Step Four states :: We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
Today I am going to talk a little bit about denial and then share with you wise words from an expert about preparing for take Step 4.
Lets tackle denial first. Let me say straight up front that this conversation is bathed in love and grace. There is no shame in talking about denial, as we all experience it regularly! Denial usually stems from difficult and complicated behaviors, feelings, or relationships that we find ourselves unable to control. Our mind needs a way to deal with the chaos, instability, and confusion and so it begins to protect us by finding different strategies that work to soothe and comfort us. In 12 Steps : A Spiritual Journey they list some common strategies of denial:
Simple Denial : To pretend that something does not exist when it really does
Minimizing : To acknowledge a problem, but refuse to see its severity
Blaming : To recognize the problem, then blame someone else for its cause
Excusing : To offer excuses, alibis, justifications, and other explanations for our own (or others) behavior
Generalizing : To deal with problems on a general level which typically avoids personal and emotional awareness of the situation or condition
Dodging : To change the subject to avoid threatening topics
Attacking : To become angry and irritable when reference is made to the existing condition, thus avoiding the issue
Doing Step 4 is a lot like Spring Cleaning. You set aside time and you deliberately and intentionally take stock of every item you own. You decide if it is something you use and want to keep or if it is not something you want to use and get rid of it. Spring Cleaning you also often times rearrange furniture, closets, and drawers. Step 4 is the Spring Cleaning of your life and soul! In order to effectively take Step 4, there is some important things to know and consider in preparation. I will strongly encourage you again to pick up a copy of A Hunger for Healing, by Keith Miller. I will share some of his guidelines about preparing for Step 4:
- Understand the purposes of Step 4
- To acquire deeper self-knowledge that can lead (by continuing in the 12 Steps) to self-acceptance and even self-love
- To face the truth about our behavior
- To identify our behavior patterns so that we are prepared to surrender them and ask God to act on our behalf to make lasting changes in us
- Expect to rely on a Higher Power to do Step 4
- Feel your feelings as you go
- Get the support of a sponsor
- Attend meetings regularly
- Banish the myth that you should have been perfect
- Resist the urge to focus on what others have done to you
- Write your inventory on paper
- Don’t rush; Step 4 takes time
So, for today, let’s do some internal preparation and tomorrow the real work can begin! Take some time in your notebook to reflect on:
- Where in my life are each denial strategy at work? Describe in detail.
- How do I feel about each guideline? Describe in detail.
- Which of the guidelines am I not currently following? Why?
- What are the guidelines to prepare for Step 4 that I need to specifically focus on today? Explain
Take some time today to talk to God about everything you’ve written down. Take some time to listen to Him as He prepares to take you through this Step.