4th Step: We Have Taken Stock and Review

HOO-RAH! People in a spiritual 12step recovery program are often heard to cheer when they have finished their 4th Step, ( let’s not tell them right now, but if you Live the 12Steps of Recovery — this is just the beginning).

But the grudge work is over – the first run – the “loathed life-long listing” ( I get a 1,000pt alliteration score for that and maybe a special bonus for using a compound word within an alliteration 🙂 . What we will find is that this template will serve us well whenever we find ourselves disturbed, no matter what the situation. Between it, breathing and gratitude, we’re gonna find that the meanie madness we call ANGER (duh-duh-duh-dahnhhhhh!!!! – actual sound effects unavailable) will start to come in control.

We won’t knee-jerk so much, we’ll respond as opposed to react. Some of that lack of willpower that we admitted we lost will start to come back ( as long as we don’t get cocky —- I can make-up a woman gender word for that but better not. SEE? I resisted the temptation,…sort of :-).

Okay then! This is the final installment from the book on Step IV and for those of you who don’t have it yet here’s the link:


April 23
We Have Taken Stock and Review

When we have finished writing it, God is the final judge of our fearless and thorough moral inventory. From now on, we will avoid making judgment and turn it over to God. If we are sorry for what we have done and forgiving of what has been done to us, we will move onward to better things by this lesson.

Now, we have taken stock and reviewed. If we are not sorry and
remain unforgiving, our conduct continues to harm us and others
until we’re quite sure—we’ll drink again. Our resentments and transgressions, evidenced before us on paper, are both futile and fatal to us—deadly in their power of destruction.

Within ourselves we have found some virtues, good qualities,
and character assets. Though we may see them as few we thankfully acknowledge them for the results that it brings in our improved self-worth. Through our accounting’s revelation, we have right-sized ourselves, taking a stance in proper humility.

As a result of Step Four, we may endeavor to acquire the attitudes of tolerance, patience, and good will toward all, even our enemies. Like us, at times they are also sick people.

Now,…..I haven’t done this yet – like ever! Here is a drawing copy (copyrighted so leave it here – my attorney gets mad when it’s not respected). My artist Jessica, (who I am forever indebted to) gave us this original pencil drawing of a man preparing his 4th Step. HEY! HEY! HEYYYYYYYYYYYYY! Don’t forget to browse the new book (just go to the link above for the first one)

Fear – Anger – Resentments: The Sanity Killers

Many of us have discovered that – on close examination – their Fears were irrational projections of their imaginations, usually conjured up by the “Fear-Mongering-Self” whipping up a potion of unusually unreal apprehensions. Some of us call that: dread.

How do we get rid of this craziness, this lunacy trend? First we call our old friend Step II back into counsel — “we could be a smidgeon tetched” ( as they say in the country). You know, bonkers, nuts, 1/2  bubble off, 3 fries short of a Happy Meal. Knowing that we can restore ourselves to sanity (with help of course) and turn our nutty noodles and lives over to the care of the universe, (seems to be what all the other creatures on our planet have already done — “Oh,….okay and some people as well”!) We leave well enough alone and now, how about a little 4th Step Guidance?

I know,……the fundamentalists are screaming: “If it ain’t thar in the Big Book  than it just ain’t raght Dagnabbit”! Great news, these would be experts are just as crazy as us, (maybe even a little more so). So open your mind, because sometimes you can believe what you read. Here’s a forthcoming reading from my book, “be sure and read them thar little black marks and leave the whaight space alone raght whar it ees.”


Sorry, my linking tool is broken and I’m about to swear and start throwing shit —- counting to ten now,….1,2,3,4 etc,….breathe,… 5,6,7,8,…there, much better.              

April 22
Anger and Fear: the Roots of Resentment
In the alcoholic the number one offender is the spiritual disease of resentment. For us, it can be a fatal business. When we asked ourselves with whom and what institutions or principles we were angry, in most cases, we concluded our pride, money, and personal relationships had been threatened or hurt by them.

Our first realization was that our world and its people were often quite wrong. Some, we thought, were even more spiritually sick than ourselves. After our examination, though, we found we couldn’t be excluded from this group.

We ask God to guide us in showing others the same tolerance, pity, and patience we would prefer to have for ourselves. As we ask that our trespasses be forgiven, we do our best to forgive those who have trespassed against us.

