personal inventory

What Is a Personal Inventory?

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To complete Step 4 of the 12-Step recovery model, you need to take a “searching and fearless moral inventory.” Many people use the term personal inventory instead of moral inventory. The objective and process are the same, regardless of which term you prefer to use.

Before you can complete a personal inventory, though, you need to find the answers to a few important questions, such as: What is a personal inventory? How do I take one? Why is a personal inventory important?

The Personal Inventory, Defined

In the business world, taking inventory means making a list of everything in a store, warehouse, or other location. It is important to know what items you have on hand before you make decisions about acquiring additional merchandise or selling off certain assets.

In the recovery community, it can help to think of a personal inventory as an adapted version of this standard business practice. But instead of documenting what you own, you will focus on who you are. Instead of counting objects, you will be recording characteristics and traits. In other words, a personal inventory is a written document that summarizes the experiences, qualities, and values that have made you the person you are today.

One important feature of both a business inventory and a personal inventory is a commitment to accuracy. If you own a construction company, you have to know exactly what supplies you have on hand, or you may not be able to complete the project you’re working on. When you are working to build a healthier future for yourself, you have to begin with an honest and accurate accounting of who you are today.

The Importance of Taking a Personal Inventory in Recovery 

Now that you know what a personal inventory is, we can look at why it is important.

The act of taking a personal inventory forces you to think about essential concepts such as how you acted in the past, why you made the decisions you did, and what is most important to you today. You might think that this will be simple to accomplish, but once you begin you may be surprised at the effort it takes.

One of the reasons that taking a personal inventory can be such a challenge is that many people spend little to no time actually thinking about their actions, their reasons for taking those actions, and the effects those actions may have. 

This is also one of the reasons that taking a personal inventory can be such a valuable exercise. Because it requires you to take an honest look at your behaviors and your motivations. It also allows you to temporarily view yourself and your life from the perspective of a third-party observer. Changing your perspective can be an essential step in the process of changing your life.

How to Take Personal Inventory 

There is no single “right” way to take a personal inventory. Some people pick up a pen and make a list in a notebook. Others open their laptop and save their thoughts in a computer file. Still others find other techniques for getting the job done. 

As is the case with so much about recovery, your goal should be to find the process that works best for you, then use it to accomplish your objective.

Of course, when most people ask, “What is a personal inventory?” they’re not looking for information about where they should record their words. They’re looking for guidance about what types of words they should be writing down.

Here are a few questions that can help you decide what to include in your personal inventory:

  • What do you like about yourself? What are the qualities and characteristics that you’re most proud of?
  • Conversely, what are your least admirable traits? What aspects of your personality have caused you the greatest amount of shame or guilt?
  • What is most important to you? What motivates you to get out of bed? What helps you stay accountable when you’re struggling in your recovery? 
  • How would you describe your current position in life? Have you achieved more or less than you expected to by this point? Are you happy? Satisfied? Frustrated? Enraged?
  • If you’re not where you want to be, what stopped you? What specific decisions or actions derailed your progress? What do you need to do to get back on track?
  • How do you treat the people who are closest to you? Are you someone they can depend on in times of crisis? Do you add value to their lives, or are you someone that takes more than you give?
  • Who have you hurt, harmed, or injured in the past? How and why did you hurt them? 

Remember, these questions are designed to be a starting point. You don’t have to answer all of them. (In fact, you’re not required to answer any of them.) These are simply opportunities for you to start looking at your life in a way that will help you take an honest and accurate personal inventory.

How to Find Addiction Treatment

When you’re trying to find addiction treatment, don’t be afraid to contact centers directly and ask them about their programs and services. You want to identify the provider that is best prepared to meet your specific needs. Here are some questions that can help you decide if a center is the right place for you:

  • What levels of care do you provide?
  • What types of therapy do you offer?
  • How will you determine which services are right for me?
  • What are the qualifications of your treatment staff?
  • What is the typical length of stay at your facility?
  • Do you provide care for co-occurring mental health concerns?
  • Can you describe your discharge planning and aftercare process?

Any reputable addiction treatment center should be happy to answer these and any other questions you have. 

Begin Addiction Treatment in California

Ocean Hills Recovery is a premier source of comprehensive care for adults who have become dependent upon alcohol or other drugs. Our addiction treatment center offers multiple levels of care, personalized programming, and detailed discharge planning. If you have become trapped in the downward spiral of addiction, the Ocean Hills Recovery team is here for you. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

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