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“Working Step Four” by: Marie B.



After working through the first three Steps, we have established, or re-established, our relationship and trust in our Higher Power of our own understanding. We are now ready to start Step Four:

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

A good way to look at Step Four is “standing naked in my truth.” If I take off all of my protective armor, sugar-coating makeup, and clothes that project what I want others to see, what’s left? The moral inventory that we complete in Step 4 is left: just us.

“standing naked in my truth.”

Many of us are at the depths of unmanageability when we came to CoDA. As we work our steps, our defects of character and shortcomings come into focus. Through this lens, we think that Step Four will be a list of reasons why you are [insert insult]. This is not true. Just as you are not all bad, your moral inventory is not all bad. For our moral inventory to be complete, we must explore both our strengths and weaknesses. The Codependents Anonymous book offers some guidance on pages 41-42: “This inventory would be only of ourselves, and it would pertain to our personal behavior in as many life experiences as we could recall…. [it] was to be honest and straightforward, not critical or abusive.” The book continues:

“In Step Four, we begin a spiritual journey of healing our relationship with ourselves.”

When I started Step Four, I felt like I ran into a brick wall: FULL STOP. Where do you even start? The Codependents Anonymous workbook offers some ideas on how to approach Step Four in an organized fashion. It’s imperative that you have a sponsor to help you through step four.

Step Four took me a long time to work through. I wondered when I would ever know that I was done? One day, while journaling on Step Four, I had a simple, short thought. I saw the pattern. I saw how all of the patterns of codependency were interrelated and how they all reinforced each other. I stopped writing mid-sentence. Nothing more was needed. I cracked the code.

As I close this blog post, I wonder:

  • How do you know when you’re looking at someone else’s behavior rather than your own?

  • Can you tell when you are becoming triggered? Do you have a tell-tale physiological response that you might notice before you are mentally aware that you’re triggered?

  • What are some ways that you can extend grace/self-care to yourself?

  • How will you know when you are done with your searching and fearless moral inventory?