Step Ten

1997

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

Step Ten Contents:

Introduction and Questions for journaling
Part 1 and Questions for journaling
Part 2 and Questions for journaling
Part 3 and Questions for journaling
Part 4 and Questions for journaling

Step Navigator:

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Step Nine Index Step Eleven

 

Step Ten ~ Introduction

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

Dear WTS Friends,

While we are waiting for a volunteer to lead us through Step 10, Beth has provided us with some questions to think about.


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Step Ten ~ Introductory Questions

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

  1. What feelings/things prevent me from doing a step 10 inventory daily?

  2. When am I less willing to take this step?

  3. What actions can I take to help me be more willing to do this step daily?


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Step Ten ~ Part 1

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the WTS Study on Step 10. My name is Linda, and I'm a Compulsive Overeater and your leader for this step. We are getting a slightly late start this month since the person originally designated to lead is unavailable. I will do my best to fill in and lead for the rest of the month. Before we get started, I want to thank all of you who have shared thus far on Step 10 and kept things going. I've enjoyed what you have written.

Since entering OA, I've done the tenth step in several ways, and while in relapse have failed to do it at all. The longer I'm in program, however, the more this step means to me and the greater its value in my life. I'd like to begin by looking at what the Big Book has to say about the tenth step.

The book "Alcoholics Anonymous" says:

"This thought brought us to Step Ten, which suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our mode."

Let's look at that paragraph closely. "We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past." This would suggest we are to begin this step promptly while we set about rectifying previous mistakes and wrongs. At the latest, it would appear we are to commence the tenth step at the same time as the ninth. I see it as something which we begin immediately after the fifth step or even while writing the fourth. The phrase "commenced this way of living" also says this is not something we are to do once or twice, or just intermittently. It is to become a way of life as we continue to grow in recovery.

The Tenth Step is clearly a combination of previous steps, specifically four through nine. In this step, as well as step four, we are to watch for "selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear." Thus this inventory is to be a DAILY fourth step, seeking out problems before they cause major difficulties. The Big Book shows the fifth step in the phrase: "We discuss them with someone immediately." "When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them" would indicate that steps six and seven are also a part of the tenth step. Part of looking at selfishness, and dishonesty, plus the other aspects of the fourth step are to identify our character defects. Clearly we are to use the tenth step to aid in continued watching for our shortcomings, and then to persevere in seeking to have our Higher Power remove these imperfections each day. Steps eight and nine are a part of this in that we are to "make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone."

Often we hear people speak of steps ten, eleven and twelve as "maintenance" steps. To me, that diminishes what these steps bring into my life. When I continue to examine myself every day by incorporating steps four through nine into my life as I do a daily tenth step, I don't just maintain my recovery. I grow toward becoming the person my Higher Power intends for me to be. The tenth step is one of continued growth. When I fail to complete this step on a daily basis, I begin to lose the recovery I have achieved, and fall back into old patterns before long. An analogy would be attempting to walk up a down escalator. To make progress one must keep moving. If I stand still, I quickly begin moving toward the bottom. Yet if I keep climbing, I will make slow but sure progress toward the next level.

I do the same with the Tenth Step. As I continue to inventory my actions and thinking, seeking character defects, asking for them to be removed, maintaining openness and honesty with another person, and making amends for any wrongs, I continue to grow. My character develops and each day I move just a little bit further toward that fourth dimension Bill W. speaks of.


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Step Ten ~ Part 1: Questions

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

  1. Have I been incorporating steps 4 through 9 into my daily life?

  2. How has doing a daily tenth step allowed me to continued growth?

  3. Have I been searching and fearless in completing my tenth step? Why or why not?

  4. What changes should I make to receive greater benefit from this step?

Thank you for this opportunity to give service and to examine the role of the steps, and the tenth step in particular, in my life. As always, it is a chance for growth and renewal of my program.

