The Reverse 4th Step

Discover Your Character Traits, Goals & Purpose

Our 12-step fellowship provides a roadmap to uncover the reasons for our addiction. In our 4th step, we list with complete abandon an inventory of our resentments, fears and defects of character, connecting the dots between our pattern of behavior and our addiction. This self-cleanse allows us to bear witness to all of our deepest ailments and then enables us to let them go and work on our defects in the future. It takes courage to dig into our disease and let that become a part of our growth. Recovering addicts are given strength through their vulnerability when they admit their personal faults and actively work on them.

This process relieves us of the things that are holding us back from discovering our true passions. Now, with a renewed sense of self and clarity, there is no better time to discover your true potential. In reading through a number of books on life, awareness and happiness, I realized that many of them encouraged positive personal identification, which included things like skills, natural born talents, character traits and passions. I found myself surprised that I there was no worksheet on taking a positive inventory to identify personal qualities, outlining how one could offer their gifts to the world and pursue their passions in life.

This notion struck a nerve because I believe many of us identify, both prior to and after getting sober, with a fear of the future. In truth, how exactly can we have energy and optimism for the future if we have not identified a path to walk toward it?

You may ask yourself: What is my calling? What are my dreams? How can I ever achieve them? How do I deal with life now? We’ve won the lottery by finding recovery. In many ways we have been “reborn”. We’ve also been granted time and mental space to work on what we most desire. Think about how much better your sobriety will be if you put energy into your dreams and goals? Now that is a great way to create a positive foundation in recovery.

You owe it to yourself to discover your passion and purpose. You can start today with an exercise I’ll call a “Reverse 4th Step”. List the personal attributes you value which strengthen your character and what you can offer the world. Start by making lists of these qualities by following this simple guide:

  1. List the talents you are born with (your natural abilities, aptitudes)
  2. List skills that you have developed or mastered (sports, technologies, art, singing)
  3. List your education & experiences that have made you uniquely specialized (training, travel, etc.)
  4. List your character traits of the spirit (courageous, empathetic, optimistic, grace under pressure)
  5. List your top, most memorable accomplishments (winning a race, best-in-class)
  6. List your values (family, honesty, freedom)

Next, discover your passion and purpose. Most people don’t know what their passion and purpose is because they have never tried to figure it out. You can begin reaching your dreams by first writing them down. According to Dave Kohn, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, people who regularly write down their goals earn 9x as much over their lifetimes as the people who don’t. Make this list positive, specific and measurable. You would be amazed at how attainable your dreams are if you take the time to identify your ambitions.

By connecting your natural abilities and character traits with the things you are passionate about, you can pursue goals in your life that align with your real purpose. For example, if you are a naturally gifted skier and have a high level of patience, perhaps becoming a ski instructor would be a well suited job for you. Maybe you are extremely good under pressure and love high-energy. You might want to consider a profession in an emergency room or trauma center. If travel is a passion of yours and you’re an excellent writer, decide to embark on a travel blog and share your experiences with the world.

If you follow your passion money and success will naturally follow, not the other way around. The same goes for your journey in sobriety. While identifying our character defects helps us work on being better people in the future, focusing on our character traits can help us pursue the dreams of our innermost soul. Think of your life ahead as an empty canvas: visualize life’s coming attractions by identifying your unique traits and by setting goals because possibilities, adventure, accomplishment, contribution and happiness are waiting.

Signs That Show You or a Loved One are Already Addicted

Signs That Show You Are Drug or Alcohol Dependent

1. Tolerance
Have you noticed needing to use more of the same substance to get the desired effect? Our bodies grow increasingly more tolerant of drugs and alcohol the more often we use them. Tolerance is a signal of abuse and your bodies way of handling the toxicity. In reality you are allowing your body the ability to absorb more toxins when you increase your tolerance.
2. Withdrawal
As drugs or alcohol leave the body, classic symptoms of withdrawal set it. These include anxiety, jumpiness, shakiness, trembling, sweating, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, depression, irritability, loss of appetite, fatigue and headaches. Severe withdrawal can include seizures, hallucinations, fever and even death, especially for alcoholics. Your body, which is getting used to having the drugs and alcohol in your system, is reacting to the void. To calm these symptoms, addicts and alcoholics drink or use to calm their symptoms, or to avoid symptoms at all. Many turn into morning drinkers or all-day drug abusers.
3. Loss of Control
Have you found yourself drinking or using more than you wanted to, and for a longer time than you intended? This is a classic sign that your using is getting out of control, because you are no longer in charge of when you choose to stop using. Many consider this the powerful “obsession” of using.
4. Desire to Stop But Can’t
You’ve identified that your drinking or drugging problem is causing negative consequences in your life. But despite changing up your routine, using in different ways or trying to abstain altogether, you find you cannot quit. This is also a classic signal that you or a loved one are in need of professional help to relieve you of your dependency.
5. Neglecting Other Activities
As drugs and alcohol become an everyday need, it requires more time to get and use them in daily life. Addicts find themselves doing less of the activities they used to enjoy in order to concentrate more on their drug of choice. In addition, it can become difficult to do some of the activities they once enjoyed while under the influence of powerfully mind and mood altering substances.
6. Continue To Use Despite Negative Consequences:
As drugs and alcohol become abused with greater frequency, it commonly interrupts daily life and leads to substantial issues with family, loved ones, the law, your career and ones health. What maybe used to seem unimaginable becomes reality like incarceration, loss of relationships, loss of jobs and a deterioration in health. Despite these radical consequences, the power of addiction usually overwhelms these dire circumstances and the user finds themselves relying more than ever on their drug of choice.
If you’re not sure if you or a loved one are exhibiting these symptoms, there are also other warning signs to be on the lookout for. Some include weight loss or gain, loss in appetite, seizures, unexplained accidents or injuries, shakes, tremors, slurred speech, drop in performance or attendance, unusual need for money (borrowing, stealing or missing valuables), frequent arguments, unexplained change in attitude and mood, frequent irritability, outbursts, unusual hyperactivity, lack of motivation and paranoia.
It’s important to remember that these are all normal reactions to drug and alcohol abuse. After a time, it becomes difficult even for the most determined people to kick their addiction without outside help and a dramatic lifestyle change. If you think you may have an addiction problem, or know someone who is showing these signals, call one of our specialists at 1-866-233-1869 and they’ll be happy to recommend a treatment plan to overcome the powerful obsession of addiction.