Step Four

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Now that we've been honest enough to take Step One, open-minded enough to take Step Two, and willing enough to take Step Three, we are ready for Step Four. Before we start this step, it is important to ask what it is that we want from recovery.

Step Four does take courage. It begins the process of learning who we are. Many of us feared beginning this step, but once we did the work, we found it was less difficult than we had imagined. The inventory is a detailed description of our character challenges, or defects of character, removed of judgment. Remember, it is an inventory; no action other than writing is required.

While we look at our character challenges and wrongs in Step Four, many of us found it helpful to examine our character assets as well. We encourage you to look at and list all aspects of your character in this step. As you work in this process you will likely gain a greater understanding and acceptance of the person you have been, and see the potential of the person you are becoming.

Taking this inventory is not a thinking exercise, it's a writing exercise. As you work on your inventory, try not to leave anything out because of shame, fear or embarrassment. What you record is between you, your Higher Power, and your sponsor or other trusted person with whom you share this step. We find that the more thorough and honest we are, the better results we get from this step. Remember, we are only as sick as our secrets. Ask your Higher Power for help every time you sit down to write. There is no rush. We have found the rewards to be substantial.

Getting Started:

The inventory suggested in LWH (and this workbook) is really five separate inventories: resentments, fears, sexual history, our assets, and a final inventory to cover anything that might have been missed. Each inventory is unique, and it is suggested that you do them one at a time, in the order set out below. Included are templates that might be helpful when doing this step; we suggest that you make several copies of each before beginning, if you choose to use them.

These inventories may be handwritten or done on computer. If writing by hand, have plenty of paper, or a notebook, and a quiet place to work. For many of us, writing by hand is more intuitive and less from reasoned thinking, which is best avoided here. Some find the use of a computer to be of assistance in doing this work. Whatever our preference, the reward is release from the past and freedom from the pain that has enslaved us.

Before beginning this inventory we recommend an exercise to facilitate openness and willingness. For many of us, this means a prayer to a higher power. Here's an example:

Higher Power would you please bring to mind all of my resentments (fears, memories of sexual misconduct, etc.) that I need to look at in this inventory.


The exact words we say aren't as important as saying the words we choose with a spirit of openness. Many of us have found that saying the prayer out loud is helpful. If we just relax and ask for help, it's amazing how freely the information we need to look at will flow onto the paper.

Three things to remember: 1) Stay focused. 2) Pray. 3) Keep writing!

We are ready to begin.

The Resentment Inventory:

We usually begin with the resentment inventory, which is generally divided into four columns. It is strongly suggested that we complete one column at a time, from top to bottom (going onto several sheets if necessary), before beginning the next column. In other words, we list all of the people, principles, and institutions that we resent before looking at anything in the 2nd column (the cause), leaving enough room to fill in each cause of our resentments. Experience shows that when we write more than one column at a time, the process becomes too confusing. Once we have completed our first column, we move on, remembering that we can always go back and make additions as other people, principles, and institutions towards which we hold resentments come to mind.

In the second column, for each person / principle / institution in column one, we write down the cause or causes for each resentment. For example:

I'm resentful at: The Cause (Why I'm Angry)
Mom put too much pressure on me;
enabled my addiction by looking the other way;
embarrassed me in front of my friends
Dad belittled me;
made me feel like I wasn't good enough;
didn't defend me with Uncle Joe

In column three, we identify how the "causes" in column two impacted our well-being, what part of us was hurt or threatened. Examples:

Mom Too much pressure Self-esteem
Enabled Self-esteem, security, ambitions
Embarrassed Self-esteem, personal relationships

Again, note that for each column 2 cause, there can be more than one area affected. It is


important to be thorough (which is one of the reasons why it is recommended that we attempt to finish each column before starting the next). Of course, if we think of things we've forgotten that belong in a previous column, by all means we fill in those blanks. But again, we find it best to work on one column at a time and to be as exhaustive as possible.

