We all have God given instincts. Instincts function to keep us alive. We have social, security and sex instincts.
Social instincts are broken down into self-esteem, which is how we value ourselves, and personal relations, which is our relationships with everyone in our community (family (not including significant other), neighbors, church, co-workers, .. etc).
Security instincts are broken down into material security, which is our pocketbooks, food, roof over your family’s head, and our ability to provide for our family) and emotional security, which is our need for emotional stability and the meeting of our needs.
Sex instincts are broken down into acceptable sex relations, which is our whole relationship with our significant other (not just the sexual aspect), and hidden sex relations, which is our natural attraction to others outside our significant others (for those addicted to others that treat them abusively this would include them).
The ambitions associated with these instincts are our hope for the future in these areas.
Basically, we have limited control over our instincts, and what we don’t have control over, God has control over. An example is someone looking for a job. We can look for a job, apply for a job we find, interview for the job and follow up after the interview, but ultimately whether we get the job or not is up to God. If we convince ourselves that this is THE job for us every time we apply for one, we experience disappointment after disappointment and we try harder to control the outcome with more and more effort, or we get discouraged and we eventually give up and settle for unemployment benefits and fall into depression. Both these responses to not getting what we want are indicative that we are attempting to exert control over outcomes that only God has control over. We call these ways that we are exerting control, “character defects”. Whenever we employ our character defects, we are causing ourselves pain, like the pain of disappointment, or the depression in the job example.
The goal of the 4th step is to get at these character defects. We want to get that list of character defects, so we can ask God to remove them in steps 6 & 7.