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Step 4 - Getting the Data

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

Step 4 is a very deep and important step. There is a great deal of writing to do. We will include an audio recording of a 4th step workshop that walks line by line through the Big Book from pages 63 -75 (it includes both the 4th and the 5th step work). But here is the basic writing explained from the moral inventory data:

Conducting Inventory so that we can share and see Truth

WE are all a bit mired within multiple personality syndrome and have a difficult time identifying which aspect of our psyche is in charge at any particular time. We have an ID, EGO and Self-Esteem which we use to create, justify and actualize decisions.

ID is our primitive self that reacts to the world with desire for pleasure and satisfaction. We seek companionship, food, shelter, sex, power and pleasure with our ID in charge. Our dark ambitions are rooted in this aspect of our personality. If enflamed, we may act like a being in the pursuit of pleasure, avoiding pain at any cost.

EGO is the part of us that negotiates with ID as life’s impulses appear. It discerns right from wrong and helps us pursue purpose and meaning in our relationships. This aspect of us questions “Why am I here?” and seeks deeper meaning to the message.

Self-Esteem is our personal report card. It provides us with a picture of how we are doing. It is the "apparent" true impression of our actions, thoughts and beliefs. It is Self-Esteem who says: I am not many but ONE … My mistakes are not defects but assets to help build my teaching strengths … I am worthy of universal love and I give it a lot. I am good.

As we begin to understand the larger parts of ourselves, we may further notice even more shards or sub-personalities. As my father explained, there are also young undeveloped children joining us in the total being known as SELF. When we are a being of MANY, but only recognize our SELF as ONE, it can create a sense of confusion, especially when it comes to certain aspects of our behavior. We see our SELF clearly in the mirror, so it doesn’t make sense why at times we are so moody and inconsistent with our actions and commitments.

For example, I might look at myself in the mirror and insist I have no more of that thing, and before you know it, I’m doing that thing again. I might tell myself that next time I’m going to do this or that instead; and yet when next time comes, I once again do what I’ve always done.

A rage-addict explained to me the feeling that occurred each time he lost control.

I get this overwhelming sense of adrenalin that surges through my body and then I feel like the real person who is me is getting small and tucked back behind my eyes watching as some other person takes over my mouth and body. I yell, stamp around and break things and the real me knows that this is wrong and that I am wrong and that I am hurting the other person, but I can’t stop. I just watch until the storm goes away and then I am tired and empty. It’s like I come back in charge of my body but I feel all the guilt of what that angry person did. I can’t say I am sorry. I didn’t do it. It’s like I am not responsible and I don’t want to take the rap for someone else’s crap. I just ignore the issue if I can and try to do better the next time.

As an addict, although I felt compelled to drink, I truly intended to stop the behavior the next day. I loved the idea of being honest and sober, but was incapable of stopping my ID from seeking that pleasure.

Another woman described her feelings as she surrendered to food.

I am large. I don’t like the way my body feels or looks. I won’t wear a bathing suit or skimpy outfits. I just won’t. I have struggled with food my whole life. I get lonely and eat. I get depressed I eat. I get excited I eat. I go away for vacation and am surrounded by food. I get this compulsion to eat and I say “NO. YOU’RE FAT.” I eat anyway and many times cry afterwards. It’s like an explosion and I can’t stop. Who am I? I am like these two different people, one that wants to be healthy and one that hates me and is trying to kill my world with food!

Notice her message “No … you’re fat.” Self-Esteem is saying she’s ugly. ID is telling her to go ahead and eat because it makes her feel good, and EGO is trying to control both. Her inner children are having a tug-of-war and don’t even realize they are all in the same person. Each child is trying to live their own life, causing great amounts of pain to this woman’s SELF or total being. To find the right balance, she needs to recognize and bond with these children, learn how to parent them, and reclaim them as a part of her whole self.

He knew not to rage. I knew not to drink and she knew not to eat so much. However, when there are different emotional children all vying for attention throughout the day, and no loving parent in charge, you can expect chaos. We will further study this concept later when my father delves into the root issues surrounding childhood trauma and the powerful hypnotic emotional control they can have over our adult decisions and feelings.

Finding Order in Chaos

In the meantime, we need to first sift through the chaos and locate our true obsessions. We need to take a factual look at ourselves and see the honest truth.

Honesty is an important word. We are going to ask you to be fearless and honest from this point forward. Honesty will be your most rewarding ally throughout this experience. Bear in mind that honesty is not truth. Rather, it is a doorway to truth. Honesty is Self-Esteem’s picture of what is going on. It may not be actual, but it is real to you. You will see more truth more often as you tell your mirror your honest feelings, actions and needs. If you give truth, you’ll get truth. If you give lies, you’ll get lies.

