A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. “That laundry isn’t very clean; she doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs a better laundry soap.” Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same type comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: “Look, she’s finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this.” The husband replies, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”
And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look. except in real life, no one can clean the windows we see through. That’s no one else’s job but yours.
The 4th Step is about shining some light into the areas of your life that you would prefer to keep hidden in the shadows. It’s a process that will illuminate the hidden influences and blind spots that have sabotaged your development. Based upon doing this exercise personally and leading other through it too, I have come to believe that hidden deep beneath our conscious personality are layers of thoughts and feelings that can inhibit our development by causing us to avoid aspects of our experience or by encouraging damaging addictions. The personal inventory brings to the surface how all this is hidden in the shadows and the effects it has had upon your life and on the lives of others.
The 4th Step is an incredibly effective and powerful way to identify your character defects and transform them into valuable assets. All the Steps up to this point have been decisions – this is the beginning of getting into action and really doing the deal. And frankly it where many do stop. Often because they misunderstand what the purpose is. The inventory is not about anything but gaining clarity to the causes and conditions that have brought you to this point in your life so you can make an informed decision. Then you present what you have found to an objective person who can bring it all into a better focus. Then you can decide what you want to do next.
You may think you know yourself now. And you probably do know a lot. But millions of people who have done the personal inventory have discovered so much more about themselves. It’s how they begin to let go of thoughts and feelings that have blocked you from becoming the best person you can possibly be.