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Step 4 of Overeaters Anonymous – Come to Know Yourself

As part of my continued Ode to the 12 Days of Christmas for Bulimics and Anorexics this post is about Step 4 of Overeaters Anonymous, which reads:

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

It’s only step 4 of OA and I feel like I’ve lost all of my original humor about this whole process.  Ha! I started out thinking this series of posts would be light and uplifting, but man it’s not coming natural to me to talk about going to the depths of your soul and transforming yourself from the inside out with the humor of Jim Carey or Ellen DeGeneres.

I will do my best to keep things light, informative and practical.  You’re not here to waste your time and I respect that you really want to “get” this.

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What this step is for me is about starting to recognize that you’re really not perfect – and that’s ok.  The searching is about taking a good, long look at yourself – your deep, inner self to see what you’re all about.  Some people journal about this, some go for long walks and just explore what they find when they start to reflect upon who they are, what they believe in and who they have become.

The fearless part is about digging deep enough to find those nuggets that maybe we don’t want to accept, have anyone find out about or even know for ourselves.  It’s pretty embarrassing when you finally shine light on your ugly ways of being. Hey – we all have them.  Being aware of your character flaws – your humanity – is access to growth.  Take this on like a quest to find out who you are; the real you that may be even invisible because of who you think you are.

The moral inventory of ourselves is to get to the heart of the matter about your true nature.  Along your journey you’ve adopted ways of being (kind, funny, compassionate, argumentative).  Your ways of being help you get through life and be in a social and physical environment.  Most of your ways of being serve you.  It’s those ways of being that you’re probably unconscious about that aren’t serving you that you want to begin to become aware of and examine.

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My work in this process was done outside of OA meetings through the Landmark Forum and various personal development classes.  I can tell you from all of the workshops I did that uncovering what stops you is the greatest gift you can ever give yourself.  In the Landmark Forum it’s taught that there is information you know and there’s information you know (your home address or Mother’s maiden name), information you know you don’t know (like you know you don’t know how to fly a jet airplane or do a triple back flip) and then there’s this whole magical realm of information that you don’t know and you don’t know that you don’t know it (like the fact that you quit before you finish but aren’t even aware of it).

In the 4th Step of OA it talks about letting another human being totally know and accept you.  Part of your work in this step is examining and taking a long hard look into who you are – flaws and all.  The flaws give you access to opportunities to grow and develop.  Working with a partner or group can be powerful because we all have flaws and hearing that other people are coming to realize they have flaws, too, can be so comforting.

I caution you from studying the word “fearless” in this step.  There’s really nothing to be afraid of.  You’ll dig up some yucky stuff about yourself, but at least you’ll finally realize it and have access to change.

For the next 2 weeks, journal for 30 minutes a day and ask yourself, “what ways of being am I letting run me that are having a negative impact on my life?”  Look at those times in your life when you’ve had a breakdown in relationship, a frustration at work, a hardship at home for access to who’s running the show.

If you’d like to share any feedback on my interpretation of step 4 below in the comments, please feel free.

Get ready for my next post – Step 5 of Overeaters Anonymous (OA).  Here’s a preview:

 Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.