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.