Will I Always Inventory About the Same Things?

personal inventory

Table of Contents

Hopefully, if you’ve been in recovery for even a little bit of time, you’ve gotten busy with the 12 Steps. If this is the case, you’ve likely encountered the 4th Step and the 10th Step. These are commonly referred to as the personal “inventory” steps. Even if we’re new to the 12-Step program, we’ve probably heard a lot about the inventory steps — including a lot of mixed reviews. Some people dread inventory, while others swear by it. We can only assume that if it’s part of the 12 Steps, it isn’t optional if we want to recover and live a happy life. Nor could it possibly be something to fear or dread, or even remotely harmful, because the 12 Steps are designed to help us find freedom and recovery.

What seems to be the biggest reason that personal inventory gets a bad rap is that sometimes things can get emotional. Inventory asks us to revisit our fears, resentments, and relationship and sexual conduct. These things can be hard to take a second look at. However, the reason we do inventory on these things is because they are the sources of all our troubles and slip-ups. For those of us willing to work the 12 Steps to the best of our ability, we must face this sometimes emotionally troublesome process head-on. If we persist in the recovery program, we have hopefully been doing inventory on a fairly regular basis.

This may lead us to experience a common occurrence with regular personal inventory. We end up feeling stuck, like we’ve been writing the same things for months or dealing with the same problems and issues over and over again. This can feel frustrating, even defeating. It can certainly be discouraging, but we shouldn’t let it derail us or cause us to lose faith in the 12-Step process. Let’s look at some helpful things to keep in mind if we find ourselves struggling with repetitive inventory troubles.


Why We Do Personal Inventory

First of all, it’s part of the 12 Steps — twice, actually (the 4th Step and the 10th Step). Second, inventory is the process by which we uncover and eventually discard the character defects that cause us trouble and others harm. As the book Alcoholics Anonymous says, “A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke. Taking a commercial inventory is a fact-finding and a fact-facing process.” The book goes on to say that this inventory is taken in search of the truth, and we must do exactly the same thing with our lives. It’s an incredibly worthwhile, powerful, and useful process. It’s probably going to be uncomfortable sometimes, but all we need to benefit from this process is the willingness to face our fears and do the work honestly and thoroughly. Our higher power will do the rest.

The 6th Step and 7th Step are how we work with our higher power to remove our character defects, but without inventory we wouldn’t know what sorts of troubling behaviors and habits we’re dealing with. We just wouldn’t be able to see our defects — and if we can’t see them, we can’t do anything about them. So inventory isn’t just a list of our fears, resentments, and relationship and sex conduct; inventory is how we see the parts of ourselves that cause us and those around us harm. If we’re seeing the same things over and over again in our inventory, we need to take a step back and look at things honestly.


Don’t Lose Hope

Most of us who do regular inventory generate our own “greatest hits” list: the fears, resentments, or conducts that keep popping up like a bad penny. We all get stubborn about certain character defects, or perhaps we are just blind to something. But if we persist in the inventory process, we should be able to eventually remove our own blindspots. If we allow recurring troubles to discourage us from doing inventory, we’ll never lose those blindspots. Essentially, the only way out is through.

If we’re sick and tired of writing inventory about the same things over and over again, our best bet is…to keep writing and dropping inventory about those things. It’s the only way we’re going to finally see what we’ve been missing, so we can work with our higher power to remove the character defect that keeps causing us the same problems over and over again. After all, this is how inventory works. Sometimes we’re going to miss some things or we’re not going to want to see them at all. Sometimes we’re going to keep acting out on a defect because we like some of the other consequences of it. Sometimes we just miss it. Sometimes we see something that causes our recurring troubles, but we refuse to ask our higher power to remove it — or worse, we refuse to let it be removed.

A little-known truism about personal inventory is that it is most effective when immediately followed by work on the 6th Step and 7th Step. If we’ve been leaving these two crucial steps out of our personal inventory routine, that might be a good place to start. In recovery, there is always a solution and there is never a reason to give up hope, as long as we persist with working and living the 12-Step program life.

At Jaywalker Lodge, we firmly believe in the 12-Step program of recovery. In fact, it’s the foundation of everything we do here. We once struggled to maintain long-term recovery, until we were fully immersed in the 12 Steps, our personal cycles of relapse stopped, and we finally found lasting recovery. We know that this process can work for you, too. No matter what your journey has been up until now, no matter how far down the scale you have gone, and no matter how many times you have slipped before, Jaywalker Lodge can help you find your way into a 12-Step-based life of recovery. Recovery is possible for anyone, and everyone who struggles with alcoholism or addiction deserves the chance to find recovery. We do what we do because we truly believe in it. If you are ready and willing to begin living a happy, joyous, and free life in recovery from alcoholism and addiction, Jaywalker Lodge is ready to help. Call us now at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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