Week 7 – How It Works – Step 4 – Resentment – Part 1


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There has always been ‘God’s Will’ and there has always been ‘My Will’. I could have been operating on ‘God’s Will’ all the time but, there seems to have been something within ‘my will’, within my mind, that blocked me off from ‘God’s Will’.  If I am going to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand him, I am first going to have to find out what is within me that is blocking me off from ‘God’s Will’, and do something about its elimination, before God can begin to direct my thinking. Then we can open up space in our head for God’s Will to come into our minds.

A time element is involved in this paragraph; it says that “we take this Step at once”. We heard a professional counselor, counseling people not long ago telling them to wait two or three years to take their inventory. Our question to him was, “How many people have you killed with that statement?” We are trying to find a way to have peace of mind, serenity and happiness. As long as we are running our life on self-will, we can’t have that. If we didn’t have it before we got here on self-will and the longer I put off taking Step 4, the greater the chance of me getting drunk.

We think one of the reasons we procrastinate or ‘put it off’, is Fear. Fear that we dare not look at this stuff and we sure don’t want to show it to someone else. Fear that we can’t do it perfectly and we would rather wait until we could do it right. If that is our reason for not taking Step Four, what we are really saying is, “Let’s get well first and then we’ll do it.” But, the reality is we need to do Step Four in order to get well.

Another reason we put it off is, we really don’t know how to do it. There is confusion about taking Step Four. Somewhere down the line somebody was looking at Step Five and there was a statement that said something about your entire life story. So we said “Ah-ha, that’s it.” We took a statement out of Step Five and began to write out our life story as our inventory for Step Four. I did that when I first tried to take this inventory.  But, I didn’t learn a thing because everything I wrote down I already knew. I learned nothing new by writing my life story. As I look back at it, I realize the 95% of it doesn’t have anything to do with my drinking anyway. That 95% of my story obscured the 5% that did have something to do with it.

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Bill is going to tell us how take a business inventory assuming that we know something about business. And then after he tells us how to take a business inventory, he’s going to turn right around and say we do the same thing with our lives. In other words, we’re going to take a personal inventory just like he tells us to take this business inventory. Therefore we started upon a personal inventory. This was Step 4. And immediately he jumps to a business inventory. He says a business that takes no regular inventory usually goes broke. I think one of his first valid comparisons between the business inventory and the personal inventory is this.

In our personal lives, you and I have a business, which to us is the most important business in the world. And that’s the business of finding a way to live where we can be sober and peaceful and happy and free and not have to go back to drinking. And if we don’t inventory ourselves once in a while, then we may end up going broke, which is going back and getting drunk allover again. So, the First Comparison between the two would be that we, without the inventory, we would probably go broke or get drunk just like a business goes broke.  Now Bill says, taking a commercial inventory / business inventory (same thing), is a fact-finding and a fact facing process.

Step 4 – PERSONAL vs. BUSINESS Inventory Comparisons

On the right side we put PERSONAL and on the left side we put BUSINESS. A commercial inventory is a 1) fact-finding and a 2) fact-facing process. It is an 3) effort to discover the truth about 4) the stock-in-trade. One object is to disclose, 5) damaged or unsaleable goods, and to 6) get rid of them promptly and without regret. It’s the only way a business can be successful. He cannot fool himself about values. Here we have taken some key words and put them on the left side under BUSINESS: fact-finding, fact-facing, truth about the stock-in-trade, your effort to disclose damaged or un-saleable goods, to get rid of them promptly and without regret.

Now Bill says, “…we did exactly the same thing with our lives.” We did with our lives what he just told us to do with the business inventory. Now this guy loves words and he loves words that mean the same thing.

Let’s look at our Step 4:

We made a 1) searching (we put this straight across from fact-finding; they basically mean the same thing) and a 2) fearless (we put this word across from fact-facing) 3) moral – and we saw the word ‘moral’ and we said “Uh-oh, there it is. There’s that list of dirty, filthy, nasty items; we don’t want to look at them and we don’t want anybody else to see them either; we dare not take this inventory.” Bill went to the dictionary again and looked up the word ‘moral’. It doesn’t mean a list of dirty, filthy, nasty items. If he had wanted us to make a list of those things, he probably would have said that; but he didn’t say that; he said “moral”. ‘Moral’, according to the dictionary, is “the truth about the facts”. That’s all it is; the truth about something; the difference between the right and wrong of a situation. So, we make a searching and fearless “truthful” inventory of ourselves.