We seek to be salvaged from angry retaliation and argument. Anger and fear form the roots at the base of our resentments, with anger’s underlying cause found frequently in fear. In moments when we are bewildered, frightened, and confused, our longstanding practice of self-reliance needs to be replaced with trust in an infinite concept of God, rather than in our finite selves.

Now, it just wouldn’t be one of my blog installments without a plug for the new book:

“Tales From the Center of the Herd – Short Stories of Long Term Sobriety – Once a Zebra, Always a Zebra”

You can get it in signed softback through this site:


or on Amazon KINDLE (link on above site). If you’re really slick, you can download using the KINDLE APP to your iPad, iPhone, iPod-touch, Android, MAC or PC and read it or the first book on the go!

Get Acquainted With My Spiritual Recovery Books

If this doesn’t make your growl,……I don’t know what will 🙂
Now you can get your choice of either book using the AMAZON KINDLE APP and download the book to you iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Blackberry, Android, PC and MAC. Here’s the best part – join the KINDLE PRIME PROGRAM and get either on FREE until May 31, 2013. The program ends then until Christmas!

Spiritual recovery is based upon 12Step principles. They are best brought into practice by a through reading-application and study. The more one does this the more meaning they discover. These Daily Readings and illustrations are Award Winners, read in 5 countries across the globe. Now you can read amazing recovery stories in the 2nd book. See them both and a blog that has 140,000 readers at: http://www.livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com/

Reflections on the Fourth Step

Time sure fly’s when you’re having clean & sober fun! It’s April 2013! (Roll your eyes)  – “like you didn’t know – huh”? I’m gonna make a point, just hang on.

I’ve been writing the blog now for better than two years and that means I can measure my growth and progress. Why not use the IVth Step process - reflection for the method? First, I’m gonna help put us all in the mood for contemplation with this excellent video on meditation (Sorry, you’ll have to cut & paste but it’s worth it)


What I thought about Step IV in 2011:

“This fact finding mission is one in which we sweep the searchlight of inquiry over all the events of our lives. This is an effort to find our stowed-away resentments towards others; to be specific about what we feel has been done to us or how we have been injured; to discover our role in the matter and to determine what we might have done differently. We further chronicle the events that we have hidden in our Pandora’s Box; those acts we have been ashamed of where we know that – in our own way – we carry regret and remorse for the way we have wronged others. Some of these may be buried deep within our subconscious and take some effort to exhume.

A bit like an archeological expedition, the more effort we put into this “dig” the more we turn-up, for things are often not what they seem. We discover that we have perhaps produced a whole pattern of dishonesty with ourselves, about our justifications for our anger – even hatred and vengeful ideas or plans.

Yes, it’s a discovery,…. and often to our surprise, we find that THESE were the reasons, (right or wrong) why we felt a need to fumigate our perspective with Alcoholism or other addictions. When we’re finished we’ll be looking straight into our own road-map of events and low and behold,…. out of that Chaos Theory,…we begin to see patterns”!

Then,……in 2012, I had this to say about Step IV: 

Step IV suggests that as a basis for comparison, we consider our moral inventory in terms of its failures regarding the 7 Capital Sins: Pride, Greed, Anger, Envy, Lust, Gluttony and Sloth. But hasn’t each of those instances in our recollected lives been created through a violation of the first of the Oxford Groups four basic Tenets: Absolute Honesty?

Our old friend rationalization helps us twist and obscure the truth of our involvement in the essay for today regarding Lust: our gluttonous appetite for sexual satisfaction which is attained only in the sense of selfish ego boosting conquest and our satiation of the moment, almost instantly renewing its insatiable hunger,… again and again. Now we see, Lust is never really satisfied until it becomes tempered by Love and Respect.

If you are interested in following the book and have a Kindle reader, join the Prime Program and borrow the book for FREE through May 2013. That’ll give you time to decide on whether its something you’ll add to your recovery literature collection. Many use it for a quick daily read using apps for: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, and Android.

Here’s my website, where you can see other examples and get the book in signed softback original (150 left of the first 1,000, lst Edition)  www:livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com
where you can see my latest book: “Tales From the Center of the Herd” – short stories of long term sobriety and recovery – “Once a Zebra, Always a Zebra”.

