4 Thoughts on the 4th Step Fears List

4 Thoughts on the 4th Step Fears List

4 Thoughts on the 4th Step Fears List

Hi, my name is Rick and I’m an alcoholic.  My sobriety date is 11/17/1987….  I have been working with my current sponsor since February of 2013 and when I first started working with him, I asked him if he would take me back through the Steps and teach them to me the way HE was taught.  So, we did that.

When we got to my 4th Step inventory and to part two of the three part inventory (the Fears list), he shared some of his thoughts with me on fear.  Since then, I have added a few things to it that have been very helpful to me that I wanted to share in the hopes it would be helpful to others.  Please remember, this is just my experience and my experience only…..

1.) There are two (2) kinds of fear:

  • Areas where I am physically threatened: Merriam Webster defines this kind of fear as, “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.”
  • Areas where where I am spiritually threatened (lack of faith & understanding): A strong belief that God will not provide.

2.) There are two reasons for fear:

  • Fear of not getting what I want: I often times lose sight of the difference between what I want and what I need today.  If I look deeply at my fears on this level, I will see that most, if not all, of my basic needs continue to be met (a roof over my head, food in my mouth, clothes on my back, and good health [for the most part]).  I can assure you I don’t get everything I want today – but that said, many of my wants are met today.
  • Fear of losing something I already have: I can’t speak for you, but there have been so many times that I hold on for dear life to things I already have.  Whether it comes from old thoughts of lack and loss, or whether it is from simple selfishness – I sometimes have a hard time letting things go.

3.) We don’t “work” on fears – we work on faith and apply it in those areas

One day I was on the phone with my sponsor and we were talking about something that was bothering me, some character defect that was popping up as a result of a fear that I had at that moment.  With frustration, I basically blurted out, “Well, OK THEN!  I’ll just work on that!!!!”  He cracked up laughing at me, and as he was laughing, I very loudly asked, “WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING AT?!?!?!”  He kept laughing, and when he was done, he said, “I think it’s hysterical that you think you can WORK on that! You, my friend, do not have the skill to work on being less prideful, less angry, less greedy, less gluttonous, less lustful, less envious, or less slothful!!!!  That is WAY above your pay grade!!!”  I then asked (even more frustratingly), “Well, then – what do I do?” And as gently as he could, he said, “You strengthen your faith, become willing to surrender it, and let God remove it from you.”  It was a great lesson for me in Steps 6 & 7 that this is a partnership between me and God.  I do my work in becoming willing to let my fears and defects go, and then trust that God will remove them from me.

4.) If I look hard enough, I will likely find a defect as a manifestation of my fears.

It has been my experience that each and every time I find myself living in fear, some character defect will manifest (to become evident) or pop up.  If I am fearful I will never have enough, my defect of envy will show up in what others have that I don’t.  If I fear spending the rest of my life alone, the defect of anger may pop up at my situation.  If I fear that I will forever have parts of me that hold onto the belief that I am “broken”, “wounded” & “damaged goods,” I may act out in ways that support that belief.  My reality has been that each and every time I recognize I am fearful, if I am not connected to a God of my understanding (this new power that has flown into me when I took Step 3), a defect of character is likely to manifest in my life and there will be consequences from that defect.

Bottom Line For Me

The bottom line is that it is important for me to be alert, awake, and aware of my defects as they are occurring so that I may do the needed inventory to see where it is coming from.  Because I believe that every defect stems from some sort of fear I am having, the work I get to do is there.  If I believe that faith is the opposite of fear (which I do), I can then get into action to strengthen my faith, and God can remove those fears from me and my defects can be minimized and/or mitigated.

It has been said that F.E.A.R. can stand for “forget everything and run.”  It has also been said that it can stand for “face everything and rise.”  I believe that for today, I am going to focus on the latter if for no other reason that I believe that is what God wants from this alcoholic.  Fear is an idea-crippling, experience-crushing, success-stalling inhibitor that lives only between my left ear and my right ear.  Thank God I have a solution for it today.