Identifying Resentments

Every recovery process (whether a 12-step, religious, or therapy model) discusses the powerful healing properties of recovering from resentments. Resentments are logs that block the flow of infant to adult personal development. They cause momentary spikes of hypnotic emotional explosions that begin damning up moments of growth. Even though we don’t continue to play them out in our minds, they lurk in the mental dark where they often define our present and future actions.

For example, if you were abandoned and/or abused by your primary female caretaker at a young age, you might develop the subconscious opinion that women hurt you if you love them. This deeply buried personal resentment may later play out in your adult years as you interact with other women. You might allow yourself to enjoy these women, but only at arms length. You are shallow and fickle. You feel if you get too close, they will leave you. So, you stay emotionally far away where you are safe. You are obsessed with protecting your heart.

Rather than remaining emotionally shackled from these aged hurts and pains, your goal is to revisit the old resentments and reinterpret or reframe them. This process allows you to forgive and release the power these misconceptions had on your development. In doing so, you finally allow your future possibilities to have opportunity.

Today you will examine all your pains, small and powerful. As you do this, I want you to imagine yourself becoming emotionally debt free! That is the goal. Not owing anyone or anything from a spiritual or emotional standpoint becomes even more rewarding than simply having paid all the bills!

Let us begin!

Step One

Make four even columns on about 10 sheets of paper (you may use more or less paper depending on your situation).

Step Two (First column "who")

Fill in your “Who” column from top to bottom first. This is important. We don’t want you trying to understand or predict the outcome of your resentment inventory. Simply complete each column top to bottom, one at a time.

Your “Who” list should consist of all the following that apply to you:

First name of everyone you have ever resented (or still do resent) for any reason (including family, friends, co-workers, boss, etc.)

Descriptive name of unknown individuals (e.g., that guy on the freeway, girl who stole my wallet, person who hurt my brother)

Names of institutions/groups (e.g., police, teachers, church members, the IRS)

Description of principles (e.g., real men don’t show feelings, only adults with college degrees are successful, divorced people are losers).

Write these all down under your “Who” columns, on as many pieces of paper as it takes, until you can’t think of anything else. Remember, the reward for thorough and complete material is freedom! Don’t negotiate this list. It is critical. Be honest!

Step Three (2nd column - what they did)

In the next column, write the basic concept or idea of what the person, institution or principle did which caused you pain or resentment. No need to write a novel. Simply abbreviate or sum up the situation.

As you complete this part of your resentment list, you may notice feelings arise you didn’t have before or had forgotten. In reality, these feelings were always there. They were simply being denied. Your EGO chose to hide them away in the recess of your psyche, while Self-Esteem used them as a way of defining who you are and how you fit in your life. Your ID used them as a way of deciding what to do to find pleasure and avoid further pain.

Your painful experiences hindered your emotional development, causing the resulting emotional children to run amok in SELF. To say resentments play an important part in obsession, determination and commitment issues is an understatement at best. In fact, resentments are the main reason for these issues, as well as the main offender to propel us back into our old, unwanted behavior patterns. Therefore, if we wish SELF to become what SELF was always intended to be, we must learn how to free these resentments from our being.

If you think about it, resentment is the act of playing back in full video the pain of yesterday and (whether we realize it or not) wishing pain on the usurper. We don’t even have to be completely aware of our rehash of the moment. The abused child inside may be watching the video while a different child asserts its power over our body and mind. Since both children are simply parts of SELF, it is SELF that doesn’t feel good and at the same time is unaware of why.

Remember the mirror concept? Imagine wishing pain on someone in your life. They offended you and should get justice, right? Wrong!

As you look into the mirror and wish pain on your own reflection, who are you really gifting pain to? That’s right … you! As you imagine them lonely, hurt, financially stripped or simply in pain, you are actually attracting these experiences to your SELF! Resentment traps us on a one-way street of depression and pain. There is no way to escape this universal law. It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not. It simply is.

So stop hating or wishing pain on others. All others need to be free of your condemnation. Love the loveable and the un-loveable. How do we do that?

Pray for them. Specifically, pray for everything you ever wanted for yourself, for them. Pray for their love, abundance, family connections, health, personal growth, enlightenment, spiritual awakening, dream realization and happiness. Imagine them getting all these wonderful things in their life right away. Pray for them twice per day for two weeks and then do it again, if necessary.

