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Exposing the Root of Our Faulty Behaviors, By Rick R.

The faulty behaviors that caused us to damage our relationships with other people are the subjects we need to address in Step Four. To get down to the core issues that caused us to behave the way we did, it is not necessary to drag these episodes out ad nauseam.

The Big Book starts the process with our resentments. This is just the first topic we will address in our inventory. Some others may deal with subjects such as gossip, dishonesty, selfishness, neglect, character assassination, etc.

These issues arise when our natural instincts for protection far exceed their intended purpose. More topics will be revealed through the “why we did these things” part of this step. I would have one page for each of these matters, and, as a new issue came up, I would open another page.

I would start with the most obvious person I had a resentment for and try to determine the cause and effect of my behaviors. Once I discovered why I felt threatened by this person or issue, I could deal with it at that level. Then I would move on to the next person on the list, and so on.

After going through three or four of these people I found that I was repeating myself, and I would move to the next topic: Fears.

Then, I see that most of the fears stem from my own insecurity. For example: I was talking to a friend awhile back and I questioned how we could talk about another person without it being considered gossip. His response was life changing for me. He said: “All forms of criticism and character assassination stem from low self-esteem.”

The low self-esteem was the defect of character. The criticism and character assassination were the shortcomings (faulty behaviors).

To put it in simpler terms, let’s say you just purchased a brand new SUV and drove away from the dealership. As you approach the first stop sign you hit the brakes, but the vehicle didn’t stop properly and drifted into the intersection.

You carefully drive back to the dealership and explain what happened. The salesman said the mechanic will check it out and see what went wrong. Shortly thereafter, the salesman returns and explains that they put the wrong brake pads on the SUV. They would have them replaced, and things should be fine.

You get the vehicle back and drive off. When you reach the first stop sign, the SUV stops perfectly. And it stops perfectly at all of the other stop signs you approach. The defect was the faulty brakes; the failure to stop was the shortcoming. Once the defect was corrected, the short coming went away. The defect was the cause, and the shortcoming was the effect.

If we simply look at our irrational fears and insecurities as the defects in every case, we can get through Step Four quickly. I find it best to add any new shortcomings, as they become obvious, to an additional page and expose them to the light.

Without a thorough Fourth and Fifth Step, I can’t see any way that a person can do the rest of the steps and not have those tormenting Ghosts of yesterday still rattling around in their head. They may never drink another drop of alcohol, but if they never rid themselves of those corrosive mental issues, they’ll miss out on what I see as the most important promise in the program: peace of mind.

Ridding ourselves of the root causes of our behaviors is the solution to our mental unrest. In time, we will develop a life of credibility, integrity and, above all, a clear conscience. It gets easier as we move forward and get right with ourselves and the world around us.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.