Now, here’s that reading on Lust and personal moral inventory.


We ask of ourselves: “How, when, and where did my lustful sexual pursuits hurt other people and injure me? It’s possible my marriage and children were damaged as a result of those indiscretions, or that my good standing in the community may have been jeopardized by these acts.

How is it that I reacted to these situations at the time—was it with a burning, lingering guilt? Did I excuse myself by insisting that I was the pursued and never the pursuer?

What were my reactions to my sexual frustrations? When denied, did I become vengeful or depressed? Does it appear I took it out on other people? Back when there was rejection or coldness at home, do I recall I used this as a convenient reason to be promiscuous?

To appease my carnal hunger, could I have broken promises or vows of commitment, causing another to do the same, utilizing deception, lying, and exploitation?

In our own variations we ask ourselves these questions. We do so thoroughly examining the pursuit of our sexual instinct, acknowledging the time, the place, and by what circumstances we knew those urges had gone awry, becoming lust. This inventory ought to be quite thorough, omitting or excusing nothing.

Now, here in April 2013, what can I add to the above? First – no inventory is complete without asking ourselves the question: “How important, in the grand scheme of my life, was this incident? Was it really worthy of all the anger and resentment I may have put into it, even to the insane planning of revenge?

As to Lust, we ALL got it. The less sex you’re getting, the more important to you it is! It doesn’t serve any of us any good to blow our natural compulsive obsession to satisfy ourselves out of proportion, or do the worst: exploit new men and women who are coming to our meetings trying to find their recovery and sobriety only to find us trying to give them a hand,….in their pants….and worse yet under the guise of assisting them in their honest efforts to change.

We all know where this got Bill Wilson and how he became so out of control that his friends told him that he either cut it out or “one of us has to go.”

What’s our motivation for all this self-searching and self-examination, this fearless and through moral inventory, like an archeological dig through our past? We want to change.

In order to do so, we have to know who and what we have been, where, why and how it happened and who it involved. ItHASto be done in writing, so we have a clear view and the evidence entered under our own hand.  Through this process we can see the patterns of our behavior that led us to where we are. Like George Benson said: “Everything Must Change” – a good listen to close.



Sadness or Depression – What’s the Difference?

Here I am again passing on an article from my friends at TheDailyOhm, as the author takes the condition of “Depression” and dissects it for our perusal and new perspectives of understanding. I’m passing it on to you, my readers, because I want you all to find a more common feeling of contentment, as do I.

How to Overcome Depression
From How to Overcome Depression On-line Course

by Eric Maisel

The following is an excerpt from the “How to Overcome Depression” on-line course. If you would like to enroll in the course, click here.

Our starting point is not the usual starting point in a discussion of depression. Usually depression is characterized as an illness or as a biological, psychological, social, or spiritual disorder. We will start at a different place by asserting that the thing called “depression” is human sadness in one or more of three areas: sadness about the self, sadness about one’s circumstances, and sadness about life itself.

Before we address these three varieties of sadness I want to present you with the rationale for looking at “depression” as human sadness and not as an illness or a disorder.

It is no longer possible to feel sad and blue without someone wanting to call that “depression.” For the longest time human beings made the sensible distinction between feeling sad for reasons (say, because they were jobless and homeless) and feeling sad for “no reason,” a state traditionally called melancholia. With the rise of four powerful industries, the pharmaceutical industry, the psychotherapy industry, the social work industry, and the pastoral industry, it is has become increasingly difficult for people to consider that sadness might be a very normal reaction to unpleasant facts and circumstances. Cultural forces have transformed a great deal of normal sadness into the “mental illness” of depression.

In fact “sadness” and “depression” have become virtual synonyms. Nowadays if you feel sad you are supposed to get help from a pill, a therapist, a social worker, or a pastoral counselor—even if you’re sad because you’re having trouble paying the bills, your career is not taking off, your relationship is on the sour side, and life did not turn out how you hoped it would. That is, even if your sadness is rooted in your circumstances and your unhappiness with life, social forces maneuver you into the world of the medical model, where psychiatrists dispense pills and psychotherapists diagnose you. It is very hard for the average person, who suffers and feels pain because she is a human being and not because she has a mental illness, to see through this maneuvering.