In preparing to be rid of these resentments, we realize that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. We say a prayer for each and every resentment, such as:

"__________ is a sick person. How can I be helpful to them? Higher Power, save me from being angry. Help me show ______ the same tolerance, kindness, and patience that I would cheerfully grant a sick friend."

In the fourth column we identify our part in each resentment. This means that we look for what we did to create or aggravate the situations described in the earlier column. Where were we to blame? Sometimes this is obvious: when we resent a spouse or partner for being jealous, for example, we might come to understand fairly easily how our actions may have led to our partner's feelings. Other times, our part may be more difficult to identify. Perhaps our anger at someone at work is completely understandable, based upon how they have treated us. In such a case, we may find that where we have failed is in our refusal to forgive: we have allowed the resentment to fester and grow, perhaps even gaining enjoyment out of it! Sometimes we rack our brains and cannot find our part in the resentment. This is where a sponsor's help can prove invaluable.

Whenever you get stuck, take a break. These inventories take most of us weeks to complete--some of us have spent much longer, though such delay is not usually necessary. The sooner we begin, and the more we do each day, the sooner we will be finished. We find that when we return to working on our inventory after a break of more than a few minutes, it's a good idea to perform the willingness exercise (or prayer) again.

Once we have finished the fourth column of our resentment inventory, we look over our worksheet for things we may have missed or where we could have been more thorough.

We are now ready for the fear inventory.

The Fear Inventory:

The fear inventory is a lot like the resentment inventory, except that here, the focus is on our fears. We list each fear in the first column. When we have written out all of our fears to the best of our ability, we explore the cause or causes of our fears in the second column. In the third column, we write how each fear affects our lives today. In the fourth column, we write down our part, if any.

Fear of Heights My brother pushed me off the second floor balcony Affects my ability to fly; my ambition to be a pilot I bullied my brother


We then ask our Higher Power to remove the fear. We do this for each individual fear.

"Higher Power please remove my fear of ____________ and direct my attention towards what you would have me be."

Again, we should remember to take breaks, and to take advantage of whatever prayers, tools or techniques that we have found that help us to be more willing, honest and open minded. For years, we have run away from ourselves with marijuana. Even without the marijuana, our tendency is to hide the truth rather than to face it. But if we are to grow as individuals, if we are to truly deal with this disease of marijuana addiction, we must face each of our fears, so that we can work through them. Remember always that we will not be working through them alone.

Once we have conquered the fear inventory, we are ready for the sex inventory.

The Sex Inventory:

We begin by listing each of our sexual partners. In the second column, we ask ourselves how we behaved by answering these questions: Did we harm that person? Did we use them or take advantage of them? As always, we try to be as honest and thorough as we can. Remember that we are not concerned here with what others may have done to us. If we have a resentment against someone because of something done to us, then we add them to our resentment inventory.

In the third column, we describe what part of us was hurt or threatened. What part of us caused the harm? Where was I selfish, dishonest, inconsiderate, jealous, suspicious or bitter?

In the fourth column, we write down where we were at fault. In the fifth column we describe what we could have done instead. Again, we always try to remember to be thoroughly honest every step of the way.

Pat Yes Selfish, jealous Made a scene; didn't listen Talked it out calmly; paid more attention
Chris No
Jan Yes Dishonest, jealous Lied Told the truth


Secrets and Other Issues:

We may find that there are instances where we have harmed people, lied, cheated or stole. We may have secrets that we have yet to uncover. We list them now.


At this point, many of us have found that it is also important that we take a look at the things that we've done right. We look to see where we have had a positive impact on ourselves and others. We do this so that we might have a more complete picture of ourselves. We also want to know those character traits and behaviors that we wish to foster in our lives.

We ask ourselves: what qualities do I have that I like?

We suggest looking over everything one more time, asking our Higher Power to help us find anything important we might have missed. If we have been exhaustive, if we have searched our hearts and souls, we may feel a sense of relief having completed this step.

We are now ready for STEP FIVE.


© Marijuana Anonymous World Services—Life with Hope 12 Step Workbook. A New Leaf Publications, a division of Marijuana Anonymous World Services, 2009. Print. ISBN 978-0-9765779-1-1

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