The February 24th reading in CTC begins with a mercenary image: We've all had the frustrating experience of going to a department store for an item only to find the shelf empty. A shop owner resolves this by taking inventory to learn what shelves need to be replenished.
In the same way, I do my own Fourth Step to see where I have shortcomings. This experience is not meant to be painful, scary or shameful. If I see an "empty shelf" I need not pass judgment-- I can just make a note of the lack. Through the inventory, my gaps can be filled with the help of a loving Higher Power.
Do I need a solution to a problem? Do I have nagging doubts, fears, or frustrations? A "searching and fearless moral inventory of myself" can help me to see myself as I am, and discern the strengths I need to help me heal.
As I use the Steps, I see evidence of my progress. Each time I experience a triggering situation and don't experience familiar pains, I know I am healing.
My actions in working the Steps show my Higher Power that "I am willing to heal, to find a solution, to feel better." Today I rarely find myself automatically spending energy on worry, tears and obsession. Self awareness has helped me turn towards positive action.
Ninety percent of the world's woe comes from people not knowing themselves, their abilities, their frailties, and even their virtues. Most of us go almost all the way through life as complete strangers to ourselves. ~Sydney J. Harris