We are the only ‘stock-in-trade’ that we have in our business of staying sober. What part of us determines whether we are going to stay sober or not…Is it our bodies? No. It’s our thinking apparatus. Therefore, if we make this searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, our stock-in-trade, we’re going to inventory our “thinking”. We set out to 4) disclose damaged and
unsaleable thinking
AND 5) to get rid of it promptly and without regret because that is the very thing that blocks me off from ‘God’s Will’.

If my thinking is okay, then God can probably direct my will and I’ll be successful in the business of staying sober. If my thinking is lousy, then God cannot direct my will and I will probably be unsuccessful and end up broke and getting drunk. So I’m going to do the same thing in Step Four that he just told me to do with the business inventory.

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We’ve learned we have a three-fold disease. We are physically, mentally and spiritually sick.

  • If I am physically ill, I will go to the doctor. Whatever that illness may be it will display certain symptoms. The doctor will read those symptoms, diagnose and prescribe for me and hopefully I will get well.
  • If I am mentally ill, I will go to a psychiatrist. My mental illness will display certain symptoms. The psychiatrist will diagnose and prescribe for me and hopefully I will get well.
  • If I am spiritually ill, I will also display certain symptoms. The manifestations or symptoms of spiritual illness are:
    • Resentment” – madder than hell all the time
    • Fear” – scared to death all the time
    • Guilt & Remorse associated with “Harms or Hurts” done during our drinking careers

So, if I want to get rid of what blocks me off from God, I will have to get rid of resentment fear, guilt and remorse.  That is the process we are now beginning. So if those things can leave my head, then God’s Will can come in. This is the prescription in the Big Book and hopefully I will get well.


Resentments are the Number One Offender!

From these thoughts or mental attitudes “stems all forms of spiritual disease.” We are instructed to list all people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry or had resentments towards.


A. Webster’s Dictionary defines “Resentment” as “Indignation” or ill-will felt as a result of a real or imagined offense. Then Webster’s refers the reader to the word “Anger” and gives other examples of this thought or feeling: Which include rage, fury, ire, wrath, resentment and indignation. These words denote varying degrees of displeasure from anger – strong, intense and explosive – to the longer lasting resentment – ill-will and suppressed anger generated by a sense of being wronged or being wrong.

B. In summary and broadly defined, we are dealing with a negative or unpleasant thought or feeling caused by the real or imagined act or failure to act of a person, institution or principle.

C. Persons, institutions or principles may need some explanation. Remember you are a “person” and your action or failure to act may very well cause you to think or feel badly (generally, this is called “guilt”). Institutions are any group of people, authorities, companies, government agencies or other organizations.

A PRINCIPLE is a basic truth or law. Many of these principles have and do offend us, for example:

  1. Alcoholism is an incurable, progressive and fatal disease
  2. Honesty is the best policy
  3. As you give, you receive (each of us suffer the consequences of our own actions, there is no free lunch)
  4. When you are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with you
  5. A life lived without self-examination is not worth living (Socrates)
  6. ‘Live and Let Live’ and ‘Forgive and Forget’


With the previous instruction in mind and before proceeding any further with this inventory, a list should be prepared of the people, institutions or principals which have or do cause you to have resentment, as defined above.

Certain points should be remembered:

1) If you can remember the resentment, you should list it, even though you think you are
“over it”. Go back through your life: “Nothing counts but thoroughness and honesty.”

2) A review of family albums, school annuals and the like may help you be thorough.   Some people write a short autobiography of their life to assist them with their memory. But some people merely start recalling the earliest memories and work forward. I personally like to do the way Bill did and pray and be still, and let God put the thoughts in my mind that he wants me to work on at this time. Because, as we stay sober, more will be revealed to us and we can take this same action later in Step Ten.

3) Throughout the taking of Step Five, and at times thereafter, you will recall other people, institutions and principles that have caused these negative thoughts and feelings. You can add to this list at any time, but do not spend too much time worrying about how complete the list is, simply do the best you can over a reasonable period of time (perhaps a week).

4) Do not concern yourself with whether you should or should not have the feeling. Just make the list.  Nothing more is required at this point.

ASSIGNMENT: Read Page 65, Paragraph 1 to Page 66, End of Paragraph 3.

Be prepared to discuss any problems you may be having with the group next week.

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