You won’t mean it at first. In fact, it may be difficult or almost impossible to do, but do it anyway. It may help to remember you are actually praying for the person in the mirror. The reflection feels the benefit. SELF is rewarded with peace and prosperity as the resentment is freed.

If you are agnostic and/or atheist and don’t agree with the prayer concept, don’t worry. You perform something similar every day when you say things like, “I hope this works,” or “I hope I find an answer soon.” You imagine SELF winning or achieving and may say things like, “I know everything will be okay.”

Positive imagining and statements of faith, hope and query go out into the universe and create powerful energy. The energy emitted is responded to, whether you believe it or not. Really, it doesn’t matter if you know what it is, or even believe it exists. It just is. My suggestion is to open your mind to the idea of more, and simply pretend to pray. Say the words. Imagine the pictures and hope there is something more out there than what you know or don’t know. Acknowledge the possibility your mind does not harbor all aspects of learned and unlearned knowledge. Perhaps not all power or sources of power have been identified. Perhaps the universe is bigger than we all imagined.

Step Four (3rd column - What was affected)

Next, we continue with the third or “Effects” column. Here we look at the various primary instincts that were affronted by the individual resentments.

ID has cared for our primary instincts since birth. ID is the guardian of those innate, special characteristics. See the table on the following page for examples.

Primary Instinct


Security - (Sec). Physical security (health, freedom)

Social - (Soc) Relationships (friendships, love, family)

Sexual - (Sex) Mating drive (sex, intimate physical connections)

Self Esteem - (Self) Picture of ME (Self-Esteem, EGO, ID)

Ambition - (Amb) Abundance drive (finances, career, possessions, learning/growing)

These instincts are incredibly powerful. They are hardwired to our belief of wellness and sense of harmony with our world. When these instincts are in check and their needs met, ID says we feel good; Self-Esteem says this is proof we are good; and EGO says it must be good because we all agree and are getting along. Synergy and alliance is felt by the total SELF. However, just because the parts of our SELF have bought into this belief of wellness, it is not necessarily true. Therefore, only honest reflection helps us see through the haze.

As we grew up, SELF locked onto certain aspects of the primary instincts and made them the most important qualifiers for a happy life. When these are challenged or affronted, ID becomes out of control and looks for pleasure, while Self-Esteem creates a poor personal identity and EGO fights the struggle for peace.

During this part of the inventory, we seek to uncover our most sensitive instincts. After every hurt or resentment, we now ask ourselves which instinct(s) were challenged and write them in our third column.

To help you complete this column, ask yourself the following questions, as applicable to your own previous “What They Did” answers.

"When Mom yelled at me. Did that affect my:

Security instinct? no (SEC)

Social instinct? yes (SOC)

Sex instinct? no (SEX)

Self Esteem instinct? yes (SELF)

Ambition instinct? yes (AMB)

Third column (SOC, SELF, AMB)

Where the answers are yes, write in the three letter abbreviation. Where the answers are no, leave them off the list. You will notice a pattern evolve as you complete this part of the inventory. It is a powerful and meaningful reflection. SELF begins to acknowledge it has sensitive areas that keep getting wounded over and over. Areas of growth opportunity are found in these specific instinctual locations.

I noticed when my social, sexual and financial instincts were challenged, my ID became most concerned and would counterbalance with sex addiction, alcoholism and money obsession. I’d sit in the bar flirting or imagining myself a captain of enterprise and I’d feel better. Yet, when I came home, I felt depressed. My instincts weren’t happy and ID wouldn’t stop trying to please ME. I needed to learn how to communicate with SELF in a different way. I needed to relate to my combined SELF what truly made me happy so I could then seek after those things.

However, this would require I gather all my inner children together to meet each other and learn to play nice. I would need to become my own emotional parent and take care of these many little babies. Otherwise, I was doomed to a fragmented, negatively obsessed existence.

Step Five (4th column - My Part)

“My Part” is the big finale. It is the only aspect of the entire inventory we can actually work on. It is our negative contribution to each of these relationships or individual resentments. We had a part of some kind in every situation. Maybe not directly in some cases, but I found myself to be a culprit in the ongoing pain of many situations in some way. This may be difficult to look at for many of you. ID may stand up and say “nope, not me, all them!” EGO might say “we don’t want to look at this stuff because it will simply create bad feelings and ID will get all upset.” Self-Esteem will probably say “I’m not sure I want any more evidence that proves the image of myself is sadly right” (or terrifyingly wrong).

