Baby Stepping Fourth: Day 7, Column 5

Baby Steps of Step 4, column 5

Here we go beyond the reactions and examine the motivations. Our behavior is driven by motivations. Knowing how you act in a pressure situation is valuable (column 4), but knowing why you act like you do is even more helpful.

What makes us do the things we don’t want to do and not do the things we want to? Interesting insights ahead. What you learn in this last column will reveal the secret things that drive your life. Very valuable.

What to document

Day 7 Assignment: In column 5 list your unhealthy character traits

Choose from the following:

  • Selfish
  • Dishonest
  • Self-seeking 
  • Fearful


How to document

Taking this in baby steps requires that we keep it simple. So, here are the basic defects that we’re looking for:  selfishness, dishonesty, self-seeking, and fear. (Note: if none of those fit, you can use inconsiderate.)

Here is an example: I used to raise my voice and argue when I felt threatened. The following basic character traits (or defects) applied:

  • Selfish – Like a toddler, I wanted what I wanted. When that wasn’t happening, I attacked the uncooperative person or group.
  • Dishonest – I didn’t want anyone (especially myself) to see how fearful I felt, so I confidently reacted in anger. My confidence, though not honest, was very loud.
  • Self-seeking – It was important to me that I accomplish my goals or get my needs met. I never considered anyone else’s needs or desires unless they helped mine. I didn’t ask people for their perspective. I didn’t really care.
  • Fear – I never expected life to turn out well. Every little thing scared me and further proved to me that I was right; I was different and life was out to get me. Fear fueled my attacks on others and I felt justified using anger against them or isolating to protect myself.

In the above example, all 4 character defects came into play. These are provided for comparison Usually, listing the top 2 is enough. You don’t have to go overboard.

Why do this?

What’s the point? Simple. We all have instinctive defenses, such as those listed in column 4. What lies behind those defense mechanisms, the motivations for our reactive behavior, is a set of traits. In the 1930s language of Alcoholics Anonymous, those traits or weaknesses are called character defects.

Examples of documentation

This column of the inventory is the hardest. The scope of our own weaknesses is not easy to identify when we begin this process. In fact, most people don’t want to know their character defects. You are not alone. Reach out to others who have been through this Step. Contact me if you have any questions or want suggestions.

You can read more examples in Peeling and the Foul Four.

Finish this and you’re done with the Not So Scary Resentments Inventory of Step 4. Congratulations! Really, congrats!!

The next part of Step 4 Inventory is the Baby Steps of Fear. Click here to start.