement. In the past I would have been able to lie about why something was not done, but since I am trying to be open and honest in recovery this will not be possible and if it continues being a weakness then my reputation amongst colleagues and friends will take a massive hit.
Dignity – For those who know me personally they would probably agree that I look like I’ve been dragged from an ISIS held territory and dropped back into civilization. I do not care much for my personal appearance and it’s something I need to put a bit more effort in to.
Humility – This one is more my own thoughts rather than my actions. I do still tend to think that I am better than other people and I am working hard to change that. Again this is something that probably stems from my addiction and was amplified for many years.
Industriousness – My effort in work has been lacking for a long time now and although there has been a slight improvement since I entered recovery, there is a long way to go. I do not want to get a reputation for being a bad employee so this is something I need to address sooner rather than later.
Forgiveness – Not sure I have been able to forgive myself for what I have done with regards to my addiction. I have no problem forgiving others but still working on myself.
Consideration – I have a pretty dark sense of humour and would always hate to offend someone with the things I say, but I have no line. I do try to be considerate of other people’s feelings when joking around but sometimes I speak before I think.
Selfishness – Since entering recovery I have been trying to put other people first as best I can but it can be hard to balance as I believe that recovery is a selfish program. I do need to look out for my own needs, especially in the early days of recovery.
False Pride (Arrogance) – There are times where I still have arrogant thoughts running through my head but these are becoming less and less the more I open up to people and talk about my feelings.
Procrastination – Again, this probably goes back to work and housework for me. I tend to delay things and put them off for no real reason other than…
Laziness – Yep, guilty! When it comes to certain aspects of my life I am as lazy as you can get, although I have found myself to be very active in my recovery and doing more than the minimum to get by. So hopefully I can use that blueprint to improve the other parts of my life where laziness is rife.
Coarseness – I use fuck like it’s a comma and in general swear a lot. I think that’s just me though and I am getting better at judging what situations are suitable for my coarse manner.
Self-Deception – This is another trait that was amplified during my gambling addiction. I have been doing this less and less the longer I have been in recovery but it can still appear. I link it to complacency and thoughts that my recovery is going well and I can relax a bit more but I know myself that I need to put the work in.
Condemnation – I can be critical of myself and other people at times and also judgemental. Although I do have tolerance for other viewpoints, at times I can still be critical or judgemental of people who have different opinions to me.
Impatience – I am a very impatient person, if I want something I want it yesterday. People who cannot do something as fast as I can frustrate me. Things that get in my way annoy me. I don’t like to wait for things to happen; I can become restless and irritable.
3. With reference to your list of strengths:
a) Just how strong is each? Scale each strength, using ten as the highest mark.
Tolerance – Seven
Communication – Six
Charity – Five
Optimism – Ten
Responsibility – Six
Friendliness – Eight
b) Do you find that you can build on your strengths?
Yes there is plenty of room to work on my strengths. If I don’t work on them then there is a chance over time they can become weaknesses. I am also aware that I will never be perfect, it is progress not perfection I am after.
c) Are you willing to do so?
I am and I believe that working steps and going to meetings will give me the opportunity to build on my strengths.
d) Would it be worth the effort?
Yes, I believe it will help me in my recovery to build on my strengths. The aim here is to become a better person that I was before, I want my family and friends to be proud of my recovery but most importantly I want to be proud of myself.
e) Write what you would be willing to do to further develop each of your strengths.
I need to continue to talk to others about how I feel and continue to build on my writing. I need to listen more to other people and take in what they are saying. Becoming a more patient person will also help develop my strengths. To do this I need to continue working my recovery, working the steps, reaching out for help if I need it and be willing to offer help if someone else is in need.
f) Have you found that any of your “so-called” strengths are really not strengths at all? Has your scale of 1-10 changed?
No I think working through this exercise everything is as expected when it comes to my strengths.
g) If so, what are you going to do about it? Are you willing to make a commitment to the strengthening of your character?
Although they have not changed, I am aware that complacency could creep in. I am willing to make a commitment to the strengthening of my character by continuing to work my recovery.
4. With reference to your character defects:
a) Rate each defect of character using the number one (1) as the lowest (weakest) possible mark.
Promptness – Four
Dignity – Three
Humility – Five
Industriousness – Four
Forgiveness – Seven
Consideration – Nine
Selfishness – Eight
False Pride (Arrogance) – Six
Procrastination – Three
Laziness – Three
Coarseness – Five
Self-Deception – Nine
Condemnation – Three
Impatience – One
b) Do you find that some of your defects of character are really not as bad as you thought they were?
A few are not as bad as my other defects but there is still work to be done on them. There would be a few that do not appear as often as the others but the point of this exercise is to be honest and they still affect me even if it is not on a regular basis.
c) Are you willing to work at removing these defects of character?
One of the main aims of step work for me is removing defects of character and I am looking forward to working on it. I do not think it will be easy but it will certainly be worth it as I want to move forward in my life becoming a better person.
d) Are you willing to make a commitment to that effect?
I have made a commitment to my sponsor, to my higher power and in public by sharing it through my blog.
e) List the number of ways the removal of your defects would benefit others.
I would become a better person to be around, a better Dad, a better partner, a better Son and a better friend. I would also be better at my job and given my role in work this would have a positive impact on our customers.
f) As you improve on one character trait, will it aid you in improving on others? How?
I feel that a lot of the character traits are linked in some way and improving on one will enable me to improve on the others. Plus being able to improve on one will give me the strength and belief that it is possible to improve on the others.
The following is a suggested mini-formula to help you build your character:
- Take this inventory as thoroughly and honestly as possible.
- Follow the steps of recovery to the best of your ability for they are the foundation of character building.
- When you are ready, and at your option, share your inventory with someone you can confide in.
- Plan the actions you think you must take to develop a better character.
- Implement your plan. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
- Do not confuse your outgoing personality with your inward character.
DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE EVER DONE WORKING ON YOUR CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT?
Thank you for taking the time to read through all of that, I know it was a long one and I will post Part 2 next week.