However, as we take a good look at our side of the fence, we will obtain a honest view of our character defects, obsessions and supplemental solutions. Once we stare this truth in the face, we will finally have hope! We can work on these issues and seek freedom from our ignorance. The Greeks used the word repent, which they define as looking within. The concept of repentance is not about apologizing to the world. It is the first step towards correcting behavior and making true amends. To repent is to look at ourselves and evaluate our strengths and opportunities to grow with absolute faith and courage.

Here is an example of how to fill out this column.

"I lied to mom, I stole money from her, I snuck out at night, I disrespected mom"

At this point, patterns begin to emerge. Notice any obsessions that flare up throughout the inventory. This knowledge will help build the framework of an amends list. After all, the hopeful conclusion of the inventory is to see our true SELF more clearly and become willing to repair or discard unusable goods. Casting away the old image Self-Esteem held of us, reinterpreting the ID’s concept of pleasure and pain, and allowing EGO to find balance is our aim. We will learn to hold the hands of our emotional children and walk through life as a united family. Our special unity will be close and loving, and we will enjoy growing together.

Step 6

Let’s look back at your inventory and pay close attention to the “My Part” column. We now want to ask SELF an honest question. What emotional defect(s) of character did I employ in each act? Was I dishonest, procrastinating, running away, controlling, ignoring, being lazy, greedy, or using any other sinful characteristic? When I say sinful, please understand I am using perhaps a different meaning of the word sin than you are accustomed to. In definition, it is actually a reference to an archery term which means to miss the mark. For example, I attempted to be diligent but acted slothful instead. Diligence was the target goal but slothfulness happened when I missed the target. Hence, the term sinful is used to describe a shortfall or shortcoming. I am not referring to evil or spiritually corrupt behavior.

Identifying Fears

The next section of the inventory process is identifying our fears. Simply take a blank sheet of paper, think of everything you are afraid of and write it all down. Don’t miss anything! For example, you may be afraid of:



Being alone


Losing money

Not being loved

Getting caught


Your children dying (getting hurt).

This is your “button” list. These fears can all be associated with some aspect of your primary instincts. If you review them with calm patience, you notice they are largely connected to SELF’s negative character defects. What would your life possibilities be if you were no longer afraid of even 50% of this list? As we work together to reinterpret your perceptions of these fears, over time you will find release from them one by one.

Your Sex Conduct

When I say sex conduct, I’m not exclusively referring to sex-play or intercourse. I am talking about our ability and experience in relating to our romantic partners. Many of us believe we have a rough idea of what is wrong (or not wrong) with our relationship ideals or guidelines. This next exercise allows SELF to see with absolute clarity what is truly going on in this area, to help us shape a healthy ideal for future relationship patterns.

Step One

We are going to conduct a 4 column inventory. We will need about 8-10 pages of paper if were a bit prolific and a few less if our relationships were brief or few. That said, what constitutes a relationship? Anyone that you dated intimately for a great deal of time and/or anyone that you had sex with. Yes that even means brief one night stand encounters. We are here to get a clear picture of the truth so we are going to include all. Now if you wish to type this in excel or write on page has no bearing. The most important aspect of this inventory is to be honest and thorough.

The columns:

Who (their name)


What I did

Who Got Hurt

What I should have done Instead

Step Two

We begin with the “Who” column. From top to bottom, write the name of the man or woman that you’ve had a relationship and/or sex with. (You will be doing this for each individual encounter so be prepared to conduct the inventory on ALL relationships) Make sure you include one night stands and even people whose names you can’t remember. Be honest. Some of us have shameful experiences we don’t want anyone to know about. These are the ones that need to be on paper the most! Remember, we are looking for freedom. Don’t lie to a piece of paper. Honesty will lead us to truth.

Step Three

Next, we must ask our SELF: “In my relationship with (insert “Who” names here), where was I dishonest, selfish and inconsiderate” For example, with my ex-wife Lisa:

These items are placed in the “Defect” column. Please only note these issues in abbreviated form. It is not necessary to write a story. The concept of the picture is the most important to convey, but include all answers you can remember.

Who Defect What I did Who Got Hurt. What I should have done Instead

Lisa Dishonest Cheated on her

Dishonest Lied About feelings

Selfish Missed commitments

Selfish Sex the way I Liked

Inconsiderate Didn’t help the home

Inconsiderate Made fun of her

Step Four

To continue, we must ask our SELF: “In my relationship with (insert “Who” names here), where did I create jealousy, bitterness and suspicion?” For example, with my ex-wife Lisa:

Where Did I Create … ? When …

Jealousy? I looked at other women while we were out.

Bitterness? I confessed to infidelity.

Suspicion? She found phone numbers in my wallet.

