AA Fear List

Among the many treatment plans given to those suffering from alcoholism, the 12-step program emerges as one of the most popular and effective.

Alcoholics Anonymous’ (AA) Big Book claims to have garnered an impressive 50% success rate among its followers.

During your pathway toward recovery, you’re often tasked with self-reflection. In the fourth step of AA, you need to reflect on your fears, resentments, and other factors in your life that led you to where you are now.

As someone stuck in this step, let this guide help you organize your thoughts and plan what to write to complete it successfully.

Guide for Step 4 of AA

The 4th step in the 12-step program from AA asks those suffering from addiction to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of themselves. In other words, this step allows you to take a look at yourself and create a personal reflection of your fears.

“Moral” in this case primarily refers to the truth about yourself. This self-discovery leads you to get a clearer image of the role you played when navigating your life during addiction and how you ended up here.

You’ll begin to notice patterns, behaviors, and instincts that drive you to make negative choices. By understanding these aspects, you’ll begin to acknowledge what’s holding you back from recovery.

Overall, the fourth step makes you take a clear-cut inventory of the fears and resentments to review your life. It doesn’t have to be a detailed account of every little altercation in your life story. The more clear-cut you are in this inventory, the better.

Guide to Completing Step 4

To keep things organized, you’ll be dividing this step into a few sections, such as your resentments and fear inventory. Here’s a guide to each one below.


The founders of AA understood the power resentment held over alcoholics. According to the Big Book, “Resentment is the number-one offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.”

The author addresses it as a spiritual disease where you have pent-up anger towards an aspect of your life.

To complete the resentment inventory, you’ll need to first list who or what you’re resentful of. Next, briefly mention the cause of resentment and talk about what part of your life it affects. In the latter section, you can mention whether it affected your social ambitions, personal relationships, self-esteem, and material security.

Lastly, you’ll want to ask yourself, “What part did I play in this resentment?” “Did I take any action against it?” “Could I be blamed in this situation? How?” All these questions help you become more honest with yourself and better learn your patterns.


I’m resentful at…CauseAffects my…Where was I to blame
My bossThey’re unreasonable.They keep threatening to fire me.They ask too much of me.Personal relationshipsMaterial securitySelf-esteemI was not confrontational.


After completing your resentments inventory, it’s time to reflect on your fears. The fear inventory can correlate with your resentments because think of it this way, in the fourth column where you mention your actions, were you doing them out of fear?

Fear-driven action usually comes when three parts of your life are threatened: social, security, and sexual instincts.

In other cases, your fears may not connect to your resentments. You might blame the fear on a lack of self-reliance. Some of us may have an incredible sense of self-confidence, but fears still linger at the back of our minds.

As per the Big Book’s more religious perspective, this is likely because you trust in your finite self, rather than an infinite higher power.

Besides that, completing this step will involve listing out your fears and what they affect in your life.


I’m fearful of…It affects my…
JudgmentThe opinion of othersSelf-esteemPersonal relationshipsEmotional security

Sex Conduct

During your journey towards recovery, maintaining a healthy sex ideal and conduct is crucial. Intimate relationships play a large part in our lives. They could either improve or risk your path to recovery.

You must consider the emotions of those involved as well as yours. For this reason, the sex conduct inventory allows you to write a list of people you’ve had sex relations with. Then, you answer questions like: “Was I dishonest?” “Was I inconsiderate?” “Was I selfish?” “Did I unjustly cause bitterness or hurt someone?”

In the succeeding column, you can answer, “What should I have done instead?” You’ll reflect on your actions in certain scenarios and imagine how better they could’ve played out had you acted differently.

This exercise will help you shape an idea of what you wish your future sex conduct to look like. You can also craft this image through the guidance of your higher power or highest self.


Whom did I hurt?CauseWhat could I have done instead?
My exI was inconsiderate and ghosted them.I didn’t let them know from the start that I couldn’t accept a long-term relationship.I could’ve been more transparent with them about my feelings.

Harm Done to Others

After writing about your resentment, fear, and sex conduct inventories, it should be clear to you who you’ve harmed throughout your struggles.

In this section, you’ll write down a list of people you’ve harmed. Then, detail why and how you harmed them. It could be from jealousy, selfishness, and dishonesty. Finally, write what you should’ve done instead.

Whom did I hurt?CauseWhat could I have done instead?
My sisterI was dishonest with her.I should’ve maintained a more truthful relationship with her and been more open.

Possible Fear List

As you create a list of fears for your inventory, here are some that can help:

  • God or a higher power
  • Loneliness
  • Rejection
  • Disease
  • Relapsing
  • Dying
  • Other people’s opinions
  • Possessiveness
  • Vulnerability
  • Financial strain
  • Honesty
  • Guidance
  • The past
  • Intimacy
  • Material loss
  • Losing a loved one
  • Self-expression
  • Judgment
  • Not being forgiven
  • Parents
  • Church environment
  • The unknown
  • Harming others
  • Staying sober
  • Hospitals
  • Being taken advantage of
  • Growing old
  • Writing the fourth step
  • Disapproval
  • Confrontation
  • Physical pain
  • Feelings
  • Authority figures
  • Police
  • Jail
  • Experiencing change
  • Dating
  • Guns
  • Government
  • Commitment
  • Communication
  • Responsibility
  • Insecurity
  • Invasion of boundaries
  • Public humiliation
  • Animal or insect phobias

Tips When Completing Your Fear List

As you write your fear list and complete the fourth step of the program, use these tips to ensure a more beneficial and effective experience.

  • Keep your details brief. You can write your fears in bullet points to make them clearer.
  • Don’t complete the step alone. Seek assistance from a friend, family member, or treatment support group.
  • Ensure that communication channels are open with your friends in case you need to process strong emotions.
  • While completing the list, maintain a healthy outlook. Don’t write it while hungry, angry, tired, or lonely.
  • Try to pray or meditate before writing the list to ensure a calmer state of mind while digging up past experiences.
  • Use online resources to find worksheets for each inventory.

To Conclude

Recognizing your fears and facing them during your recovery journey requires courage. Self-reflecting on your faults and addressing what could’ve been done allows you to see a better version of yourself in the future.

Through the fourth step in AA’s 12-step program, you’ll be able to do that and gain more insight into the reasoning behind your actions and decisions. In other words, you get to gain a larger inventory of yourself.

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, don’t hesitate to contact us at Allure Detox to receive the care necessary.

Published on: 2024-06-11
Updated on: 2024-06-12