Yours in recovery,
Love and OA hugs,
Linda E from Las Vegas


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Step Ten ~ Part 2

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

We have looked at the fact that the Tenth Step is really a combination of steps four through nine. Here we are taking inventory, sharing with another, looking at our character defects, asking for the shortcomings to be removed, examining whether amends are needed, and making those amends promptly.

Since entering OA nearly 10 years ago, I have done the tenth step in a number of ways. Sometimes through a written form, sometimes answering questions, sometimes mentally either at the end of the day or in a spot-check inventory. Quite honestly, sometimes I haven't done one at all as I spiraled into depression and returned to the disease. My experience has been that when I am working a good program, I'm more diligent about self-examination and the tenth step. If my program is slipping and I begin to engage in self-pity or move toward the food, I become reluctant to look at my actions and the tenth step, along with the rest of my program, somehow loses its priority.

Various ways of doing the tenth step seem to have their advantages for me. Sometimes I prefer one, and sometimes another. It may depend on my needs at the time. On other occasions, it depends on my level of awareness and the time factor. I'd like to share with you some of what I have learned about this important step.

About six months after beginning OA, I attended a retreat. At this point I'd completed my fourth and fifth step, was looking at character defects and asking for them to be removed, and was just beginning the amends process. The retreat leader indicated he did a daily tenth step in written form and shared the form with us. The process he described involved spending time at the end of the work day looking over interactions. The form used was quite simple. There were four columns: Person, What Happened (nature of the interaction), Effect (my reaction to the events and any defects of character), and Amends. In the amends column I would put a check to indicate when amends were owed and then mark through it when the amends had been made. Also, at times I would write the nature of the amends owed or the form they should take.

My original sponsor often spoke of working the steps on a problem. By this she meant going through steps four through nine (in other words doing a tenth step). She encouraged me to be very aware of my thoughts, actions, and reactions and was great at doing spot-check inventories. When something happened, my sponsor would pause during the day as soon as she was aware of the problem. If an interaction caused discomfort, she would as soon as possible sit down to write about the events. Then she would call her sponsor or another OA friend to talk, would examine her character defects, ask for them to be removed, pray for willingness to make amends if any were owed, and make any needed amends as quickly as possible. Through her, I learned to apply this same process.

One discovery I have made is that *I* benefit when I do a tenth step as soon after the interaction which causes me distress or discomfort. Your experience may differ from mine, but I've discovered that I can't seem to have just one resentment. If I have a tiff with another person early in the day and don't deal with it, by 10:00 a.m. I'll have two resentments, by noon half a dozen, and by bedtime at least a dozen. My discomfort and anger just seem to build throughout the day unless I take care of cleaning up my side of the street.

On the other hand, when I attend to the original resentment promptly, the anger and defects don't seem to have as much chance to build and to take hold. It's easier to let them go. When I work the steps on a problem immediately, the rest of the day goes more smoothly and I'm in a much happier frame of mind. I believe this is because the anger, hurt, resentment was faced, and I can let go of the negative emotion and get on with life.

Sometimes I have used a journal-writing method of doing the tenth step. At various times I've made a point to begin and end the day with writing in my journal. When using my journal as a tenth step, I usually pause briefly to consider what I've done and who I've seen or spoken with during the day. Then, I consider the activities and interactions and examine whether there are any resentments or fears connected to the day. Was I selfish or dishonest at any time? Is there any discomfort at all as I review the day. In the course of writing, I concentrate on the above, and examine closely where I went off track and what can or should be changed. At times this works well, and journal writing does a great job of getting me in touch with any feelings. I do have to be careful, because there can be a tendency to attempt to con myself about what happened and to justify my part. The cunning and powerful part of the disease sometimes shows up more when I write too much. Any more, it is most beneficial to use the journal writing as a supplement to another tenth step.