Many writers have tried to speak to this issue but their voices can’t be heard very well over the incessant din accompanying the latest “miracle” antidepressant. Their books have titles like The Loss of Sadness (Horwitz and Wakefield), Creating Mental Illness (Horwitz) and The Medicalization of Society (Conrad) and their arguments are compelling. But lined up against them are countless books selling the idea that all unpleasant human situations are “treatable disorders” demanding the attention of trained professionals. This is very hard on the average person, who quite often has an intuitive sense that he or she is not being served by the medical industry but who doesn’t know where else to turn.

I want to try to spell out what is going on here and help you get a better sense of what depression is and what it isn’t. I am guessing that you get sad some amount of the time and that you would like to know what to do about those bouts of the blues. If they are “really” depression, they ought to be handled certain ways. If they aren’t “really” depression but rather are sadness, they ought to be handled other ways. The more you can refrain from leaping to naming what ails you “depression,” the better your chances of finding homespun solutions to your painful problems.

Here is a headline right at the beginning. According to the biological depression model, you are the problem: something in you is not working correctly. According to the psychological depression model, you are the problem: maybe it’s your learned helplessness, your unresolved conflicts with your parents, your low self-esteem, or something. According to the social depression model, you are the problem: maybe you’ve become too isolated, maybe you haven’t provided yourself with enough social support, etc. According to the spiritual depression model, you are still the problem: you haven’t made the right spiritual connections, given yourself over to God, tapped into your spiritual nature, and so on. These four models identify you as the problem. Life is never the problem. How odd! How odd to think that our sadness might not sometimes be related to our life circumstances or to the facts of existence.

When you’re sad you certainly do have a problem, since sadness does not feel good. But that is not the same thing as you being the problem. In our discussion you will learn what ought to be obvious were it not for the powerful social pressures to make you the problem.

You will learn that life itself can present problems that you are obliged to handle if you are to feel better. Life circumstances can cause our sadness: the problem is not always a serotonin re-up deficiency or a losing battle between our id and our superego. Sometimes the problem may be that we staked a lot on our profession and we’ve discovered that we don’t much like it; or that our mate is making faces because we aren’t bringing in enough money; or that our parents and our children need so much attention that we have no time left for ourselves. Sometimes situations like these cause us grief.



Exercise 1

I’m challenging you to understand the word “depression” better than most people understand that word. To this end, I would like you to answer the following questions. As we proceed through the lessons, you’ll see why I asked you these questions. Start a notebook or a file for your answers. Please do not research your answers: simply think about the questions and answer them from your own experience and your own understanding.

1. What is the difference between a “symptom” and a “cause” (as in the phrase, this is a symptom of depression and this is a cause of depression)?

2. What do you think the phrase “biological depression” is trying to convey?

3. What do you think the phrase “psychological depression” is trying to convey?

4. What do you see as the difference between “sadness” and “depression”?

Exercise 2

It is easy enough to say that there is a difference between “sadness” and “depression.” But what is the actual difference? Try answering the following questions:

1. Is the essential difference between “sadness” and “depression” that depression is more “severe” than sadness? What does “severe” mean in this context?

2. Is the essential difference between “sadness” and “depression” that sadness comes and goes but that depression “lasts”? How long does this state have to last before sadness becomes depression? And if time were the only distinguishing feature, wouldn’t long-lasting sadness more properly be called “sadness that lasts” than something else?

3. Is the essential difference between “sadness” and “depression” that, while they may look exactly the same as to symptoms, sadness and depression differ as to cause? If so, how would an expert know which thing he is looking at if the symptoms looked exactly the same?

4. Would it make sense to you if you heard someone say, “His father kept yelling at him and that’s why he got tuberculosis”? What about, “His father kept yelling at him and that’s why he’s chronically depressed.” If the latter makes sense to you and the former doesn’t, what is the underlying difference between “tuberculosis” and “depression” in the psychological model?



When you feel sad, something is going on. That “something” saps your energy, reduces your experience of pleasure, disrupts your normal rhythms, and paints the world gray. Whatever that “something” is, you must take responsibility for doing something positive and purposeful to improve the situation. If you do nothing, you are “buying the blues.” If you do something positive and purposeful you are refusing to collude with yourself in supporting your sadness. Take some positive and purposeful action today to beat the blues!

For more information visit How to Overcome Depression On-Line Course