Who Defect What I did Who Got Hurt. What I should have done Instead

Lisa Dishonest Cheated on her

Dishonest Lied About feelings

Selfish Missed commitments

Selfish Sex the way I Liked

Inconsiderate Didn’t help the home

Inconsiderate Made fun of her

Jealousy Looked at women

Bitterness Confessed to infidelity

Suspicion Numbers in my wallet

This should be an accurate description of our primary harms within relationships. Many of our various types of wrongdoing are found here. Laziness, selfishness, dishonesty, or anger issues pop up and start to form a pattern. No matter how many relationships we’ve had, we’ve never been perfect. This will lead us to discover a trend in our defects and solutions within our romantic liaisons. Answer and document all data for each question in the bedroom in the kitchen and in their lives. Be absolutely complete and honest. This is paramount. This fact finding, fact facing exercise will change you.

Step Five

Now, who got hurt when we did that particular thing? Each question should be reviewed and an answer given.

Who Defect What I did Who Got Hurt. What I should have done Instead

Lisa Dishonest Cheated on her. Lisa/Me/The Girl/BF

Dishonest Lied About feelings. Lisa/Me

Selfish Missed commitments Lisa/Family/Friends

Selfish Sex the way I Liked. Lisa/Me

Inconsiderate Didn’t help the home Lisa

Inconsiderate Made fun of her Lisa/friends

Jealousy Looked at women Lisa/Other Girl

Bitterness Confessed to infidelityLisa/Me/Girl

Suspicion Numbers in my wallet Lisa/Me/Girl

Step Six

Lastly, it is time to review our mistakes and take responsibility for our actions by looking at the opposite behavior. In other words, we use this inventory to establish our new relationship ideals. This becomes our new romance target. We work towards these goals in our future relationships.

In the fourth column “Done Different,” write a new ideal. What should you have done differently? If you could go back, how would you change your behavior? Note this on paper and be honest!

Who Defect What I did Who Got Hurt. What I should have done Instead

Lisa Dishonest Cheated on her. Lisa/Me/The Girl/BF. Been faithful

Dishonest Lied About feelings. Lisa/Me Shared real feelings

Selfish Missed commitments Lisa/Family/Friends. Been there always

Selfish Sex the way I Liked. Lisa/Me Cared for her needs

Inconsiderate Didn’t help the home Lisa Be a partner

Inconsiderate Made fun of her Lisa/friends Been respectful

Jealousy Looked at women Lisa/Other Girl Keep eyes on her

Bitterness Confessed to infidelityLisa/Me/Girl Been Faithful

Suspicion Numbers in my wallet Lisa/Me/Girl Been Faithful

After completing this section, take out a blank sheet of paper and write a relationship constitution. Using the “Done Different” section to identify your newfound ideals, write a commitment letter expressing your hopes and ideals relating to your future treatment of your loving partners. For example:

“I will only give sexual energy to a woman I am dating and I will only date a woman I feel I have physical, emotional, mental and spiritual compatibility with. I will not have sex unless I am truly in love. My spouse is the ONLY person allowed to touch my body sexually and I will express myself selflessly in bed and consider her needs …”

This is a short excerpt from the relationship constitution generated from all of the Sex Conduct data points. Your ideals may not be anything like mine - and that is quite alright. Your hopes and ideal boundaries may include promiscuity or multiple partners or celibacy. I am not here to dictate a sexual or relational law. I am only here to ask you to be honest in identifying your ideal. Are your rules hurting you or others? Are you at risk of sexual obsession (i.e., not having enough, or having too much)? Either way can be harmful.

Once you determine your ideal, pray or meditate for the strength each day to live it. Practice this ideal. Each evening, ask yourself how you did. Your current relational pattern cannot be controlled by simply willing it so. You need to continue the repair process to create the necessary power to overcome the issues your inner children are generating.

At night in a journal:

Was I Honest: (if not) what were the lies? Why did I hide the truth? What can I do to restore the truth?

Was I selfish: Where was I selfish? Why did I think of only me? What can I do to restore the selfless connection?

Was I Inconsiderate: Why did I hurt him/her? What can I do to make amends?

Did I create Jealousy: What was my agenda? What can I do to ease the jealousy?

Did I create Suspicion: What was my agenda? What can I do to avoid this harmful emotion in me/him/her?

Did I create Bitterness: Why did I hurt him/her? What can I do to make it right?

Work with the individual to guide them from harm and into the opposite feelings of these defects. If you have architected a resentment inventory and fears list then we can create a most used defect list from these inventories and practice the improvement of their principles. This is something that will encourage self esteem development and a sense of confidence in the world.

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