Twelve-step programs advocate for a personal inventory in step four, and the written work in Refuge Recovery is essentially a large inventory. Taking stock of our behavior, thoughts, resentments, and experience is an important part of recovery that many have found to be incredibly beneficial. As we check in with ourselves in this formal manner, we get the opportunity to really look at pieces of ourselves which we have denied or neglected. Changing Tides has some great 4th step examples and worksheets available.
Of course, one of the dangers of taking an in-depth inventory is that we can fall into the habit of beating ourselves up. That’s why it’s often recommended to go through the process with a caring sponsor, mentor, or therapist. Personally, I did my inventories while still in treatment. The support of the treatment facility, my network there, and my loving sponsor helped me go through the inventory process feeling supported and safe. I then went through the Refuge Recovery inventories several times with another caring and helpful mentor. These formal inventories were insightful and helpful for me in my life, but they simply aren’t enough for me.
There are many people that take up the practice of writing an inventory every evening or morning. It’s a beautiful practice to try taking up for a week or so. I had a therapist once recommend making a list of people I may have harmed, things I did well, and things for which I was grateful. This was a great practice, encouraging me to check in with myself, my behavior, my joy, and how I was growing. Taking a regular inventory like this encourages us to stay in tune with what’s going on for us. You can do it at night, in the morning before your day starts, or at a regular time in the middle of the day. Here at our sober living, we have time every night for inventory-writing, as we find this an especially useful practice in early sobriety.
This is a practice encouraged in both the Big Book and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Sometimes, it can benefit us to just pause and check in during our day. We may not be able to wait until our next inventory-taking, and need to check in right away. Keeping the idea of taking stock in our minds, we can pause throughout our days and see where we’re at. We can recognize when we are angry, anxious, happy, at peace, or experiencing any number of emotions. This is really a practice in mindfulness, recognizing what’s going on in the present time experience. We begin to recognize what’s going on and no longer react to each and every unpleasant experience we have. I set a reminder on my phone that goes off a couple times a day that encourages me to stop and check in with myself.
Although meditation is often thought of in relation to the 11th step and not the 10th step in twelve-step traditions, it can be a wonderful way to take inventory. When we sit in meditation practice, we can clear the mind and tune into our direct experience. Often, we notice resentments and concerns arise in meditation practice. If nothing else, meditation helps us learn to be with what is going on and see it more clearly. Like many other practices in recovery, meditation isn’t just about the actual practice; it’s about bringing it to our daily lives. As we sit in formal meditation practice, we can see more easily when something is arising in our everyday interactions with others. It’s a great way to encourage ourselves to take inventory.
Whether you have a spouse, an intimate partner, friends, or a family, it can be good to check in with those around us. Many of our problems in our lives surround our relationships with other people. There’s no harm in simply checking in with these people. It can be a simple conversation, just seeing if there’s any harm been caused. I’ve found it incredibly helpful with my spouse to check in and see where each other stands with a certain situation. Especially when life is stressful or we’re facing some difficulties, it’s super beneficial to see how we’re doing.
These are just a few concrete ways I try to take regular inventory. They work for me, and I hope they’re of benefit to you!
This post was written by Atlas Recovery, a sober living in Los Angeles, California. With multiple beautiful residences, Atlas is a structured sober living offering strong community, group activities, and the opportunity to find a life of recovery in a safe environment. Visit them at www.Atlas-Recovery.org.
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