Another method I've used as a "quickie" to examine progress is a listing of traits. The form I have is divided into two parts with a line down the center of the page. It lists traits of self on one side of the paper. These include such things as dishonesty, pride, sloth, self-pity, doubt, and being intolerant. The other side of the paper has characteristics of God, which are listed opposite the corresponding trait of self. So, for example, the ones opposite those listed above would be: honesty, humility, industrious, self-forgiveness, faith, and tolerance. The form takes only a minute or two to complete, and lets me see quickly what defects are cropping up and maybe need some extra prayer, work, and awareness. It also lets me see whether I am spending most of the day living in self-will or God's will.

Currently, I'm doing a combination tenth and eleventh step which I heard about from a friend on the internet. Of course, being a perfectionist, I've made some modifications to suit my own needs, but this is what I am doing right now. I have a two page form with a spot for the date at the top. Below that, I have a "Thought for the day:" with a place to write in something from my reading that morning. Under that, is "Prayer requests:" with 3 lines to put down what I want to include in my prayer/meditation that day. Those are, basically, the eleventh step aspects I was referring to. The balance of the page is a form divided into 4 columns. The columns are headed: Name, What Happened, Defect/my part, and amends. Then there are lines across to section the columns into 5 separate spaces. This is used very similarly to the form mentioned above that I used originally.

Page two also has 4 columns with the following headers: Things I did well, What I could have done better (and half way down that column is a line and a heading of Wrong motives), To-do, and Gratitude list. At the start of the day I use the To-Do column to make a list of appointments and tasks I want to be sure to complete that day. Throughout the day, and at the end of the day, I cross off tasks I've completed, and use the other columns to make notes of things to give myself credit for, behavior problems and suggestions for what I could do differently next time. At night, I complete the columns, and write out a gratitude list. I try to have at least 5 things on the list, because the more I pay attention to the good things in my life, the more I live with an attitude of gratitude. At the very bottom of the page I have all the tools listed with a place I can check when I use a tool. This helps me to track how I'm doing with the tools, and shows when there is one which is not being used consistently. At the very bottom, there is a line for exercise, and that is noted as well.

Over the years, it's been necessary to be willing to be flexible. What is needed today, may not be at all what I need tomorrow or next month or next year. Just as recovery grows and changes, so do my needs in precisely HOW I work the steps. What is wonderful, is that I can listen to what others are doing, and modify my form slowly over time so it meets my needs. Needless to say, it's on the computer and can be altered with a flick of the mouse!


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Step Ten ~ Part 2: Questions

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

  1. What form does my Tenth Step take? Please describe.

  2. Does my method of working the Tenth Step meet my current needs? What are the benefits or drawbacks of this format? If it does not meet my needs, what would I like to change?

  3. When have I used a spot check inventory to work the steps on a problem? What was the result?

  4. Have there been times when I was unwilling or unable to do a consistent, daily Tenth Step? How did this effect my disease and my recovery?

I hope many of you will share on these questions and your experiences with the Tenth Step. As stated before, the format I currently use was the result of information from another person on these loops. I am so grateful for her willingness to share, because the changes that resulted from her suggestions have been so very beneficial to me! I am SURE many of you have suggestions which will result in further changes to my form, so please do share.

Love and hugs to you all, Linda from Las Vegas


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Step Ten ~ Part 3

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

Hello Loop Friends!

Today we continue with the Tenth Step.

This step is designed to keep me looking at myself, my character defects, and the wrongs I do so that I can continue to grow and become the person my Higher Power intends. Working this step regularly has allowed me to clean up my messes (and as a compulsive overeater, I certainly have the capability of creating some!) as I go along.

I clearly remember the first time I had what I considered a serious 10th Step amends to make! As a new person in the program, I'd attended a retreat shortly after completing my fourth and fifth step, and had learned a method of doing the tenth step. My sponsor had encouraged me to be aware of character defects and try to avoid using those defects so it was often possible to avoid situations where amends would be needed simply because I hadn't acted on the defect. But, of course, the time came when I did! I felt so awful! A friend from work was attending another program, and I referred to it in speaking with someone else. It wasn't until completing the 10th step after work that I realized I had, or at least may have, broken her anonymity. I was very open about my program, but was uncertain if my friend had divulged her participation. I was mortified! But, knew I had to make the amends. I discussed it with my sponsor, and the next day took aside my 12-step friend and apologized. Actually, it turned out that she had spoken about her participation with this person, but the occurrence caused me to be very aware of anonymity in the future.

