Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Okay, so way back when, I posted an example of my grudge list, where I list my resentments but then my part in the resentments.
Click here for In Jail For Killing My Critique Group Partner: Step Four Example.
Now, that resentment against that cow Betty Smith was all about my deep fears about the quality of my books and if I would ever find an audience.
I listed my fears right at the very end: I’m afraid that I’ll never get published. And I’m afraid that if I do get published, I won’t have an audience.
So now I go deeper into the fear and look at the history of fear, what I’ve done to try and handle it, and the results. Generally I struggle against my fear blindly, or I do nothing. I love that one. I’m afraid so I’ll complain and complain.
Here is an example of the first part:
|Name the Fear||History of the Fear||How has self reliance failed me?||Please||Marching Orders: What kind of person would the Divine have me be?|
|Fear I’ll never get published or write books people can read.||The sad thing is that I have one rejection letter. I have a long history of soul-crushing fear, but no history of rejection or failure.||I simply don’t try. Now I have this new game of the Hail Mary pass – the perfect idea. One more excuse not to try.||Ask the Divine to remove this fear.||The Divine, for now, would have me be a writer who writes and seeks publication.|
So here I had all this fear and I had no history. At that point in my writing life, I had simply not tried. I assumed I’d fail and I was too afraid. It wasn’t until I saw my marching orders–well, it’s not a soldier’s job to question, it’s a soldier’s job to do the task set before them.
And I walked through my fear, I queried a bunch of people, and I got a publishing contract. My book has been well reviewed and much of my fear was groundless. A popular idea in the 12 Step program circle is to say FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. Or put another way.
Fear knocks on the door.
No one is there.
So as you can see, knowing your enemy is key, and being able to list your fears, getting them on paper, and analyzing them can be a very powerful experience. But the problem is that I get to the point where I can name every single demon plaguing me, but I still can’t change. They say once you know better, you do better. That’s not me. I can inventory all day long, I can do all this work, but when it comes to changing my behavior, I rebel.
That’s where steps six and seven come into play.
One last thing about the fourth step. You might have fears that aren’t tied to a resentment, and so you would go through and make sure you caught everything. That’s why this is a searching and fearless moral inventory. We do take stock of as much as possible.
However, it’s interesting that nearly all of my fears come into play first as resentments. I get upset, angry, or lapse into self-pity and it’s only after I really look at this stuff that I learn that fear is driving me.
And still, I have trouble letting it all go. So let’s get into six and seven because that’s where the magic happens, or so I hope.
I have trouble with steps six and seven because of the “God” thing and because deep down I am a rebellious, contrary person.
But I’ll show you that in a minute.