Climbing the twelve steps (Steps 4-6)

  1. Made a searching and fearless moral and financial inventory of ourselves.

These words are clear and obvious but frightening. Dealing with everyone owed money is essential and urgent. Dealing with your personal inventory is a lifetime job requiring honesty. This is not easy, even to a recovering compulsive gambler.

Searching. Fearless. Moral. These words could have frightened me, but strangely they did not. I had already admitted I was powerless to stop gambling and admitted reluctantly that my whole life was a mess. I had stopped running away and had made that simple decision to give GA a chance. It was quite logical that the next step would have me look at myself a bit closer.

I soon learnt that making a searching inventory could be done one day at a time in the same way as I was staying away from gambling one day at a time. So, I broke the inventory down into separate chunks: Character (both defects and qualities), Priorities and responsibilities, Feelings (good and bad), Financial. And within each of these even smaller chunks. I tackled the easiest first and put off the hardest. Why should I tackle the most painful first? I had a whole lifetime to work on myself.

I also realised (after looking at the rest of the recovery programme) that this step was only the process of

Doing something about each problem follows later, spread over the next FIVE steps

so painful though some of the discoveries about myself may be, I am being guided to deal with them slowly and surely.

LOOK at myself and my finances realistically.


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

The first look at this step is as frightening and impossible as Step Four, but once you learn that you do not have to admit ALL wrongs ALL AT ONCE, taking this step became manageable.

Don’t try to avoid this step on the grounds that you cannot find anyone. If you are having difficulty, ask someone in your group or your sponsor. Or choose a trusted friend, someone you respect, or a professional. Try to avoid a member of your family or spouse.

The very first time I chose a friend, but I must admit I did not have the courage to admit everything. But then I had not written everything down either while doing my inventory. However, as I gradually did more of my inventory,

I was also more willing to share more. The release I felt each time “l got it off my chest” was wonderful. The old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” was certainly true for me.

It was also important that I did not choose anyone who would be hurt by me unloading my guilt. Recovery is a slow process and part of my recovery is the acceptance that I will not recover overnight. I had always wanted results of everything I did to be instant, and now I was learning that even recovery itself would be slow.

SHARE my innermost weaknesses with another.


  1. Were entirely ready to have these defects of character removed.

Time to review what you have learnt about yourself and be certain that you are prepared to change. If you have been tackling your inventory and sharing as you go, then you should be ready to give away at least some of your worst character defects.

This is not an action step; it is however an important moment of decision. If you don’t think you are ready to move on, then do not hesitate to go back and re-do part of your inventory and share your thoughts. Recovery has no time limit. Take your recovery one day at a time.

I had made a start on my personal inventory and shared the wrongs with someone else, but what was I expected to DO in order to carry out this step?

When I looked forward at the next few steps, I could see that I was going to be led gently towards putting right the wrongs I had done. This step is therefore a “time out” to reflect on my admissions and to be sure I am ready to change. It is the opportunity to remind myself that only by giving away my defects can I distance myself from that next bet.

BE READY to improve myself.