Step Four: We reviewed our fears thoroughly

We reviewed our fears thoroughlyWe put them on paper even though we had no resentment in connection with them.” (“Alcoholics Anonymous“, page 68)

“Notice that the word ‘fear’ is bracketed alongside (our) difficulties…”

Resentment List - Fear

You can, if you wish, do the same on your own resentment list.  Or if you prefer, you can begin a similar-but-separate list dealing specifically with fear.  Overall, the purpose here is to look and to see where fear has been a factor in any or all of our past attitudes and actions in life…and to begin learning how we can now re-direct the measure of faith granted to each of us at the time of our creation.  For in fact, placing our faith either in or upon ourselves had not been working well at all.

“[Fear is an emotion that] somehow touches about every aspect of our lives…the fabric of our existence was shot through with it.” (page 67)

How so?  Either we “feel afraid” of losing something we already have, or else we are afraid we might never have something we either want or believe we truly need.  To try to help analyze this matter of fear:

Most everyone knows something such as a venomous snakebite can cause a loss of life, but many of us do not know — ignorance (lack of knowledge) and fear often go hand-in-hand — how to avoid harmful or deadly encounters in the first place or what is best to actually do either while or after experiencing one.  All considered concerning any kind of danger in life, there can be a certain level of “healthy fear” (common sense at the level of intellect) that is logical, sane and even necessary…but then what can we do today to keep from being driven or controlled by overwhelming fear while facing an immediate danger or harm tomorrow?  Shall we attempt to isolate ourselves away from all dangerous reptiles, animals or even people?  Shall we take deadly creatures in as pets or “companions” so we can try to win their favor by trying to satisfy their own instincts and desires in efforts to comfort ourselves with a sense of situational or circumstantial dominance, due or control?  Either way, via isolation or endless “people-pleasing”, would we not eventually discover our having (again) acted in fear-driven self-reliance had really only (again) “set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune…(and that) we, ourselves, (had again) set the ball rolling?” (page 67)

As we consider our fears here in Step Four, an overall goal is to see our need to turn away from any form of self-reliance as well as away from having any mere emotion (such as fear) serve as a guiding force in our lives.  And so, and as we have been doing in the above…

“We reviewed our fears thoroughly…put them on paper…asked ourselves why we had them.  Wasn’t it because self-reliance failed us?”

It might sometimes seem like this matter of fear and self-reliance is a question such as that of the chicken and the egg — Which was first? — but we have discovered self-reliance is the culprit here, begetting even the ever-growing bevy of new fears ultimately stemming from the pains any human being might experience as a result of self-reliance.  So, it now makes complete sense to us that the first step in our recoveries required an uncompromised awareness, acceptance and admission of our complete powerlessness and inability to manage our own lives into any kind of state even close to “happy, joyous, and free.” (page 133)  We had certainly given life our very best self-reliant shots (efforts), of course, but now we know…

“Perhaps there is a better way…a different basis…trusting and relying upon…infinite God rather than our finite selves.” (page 68)

Our natural human instincts and desires have not changed.  We all still need food, clothing, shelter, companionship and so on while still needing, wanting and loving to be (or to feel) needed, wanted and loved amongst our fellow human beings…and we are still making sincere efforts along those very lines.  However, we are now doing that as we believe God as you understand God would have us do, and that means “Constant thought of others and how we can help meet their needs” in place of our ego-, fear-, pride- and/or ignorance-driven selfishness, self-centeredness and self-reliance of our pasts.  Today, and in place of anything like that, we willingly accept and actively live by this:

“We are in the world to play the role (God as you understand God) assigns (rather than in any way continuing to try to live in self-reliant ‘worship’ of ourselves or any other human entity).  Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us (in place of our own thinking), and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity…”

 …and the result of that kind of “sufficient substitute for alcohol” (page 152) in the face of calamity or difficulty in life is exactly what we had been seeking either almost as soon as or even before we had heard the original A.A. message of permanent recovery from chronic alcoholism.  Truly, our Creator (pages 25, 68, 72, 75, 83) is now “doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.” (page 84)

People around us do not always understand and philosophically accept our new manner of living, and that fact can occasionally be discouraging for some of us.  When others try to congratulate us for staying sober, for example, and we say God alone deserves the credit for our recoveries, they sometimes roll their eyes a bit or even ridicule or attack us while feeling threatened by our spiritual experiences and awakenings they do not yet know for themselves.  But overall, and now that we know the truth of “Trust in God and clean house” (page 98) in place of self-reliance only making messes of our lives…

“We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our Creator. We can laugh (at least at ourselves who used to) think spirituality the way of weakness.  Paradoxically, it is the way of strength.  The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage.  All men of faith have courage.  They trust their God.” (page 58)

Beyond “trying to put our lives in order” (page 77) here in this moment, there is yet an even larger goal before us as we take these Twelve Steps to find permanent recovery:

“Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.” (page 77)

And so, our text continues even at Step Four…

“We never apologize for God.  Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do.” (page 68)

That is what we had prayed at Step Three…

“Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.” (page 63)

…and now we are beginning to cooperate with the transformational process that can make that possible.  Where our past lives had born hopeless witness of self-reliance, our new lives can now begin bearing hopeful witness of reliance upon God for bringing about “a transformation of thought and attitude” required to “get over drinking” (page 143).  Where many of us had once believed “Fear is a lack of faith”, we now know the debilitating fear we are analyzing here was a manifestation of our faith having been mis-placed either in or upon our finite and powerless selves.  Few of us, if any, had been aware of that at the time, of course, but now our inventory is helping us to see and understand how “self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us” (page 64).  And so…

“We ask (God) to remove our fear and (or as we) direct our attention (faith) to (Him and) what He would have us be.  At once, we commence to outgrow fear.” (page 68)

Such is the way of faith first experienced and shared by the earliest of A.A. members, and that is what always works for people like us.


While being fearless and thorough as we complete Step Four, most of us needed a bit of sexual overhauling

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