We write inventory to extract resentment, fear and sexual misconduct, which if left in the body will cause all sorts of damage, both spiritual and physical. Here we deal specifically with resentments, which block us from truly getting better, as they form a wall between us and God. But inventory is a miraculous tool and should be used by anyone seeking to grow and rid themselves of the various forms of spiritual poison.
Before reading and using these instructions, please first read the post, Resentment.
(See also Resentment Inventory Example afterwards for an example, as well as Fear Inventory, Sex Inventory, More Inventory, Home Depot Inventory, Professor Masshole & Resenting Ourselves?.)
So here are the instructions for writing resentment inventory:
1) Write the name of the Person, Institution (place) or Principle (idea) that we resent. Just the name.
2) Write the Specific Resentment we have towards that person, institution or principle. This could be what they did or said to us, what they did or said to someone else, or just some quality or trait that we resent.
3) Write the parts of us that the resentment affects. Does it affect our Pride (ego) or Ambition (desire), our Self-Esteem (self-worth), our Personal or Sexual Relationships, our Security (physical security/survival), or our Wallet/Pocketbook?
4) Now the real work begins. In the fourth column of resentment inventory, we ask ourselves how we caused each specific resentment, because the truth is it had nothing to do with the other person, place or idea. This is where we discover our character defects, our maladjusted and unhealthy behavioral patterns that have caused us to become so spiritually ill, and caused others so much grief. This is the most important part of our inventory. If this 4th “column” isn’t done, than no real work has been accomplished. Today, many modern AA and NA workbooks and sponsors leave this column out completely… and that, needless to say, could be deadly.
So in the 4th column, we ask ourselves how we were being: Self-Seeking, Selfish, Dishonest, and Fearful. Below are some guiding questions, but we should try to discover the deepest, most accurate answer for each of the following categories.
Self-Seeking (i.e. Seeking a Self): How did we want to look or be seen by others, or by ourselves? Were we trying to be seen as a tough guy, a hero, a stud? Did we want to look smart, cool, strong, normal, successful, rich? How do we want to be seen by others? Addicts are VERY self-seeking – that is, they seek a self. We seek a self because the way we want to be seen is NOT the way we actually are. So usually when we want to be seen as tough, the truth is that we are a coward.
Selfish: What did we want? What were we trying to get? What were we trying to keep or protect? What were we unable to see about the other person, about ourselves, or about the situation? We have to really DIG for this one. It is essential to find our selfishness in the resentment.
Dishonest: How were we being dishonest? Did we or do we do the very thing we resent? Were we lying to ourselves or others about something? Were we avoiding some truth about ourselves, the other person, or a situation? Were we not being honest about how we felt? A good example is when we act nice when the truth is someone upset us. But instead of standing up for ourselves, we instead chose to act nice to avoid confrontation. This will cause a resentment… but you can see that it was our fault because we weren’t being honest about how we felt. Addicts tend to act dishonestly in many situations.
Fear: What did or do we fear? What were we afraid of? Were we afraid of what the other person thought of us? Are we afraid of other people’s opinions of us? Are we afraid of rejection, failure, weakness, insecurity, cowardice? Are we afraid to be seen as weak, abnormal, mentally ill, insane, or a loser? So we ask ourselves what did we fear in the situation or prior to, that caused the resentment.
It is so important to dig in with this process and find these answers, as it brings us clarity and understanding to the flawed ways we think and therefore act. Sure it may be that first answer that pops into your head, but it also may be something deeper or more subtle. We want the best answer, the most honest answer for each category.
For example, when my wife is suffering and I’m trying to enjoy the football game or some other nonsense, I resent her (I know, pathetic). But part of why I resent her is my own self-seeking. I want to be seen as a perfect husband, so why on earth would she be suffering? And selfishly, I resent her because her suffering takes me out of my comfort zone and therefore I can’t enjoy the football game.
Or in some other circumstance, I want to look like a loving husband by doing something nice, but because she is suffering, she doesn’t notice, and therefore I resent her.
Many resentments are born from expectation, which fall under the dishonest category. Often the truth is that we expect someone to respond a certain way and when they don’t, we cop a resentment. Very selfish. In the instance of my wife, I expected her to praise me for all I’ve done and when not only she doesn’t, but she simultaneously has a problem with me about some other thing, I resent her. The resentment is actually my fault because I was expecting a different response from her.
Remember, when we don’t get what we want from others, we resent. And to avoid seeing the truth of our expectation and to avoid taking responsibility, we retaliate like children. That is just one of many character flaws to be identified… and eventually exorcised from our being through Steps 5, 6 and 7.
Also to note, sometimes we exhibit our selfishness or dishonesty well after the event, like if someone abuses us but we lash out at others down the road who had nothing to do with the abuse.
It’s this type of searching that we must engage in to find our deepest truth. It’s this type of painstaking focus that we find purity in our work, and thus the greatest rewards – the rewards of change. So don’t be afraid, pray if you are stuck, and always remember that in every resentment, we were somehow selfish, self-seeking, dishonest or afraid, whether before, during, or after.
Good luck… and check out the link below.
12 & 12 – Step Four – Insight
God, help me to see those things that block me from You and Others…