“Recovery Doesn’t Work!”
Ever hear someone say that? Perhaps you’ve said it yourself. It’s true; some methods are more helpful for one individual base on his or her exact needs, personality, and background than for another. But, to say, recovery doesn’t work, is a kin to saying, this hammer doesn’t work, because it has been lying here all day and my picture still isn’t hung up. The hammer works just fine the question is, are you really going to pick up the hammer and use it the way it was intended? There is no perfect recovery program out there. True some are better than others. One thing they all have in common is they offer tools. It is up to the individual weather or not he or she will use the tools they have been given to aid in their own recovery.
That is why I like step 4 of the 12 steps. “Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” It is so easy to talk about recovery. It is so easy to talk about ones feelings, and childhood. It is easy to talk about triggers. It is easy to talk. Step 4 is where the rubber meets the road. This is what we call a, “Treatment Method.” This is something concrete you can do to aid in your recovery. There are hundreds of tools out there. Some may be more helpful for you where you are right now than others but, making a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself is a great place to start.
A moral inventory is simply a list of both the positive and negative attributes that make up who you are now. This list may include resentments you have toward certain people or institutions. This also may include a list of ways you have been selfish. Some also include, “Unmanageable defects of character.” These may include outbursts of uncontrolled anger, or the inability to tell the truth. Many people will use a chart, or pick list like this one provided by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Want to get serious about step four? Here is what you do. Make a list of as many negative traits as you can think of. Here is where the word, Fearless, comes in. It is often hard to admit to ourselves how negative, critical, and judgmental we have become. Looking at ourselves critically is not always something we always do. This may be a difficult step for some. However, many have reported that using this simple tool has been a great help to them on the road to recovery. To get started you might use the suggestions from recovery.org. They give the following examples, “I lie to the people I care about, and it’s hurt them. I am power hungry, and I boast about my achievements. I have alienated those around me by my selfishness. I bring others down with my self-loathing and shame. I am self-righteous and judgmental of others. I am ill-tempered, and I have taken my anger out on my family and friends.” Now, take what you see as your top 10 areas of weakness and write about how these negative traits led you to and keep you in your addiction.
Make a list of as many positive traits you can think of. Ask a family member, close friend, and your sponsor to help you with this. You might write things like, “I am committed to my children. I have a fun personality and make friends easy. I am a very detailed person. I always try to keep the peace.” Don’t rush through this. Come up with as many as you can think of. Next pick 10 of your best traits and write out how these positive traits will help you in your recovery.
This step will take some time. I encourage you not to rush through it. This is not just some chore to check off your to do list. This is a tool that can help you for years to come.
The Apostle Paul said something very interesting in Philippians chapter three. Paul wrote, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 3:12-14 ESV). Paul was humble enough to realize he was not yet the perfect man God wanted him to be. He said he focused on one thing- pressing on. He knew one hindrance to living in God’s will for the presence is to live in the past. A word of encouragement, as you do your moral inventory don’t get too caught up focusing on the past. The purpose of step four is not to remind you of all of the terrible things you have said and done. It is simply to uncover the truth, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Remember, we learn from the past, we don’t live in it.
So, how about you? What are some other tools, or treatment methods you use in recovery? How has step 4 impacted your life? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment in the Reply box below.