Step 10 of AA
Steps four through nine are considered a form of spiritual housecleaning. You have worked to remove the guilt and shame associated with past acts from your present life. But, that doesn’t mean that you are done. Step ten is the way to maintain the peace of mind you worked so hard to attain, which is why it is often called a maintenance step. It will prevent you from taking on new guilt and allow you to break free of a perfectionism that could upend your recovery.
Step tend states:
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
Step ten asks that you continue the process you worked during steps four through nine: inventory, assessment, change, and amends. The only difference is that the focus has shifted from the past and into the present. Additionally, you are asked to remain mindful of your behavior and to correct mistakes quickly, rather than waiting until you feel the time is right or you are forced to.
The following discussion will answer some of the questions you have about step ten. For the answers to other questions, call 800-839-1686. Our counselors can direct you to resources and connect you with the help you need to fight your alcoholism.
Why Am I Still Making Mistakes?
After working so hard to deal with the mistakes of your past and making changes to prevent them from happening again, you might feel like you should be perfect moving forward. Your goal is to never have another character defect to inventory and work through. But, that isn’t realistic and that sort of thinking can lead to relapse.
Step ten considers future mistakes not only probable, but likely. You won’t be able to avoid making them. Accepting this reduces the fear associated with mistakes. When you are running away from mistakes, you will try to hide them and deny them. You know what that behavior has led to in the past.
It’s very important that “success” isn’t defined as perfection. Research has demonstrated that this type of thinking makes it very difficult for people to maintain their recovery long-term.
Plus, you can’t learn from mistakes that you don’t acknowledge. You have to continue practicing the mindfulness you learned previously. You know how easy it is to trick yourself into ignoring things and letting them fester. This makes small issues grow into ones that can ruin relationships and threaten peace of mind.
How Do I Keep a Personal Inventory?
Obviously, everyone does this a little differently and you may end up changing how you do this. Most people working the steps write an inventory at the end of every single day and check in with themselves on an as needed basis.
What Do You Mean “As Needed”?
Realistically, any time you feel upset, you should take the time to examine what is happening in your life. For example, if you get into a fight with your significant other and you feel really angry, do a quick inventory. When you understand what is happening and what role you are playing, you can deal with it appropriately. Doing so usually helps you to control behavior that could escalate and require future amends.
When you do a quick check-in with yourself, stop what you are doing, breathe deeply, think about what you are doing, continue to breathe deeply, and continue. Over time, this will become a reflex and you will do it with ease whenever you begin to feel uncomfortable.
What About Nightly Inventories?
Each night, sit quietly and go through the day in your mind. Think about each event and your participation. You will see yourself behaving with dignity and class, as well as behaving in a way that could be improved. You may even realize that you owe amends.
If you owe someone amends, do it that night or the following morning. It is good to do your nightly practice early enough that you can still contact someone if you have wronged them. In addition, dealing with situations promptly is a sign that you are trustworthy and mature, which is the foundation for forming successful relationships.
How Long Will I Work Step Ten?
You will continue to work step ten for the rest of your life. You may go back to earlier steps as rarely as once a year, but step ten will never cease to be a part of your daily practice. This means that you must become disciplined. Train yourself to remain mindful every day and write an inventory every night.
To learn more about working the 12 steps and about other programs to help treat alcoholism, call 800-839-1686. Counselors are waiting to take your call and to give you the answers that you need.