While listing our injuries in Column Three here in Step Four, we are looking for our natural human instincts and desires that have been adversely affected, hurt or threatened by the actions of other people. Here is a paragraph from Step Four in “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” that can be helpful along this line:
“Creation gave us instincts for a purpose. Without them we wouldn’t be complete human beings. If men and women didn’t exert themselves to be secure in their persons, made no effort to harvest food or construct shelter, there would be no survival. If they didn’t reproduce, the earth wouldn’t be populated. If there were no social instinct, if men cared nothing for the society of one another, there would be no society. So these desires—for the sex relation, for material and emotional security, and for companionship—are perfectly necessary and right, and surely God-given.”
As we have been mentioning, we are not yet looking for any defects of character. Rather, here are the general categories of natural human instincts and desires we all share in common:
-the sex relation
As living beings, we need food and shelter (including clothing) in order to survive here on earth, and we are naturally troubled whenever our instinctual material or physical security is somehow compromised or threatened. Then on the social front, we also inherently need, want and love to be (or to feel) needed, wanted and loved…so we seek satisfactions of our social instincts, and that typically includes physical and emotional intimacy within personal relations for the pleasure and security of companionship as well as for human procreation.
Using any words of your own choosing, here are the kinds of things to be listed in Column Three:
“In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened (by the actions of others)…
“…Was it our self-esteem, our security, our ambitions, our personal, or sex relations, which had been interfered with?” (pages 64-65)
Some specific examples you might wish to use:
self-esteem (one’s view or perceived value of oneself)
ambitions (including ego and/or pride)
social security (wanting to be needed, wanted and loved)
personal relationships (family, friends or others)
sexual relations (pleasure or procreation)
Here is how all of this looks in the example list shared in our Basic Text:
note: The word “fear” does not appear in the above at the moment since we look at fear a little later in Step Four. Having that word “bracketed alongside” on the example list in our book simply reflects looking back at this list while later considering the matter of fear.
If you have not yet added your own injuries in Column Three, right now might be a good time to do so. And of course, you can add any additional names (Column One) and causes (Column Two) that might come to mind as you come along.
There is yet another caution we would like to share with you here, and that is this:
Many of us have heard people say things like “Other people cannot hurt me unless I allow them to do so.” There is a some truth there, of course, but learning to choose our friends, associates and even our companions wisely is not what we are doing at the moment. Right now we are looking at the fact that all human beings, including ourselves, are affected by the actions of others — our own personal injuries and injustices are presently being listed in Column Three — and Step Four is also about learning the fact that our lives being driven or controlled by our anger and resentment does not work well (and never could have or ever will) in relation to finding satisfactions of our natural instincts and desires. So overall, do not fall into the temptation of the ego or intellect trying to philosophically avoid or resolve anything here. Rather, just continue on with these Twelve Steps that ultimately show us what actions to take (even against our own thinking or “old ideas” as mentioned on page 58) as we thereby learn a new manner of living that really does work even when some of the very best people around us might still let us down once in a while!
Again, here are the kinds of things we list in Column Three:
-material security (food, clothing, shelter, etc.)
-financial security (secure in the workplace, bills paid, etc.)
-emotional or social security (feeling needed, wanted and loved)
-personal relationships and companionship (including sexual relations)
-ambitions (personal goals or sense of accomplishment)
-self-esteem (a perception of one’s own value in life)
This is not a test, so there are no right or wrong answers here. A thief can rob us of material or financial security, and people who take advantage of others can leave us feeling like doormats. Imperfect people hurt others, and Column Three is where we list where we have been hurt.
After completing Column Three, our next task is to begin analyzing our resentments…