The 4th Step Isn’t as Scary as You Think
One of the scariest parts about getting sober is knowing that you’re going to have to do a lot of introspection through 12-step work. While this is the key to long-term sobriety, many people are afraid to work the steps. More specifically, they’re afraid to work the 4th step. But why? It’s quite common for people in early recovery to breeze through the first three steps and then stop at four – some even relapse. A lot of this is due to myths and misconceptions about the fourth step and not understanding how it can help liberate you from your past and enlighten you.
What is the Fourth Step?
In step one, you admit that you’re powerless over alcohol or drugs, and you also admit that your life is unmanageable. Step one helps you realize that you have no control over your drinking or using, but even without the substances, life can still be messy. In step two, you have to be willing to believe that something greater than yourself exists and can help. This can be a Higher Power, your sponsor, or the 12-step fellowship. With step three, you start to let go. You realize that your way of doing things isn’t working, so you need some sort of guidance for a better way of living.
The fourth step is when things get real. AA and NA work the fourth step a little differently, but they’re basically the same. First, you list out everyone who you hold a resentment towards such as friends, family members, coworkers, exes, previous bosses, institutions, and more. This can be difficult as you dredge up old memories, but it’s crucial to the process. As you continue through this step, you break down each resentment even further and ask yourself what part you played in each situation. Through this process, you get an immense amount of clarity and start to see patterns as to why you get as upset as you do at people, places or situations. You awaken to the role you played in contributing to the very situations that you’re resentful of.
You Have to Feel to Heal
The way some people talk about the fourth step makes it seem as though you’ll spontaneously combust by working on this step. Yes, it’s a difficult step to work and it’s hard to go through your past. However, it is essential to do so in all forms of therapy as well. We often let emotions, feelings, traumas, and memories fester within us without addressing them. The problem with not addressing these feelings is two-fold: they manifest in behaviors like substance abuse, and we allow ourselves not to address any of our struggles.
When you’re able to confront your past and emotions, the healing process has truly begun. From the moment you start the fourth step, you start to realize that your thoughts and emotions are like the Boogeyman; they’re scary, but they can’t hurt you. On a psychological level, you’re training your brain to face these emotions rather than run away from them. And the best part about this is that in your next step, you get to let it all go.
By working through the fourth step, you realize that you can face almost anything. Future conflicts and resentments will roll off your shoulders as you’re able to better understand why you get upset and what you can do about it. What’s even better is that once you recognize the role that you play, you can start avoiding certain conflicts altogether. This helps lead to a life of serenity, peace, and happiness to support your long-term sobriety.
Enlightened Solutions is a detox facility that provides holistic treatments as well as therapy to help you begin healing. We also host 12-step meetings for alumni and can teach you a better way of living. For more information, call us today at 833-233-7336.