Principles for making an inventory

Today, you may want to consider specific principles that you have lived by that may not be serving you well. If you wanted to do this exercise, it would look like another four column sheet:

1. The principle of______________________ .

2. What happened to enforce this principle in my life?

3. How did this affect me? What do I think this way of believing cost me?

4. How did I react?

Principles take many forms but usually are founded in falsehood and cause harm. The principle of prejudice, or the principle that grown-ups do not cry, or that only self-indulgent people practice self-care are all examples of principles that we may resent now that we are learning they are false and have harmed us when we lived by them.

Here is an example that my friend with the problem of naming his resentment put down:

1. I resent the principle that I was taught “Anger is a sin.”

2. My mother taught me that God hated angry people and required me to “put on a happy face”

all the time. If I cried in frustration or got angry I had to hide my feelings to avoid


3. The effect this had on my life: I do not know what to do when I feel anger. I repress my

emotions. I am dishonest about how I felt. I have developed depression and stress-related

health issues. I think this contributed to my divorce and my using.

4. I have been selfish in other relationships as a result of trying hard to avoid any negative

emotions, I have asked my wife to take responsibility for my feelings (selfish), I have acted like a victim, my fear of losing control made me super controlling of my wife and kids, and even at work.