One of the effects of this step has been for me to become extremely aware of my shortcomings. When I have needed to make amends, I am forced to look closely at myself and at a particular defect. Sometimes this has made me so aware of my actions that future lapses with that particular trait have been extremely rare or nonexistent. In fact, I wonder if that is the purpose of the step at times.

Continued growth in program has also caused me to be very, very aware that we take the action of dealing with our defects and making amends **FOR OURSELVES**, not for the other person. This became crystal clear to me about a year ago. I had been quite ill, but before the worst of the illness had rented some video tapes and returned them. There was then a lengthy time when I did not rent any tapes because of my health. The next time I returned to my favorite video store, the clerk informed me I owed late charges. I was certain this was wrong, and insisted the tapes had been returned on time. I explained, rather vehemently, why this was so. She stated the tapes had been returned a day late, so I paid the late charge. Positive she was wrong, on returning home I looked up the dates on the rental slip. She was RIGHT!! I knew I returned the tapes on a Sunday night, but in viewing the rental slip I discovered I'd rented them a day earlier than I had thought. I was mortified, and KNEW I owed this woman an apology for being rude.

After that, each time I went to the store, I was anxious about whether this particular clerk would be there. Although I knew I owed amends, I was nervous about making it, and the anxiety grew. Would she be there? Would she be free? I wanted the amends over with, but was also afraid. As the visits passed over the course of about 3 or 4 weeks, I became more and more anxious. It was getting to the point that I wanted to stop going to the video store. Wouldn't it just be easier to avoid seeing her and take my business elsewhere? So what, that the store I went to was a quarter mile from my home, convenient, and had a huge selection of tapes! Just go elsewhere! Finally, she was there, and free. I went to her spot at the counter, rented the tapes, and during the transaction apologized. She didn't even remember the incident, and was so stunned to have someone make an apology for being rude. She wasn't bothered by the incident at all, but that was not the point. *I* was bothered by it!! It was literally "eating me up" inside by guilt over my actions. When I made the amends, it freed ME.

Since then, I seem much more willing to make amends and, truthfully, have less anxiety about it. The impact of recognition on just how fearful I had been over a relatively trivial incident, and the extent to which it drove me in that small aspect of my life helped me to recognize just how much fear, anger, self-righteousness, and all my other defects could control me and my life. It seemed like the whole program revealed in a microcosm. I didn't like seeing how easily I engaged in the defect, how much the fear ran me, how ready I was to run away at the first sign of discomfort. If the defects could control me to that extent in such a small area, how much were they doing in other areas?

Since then, it has been easier to speak with my sponsor about actions and behaviors. I have been willing to listen to and follow her suggestions, to discuss major decisions or areas where self-will may be running my life, and to follow her guidance. In doing this, I have become more aware of both the character defects and my assets, because she has been able to point out times when I have acted wisely, or handled things differently from similar situations in the past. This has led to greater growth and to improved recovery. I can deal with the negatives by facing them, recognizing patterns with the help of my sponsor, and letting them go. I can also build on the positive traits.


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Step Ten ~ Part 3: Questions

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

  1. Am I discussing my tenth step with my sponsor and using it as a tool for growth? Why, or why not?

  2. What character defects that controlled me in the past have been removed?

  3. What shortcomings still are dominating my life?

  4. Are there particular times and situations when I am more likely to act on this defect? Can I visualize another way of acting next time this type of situation occurs?

  5. What positive traits do I have?

  6. Which of these are new, or have grown as a result of my program?

  7. What assets would I like to develop at this time?

Thank you for letting me share. I truly hope all of YOU will share on these questions on the loop. I benefit so much when I see people sharing their recovery on WTS when they write about the steps.

