Step 4: Column 5 Peeling Back False Beliefs

Pick up the sausage. Wash it good. Make a lengthwise cut along the side. Now pinch the edge of the cut in the casing, folding it back over itself all the way around (false teeth clicking) and pull real steady and slow…. See how easy that was (denture click)?

This I how Grandma taught me to skin the sausages from the Wadena meat-packing plant when I was in grade school. During the 50’s on our century-old family farm in the rocky hills of NE Iowa, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents absorbing survival skills: some good, some bad.

Over the years, I combined my alcoholic tendencies with increasing character defects and more survival skills. Then a few years ago I went to AA. That’s where the sausage skin really peels: I got sober and I got real.

First, there was a cut along the entire length of my insane city life. That happened when I slashed all the previous patterns of my life, which included drinking, marketing my seminar business and isolating. I questioned my entire existence, looking closely at the cocoon-like wrappings of my life. I picked it up, washed away the slippery self-protectiveness and gave it to God. I had no idea what come next.

God, folded back the thin casing of false beliefs and deceitful self-image that I had wrapped around me so tightly for 50 some years. (Hang on. I can talk symbolically all day but I have a point.)

Assisted by the helpful and patient wisdom of AA long-timers, I started letting go. I let God pull that veneer of falsehood and self-sufficiency away from my vulnerable self. It was painful to see the raw truth of my life and relinquish my favorite survival skill, alcohol. Admitting I was an addict made me feel over-exposed and fearful.

The key, just like Grandma said, was in the steady and slow process of peeling away, but in this case, it was important that I NOT do all the peeling. With assistance from the Step work, I started letting God peel away the following false beliefs that I’d wrapped around me so tightly:

False Belief Survival Skill

Character Defect

I’m able to figure out life and make it less scary.


I’m able to make sure things work out the way I want them to.


I have to act like I’m doing fine.


I can pull myself up by my own bootstraps and will not ask for help.


Along with learning to peel sausage, I’d picked up attitudes and philosophies that were keeping me tightly bound in untruth.

“Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? “~ Alcoholics Anonymous, 2012, p 61

I had always believed the key to life was managing well. Eventually, I was drinking to escape the pressures of being so self-reliant and was afraid to face the lie I was living. I even ignored the fact that I couldn’t quit drinking. Worst of all, I had refused to see how my addiction affected others.

The character defects of Column 5 are listed in the AA textbook. I’ve seen inventories with dozens of defects. For me, it’s just simpler to stick to the basic Foul Four. Give it a try! Can you link a survival skill (false belief) from your growing up years to any one of the Foul Four?