In today's post, we will look at step 10 of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step recovery program, which reads in its entirety: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admit it.
As a foundation for this post and others: We have discussed on the podcast, and in these writings, the program of AA is based on words. We surrender to those words. Some people feel more comfortable shaping the words in a way that make more sense to them. This can be dangerous as the question becomes, where does one draw the line? In our humble opinion, the words are written for a reason, so by changing those words, we feel we will find ourselves short-sold and the program’s potential. We think that if we use our words, our brain will process the same way it processed when we were out and actively addicted and that the same brain that caused the mess will be the same brain trying to fix it. We hope that makes sense.
In addition to the mess our brains made, our actions left a trail of destruction from here to eternity. The purpose of step 10, as we see it, is to stop the bleeding. To crimp the hose, if you will. To complete this step will take a constant movement of our thoughts and actions. This may seem daunting, but we have found that it is a stress reliever designed to support our continued sobriety.
Taking daily inventory
The words of step 10 have us taking personal inventory - Not necessarily a list of events and absolutely not anybody else's stock - this account focuses on our role and actions throughout the day.
Having a “why” for our actions goes a long way to achieving our desired outcomes, and nowhere is it more critical than in step 10. For us, the shared “why” is to prevent feelings and emotions from piling up and to bring us to the near-drink level. This new why drives our thoughts and actions.
Progress not perfection
Like the rest of the 12-step recovery program, we expected ourselves to crawl and stumble through change. We didn't expect ourselves to get this whole thing right from the beginning, and we were right about our expectations. Patients and self-forgiveness are needed elements while striving to improve.
Let's face the facts; it is unknown how many days it takes to form a habit. Some say 18, some say 250, and many say a number that falls between those two benchmarks. For this blog, we will assume that it will take, on average, 66 days to form a habit effectively. If your brain cannot wrap itself around that standard, choose whatever target you feel comfortable with. The point is to select a base.
The second piece of advice is to start today. We have found that this is a step that one can begin to practice long before concluding steps 1 through 9. Beginning to act anew does not have to wait for a magical calendar flip, as it can and should get underway today.
This is where theory meets practicality. So may we suggest that starting today and moving forward over the next 66 days that we schedule to end our days by asking ourselves the following questions:
1. Was I resentful of someone or something today? 2. Was I dishonest with myself or others today? 3. Was I prompt in admitting when I was wrong today? 4. Do I owe anyone an apology? 5. Did I do or say something today out of fear over the course of today? 6. Have I kept something to myself which should be discussed with another person at once? 7. What Did I do for others today? 8. Was I kind and loving towards all? 9. Did I reach out to someone in recovery to see how they were doing? 10. Did I take the time to connect with my higher power through prayer or meditation throughout the day?
Asking these questions while identifying necessary corrective actions leads to a less stressful life. And that is a fact we have found to be confirmed through our years of sobriety. The awareness that this exercise fuels and the relationships it positively fosters drive encouraging outcomes and keeps our heads free to focus on growth and not clean up.
This discipline rewards the achiever with peace of mind (that point in time where everything seems to be OK) and life satisfaction by removing the undue weight of remorse, regret, resentment, and disappointment.
“Cleaning up Tuesday makes a better Wednesday a strong possibility.”
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a bonus drop sober.coffee podcast titled #E11 Step 10 - Continued To Take Personal Inventory & Admit... The podcast dropped on 04/26/2023. Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.