Love to you all,
Linda


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Step Ten ~ Part 4

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

Hello Friends,

This will conclude our study of Step 10, and we will be moving on this weekend to Step 11.

The last share is going to be about using the Tenth Step to help us prevent relapse. There were two fantastic articles in the October Lifeline Magazine about that. The articles are entitled "All Except the Tenth" and "I Was a Periodic". I encourage you to read these shares and consider the suggestions. Those stories explain better than I ever could how we can use the Tenth Step to prevent relapse and avert periodic binges.

My own experience has shown me that looking at myself through the Tenth Step helps me to maintain my abstinence. I want to stress here that when *I* refer to abstinence, I am talking of three-fold recovery: emotional, physical and spiritual. I use the term plan of eating when talking only about the food, but to me abstinence is recovery on all levels, and is commensurate with sobriety in AA. My experience is that the more committed and thorough I am in doing the Tenth Step, the better my abstinence. When I begin to do just a cursory Tenth Step, skimming over the high points, refusing to look at certain areas, and/or begin to just "socialize" with my sponsor rather than talk about what is really going on in my life, I am headed into trouble unless I get on track quickly. When I totally avoid the Tenth Step and stop calling my sponsor, I am in relapse on one or more levels.

For me, as shared earlier, the Tenth Step involves looking at myself on a variety of levels. This includes not JUST looking at harms to others, but at all aspects of my emotions and behavior. Luckily, I have been blessed with very wise sponsors with a great deal of recovery. In working with these women, I have been confronted lovingly with my actions and reflections of my behavior. For example, on one occasion I was whining about how "mean" my husband was to criticize my weight gain and eating. My sponsor said very gently, "Yes, and isn't it difficult to realize that what hurts us most in what others say are precisely the things we find most objectionable in ourselves." That is ALL she said, but it was enough. As I overcame my immediate negative and angry reaction, I realized she was completely correct. I was bothered by my husband's comments precisely BECAUSE I was so upset by my weight gain.

This gently prodded type of confrontation has been a part of my recovery when working with sponsors who are themselves working a threefold program and are in recovery. When I am honest with them, sharing my day-to-day events, I am able to grow in recovery. First I want to stress that I am really not sure I use my sponsors as wisely as I should. Certainly there are many times I question whether I am getting all I can out of the relationship. So please don't consider this a definitive commentary on how to benefit from your sponsor. It isn't!! It's just sharing some of what I have done in the past and what has helped me to maintain abstinence when I have been trying to work the steps and a program of recovery.

In speaking with my sponsors, I talk about not just my wrongs, but about all aspects of my life. Sometimes there is nothing to tell her about my interactions with others and we discuss upcoming plans, my levels of service, and various emotions. The interaction varies from day to day and week to week depending on where I am in recovery and what is going on in my life. I've discovered that, for me, at this point I need much more help in facing and dealing with uncomfortable emotions than I do with recognizing harms done and identifying amends I need to make. I still talk about harms and amends, but sometimes after the fact rather than before unless I'm too uncomfortable with HOW to do the amends. An example would be last summer when I was very inconsiderate of a friend, breaking an agreement for time together without notifying her of my intention. Because I had been quite ill previously, she was so concerned she came by my home later in the evening to make sure whether I was even alive. I made that amends early the next day (in tears) before even speaking to my sponsor. I knew what I needed to say, and didn't wish to wait until I contacted my sponsor.

However, harms done is only one aspect of my recovery. I don't know about the majority of compulsive eaters, but for me, the disease and abuse of food is a manner of escaping from life, and especially from feelings I don't want to face. I use the food (or exercise, or service, or whatever else I can pick up) to AVOID feeling, whether it is experiencing vulnerability, running from fears or facing disappointments. My sponsors often help me to face these through questions, or just through my willingness and desire to be honest in this relationship and to let them into my life.

