Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Step Ten

Step Ten: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

This is my favorite step. I like it because it incorporates all that I've put into action through the previous nine steps. But most of all, it means that it's okay for me to recognize and admit my mistakes promptly and then move on.

Step 10 means that I take my own inventory and not someone else's. I've had a lot of opportunities to take the alcoholic's inventory. But that isn't what this is about. And this step isn't about my being right. It's about my having the humility to acknowledge that I make mistakes and that I need to look at my motives and my deeds.

When I first did this step with my sponsor, I was asked to have a checklist of a daily inventory for things to watch for. These included some of my big character defects: self-pity, resentment, negative thinking, self-condemnation, dishonesty. This checklist at the end of the day helped me to be aware of my actions.

Eventually, I no longer had a check off sheet on paper but would go over at the end of the day the part that I played---whether I made conscious choices about my behavior or whether I was just reacting to what others wanted from me or what I thought would make them like me.

Now I find that whenever I feel uncomfortable at any time during the day, it's time to take my inventory. If I'm sad, then I look at why that may be. Is it because I am fearful about something? I have to be honest with myself and not rationalize my actions, and then I have to either make an apology or change my behavior. I do this by being aware, accepting what I have done, and then taking action to remedy the situation.

My sponsor has told me that promptly admitting my wrongs means to act within 48 hours--not a week or a year--but within a time frame that allows me to calm down and get some perspective. If I'm really angry about something, I need some time to see my part in the situation and then I can make a sincere apology, rather than one that feels like I'm eating crow.

It's important in this step for me to pray for willingness to see the viewpoints of others. I keep a journal and write in this blog about things that bother me. And I can also give the situation up to my Higher Power. That sometimes is the only thing that keeps me from going round and round in my head over something that I can't seem to resolve on my own.

I can remember wanting to have a "discussion" with the alcoholic when she was drinking. I know now that I was trying to pick a fight. I would do everything that I could to thrust my character defects onto the other person because I didn't want them within me. That was a bad plan and I've learned that it's better to keep my mouth shut. I don't need to apologize for something that I didn't do (I did a lot of that), nor do I need to respond to the moods or actions of another when it's none of my business. If it's not my job to fix something, then the best thing that I can do is to just let it go.

"[ Step 10 has ] helped me come to grips with the knowledge that being right is not good enough. Right facts with a wrong attitude is wrong. It's not really so much an issue of wrong vs. right as it is fear vs. love. When I'm acting out of love, you can say anything, and it's okay with me. When I'm acting out of fear, I argue. I have to prove I'm right." from How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics , © Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1995, page 298.


  1. "[ Step 10 has ] helped me come to grips with the knowledge that being right is not good enough. Right facts with a wrong attitude is wrong. It's not really so much an issue of wrong vs. right as it is fear vs. love. When I'm acting out of love, you can say anything, and it's okay with me. When I'm acting out of fear, I argue. I have to prove I'm right." I have lived this... thank you for sharing today. Cat

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I like the 48 hour rule! I plan to implement this.

  3. I do not want to have conflict i my life especially internal conflict, over rights and wrongs. Step 10 teaches me to make a thousand little adjustments to my attitude to life. My reactions and responses. It teaches me to look at the real motives behind how I am feeling and how I am conductiing myself. Like the men who went to the moon. 95% of the time they were off course, but thousands of little tiny corrections got them to their goal. Thank you Syd for bringing up Step 10.

  4. I agree. Deal with the problem, & apology if warranted, in a timely way and get on with life.
    The 10th step is great.

  5. Thanks so much Syd for your post today. I sometimes think that because I am only on Steps 1,2,3 I can ignore the others. I really appreciated hearing you talk about dealing with what is bothering you right now. Often times something is bothering me and I just push it under the rug instead of thinking about what the actual cause is. That really helped me put things in perspective.

    Peace and Serenity.

  6. Wow, Syd! I love Step #10, too! It keeps me from having to go backward and do that GIANT STEP 4 housecleaning (I've only had to do that twice in since being in Al-

    Your Step 10 post coincides perfectly with my favorite quote from Al-Anon's Courage to Change, Today's Reminder (October 29) - "Lord, when we are wrong, make us willing to change. And when we are right, make us easy to live with." I have copies of this quote everywhere I nestle - just to remind me that my major shortcoming was being a 'know-it-all.' This little quote helps me to keep humbly focused, today. Thanks for a great outline of Step #10.
    Anonymous #1

  7. Ya know Syd,I've said this before and I will likely say it many more times in the future but here's the thing..I'm not in a Twelve Step program.BUT.I read two daily mediation books that highlight the philosophy of using the Twelve Steps.And for me,someone who has had to deal with addiction issues of other people all of her forty year life..I can tell you this.
    *It works for me* and I too love the 10th step.
    If more people who stop being so judgemental of the god word that the Twelve Steps share..there would be so many more people who would benefit from its support and wisdom.
    I am not religious and as far as I have read in my thirteen years of customized recovery from codependency and grief..I have always read that -god or a higher power-is one of MY own understanding..I'm grateful I've read the Steps and take what I need..I hope others will find the right steps for them to heal too.
    Excellent post.

  8. A personal inventory is and will always be an ongoing process for me. It's a good thing.

  9. I hear what I need to hear when I need to hear it. Thanks...I like the 48 hours too.

  10. i really like that 48 hour timeframe. that's goooood.

  11. Thanks for that syd, it makes a lot of sense to me, i too always want to be right, well doesnt everyone. I seem to have loads to do at the moment my dad went in hospital last night, I lost my rag again with Buttercup and her pathetic boyfriend

  12. Syd, This is some life giving stuff here. Wow. Thak you so much. I needed a nudge to get my focus back on myself and stop looking outward. Thank you!!

  13. What a fabulous post! I love Step 10 and strive to work this step every day and as soon as I recognize that something I've done is in fear, acting out,etc... The BB says "when these crop up" not "if they crop up" so I realize that each day is a new opportunity with tools and gifts!
    Thank you!

  14. A lot of bells went off reading your blog tonight. I'm 41 and the daughter of an alcoholic father. My boyfriend of three years is an alcoholic. When he does things when he is drunk I feel so angry. I appreciated what you said about needing to be right. It is fear and anger, a defense against never knowing when he is going to surprise me by being totally drunk, even when I just saw him two hours prior. I can't plan anything; the future seems very uncertain. I don't know exactly how all this will play out but I appreciated reading your blog.

  15. I love the forgiveness and guarantee of humanity in Step 10 (...WHEN we were wrong..."). It shows me I WILL be wrong and provides me a simple remedy. This step keeps me current with God, my sponsor & myself.


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