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Step 4
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

There is a reason that the heros in the movie "Harry Potter" belong to a house that is based on courage. It is a very rare quality, that is not cultivated very often. Rarely do we teach people to be brave despite their fears.

The institutions of this great country (America, and others) is to teach people to hesitate in times of danger. We tell people to not say things that may offend someone else (who is overly sensitive and would benefit from realizing that the world does not revolve around their emotions) that the phrase "politically correct" is very, very common.

That is sad, because to change a dangerous habit takes courage. If you have any bad habit, and you are helpless over it, and you can't handle it, yet, you need to try another tactic. One that requires courage.

That's not the only reason that step 4 is one of the toughest steps, it also forces us to go somewhere we don't want to go.

We have to check ourselves out. It is no surprise that car engines need to have periodic inspections, in order to be fine-tuned, and no one complains. Yet, to do the same kind of inspection on ourselves is unthinkable. We don't want to look inside, to see how we are partly responsible for the circumstances in our life which we really hate. It is popular now to see what we are 'entitled to', not what we are 'responsible for'. Many are taught to take out of life, out of the society around us.

This self-centered approach soon leaves us empty, and many look for a way to fill that emptiness. Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, sex, and other external things are used in an attempt to help us feel valuable, and they all fail. (That's why we are here, because of the admitted failure!) If you want to feel valuable, it may help to be valuable. If you want respect, you may have to earn respect. Even self-respect must be earned.

Earned? You mean we have to work for it?

Yes. You have to deserve it.

You don't respect me, yet, because we haven't spent enough time together for me to earn your personal respect. Same for you. You haven't earned my respect yet, but more importantly, you haven't earned self-respect until you do things and make choices worthy of respect.

Courage deserves respect. Quality, unselfish decisions and actions deserve respect.

Take a good hard look inside, most people refuse to do that. They would rather medicate the pain than find the cause.

Before you can fix that car engine mentioned earlier, you have to find out what isn't running right. You have to learn what needs changing.

Same for you. Take that good, hard look. Do it again and be honest.

It takes courage. It takes self-respect. It demands honesty. It abhors lies, dishonesty and political correctness. It abhors selfishness.

Do it, or stay dependent. You'll sweat, you'll be scared, you'll want to put it off. But remember, every time you procrastinate the inventory, you procrastinate self-respect.

* The Twelve Steps are reprinted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt the Twelve Steps does not mean that A.A. has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that A.A. agrees with the views expressed herein. A.A. is a program of recovery from alcoholism. Use of the Twelve Steps in connection with programs which are patterned after A.A. but which address other problems does not imply otherwise.

The complete Serenity Prayer is also available on this website.