Throughout most of my life I have avoided people seeing the real me. The greatest terror was that "you" would see just how flawed, stupid, incompetent, etc., etc. I really was. Then, I would lose my place in the world. My life centered around the need to keep up the appearance of a strong, bright, "together" person. In the sponsor relationship, I have learned this relationship allows me to let down the facade and to experience being real in a safe environment. Within that relationship I can become comfortable with removing my mask and allowing the real Linda to emerge. In working with my sponsors I've attained a level of closeness and vulnerability I have not tolerated in the "outside" world. I don't have to "pretend" to be something or someone I'm not. This open, loving relationship with my sponsor allows me to be myself, with all my faults, foibles, and attributes - both positive and negative.

The relationship with my current sponsor has been a special blessing at a time such a relationship was needed. We have worked together for several months and she knows my "stuff" which is important. I've been more willing to risk honesty and openness with emotions than ever before. The first time was on discovering I had the same infection which put me in the hospital for nearly two weeks last year. I was terrified, with a depth of fear I couldn't possibly reveal to the doctor. But, it was safe to come home, call my sponsor, and cry with her. Within that relationship, I could be open about the fears, and receive help to cope with my terror. We could walk through coping with upcoming plans, and do it all without the food. At that point, I *knew* the feelings and "what was going on" but needed support to cope with those feelings.

More recently, I was experiencing some problems with the food but had not identified the cause. Again, I had been ill in September, spending several days in the hospital. This illness meant I was unable to participate in several events I'd planned to attend, two of which I had been very involved in organizing. The first occurred during the hospitalization (somehow the medical staff just wouldn't let me out of Intensive Care to speak! ) and the second was within two weeks of discharge. Those I coped with, but as time passed the food became more of an issue. Throughout the hospitalization and return home the abstinence was fine. No problems at all. Suddenly, portions were getting slightly larger, foods were calling, and I hadn't a clue! I related what was happening to my sponsor, who listened and asked questions. Then, one night, suddenly the lightbulb went on!! I was missing a retreat I had wanted to attend. I'd been involved in the planning and preparation, but was missing yet another event because of health. Most of my close friends were going, but I was transported back to all the old times of being "on the outside looking in". The pain was very real, and I felt robbed of something I wanted badly. All the old childhood issues, right or wrong, were there and demanding acknowledgement. My sponsor said, "I wondered when it was going to really hit you." Then we were able to talk about the issues, and just bringing them to light seemed to remove most of the difficulty.

For me, the compulsion and eating disorder of whatever form (since I have tried all three) is about refusing to face and deal with feelings. Once they are brought to light and acknowledged I can more easily cope with the part they are playing in my life. Whether the difficulty is facing a fear, coping with loss, or dealing with character defects, the Tenth Step, which includes sharing my life with my sponsor, helps me to deal with the real world, and in doing so to deal with the food issues.

And this brings me to the Tenth Step promises on Page 84-85 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous which reads:

"And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone, even food (alcohol). For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in food (liquor). If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward food (liquor) has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition."

From experience, I can tell you that the freedom can and does occur in recovery. It has happened for me when I worked for it. And what freedom and joy there is in having that obsession lifted!

Here are some questions for journaling and your consideration. Please share your answers on the loop, with your sponsor, or with a close OA friend. Remember, the freedom comes from letting go of the secrets.


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Step Ten ~ Part 4: Questions

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

  1. How has a daily 10th Step helped me to continue in recovery?

  2. When is the best time for me to complete my Tenth Step each day?

  3. Who can I share my Tenth Step with regularly?

  4. What would I like to share with this person, and what type of feedback do I need in this relationship?

  5. How can I ensure this need is met?

Thank you for letting me share. I truly hope all of YOU will share on these questions on the loop. I benefit so much when I see people sharing their recovery on WTS when they write about the steps.

Thank you all so much for allowing me to share on this step. I appreciate your tolerance in letting me fill in when our leader became unavailable. It has been both a joy and educational to consider so closely this aspect of my own program. Thank you all for being there.

Love,
Linda


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